Jeddah, Saudi Arabia - November 9, 2021 - MSC Cruises, the Swiss-based global cruise brand, and SAUDIA, the national flag carrier of Saudi Arabia, today confirmed the details of an agreement for 36,800 seats from Europe and North America to support MSC Cruises’ brand-new winter sailing program in Saudi Arabia and the Red Sea. This will bring nearly 20,000 new vacationers this winter to Saudi Arabia, in line with the Kingdom’s vision to welcome international visitors.
MSC Cruises’ guests can book a seamless vacation experience with a ‘Fly & Cruise’ package from a wide range of major international airports to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia where the cruise line’s guests will join the modern and innovative MSC Bellissima for 7-night sailings from November 2021 through March 2022.
MSC Cruises began sailing in July from Jeddah following the signing with Cruise Saudi of a five-year preferential berthing deal at the city’s port. Following the success of the line’s initial summer season, the winter program started in November.
Gianni Onorato, MSC Cruises’ CEO, said, “We are proud to partner with SAUDIA, the Kingdom’s national flag carrier, and work towards the same common objectives in support of the further development of tourism in Saudi Arabia by bringing many thousands of international guests to discover this remarkable country, with more to come in future sailing seasons. Through this extensive flight program, we are able to make our new cruise offering even more accessible to vacationers from Europe and North America and deliver best-in-class experiences. Additionally, data demonstrates that a large percentage of tourists who visit a country for the first time while on a cruise often return for a longer land stay with their families to further explore that country’s culture and other attractions.”
Ibrahim Al-Omar, Director General of Saudi Arabian Airlines Corporation, added, “SAUDIA’s global route network is complementary to the flourishing Saudi cruise industry. The airline looks forward to this collaboration with MSC Cruises to showcase the breadth of leisure offerings available in Saudi Arabia.”
Fawaz Farooqui, Managing Director of Cruise Saudi, said, “We are delighted to see SAUDIA and MSC Cruises partnering to serve 20,000 ‘Fly & Cruise’ guests to Saudi Arabia for the winter season. This close cooperation between our national carrier and the world’s third largest cruise line is exactly the kind of partnership which will help Saudi Arabia to become a world-class cruise destination, which is what Cruise Saudi is working to create in line with Vision 2030.”
The agreement was ratified in person today at the Saudi Airlines headquarters in Jeddah by Gianni Onorato, CEO, MSC Cruises and Ibrahim Al-Omar, Director General, Saudi Arabian Airlines Corporation along with Fawaz Farooqui Managing Director, Cruise Saudi.
MSC Cruises’ main source markets for its European guests to sail from Saudi Arabia during the winter season are Italy, Germany, France and Spain.
The 7-night cruises depart the port of Jeddah at 11 pm every Saturday night and SAUDIA has adjusted its flight schedule for Friday night flights from Milan, Rome, Frankfurt, Munich, Paris and Madrid with Saturday morning arrivals in the Saudi Arabian city to provide opportunities to enjoy the city or transfer from the airport to the seaport.
The airline has also adjusted its flight schedule to make it easier for guests from the USA, the UK, Switzerland and Austria to join the ship with ease.
A similar range of conveniently timed return flights are available for Saturday morning journeys home to offer guests the maximum comfort and peace of mind to enjoy their vacation to the fullest.
MSC Bellissima’s 7-night Saudi Arabia and Red Sea cruises for winter 2021/22 start from her homeport of Jeddah. The ship departs for King Abdullah Economic City, then on to Yanbu for an overnight stay to allow guests to visit AlUla, a day at sea before arriving at Aqaba in Jordan for trips to Petra and then a further day at sea before returning to Jeddah.
MSC Bellissima is one of the most innovative ships in MSC Cruises’ fleet and is fitted with a wide range of cutting-edge environmental features and innovative technology to reduce her environmental footprint. She also spearheaded the ultra-modern Meraviglia-Plus class of ships in the MSC Cruises fleet when she launched in 2019. The 1,034.45-foot-long vessel has 2,244 cabins and a maximum capacity for 5,714 passengers and 1,536 crew.
Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAUDIA) is the national flag carrier of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Established in 1945, the company is one of the Middle East’s largest airlines.
In recent years, the airline has invested significantly in its fleet of 144 narrow and widebody aircraft and operates one of the youngest fleets in the skies, with an average aircraft age of 5 years.
The airline operates a route network which includes 95 destinations across four continents, including all 28 domestic airports in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
SAUDIA is a member of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the Arab Air Carriers Organization (AACO) and a member airline in the SkyTeam alliance since 2012.
This year, the organization was named the World’s Most Improved Airline in 2021 by Skytrax. SAUDIA also received the prestigious accolade in 2017.
The carrier is ranked as a Global Five-Star Major Airline by the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) and has been awarded the Diamond status by APEX Health Safety powered by SimpliFlying, in recognition of the airline’s extensive safety measures in response to the pandemic.
For further information on Saudi Arabian Airlines, please visit www.saudia.com.
Saudi Arabian Airlines Headquarters
Jeddah 21231, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
About MSC Cruises
MSC Cruises is the world’s third largest cruise brand as well as the leader in Europe, South America, the Middle East and Southern Africa with more market share in addition to deployed capacity than any other line. It is also the fastest growing global cruise brand with a strong presence in the Caribbean, North America and the Far East markets.
Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, MSC Cruises one of the two brands that sit within the Cruises Division of MSC Group, the leading privately held Swiss-based shipping and logistics conglomerate with over 300 years of maritime heritage. MSC Cruises – the contemporary brand - has a modern fleet of 19 vessels combined with a sizeable future global investment portfolio of new vessels. The fleet is projected to grow to 23 cruise ships by 2025 with options for six more vessel orders in place through 2030.
MSC Cruises offers its guests an enriching, immersive and safe cruise experience inspired by the Company’s European heritage, where they can enjoy international dining, world-class entertainment, award-winning family programs and the very latest user-friendly technology on board. To learn more about MSC Cruises’ itineraries and experience on board its ships, please see here.
The Company’s number one priority has always been the health and safety of its guests and crew, as well as the communities at the destinations its ships serve. In August 2020, MSC Cruises implemented a new comprehensive and robust health and safety protocol to become the first major line to return to sea. To learn more about MSC Cruises’ health & safety protocols, please see here.
MSC Cruises has long been committed to environmental stewardship with a long-term goal to achieve net zero emissions for its operations by 2050. The Company is also a significant investor in next-generation environmental marine technologies, with the objective to support their accelerated development and availability industry-wide. To learn more about the Company’s environmental commitment, please see here.
Finally, to learn more about the MSC Foundation, MSC Group’s own vehicle to lead, focus and advance its conservation, humanitarian and cultural commitments, please see here.
About Cruise Saudi
Cruise Saudi is based in Jeddah, formed to develop the infrastructure and services required to scale a full-suite cruise market along the Saudi coastline. The company, a 100% Public Investment Fund-owned business, is responsible for the port development at key Saudi destinations as well as scaling cruise services, from marketing to Shorex coordination and vessel operations. Cruise Saudi works hand in hand with ministries and regulatory authorities to build the offshore and onshore cruise ecosystem with the aim of positioning Saudi Arabia as a premier global cruise destination.
Saudi Arabia’s coastline is the nexus between classic Mediterranean destinations and a multitude of Indian Ocean hot spots, offering a pristine maritime route for cruisegoers from around the world. Located a mere three-hour flight from 250 million people in Europe, Asia, and Africa, Cruise Saudi’s ports and routes along the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf will provide an ideal base for cruise passengers to discover the authentic treasures of Arabia and beyond. Cruise Saudi seeks to create 50,000 jobs in the cruise industry in Saudi Arabia by 2035.
Director of Communications