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#ATM2024: Get ready to explore Saudi Arabia by sea

While cruise companies - Royal Caribbean, Carnival Corporation and MSC Cruises - announced in January this year that they are being forced to cancel or reroute voyages due to rising tensions in the Red Sea and attacks by the Iran-backed Houthi militia in Yemen, one cruise company is bucking the trend and challenging the narrative that it is unsafe to travel in the Red Sea.
Source: Aroya. The Aroya Cruises’ private island.
Source: Aroya. The Aroya Cruises’ private island.

Cruise Saudi, which recently introduced its cruise brand, Aroya Cruises, is set to launch its all-new cruise liner on its inaugural voyage in December this year.

In a move that sets a precedent for travel to the Red Sea, Cruise Saudi is set to offer travellers diverse trip options including visits to the Aroya Cruises’ private island, Egypt and Jordan.

With Saudi having previously been closed to all but religious pilgrims and business travellers until recent years, this development is poised to offer visitors to the area the very best of Saudi.

From thriving marine life to bustling restaurants and souqs, and six Unesco World Heritage Sites to explore, there is an abundance of truly amazing experiences on both land and sea in Saudi.

Available excursions include snorkelling in the Red Sea coral reef, discovering secluded islands in Yanbu and exploring the thriving city metropolis of Dammam.

The inaugural jewel

The first in what is expected to be a fleet of cruise liners launched by Aroya Cruises, Aroya Manara presents a 335m floating resort boasting 1,678 cabins with sea-facing balconies. Furthermore, the vessel showcases opulent suites and villas.

Accommodating over 3,362 passengers, the ship boasts 20 entertainment venues spread across 18 decks.

Passengers can indulge in a comprehensive shopping experience at the Souq Aroya retail area and enjoy performances in the 1,018-seat theatre, which includes shows and movies for children.

Additionally, the cruise ship offers five complimentary restaurants, 11 specialty restaurants, and 12 cafés and lounges.

Moreover, Aroya Cruises provides exclusive VIP experiences, featuring spacious premium suites, outdoor lounges, and exceptional dining options.

Redefining regional travel

“Aroya Cruises is a visionary product, the likes of which have never been seen before in the local or regional marketplace, said Turky Kari, executive director, marketing and corporate communications for Aroya Cruises at this year’s Arabian Travel Market hosted in Dubai.

“It is a significant step in providing new holiday options for Saudi-nationals and their neighbours; a unique opportunity for them to explore their homeland like never before.”

Source: Aroya. Sharm El Sheikh, a coastal tourist city located in the south of Sinai, Egypt, known for its white sandy beaches and clear blue waters.
Source: Aroya. Sharm El Sheikh, a coastal tourist city located in the south of Sinai, Egypt, known for its white sandy beaches and clear blue waters.

Significantly enhancing accessibility to this once secluded region, Cruise Saudi - a 100% Public Investment Fund owned business - has collaborated with both public- and private-sector allies to construct and upgrade berths and passenger terminals throughout Saudi Arabia.

Apart from the established cruise ports in Jeddah, Yanbu, and Dammam, Cruise Saudi is also progressing with additional port projects, such as the one in Jazan, situated at the edge of Saudi Arabia's Red Sea coastline.

Further streamlining tourist travel to Saudi Arabia, Cruise Saudi has partnered with government and regulatory bodies to implement maritime e-visas for cruise passengers, and is working to enhance their terminal experience, simplifying immigration procedures, and removing the need for biometric screening.

Cruise Saudi’s offering is in line with its ambitious goal to welcome 1.3 million cruise passengers to Saudi by 2035, and supports the country’s wider Vision 2030 agenda, which aims to welcome 150 million visitors to Saudi annually by 2030.

About Katja Hamilton

Katja is the Finance, Property and Healthcare Editor at Bizcommunity.
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