The Saudi Red Sea Authority, The Saudi Ports Authority (Mawani), and Cruise Saudi welcomed the inaugural visit of the first cruise ship to enter Dammam’s King Abdulaziz Port, with the arrival of MSC World Europa on Wednesday, according to a press release.
Carrying around 5,000 passengers, the ship’s arrival marks a historic moment for Cruise Saudi, Mawani, the Eastern Province and the country; as it opens Saudi Arabia’s coastline on the Arabian Gulf to cruising for the first time.
The Saudi Red Sea Authority facilitated regulatory arrangements’ efforts to ensure the arrival of MSC World Europa, as the regulator that enables the private sector to practice marine and maritime activities in collaboration with Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mawani, Saudi Tourism Authority and Saudi Cruise to resolve all challenges to attract investment and highlight the rich coastal tourism in Saudi Arabia.
Throughout Cruise Saudi’s current season, the ship will make weekly calls at King Abdulaziz Port on its seven-day itinerary, which also includes the ports of Doha – where it homeported during November and December last year hosting football fans – Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
The occasion was celebrated with the traditional Plaque & Key Exchange Ceremony on board MSC World Europa, attended by representatives of Cruise Saudi, Mawani, and the key Authorities whose efforts and cooperation drove this milestone, including, Saudi Red Sea Authority, and Zakat, Tax & Customs Authority, as well as the ship officials, including Captain of the vessel Marco Massa.
Cruise Saudi has previously welcomed four MSC cruise ships – including MSC Splendida, MSC Orchestra, MSC Virtuosa and MSC Bellissima – to Jeddah Islamic Port and Yanbu Commercial Port to sail the Red Sea.
Cruise Saudi CEO, Lars Clasen, commented: “As we welcome the first cruise ship and first group of passengers to King Abdulaziz Port, we open a new and important gateway connecting Saudi Arabia to the rest of the world – via the Arabian Gulf. Cruise Saudi was established to develop and create the cruise industry in the country and welcome tourists to explore the unique and rich Saudi history, heritage, culture and offering. And this moment marks another step toward our goal of establishing Saudi Arabia as a premier regional and global cruising destination. By leveraging the temperate climate, high-quality infrastructure and easy access to both the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf, we provide global cruise lines the opportunity to operate year-round cruising – which is not possible in many other major cruise destinations – and position the region as a promising player in the global industry.”
Saudi Red Sea Authority Acting CEO, Mohammed Asiri, added: “It is our absolute pleasure to participate and cooperate with our partners in the marine tourism sector to make history in Saudi Arabia, while working on developing regulatory arrangements for the navigational and coastal activities of the Red Sea, the opportunity came to have MSC cruise ship hotels for football fans from which best practices can be derived, and measuring the experience of tourists to apply this to the Red Sea during the upcoming seasons, where the organizational and procedural challenges were analyzed early and started to be addressed with our colleagues in Ministry of Interior, Foreign Affairs, Cruise Saudi and Saudi Ports Authority. We will continue to leverage this momentum to develop the regulatory arrangements in the maritime tourism and leisure sector and to attract more leisure cruises to ensure an enjoyable coastal tourism experience, on global standards, thus raising Saudi’s classification and its position in the global marine leisure tourism”.
Cruise Saudi’s season runs from November 2022 until May 2023 and is set to welcome over 75 scheduled calls from ships from five global cruise lines Sailing the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf.