Seabound luxury on the Arabian coast
For the first time in Saudi, cruise ships are setting sail from the Red Sea coast, offering guests of all ages a sumptuous getaway that blends culture, adventure and balmy summer sun. Escape to culinary feasts, elegant spas, and boundless skies, as you drift between islands and sail for the horizon. The Red Sea is the doorway to a world of wonder, through which white sand atolls, lapping waves and shoals of jewel-bright fish beckon. The best way to gain an overview of this beautiful and diverse coastline is by ship – and particularly from the opulent upper deck of a sleek, luxury liner.
Pool on a cruise ship
With thriving marine life, technicolor virgin reefs and uninhabited islands, the sun-soaked Red Sea coast is an unspoiled marvel that showcases the best of Saudi Arabia’s coastal charms.
Adventure awaits on crystalline waters, white-sand atolls and in an underwater world that stretches from ancient shipwrecks to exotic dive sites, with bountiful coral habitats. For those seeking to relax and recline, the lapping azure waves and balmy, palm-fringed islands offer the perfect backdrop.
Private yacht charters and luxury cruise liners are fast becoming the premier way to experience the best of the Red Sea, combining personalized luxury with exclusive access to the coast’s most secluded spots. Luxury travel operators offer bespoke itineraries on a wide choice of vessels from yachts to superyachts complete with hot tubs and a full staff to full scale luxury cruise liners.
Visitors can enjoy private islands before dining on the bleached sands; swim, snorkel or kayak in the pink predawn, and see first-hand the sublime beauty of the Gulf’s longest coastline. At night, as the sun sinks over the sea, relax on the deck underneath a sky full of constellations.
Wildlife and watersports
For divers and those interested in marine life, the Red Sea truly is the final frontier, home to dozens of rare species that you won’t discover anywhere else in the world. Those with a Cousteau spirit of exploration can accompany experienced dive masters into the deep on the lookout for whitetip sharks, gliding guitarfish and blue-spotted rays, while jet skis, wakeboards and paddleboards provide plenty of fun above the water, too.
With over 100 unblemished remote islands, the tropical utopia of Umluj has been described as the Maldives of Saudi Arabia. As well as offering the once-in-a-lifetime chance to picnic and unwind on palm-lined desert islands, a private charter among the flawless beaches and turquoise waters of this archipelago showcases the kingdom’s considerable conservation efforts, with its nature reserves protecting endangered nesting turtles and acting as a waypoint for thousands of migratory birds.
Undoubtedly the highlight of a chartered trip is being able to explore some of the Red Sea’s restricted areas, otherwise closed to the public. Visiting the protected islands that form part of the ambitious project in Neom is one such exclusive opportunity, where the focus on sustainable development can be witnessed at the Sindalah Marine Sanctuary. Make sure to plot a course for the Georgios G shipwreck – sometimes referred to as the Saudi Titanic after it ran aground in 1978 – for more kaleidoscopic underwater delights, or the natural wonder of Wadi Tayeb Al-Ism, with its 600-meter high granite monolith and shimmering oasis stream.
Red Sea Spirit offers two Red Sea cruise itineraries. The first spans three nights (four days), departing from the King Abdullah Port in King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), spending a day in Yanbu, Ras Abyadh followed by a day at sea, before returning guests to KAEC on the fourth day. The second, a four night trip (five days), departs from King Abdullah Port in KAEC, spending two days in NEOM, Magna, followed by a stop at Yanbu, Ras Abyadh and sailing back to KAEC on the fifth day.