Middle East Cruise Ports

Cruise Port Focus: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

As cruise travel continues to gain popularity, one destination that’s steadily attracting international cruise lines is Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. Jeddah, historically known as the “Bride of the Red Sea”, presents a fascinating fusion of the old and the new, with its deep roots in tradition and a sparkling vision for the future. 

Jeddah Waterfront

Why Cruise to or from Jeddah?

Strategic Location: Jeddah’s position along the Red Sea coast makes it a strategic port for cruises navigating between the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean. Its proximity to holy sites also makes it a desired stop for pilgrims and tourists alike.

Rich Heritage: The city offers a glimpse into the heart of Arabian culture, reflecting both the traditions of the Bedouin tribes and the influences from African, Indian, and Southeast Asian merchants who’ve frequented the port over centuries.

How to Behave in Jeddah

Respect the Culture: Saudi Arabia is a conservative nation. Dress modestly, with arms and legs covered. 

Public Conduct: Public displays of affection are discouraged. It’s also worth noting that during the holy month of Ramadan, eating, drinking, or smoking in public during daylight hours is prohibited.

Prayer Times: Businesses close briefly during the five daily prayer times. It’s respectful to remain quiet and avoid eating or drinking in public during these times.

MSC Bellissima in Jeddah during the 2021/22 cruise season.

Jeddah Cruise Terminal Location

The Jeddah Cruise Pier is located at the Jeddah Islamic Port, the largest port in the Red Sea. Although there is no terminal building as such, the modern infrastructure in place ensures smooth embarkation and disembarkation processes. The pier’s strategic location offers easy access to the city center and its key attractions. And there are plans to build a dedicated cruise terminal in the near future, within a redeveloped port area geared toward cruise tourism.

Currency and Language

The official currency is the Saudi Riyal (SAR), and while credit cards are widely accepted, it’s a good idea to have some cash on hand for smaller purchases. Arabic is the predominant language, but English is widely understood, especially in tourist areas and among the younger population.

Shopping and Sight-seeing in Jeddah

Shopping in Jeddah: To step into Jeddah is to step into a world of shopping that effortlessly marries the traditional with the contemporary. At the forefront is the Red Sea Mall, an expansive commercial haven that caters to luxury seekers. With its high-end boutiques, international brands, and elegant dining options, it epitomizes modern retail therapy. Yet, the true essence of Jeddah’s shopping culture lies in its bustling souks, with Al-Balad leading the way.

Jeddah Old Quarter

Al-Balad, or the “old town”, isn’t just a marketplace; it’s a historical canvas painted with tales of traders, travelers, and time. As you meander through its labyrinthine alleys, the scent of spices fills the air, and the shimmer of traditional crafts catches the eye. Jewelry, handwoven textiles, intricate carpets, and aromatic incense are just a few of the treasures that await. And remember, haggling isn’t just encouraged; it’s an art form and an integral part of the shopping experience. Mastering the delicate dance of negotiation can lead to rewarding deals and stories to take home.

Jeddah Corniche

Sight-seeing in Jeddah: Beyond its commercial allure, Jeddah’s rich tapestry of attractions beckons tourists to immerse themselves in its history and beauty. The crown jewel is undoubtedly Al-Balad, the UNESCO World Heritage site. The district, with its coral stone buildings and wooden balconies, offers a window into the city’s past, evoking a sense of nostalgia.

Yet, juxtaposed against this historic backdrop is the Jeddah Corniche, stretching for miles along the Red Sea. A leisurely walk here unveils panoramic views of the azure waters, punctuated by the King Fahd Fountain’s majestic sprays, a marvel that proudly holds the title of the world’s tallest fountain.

No exploration of Jeddah is complete without delving into its rich history. The Jeddah Regional Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography provides this bridge to the past. With exhibits showcasing ancient artifacts, cultural relics, and narratives of bygone eras, it offers a holistic understanding of the region’s evolution.

In essence, Jeddah is a city that tantalizes the senses, from the allure of its marketplaces to the splendor of its landmarks. Every corner holds a story, waiting to be discovered.

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