MSC Group has signed a five-year agreement with Cruise Saudi for preferential berthing rights at the port of Jeddah.

The line said this was further sign of its long-term commitment to support the development of the local tourism sector by operating cruises in the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf.

The announcement was made in Jeddah as MSC Bellissima celebrated the opening of a new passenger terminal with a commemorative event on board.

The terminal will welcome guests onboard an inaugural season in the Red Sea.

MSC Bellissima will sail three- and four-night cruises from Jeddah to both Egypt and Jordan until the end of October.

Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman, MSC Cruises, said: “This is a very special, historic day for all of us. 

“The largest and most modern cruise ship to operate in the Red Sea has set sail from Jeddah’s new terminal to mark a new beginning for cruising in Saudi Arabia and, more broadly, for its growing tourism industry.”

He added: “We can now allow our global guest base to come and experience our unique itineraries in this beautiful country with its historic UNESCO World Heritage sites and pristine shores.

“And with the new agreement in place, together with Cruise Saudi we will work in unison to develop this very special aspect of Saudi Arabia’s determined and sustainable growth in tourism which mirrors exactly our own strategy and ambition.”