Embark with Cruise Saudi to Experience Saudi’s Breathtaking Beauty
Saudi is an exciting destination with a rapidly expanding tourism industry. The country offers not only deserts, but an incredibly rich marine ecosystem, stunning untouched beaches and islands, including the Red Sea’s unique and spectacular coral reef, historical and cultural sites, combined with modern architecture and cities – and most importantly, a vibrant and hospitable culture.
Cruise Saudi is driving the development of a fully integrated world-class and sustainable local cruise industry, in line with the goals of Vision 2030 – the Saudi leadership’s transformation blueprint. The industry not only plays an integral role in Saudi’s economic diversity and social transformation but is also opening new gateways welcoming the world to come and experience Saudi, making it a must-visit destination on travel lists of cruise enthusiasts. The aim is to expand tourism in Saudi, by attracting 100 million visits by 2030, of which one million will be welcomed by Cruise Saudi by 2028; and one is for 10% of GDP coming from tourism.
The country offers superior connectivity to the rest of the world – approximately 250 million people in Europe, Asia and Africa live within a three-hour flight from the Red Sea or Arabian Gulf. This puts Saudi in an ideal position to develop the Red Sea and Arabian Peninsula into the potential cruising hub, echoing the history of the region as a maritime hub.
In order to ensure a comfortable, seamless and memorable cruising experience for tourists as they set out to experience the wonders of Saudi by ship, Cruise Saudi works closely with local partners such as The Saudi Ports Authority (MAWANI) to develop ports around the country to enable cruising. Jeddah Islamic Port became home to Saudi’s first cruise passenger terminal in 2021, and both Yanbu and Dammam are now equipped with the infrastructure required to welcome cruise ships. Since its launch, just over a year ago, Cruise Saudi has welcomed ships from major international cruise lines such as MSC Cruises, Scenic Group, Silver Sea & Viking, enabling 50,000 passengers so far to experience Saudi by sea during the 2021/22 Summer and Winter Seasons.
Visiting Saudi offers tourists a chance to experience a diverse culture and varied landscape with a history that can be traced back to the earliest civilizations of Arabian culture. Hegra, located in AlUla – accessible to cruise passengers via Yanbu port – was the southern capital of the Nabataean civilization, who also built Petra (in Jordan), and was Saudi’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Yanbu, also known as the diving capital of Saudi, offers a thrilling and memorable diving experience in the spectacular coral reefs, buzzing with colorful fish and the mysterious old Iona shipwreck.
Jeddah’s historical AlBalad district is also recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and embodies the unique Hijazi style architecture of the area. Strolling through the aisles of the old market, visitors’ senses will be heightened by the colorful artwork, oriental scents and local gastronomy, living a traditional Saudi trade experience. Jeddah has an important maritime history as an international hub for merchant travelers transporting goods from around the world and is now the commercial center of Saudi. The city is a cultural crossroads and a vibrant hub combining heritage and modernity, where visitors can enjoy the historical and modern landmarks of the city, strolling down the waterfront corniche and taking time to admire the world’s tallest fountain.
This is the first time that any of Saudi’s six UNESCO World Heritage Sites have been featured on cruise itineraries, and Cruise Saudi is working with partners on the ground to activate more destinations and promote touristic activities all around Saudi. These include The Red Sea Development Company & Amaala, NEOM, Sharqiya Development Authority and the Royal Commission for AlUla.
Cruise Saudi’s partnerships – both local and international – have been integral to its multiple successes thus far. The company aims to bring together entities on to one platform to build a fully coordinated cruise industry in Saudi; from international cruise lines to shore excursion facilities and infrastructure to the airlift with national carrier SAUDIA.
Developing specialized human capital is crucial to operate a relatively new industry such as cruising and to offer guests a high-quality and memorable experience. To ensure the future workforce is equipped with the required skill set and practical experience, Cruise Saudi has launched a series of training programs and has more in the pipeline in addition to its goal of creating 50,000 direct and indirect jobs by 2035.
In collaboration with the Culinary Arts Commission, Cruise Saudi training programs include onboard training for local chefs as well as tour guides specialized in culinary arts. The company also works with the local travel industry on everything from educating travel agents to upskilling tour guides and operators to creating and showcasing a wide array of entertainment, nature and adventure offerings.
Cruise Saudi has been warmly welcomed by the global cruise and tourism industry, having attended events such as Seatrade Cruise Global, the World Travel Market and the WTTC Global Summit. Its achievements so far have also been recognized with Cruise Saudi placing as a finalist for Destination of the Year 2021 at the Seatrade Cruise Global Awards and winner of Best New Business Model at the Tourism Innovation Summit in 2021.
In just over a year, Cruise Saudi has made a lot of progress. From developing ports around Saudi and welcoming international cruise lines to Saudi for the first time to operating both a Summer and Winter Season and welcoming local and international guests to experience Saudi by sea. There’s so much that Saudi has to offer in terms of its unique landscapes, oceans, cultural and historical wonders – and Cruise Saudi opens a new gateway for the world to come and explore.
This post was sponsored by Cruise Saudi