JEDDAH: The MSC Bellissima, a vessel longer than three football fields, departed for the first in a series of voyages from Jeddah Islamic Port to Aqaba in Jordan and Safaga in Egypt.
The launch of the service comes two days after Saudi Arabia opened its first cruise ship terminal at the port in Jeddah.
“The inauguration of the first cruise ship port represents an important step ... to support the growth of the tourism sector in the Kingdom,” Cruise Saudi Managing Director Fawaz Farooqi said, quoted by Saudi Press Agency.
Geneva-headquartered MSC Cruises announced last week it had signed a five-year agreement with Cruise Saudi for preferential berthing rights at the port of Jeddah.
The ship is equipped with a 975-seat main theater, an aquapark, a bowling alley, an F1 simulator, a kids club, a cinema and a shopping gallery with more than 200 brands.
The price of journeys start at SR2,195 Saudi (about $585), according to travel agencies.
The Public Investment Fund launched Cruise Saudi in January of this year to develop a cruise industry in the Kingdom.
Mark Robinson, chief operations and commercial officer, Cruise Saudi, said in a recent statement: “The creation of Cruise Saudi, tasked with launching the cruise industry in Saudi Arabia, happened just six months ago at (the Future Investment Initiative) in Riyadh.”
“The remit of Cruise Saudi — to create 50,000 jobs by 2025, to facilitate the building of an additional five ports, with Jeddah as a homeport, and to welcome 1.5 million annual passenger visits by 2028 — is an ambitious one, which will play a major part in strengthening the tourism industry in Saudi Arabia,” he said.