Geneva, Switzerland – November 2, 2021 – MSC Cruises confirmed today the details of the updated itinerary for MSC Bellissima’s winter season sailing out of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia beginning on November 6. The ship is now due to offer 7-night cruises calling at the Saudi Arabian ports of King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) and Yanbu, then on to Aqaba in Jordan before returning to Jeddah. Along this updated itinerary, guests will be able to enjoy an unparalleled voyage of discovery, tradition and culture combined with sun, beach and relaxation.
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Booked and prospective guests should note the following updates to the original itinerary:
• The port of Safaga in Egypt has been cancelled as many countries from where our guests originate currently have the country listed as a high-risk destination due to the pandemic and on return they would be obliged to undergo quarantine.
• Other changes have been made to further optimize and enrich this brand-new itinerary to offer guests the best possible opportunity to discover everything that Saudi Arabia has to offer. MSC Bellissima will now do an overnight in Yanbu so that guests can visit AlUla, described as The World's Masterpiece. AlUla is one of the oldest cities in the Arabian Peninsula and home to Hegra, a UNESCO World Heritage site. For those looking for sun, sand and sea, there are opportunities for visiting a secluded island, snorkeling at the coral reef or a real Saudi experience, an Arabian desert camp.
• KAEC has been also been added to the itinerary to give guests the opportunity to enjoy a sightseeing tour of the holy city of Medina, known as “the Enlightened City” because of the city’s pivotal role in the Prophet Muhammad’s life. Also, from KAEC, guests can enjoy a full day out with a stunning pristine beach making the most of the beautiful winter sun and the warm turquoise waters.
Today MSC Cruises also revealed highlights of their program of discovery ashore, with a host of shore excursion options specially designed to enrich the cruise experience in this incredible region. Highlights of this include:
JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA: As the ship does not leave the port until late in the evening, guests will be able to check-in and embark the ship and then go ashore in the afternoon to make the most of their day. Saudi Arabia’s second largest city blends history and modernity and for a taster of everything it offers. A City Of Culture & History tour offers a journey through centuries of culture and traditions - dive into the old town of Al Balad (a UNESCO World Heritage site) and experience the colorful artwork, oriental scents and traditional architecture that the city is known for.
KING ABDULLAH ECONOMIC CITY (KAEC): KAEC’s construction only began in 2005 and this modern metropolis is set to become a popular tourist destination. It’s close proximity to the second most holy Islamic city, Medina, makes this port an ideal destination to visit the site. The Medina Sightseeing tours offer a unique glimpse into the second most important site of Islamic pilgrimage.
For guests looking for a day of tranquil relaxation, there is a choice of two beach escapes - Pure Beach or Yam Beach where guests may enjoy their dose of music, sun and sea, while catching up on their tans.
YANBU, SAUDI ARABIA: The ship will remain in port overnight and into the next day to allow guests the opportunity to visit one of the unmissable highlights of Saudi Arabia with a visit to Hegra (Al-Hijr Archaeological Site), AlUla ancient town and the Elephant Rock. Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage site Hegra, is an ancient city hidden in the sands of the desert and the second most important city of the Nabateans. A guided tour will allow guests to discover some of its monuments – there are more than a hundred at the site. the ancient city of AlUla, situated in a desert setting in the Hijaz mountains and where pilgrims, travelers and permanent settlers have gathered over the centuries. Surrounded by an ancient oasis, the old town of AlUla is dominated by a citadel dating back to the 10th century and has some 900 brick houses, 400 shops and an atmospheric maze of alleyways and squares. Finally, Elephant Rock is a must for any holiday photo album - the two monolithic rocks, the "trunk" and the "body", which stand out against the desert backdrop have been shaped over the centuries by the weather into the shape of an elephant.
Yanbu is known as “the diving capital of Saudi Arabia” and adventure-seekers need look no further than Snorkeling at Iona Coral Reef. Enjoy a kaleidoscope of fish, the marine flora and the sunken wreck of the British ship Iona. Enjoy this adventure swimming in the crystal-clear waters of Yanbu; its snorkelling spot is replete with some of the most amazing reef systems in the world. For guests who prefer to kick back and enjoy the sun for their holiday, the Baridi Island Getaway offers hours of relaxation, fun, sun and a crystal-clear sea on a secluded spot of Baridi Island.
For guests who want to experience the Arabian desert they can enjoy the magic of a desert camp under the stars- the perfect ingredients for this unforgettable excursion. Enjoy the romance of the desert at night and connect with nature and the landscape. Learn the way of life of the camp inhabitants and have fun with the different camp activities. This will be a feast for all senses that will reconnect you with ancient traditions and with the desert nature.
AQABA FOR PETRA, JORDAN: An undeniable highlight is a visit to the Wonders of Petra - the ancient city and UNESCO World Heritage site in the middle of the Jordanian desert. After laying hidden for centuries, this jewel of early engineering was rediscovered in 1812. Hewn out of the solid rock by Nabatean Arabs more than 2.000 years ago, it served as their capital city and featured a sophisticated water conduit system that turned the city into an artificial oasis.
For those intrigued by the romance of the Arabian Desert, the timeless and beautiful Wadi Rum area is full of rolling sand dunes in a beautiful valley. The area has been inhabited since prehistoric times and guests will get to discover it in the most modern of ways, riding through the magnificent scenery in a 4WD vehicle and ending the day with delicious Arabic tea in a traditional Bedouin tent.
To find out more about MSC Bellissima’s shore excursion program for winter 21/22 visit here.
MSC Cruises guests will be able to book a seamless holiday experience with a ‘Fly & Cruise’ package from a wide range of major international airports to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. This is in partnership with SAUDIA, the national airline of Saudi Arabia.
The 7-night cruises depart the port of Jeddah at 11 pm every Saturday night and SAUDIA has adjusted its flight schedule with Friday night flights from Milan, Rome, Frankfurt, Munich, Paris and Madrid with Saturday morning arrivals in the Saudi Arabian city to provide opportunities to enjoy the city or transfer from the airport to the sea port.
A similar range of conveniently timed return flights are available for Saturday morning journeys home to offer guests with the maximum comfort and peace of mind to enjoy their holiday to the utmost.
To find out more about this winter’s Saudi Arabia and Red Sea cruises on MSC Bellissima visit here and to find out more about the health and safety protocol visit here.