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October 18 2021 6:06 PM ˚

The Scenic Eclipse hits Aqaba’s shores

The launch of the service comes two days after Saudi Arabia opened its first cruise ship terminal at the port in Jeddah, on Saudi’s west coast. (Photos: Handout from ASEZA)
The launch of the service comes two days after Saudi Arabia opened its first cruise ship terminal at the port in Jeddah, on Saudi’s west coast. (Photos: Handout from ASEZA)
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The Scenic Eclipse docked at Aqaba on Sunday, carrying an assemblage of Saudi businessmen. This is the second cruise ship to depart Saudi shores for Aqaba since pandemic restrictions have been eased. The Agence France-Presse reported on Saturday that "super cruise ship MSC Bellissima had departed Saudi Arabia for the first time on Friday, setting sail for regional waters as Saudi seeks to expand its tourism industry and diversify its oil-dependent economy."اضافة اعلان

Deputy Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority Sharhabeel Madi told Jordan News that the importance of the Scenic Eclipse trip lies in the fact that it is the first marine tourism line of its kind, which is set to serve Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt. It also brings hope for Aqaba’s tourism sector, said Madi. The Scenic Eclipse will mark the onset of tourism integration among Arab countries on the Red Sea, creating new and different tourism products and stimulating a tourism movement to benefit these countries, he added.

Madi pointed out that, as part of their itinerary, Saudi businessmen on board the ship will visit Wadi Rum and Petra, take helicopter trips to Petra, participate in submarine diving trips, take individual diving lessons in cooperation with diving clubs in Aqaba, and visit the Ayla Oasis, among other activities.

Director of Gargour Shipping Company's operations Abdul Rahman Ali told Jordan News that the Eclipse is the first to carry Saudi businessmen on a tourist trip.

The ship is equipped with a submarine for deep-sea exploration trips, two helicopters, small boats that are used to transport passengers at sea, and marine games and sports such as boats and paddle boards, according to Ali.

Ali added that the ship will make nine visits to Aqaba in the remaining months of 2021 with an average of one trip every 10 days. Each trip should last no more than 15 hours. The director also noted that the first trip carried more than 85 tourists, most of whom are Saudi, as well as more than 170 crew members. All passengers had received the vaccine and showed negative PCR tests before boarding the ship. The number of tourists, according to Ali, is expected to rise with each trip.

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