MSC Cruises has announced details on the updated itinerary for MSC Bellissima‘s winter season starting November 6.
The vessel will be sailing seven-night cruises out of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, calling at King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) and Yanbu, Saudi Arabia; as well as Aqaba in Jordan.
Here are some updates to Bellissima‘s original itinerary:
- The port of Safaga in Egypt has been canceled as many countries that guests are from currently have Egypt listed as a high-risk destination and they’d need to quarantine upon returning home.
- Bellissima will now do an overnight in Yanbu so passengers can visit AlUla, described as The World’s Masterpiece. It’s one of the oldest cities in the Arabian Peninsula and home to Hegra, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
- KAEC has been added to the schedule, giving guests the chance to do a sightseeing tour of the holy city of Medina, known as “the Enlightened City” because of its pivotal role in the prophet Muhammad’s life. Also from KAEC, passengers can enjoy a full day at a pristine beach.
Along with the itinerary adjustments, MSC Cruises has announced highlights of their shore excursion program for these voyages. These include:
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
As the ship won’t depart until late in the evening, guests will be able to check in and embark the ship and then go ashore in the afternoon. Saudi Arabia’s second largest city blends history and modernity, and the City Of Culture & History tour will offer a journey through centuries and traditions. Guests can dive into the old town of Al Balad and experience the colorful artwork, oriental scents, and traditional architecture that the city is known for.
King Abdullah Economic City
KAEC’s construction only began in 2005, and this modern city is set to become a popular tourist spot. It’s close to the holy Islamic city of Medina, making this port ideal for visiting the site. The Medina Sightseeing tours offer a unique glimpse into the heartbeat of Medina.
Passengers looking for a day of relaxation can choose between two beach escapes: Pure Beach or Yam Beach.
Yanbu, Saudi Arabia
In Yanbu, the ship will remain in port overnight and into the next day, allowing guests the opportunity to visit one of the highlights of Saudi Arabia with a visit to Hegra, 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 is the second most important city of the Nabateans. A guided tour will allow passengers to discover some of its monuments; there are over one hundred at the site.
The ancient city of AlUla is situated in a desert setting in the Hijaz mountains, and is a place 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 around 900 brick houses, 400 shops, and a maze of alleys and squares.
Finally, Elephant Rock is comprised of two monolithic rocks — the “trunk” and the “body” — which stand out against the desert backdrop. Over the centuries, the weather has molded them into the shape of an elephant.
Yanbu is known as the diving capital of Saudi Arabia, so MSC offers a Snorkeling at Iona Coral Reef excursion. Guests can enjoy a kaleidoscope of fish, the marine flora, and the sunken wreck of the British ship Iona. Those who want to kick back and relax can take the Baridi Island Getaway, where they can relax on the beach of a crystal-clear sea on a secluded spot of Baridi Island.
Those who want to experience the Arabian desert can enjoy the magic of a desert camp under the stars. Passengers will learn the way of life of the camp inhabitants and have fun doing different camp activities.
Aqaba for Petra, Jordan
A major highlight of this itinerary 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, the city was rediscovered in 1812. Hewn out of the solid rock by Nabatean Arabs over 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.
Those intrigued by the Arabian Desert can visit the Wadi Rum area, full of rolling sand dunes in a valley. Guests will get to discover all it has to offer by riding through it on a 4WD vehicle, and then end the day with Arabic tea in a traditional Bedouin tent.
MSC Cruises guests have the option to book with a Fly&Cruise package from a wide range of international airports to Jeddah, in partnership with SAUDIA — the national airline of Saudi Arabia.
The seven-night voyages 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 into the city.
A similar variety of well-timed return flights are available for Saturday morning journeys home.