AN Italian cruise ship, carrying more than 5,100 passengers, made its maiden port call in Bahrain.
MSC Splendida, which docked at Khalifa Bin Salman Port at 7.30am yesterday, was carrying 3,816 tourists and a crew of 1,313.
The ship, which left Dubai last Saturday, stopped in Abu Dhabi and Bani Yas Island on its way to Bahrain.
It set sail on its return journey last night and will be stopping at Doha before reaching Dubai on Saturday.
Captained by Giusappe Maresea, it is the largest ship to berth in Bahrain during the kingdom’s current cruise season which began in November last year.
With an approximate length of 330 metres, a height of 67m and a width of 38m, MSC Splendida comprises 18 decks, 14 of which are allocated for passengers.
It will be visiting Bahrain every Wednesday for five weeks, with the trips being organised by Al Sharif Group, Bahrain.
“This is MSC Splendida’s first trip to Bahrain,” said Al Sharif Group director Hassan Al Sharif.
“Last year, we brought in another ship, MSC Fantasia, which is a similar ship, only a bit smaller,” he told the GDN.
Government officials and members of Al Sharif Group were invited for a tour of the ship and treated to lunch later.
Chief guest Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority chief executive Shaikh Khaled bin Humood Al Khalifa exchanged crests with the captain.
Around 1,200 of the ship’s passengers were taken on a tour of the kingdom.
Fourteen tours with different activities were offered by Mathias Tourism.
Tourists were given a choice of attractions, including culture, ancient and modern Bahrain.
They were taken to popular destinations such as Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain Fort, Bahrain National Museum and Bahrain Financial Harbour.
“We wanted the tourists to see the beautiful side of Bahrain, showing them what makes the kingdom unique,” Mathias Tourism managing director Richard Mathias told the GDN.
He said the tourists enjoyed destinations such as the Manama Suq and the BIC, taking part in various activities which include karting.
“One of the activities the tourists really enjoyed was a cooking class where they were taught how to make traditional Bahraini food like machboos and samboosa.”
The cruise season, which continues until May, will see 54 cruise ships making port calls in Bahrain, marking a 10 per cent rise compared to last year which saw 42 port calls and 80pc increase from 2016, which saw 30 port calls.
An estimated 100,000 tourists are expected to arrive in the country throughout the season, compared to last year’s 93,000.
The GDN previously reported the visit of AIDA-stella which carried more than 1,800 passengers.
This season will see maiden calls being made by Mein Schiff 5, Minerva and Crystal Serenity, and approximately two cruise calls every week.