MSC Cruises has revealed details of its updated itinerary for MSC Bellissima’s winter season sailing out of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, beginning Nov. 6, 2021.

The ship will now offer 7-night cruises calling at King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) and Yanbu in Saudi Arabia, and Aqaba in Jordan, before returning to Jeddah.

The port of Safaga in Egypt has been removed from the original itinerary, as many countries have Egypt listed as a high-risk destination due to the pandemic, and would require guests to quarantine upon their return.

The itinerary has added an overnight in Yanbu, which will allow guests to visit AlUla, one of the oldest cities in the Arabian Peninsula and home to Hegra, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

KAEC has also been added to the itinerary, allowing guests to visit the holy city of Medina, known as the “Enlightened City” because of its important role in the life of the Prophet Muhammad.

MSC Cruises has also unveiled details of its shore excursion options available on the itinerary. As the ship does not depart from Jeddah until late in the evening, guests can go ashore in the afternoon and explore Saudi Arabia’s second-largest city. The City of Culture & History tour will visit the old town of Al Balad (a UNESCO World Heritage site), and explore the colorful artwork and traditional architecture that it is known for.

KAEC is a modern city that began its construction in 2005, and makes an ideal destination from which to visit Medina, the second most holy Islamic city. The Medina Sightseeing tours offer a glimpse into this important site of Islamic pilgrimage. The city is also close to two beach escapes, Pure Beach and Yam Beach, for sun and relaxation.

While in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, the ship will remain in port overnight and into the next day so that guests can have time to visit Hegra (Al-Hijr Archaeological Site), AlUla ancient town, and the Elephant Rock. Hegra was the first designated UNESCO World Heritage site in Saudi Arabia and was the second most important city of the Nabateans. AlUla is situated in the Hijaz mountains and features a citadel dating back to the 10th century, as well as some 900 brick houses, 400 shops and a maze of alleyways and squares. While Elephant Rock is a site consisting of two monolithic rocks, the “trunk” and the “body,” which have been shaped over the centuries by the weather into the shape of an elephant.

Aqaba, Jordan gives guests the opportunity to visit Petra, a UNESCO World Heritage site hewn out of solid rock in the middle of the Jordanian desert by Nabatean Arabs more than 2,000 years ago. The city lay hidden for centuries, before being rediscovered in 1812, and is a jewel of early engineering that featured a sophisticated water conduit system that turned the city into an artificial oasis.

MSC Cruises guests can book a seamless vacation experience with a ‘Fly & Cruise’ package, departing for Jeddah from a wide range of international airports including John F. Kennedy Airport in NYC and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, VA.

For more information, visit msccruisesusa.com.