Geneva, Switzerland, 31 August 2023 - MSC Cruises will add new ports of call for two of its three sailing itineraries in the Middle East during the winter 2023-24 season to consolidate its position as the region’s number one line.
The Company will also back up its ambitious drive in the area’s growing popularity with 80,000 return air seats as part of its ‘Fly&Cruise’ programme with leading airlines, providing winter sunshine for international guests.
MSC Virtuosa will sail 17 new 7-night voyages in the Arabian Gulf from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to Doha in Qatar, the new port of call of Manama in Bahrain, both Abu Dhabi and Sir Bani Yas Island in the UAE and back to Dubai. International guests have a choice of three embarkation ports: Dubai, Doha and Abu Dhabi. MSC Virtuosa will also serve as a cruise ship hotel for the FORMULA 1® ETIHAD AIRWAYS ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX™ to be held between 24 and 26 November.
MSC Opera returns to the region after a successful 2022-23 season with 22 separate 7-night sailings in 2023-24 from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, Sir Bani Yas Island, either Khasab in Oman or Fujairah in the UAE, the Omani capital Muscat and back to Dubai.
MSC Cruises’ ‘Fly&Cruise’ product for winter 2023-24 has more than 60,000 return seats available throughout the season from Europe, South America and Canada to the Gulf region with nonstop flights to both Dubai with Emirates and Doha with Qatar Airways.
MSC Orchestra will operate a new itinerary during the winter 2023-24 season from Safaga in Egypt with 20 7-night sailings to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, Aqaba for Petra in Jordan, a new port of call at Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, Sokhna Port for Cairo in Egypt and back to Safaga for Luxor. International guests can embark at Safaga, Jeddah, Sharm El-Sheikh and Sokhna Port.
The ‘Fly&Cruise’ product for MSC Orchestra’s Red Sea sailings will provide more than 20,000 return air seats throughout the season and be available from most major European countries with flights to Hurghada in Egypt, which is relatively close to embark in Safaga, and air services to Sharm El-Sheikh. Guests from Brazil will fly to Cairo to board the ship at Sokhna Port.
Highlights of MSC Cruises’ Middle East Winter 2023-24 itineraries include:
Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Guests will get the opportunity to discover the glamourous city of Dubai, one of the world’s top travel destinations, renowned for its dazzling skyscrapers, gorgeous desert landscapes, magnificent fountains, grand shopping malls and pristine beaches. From visiting the iconic Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, witnessing a spectacular fountain show at the famed Dubai Fountain or escaping for an unforgettable dune safari in the enchanting Arabian desert, there’s a wealth of fascinating sites and adventures for travellers.
Manama, Bahrain: Bahrain’s charming capital, Manama, is a bustling and vibrant metropolis that is sure to suit the preferences of all, known for its stunning coastline, savory cuisine, towering skyscrapers and rich cultural heritage and historic sites. Guests can acquaint themselves with the city by visiting some of its most intriguing landmarks, including the striking AI-Fateh Grand Mosque, featuring the largest fibreglass dome in the world, the Bahrain National Museum giving guests an inside look into the country’s ancient past as well as a stroll to marvel at the impressive architecture of the UNESCO heritage site, Qal'at al-Bahrayn, also known as the Fort of Bahrain.
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates: The lively capital city of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi, is home to an abundance of cultural attractions including world-class museums, awe-inspiring mosques, exhilarating amusement parks, breathtaking desert dunes and beautiful islands. Whether it’s visiting the prominent Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, one of the world’s largest mosques, getting lost at the Louvre Abu Dhabi art museum, boasting incredible artworks from some of the most globally renowned artists or going for a thrilling ride on one of the world’s fastest rollercoasters at the Ferrari World theme park, there is no shortage of exciting activities to enjoy.
Muscat, Oman: The captivating destination of Muscat is full of rich history and culture with endless opportunities to create unforgettable memories. Guests will get the chance to dive into the capital city’s unique gems, home to remarkable forts and palaces, beautiful mosques, majestic mountains, fantastic beaches and vibrant souks and markets. The city’s unmissable attractions include the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, an outstanding architectural marvel, the Muttrah Souk, a traditional Omani market offering an array of goods and classic Omani souvenirs as well as The National Museum, displaying historical and heritage elements of the Sultanate and Peninsula of Oman.
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia: To enrich the cruise experience for guests, MSC Cruises became the first major cruise line to commence sailings out of Saudi Arabia, marking a new beginning for cruising in the country and providing exclusive opportunities for guests to discover Saudi Arabia’s incredible wonders. Homeporting in the vibrant city of Jeddah, which blends history and modernity, guests will have the unique opportunity to explore a plethora of sites including Al-Balad, the old town of Jeddah which dates to the 7th century, boasting beautiful buildings and an ancient souk which guests do not want to miss. One of MSC Cruises’ unmissable excursion highlights includes the chance to visit AlUla, one of the oldest cities in the Arabian Peninsula and home to Hegra, one of Saudi Arabia’s cultural masterpieces and its first UNESCO World Heritage Site. It features more than 110 tombs carved from giant rock formations as well as ancient sites that date back to the 1st millennium BC.
Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt: The Egyptian resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh is a must-visit destination and is set to enchant visitors with its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, vibrant coral reefs and world-class amenities. Guests will have the opportunity to uncover the city’s many treasures with a wide range of attractions for visitors of all ages. Whether it’s admiring the astonishing Al Mustafa Mosque, taking a trip to the golden sand beaches of Naama Bay, discovering the nearby Ras Mohammed, a national park famous for having some of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world and for being a haven for rare marine life, there’s no arguing that this Egyptian paradise will be the ultimate memorable destination for travellers.