Cruise Saudi to double team as it seeks to attract more operators


Cruise Saudi is set to double its team in the coming months as it prepares to attract more operators to the Kingdom.

It comes as Saudi Arabia looks to develop a thriving cruise sector to showcase its top tourist attractions for the first time.

It also follows the recent announcement that MSC Cruises will become the first operator to home port in Jeddah this year.

Mark Robinson, chief commercial and operations officer at Cruise Saudi told an online panel at the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai that the company could soon make further cruise operator announcements as it hired more staff at its Jeddah base.

“MSC was the first one but stand by, there will be other ships down in the Red Sea this winter,” he said. “We will be a one stop shop for the cruise lines liaising with the government in terms of cruise visas, port services and shore excursion providers.”

Robinson, who is this week in Miami meeting with cruise industry companies, said the company’s 40-strong team would grow to 95 by the end of the third-quarter of 2021.

PIF launched Cruise Saudi in January to develop a cruise industry in the Kingdom and help create more than 50,000 jobs in the tourism industry through 2035. It will develop ports and terminals in several Saudi cities to give access to Saudi heritage and culture, including a number of UNESCO World Heritage sites that are near the coast.

As well as the new Red Sea cruises from Jeddah with MSC Magnifica, the company’s newest ship MSC Virtuosa will visit Dammam during her first season in the Gulf from her homeport in Dubai. MSC Opera will also be based in Dubai for winter 2021/22 for cruises to Oman.

Robinson said that the arrival of cruise ships in Saudi Arabia for the first time would also bring dividends to the entire region as more tourists visited the Gulf.