Yanbu Commercial Port has officially kickstarted the third edition of the Saudi cruise season by berthing MSC Splendida, which arrived from Jeddah Islamic Port, thereby marking the maiden cruise call for the current season that will run from November 2022 until May 2023, according to Mawani’s release.
To celebrate the start of the new season, a crest exchange ceremony was held at Jeddah and Yanbu onboard the 4300-passenger luxury liner, which is scheduled to make weekly trips from Jeddah Islamic Port as part of its itinerary that covers both the Red Sea hubs given their stature as fast-emerging cruise tourism destinations in the region besides Egypt and Jordan.
The influx of cruise ships into the Kingdom’s waters follows the strategic efforts of the Saudi Ports Authority (Mawani) to attract high vessel traffic and offer top tier services under the guidance of the National Transport and Logistics Strategy (NTLS), which aims to bolster the local economy, foster the growth of the tourism sector, improve the overall quality of life, and enrich the local entertainment and sports scene with competitive offerings.
Saudi ports are well-equipped to receive cruise vessels thanks to its state-of-the-art infrastructure and operational capabilities, which also makes it a preferred investment hotspot for the global maritime industry.
The unprecedented growth in cruise capacity aligns well with the ambitions of Cruise Saudi, a Public Investment Fund-owned business that oversees the development of the local cruise ecosystem, to position the Kingdom as a premier global cruise destination.
The third season is expected to welcome over 75 calls from international cruise lines at both Yanbu and Jeddah ports.
The national maritime regulator and Cruise Saudi have worked in tandem with public and private sector partners to build and refurbish three berths and passenger terminals at Jeddah Islamic Port, Yanbu Commercial Port, and Dammam’s King Abdulaziz Port to homeport and receive cruise ships besides ensuring a smooth and seamless passenger turnaround through faster processing.
Saudi ports have hosted more than 50,000 passengers hailing from 80 countries aboard more than 70 cruise liners during the past two seasons.