Looking ahead to your winter 2022/23 season you’ll have three ships based in the Middle East for the first time. What are the details?
We’ll have two ships based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates for winter sailings in the Arabian Sea and one homeporting in Jeddah for Red Sea cruises.
That’s the biggest capacity that we will have ever deployed in the Middle East and is testament to the growing popularity of this incredible part of the world, it’s ever-developing tourism sector and the attractiveness that to enjoy the area at its very best viewpoint is most enjoyed from the perspective that only a holiday at sea onboard a cruise ship can bring.
It was only natural, therefore, that we decided to deploy our newest and most innovative ship - MSC World Europa – in the Arabian Gulf for our winter sailing season and she will operate there between December 2022 and March 2023.
Her seven-night voyages will sail from Dubai and Abu Dhabi then onto the stunning Sir Bani Yas Island all in the United Arab Emirates. Then Dammam in Saudi Arabia – this is new for our itineraries in 2022. The ship then calls Doha in Qatar before returning to Dubai, which for 2022 is Tripadvisor’s most popular destination to visit in the world.
MSC Opera will offer a contrasting itinerary from Dubai with calls to Abu Dhabi and Sir Bani Yas Island and then sail down to Oman for calls at its capital city Muscat, as well as Khasab in the country, and then cruise back to Dubai.
Meanwhile, MSC Splendida will homeport in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for seven-night Red Sea cruises with a new itinerary to Yanbu and Al Wajh in the country as well as Safaga in Egypt for Luxor and Aqaba in Jordan for Petra. This will be a great opportunity for us as Saudi Arabia continues to attract more tourists from around the world.
The performance of our Red Sea sailings since we resumed sailings there last year has been positive and the passenger feedback has been incredibly strong.
These are early days for Red Sea cruises from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia and we’re delighted to be pioneers as the first major cruise line to base a ship there.
What is so special about the Middle East for you as a business?
We are a truly international brand that attracts a wide range of different nationalities and passengers of all ages. And whatever their different and specific aspirations for what constitutes a great and memorable holiday, the Middle East delivers on all counts because there is something for every type of traveller. Culture and traditions that date back thousands of years, incredible modern cities, pristine beaches and fabulous weather – these are all rich ingredients for a perfect cruise holiday.
And the region is home to highly-respected major airlines and excellent airports. These are incredibly important factors for international travellers and extremely significant for us too.
Why did you choose the Middle East to be the base for MSC World Europa
The Middle East is of growing significance to us as a business and more and more tourists are being attracted to this remarkable region.
We are very proud to offer our guests from all around the world the opportunity to visit the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan.
MSC World Europa is currently under construction at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France and will be delivered in October this year. And then she’ll make her way to the Middle East for her inaugural sailing season in the Arabian Gulf.
This incredible ship will be a real benefit to the region’s tourism industry and is set to redefine the future of cruising. With a revolutionary design, the very latest environmental technology and a next-generation cruise experience, this ship is quite like anything that is currently at sea.
MSC World Europa will attract many international passengers from around the world, especially from Europe, and we hope to also see strong interest from holidaymakers who live in the Gulf Cooperation Council.
How many passengers do you expect to attract for the ship, and from what nationalities mainly?
MSC World Europa has the capacity to accommodate up to 6,762 passengers and we hope to welcome aboard many that live in the Middle East and we will also attract guests from many European countries, especially the UK, Italy and Germany.
How many passengers does the ship accommodate and what details can you provide about its area, size, facilities, number of rooms, recreational facilities, and others?
MSC World Europa will have 19 different categories of cabins – seven of which will be brand new types.
The ship will have 22 decks, 40,000 square metres of public space, six speciality restaurants, four main restaurants, three buffets, plus 21 cafes, bars and lounges.
For families we’ll provide our largest and most advanced area for children spanning 1,034 square metres. The vessel will have nine separate dedicated rooms and activities for children aged between a few months old and 17 years old.
MSC World Europa will offer next-level entertainment with a wide range of diverse entertainment venues, including a 1,153-seat theatre with full-scale production shows and a stunning aft lounge with different themed entertainment each evening.
Leisure-wise there will be six swimming pools each with a different ambiance, an aquapark with interactive waterslides and for those that like retail therapy the ship will have an innovative shopping gallery with range of different boutiques and shops.
For beauty and wellness there will be an extensive luxurious spa and a state-of-the-art gym.
Can you provide details about MSC World Europa being your most environmentally-advanced cruise ship and how it contributes to your company’s vision?
The ship will be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG), the first vessel in our fleet to use the cleanest fuel currently available at scale for ocean cruise ships. LNG sharply reduces emissions from ships, resulting in a significant improvement in air quality, particularly for communities in port cities and coastal areas.
MSC World Europa will represent a major milestone in our strategy to achieve our net zero emissions 2050 goal. The vessel MSC World Europa will become the first of three LNG-powered ships on order to join the MSC Cruises fleet as part of an investment in LNG ships worth €3 billion. LNG-powered vessels will take us closer to our vision of an emissions free cruise industry and it is at the vanguard of the momentous energy transition that all cruise lines must go through.