Saudi Arabia is fast emerging as an important destination for cruise ships operating in the region. Recently Jeddah Islamic Port and Yanbu Commercial Port both handled large cruise vessels marking the third season of Saudi cruise activity. The third season is expected to see Saudi ports welcome over 75 calls from international cruise lines at both Yanbu and Jeddah ports.
Yanbu Commercial Port officially kickstarted the latest cruise season, expected to run between November 2022 and May 2023, by berthing MSC Splendida, which also berthed at Jeddah Islamic Port. To celebrate the start of the new season, a crest exchange ceremony was held at both ports onboard the 4300-passenger vessel, which is scheduled to make weekly trips from Jeddah and Yanbu, cementing their stature as fast-emerging cruise tourism destinations in the region alongside those in Egypt and Jordan.
The growth in cruise capacity aligns with the ambitions of Cruise Saudi, a Public Investment Fund-owned business that oversees the development of the local cruise ecosystem and aims to position the Kingdom as a premier global cruise destination. 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.
Saudi ports have hosted more than 50,000 passengers from 80 countries aboard more than 70 cruise liners during the past two seasons, with the third season expected to be busier still.