In January of 2020, the world first learned of Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia’s tourism initiative that hopes to bring in 100 million visitors by the year 2030. What many didn’t realize at the time was that cruising was set to be a large part of that plan. Thanks to the country’s proximity between the Red Sea and Persian Gulf, Saudi Arabia is uniquely positioned to become a major cruise and travel destination in the coming years and the organization behind the scenes, Cruise Saudi, is already making waves in the industry.
At Seatrade Cruise Global in Miami this past September, Porthole Cruise and Travel Magazine Founder and Editor-in-Chief Bill Panoff met with Mark Robinson, the Chief Commercial and Operations Officer for Cruise Saudi to discuss how Saudi Arabia is poised to become an important factor in the cruise industry.
“Saudi Arabia now is focused on generating inbound business in tourism and 100 million people by 2030. So cruise becomes a huge part of this and it’s a great way for people to see the country as well. We’re developing five different ports and it’s part of the vision to grow the industry,” Robinson said.
MSC Cruises and Cruise Saudi
One of the most important partnerships in cruising these days is the one between MSC Cruises and Cruise Saudi. MSC is one of the fastest growing cruise lines and the two sides recently agreed on a five year deal for preferential berthing rights at the port of Jeddah for MSC Bellissima. Robinson was asked about how that partnership came to be.
“MSC is just one of our partners. We’re talking to various cruise lines, MSC and Scenic, Scenic brought the Scenic Eclipse this Summer as well so we’re working with mainstream brands and ultra-luxury brands as well. MSC based Bellisima there, and they’ve been sailing since July this year with all Saudi guests and we’ve sailed over 20,000 Saudis, creating a new market and then in the Winter, MSC Bellisima will be staying in the region for international guests as well,” Robinson said.
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