Cruise Saudi offers a new perspective of Arabia
An AVID traveller or tourist is usually on the lookout for a culturally rich, distinctive, and authentic experience – and that is what Saudi Arabia offers. It is a beautiful country full of diverse landscapes, oceans, islands, mountains, and a wide array of historical and cultural wonders that define the country – all underpinned by the quintessential Saudi hospitality and vibrancy.
Cruise Saudi is driving the development of a new and exciting cruise industry in Saudi, offering tourists a chance to experience the country’s wide offering and natural beauty, by land and sea, in an entirely unique and immersive way.
The company was officially launched in January 2021 during the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh. Its goal is to develop a world-class local cruise industry – one that will serve as a new economic pillar, another growth engine, and an experiential dimension to the overarching tourism industry, in line with Vision 2030, the Saudi leadership’s transformation blueprint.
“Our ultimate goal is to establish the Red Sea and Saudi as a cruising hub, echoing the history of the region as a maritime hub”
– Lars Clasen
Despite the impact of the pandemic over the last two years, we have received an overwhelmingly positive response from both local and international visitors, reflecting how Saudi has already made its mark as a promising player on the global tourism stage.
In a short span of time, cruising has opened a new gateway that connects Saudi to the rest of the world and successfully welcomed around 50,000 tourists on more than 70 sailings in our summer and winter seasons in 2021/2022. Our ultimate goal is to welcome one million cruise passengers by 2028, as part of the Vision 2030 goal to attract 100 million local and international visits to Saudi by 2030.
Our plan moving forward is clear. We will work with our partners to develop more ports and destinations, in addition to a wide range of shore excursions that cater to all sorts of activities and interests for visitors from culture and heritage to entertainment, adventure and nature – and ensure our guests have the complete Saudi experience.
We’ve facilitated the development of the required infrastructure, with full government support, to enable cruising in Saudi which has included four ports around the country (with two more set for completion by 2025) and established partnerships with international cruise line operators – MSC, Scenic Group, Viking Line and Silversea. In the coming months and years, we will continue to build more partnerships with cruise lines who are interested in bringing their ships to sail Saudi waters in the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf as the industry grows more confident and continues to recover as the world emerges from the pandemic.
We are also working with our partners on ground to develop more destinations and promote touristic activities around the country. This includes collaboration with the Royal Commission for AlUla (home to Hegra, Saudi’s first Unesco World Heritage Site), The Red Sea Development Company & Amaala, NEOM and the Sharqiya Development Authority.
Cruise Saudi has access to three of Saudi’s six Unesco World Heritage sites, and we hope to feature more in our itineraries as we expand our cruise capability and develop more ports with cruise facilities.
Our ultimate goal is to establish the Red Sea and Saudi as a cruising hub, echoing the history of the region as a maritime hub, with Cruise Saudi as the driving force behind building a fully integrated and sustainable cruise offering.
Through the country’s unique, diverse and authentic offering, we hope to welcome not only new guests but returning visitors as there is simply so much that is yet to be seen.
Saudi is open for the world to come and experience!
* Lars Clasen is CEO, Cruise Saudi