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MSC Cruises seals deal to fly 20,000 passengers to join winter Saudi sailings

Saudia is to supply 36,800 seats from Europe and North America to support MSC Cruises’ new sailings from Saudi Arabia and the Red Sea.

The deal aims to bring 20,000 new holidaymakers on winter fly-cruises to the country.

The Saudi Arabian flag carrier will feed MSC Bellissima’s seven-night sailings between this month and March 2022.

Flights will run from a range of major international airports to Jeddah to join the ship.

The main source markets for European passengers to sail from Saudi Arabia during the upcoming winter are Italy, Germany, France and Spain.

However, the airline has also adjusted its flight schedule to make it easier for travellers from the US, UK, Switzerland and Austria to join the ship, which departs on Saturdays at 11pm.

MSC Cruises began sailing from Jeddah in July following the signing of a five-year preferential berthing deal at the city’s port.

The ship departs for King Abdullah Economic City, then on to Yanbu for an overnight stay to allow for visits to AlUla, a day at sea before arriving at Aqaba in Jordan for trips to Petra and then a further day at sea before returning to Jeddah.

Prices from the UK start at £979 per person including return flights and local visa.

Chief executive Gianni Onorato said: “We are proud to  partner with Saudia, the Kingdom’s national flag carrier, and work towards the same common objectives in support of the further development of tourism in Saudi Arabia by bringing many thousands of international guests to discover this remarkable country, with more to come in future sailing seasons.

“Through this extensive flight programme we are able to make our new cruise offering even more accessible to holidaymakers from Europe and North America and deliver best-in-class experiences.

“Additionally, data demonstrates that a large percentage of tourists who visit a country for the first time while on a cruise holiday often return for a longer land stay with their families to further explore that country’s culture and other attractions.”

Ibrahim Al-Omar, director general of Saudi Arabian Airlines Corporation, added: “Saudia’s global route network is complementary to the flourishing Saudi cruise industry. The airline looks forward to this collaboration with MSC Cruises, to showcase the breadth of leisure offerings available in Saudi Arabia.”

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