Aroya Cruises gets ready for 2024 debut

Lars Clasen

In a series of announcements for its new premium cruise line, Aroya Cruises, Cruise Saudi has confirmed exclusive collaborations with retail operator Gebr. Heinemann; integrated leisure services platform Columbia blue – The Leisure Group; and sector leaders in cruise ship outfitting, MJM Marine and DE Wave.

Cruise Saudi’s strategy is to partner with outstanding sector-leading vendors to ensure that Aroya Cruises offers the highest standard of services and facilities when it debuts in 2024.



Since Aroya Cruises aims to provide experiences and services specifically designed to embrace Arabian preferences, retail offerings will form a crucial part of onboard experiences.

Gebr. Heinemann, a giant in the travel retail sector, will work directly with the world’s best-known luxury brands and its wide range of products extends from perfume and cosmetics to confectionery, fashion, accessories, watches, and jewellery.


Our ultimate goal at Cruise Saudi is to welcome 1.3 million cruise passengers annually by 2035 and position Saudi as a regional and international cruising hub
– Lars Clasen



Supplying more than 50 airlines, operating as wholesalers and retailers in over 90 countries, as well as supplying or operating shops onboard 240 cruise ships and ferries, Gebr. Heinemann promises ‘unforgettable shopping experiences’ to the guests.



Columbia blue is the chosen ship manager for Aroya Cruises. It specialises in the full management of cruise and expedition passenger vessels and provides services to some of the most renowned brands in the world.

For Aroya Cruises, Columbia blue will oversee the hotel management including housekeeping, guest relations, food & beverage, crew management and deck and engine management.

Lars Clasen, CEO of Cruise Saudi, commented: “Columbia blue is a leader in the ship management industry and an instrumental organisation for Aroya Cruises to work with. This strategic partnership is crucial in ensuring that Aroya Cruises passengers have the best possible experience on-board.”



Cruise Saudi announced its collaboration with exceptional sector leaders in cruise ship outfitting, MJM Marine and DE Wave.

MJM Marine is the globally renowned name in marine outfitting services. Its scope of work for Aroya Cruises includes upgrades to all existing cabins and suites, the creation of multiple culinary, retail and relaxation venues, steelwork modifications, upgrades to on-board electrical and mechanical services, and the manufacture and installation of bespoke furniture, finishes, ceiling features and seating.

DE Wave is a leading contractor for cruise ship and yacht interior outfitting. It will outfit Aroya Cruises’ upper deck areas, including new super suites, public areas, and catering areas. Together, both MJM Marine and DE Wave will refurbish 98 per cent of the guest-facing venues.



Earlier this year, cruise Saudi made waves by acquiring World Dream; the former Genting Hong Kong vessel, “in-line with the company’s strategy and direction to build up and develop the cruise industry in Saudi Arabia”, TTN was informed.

We were also informed that the ship, renamed Manara to reflect its new ownership, is awaiting a refit and, although it has not been confirmed, we believe this could most likely be one of the first vessels to join Aroya Cruises.

The first-of-its-kind, Aroya Cruises will aim to provide experiences and services specifically designed to embrace Arabian preferences, with a vision to reinvent the meaning of holidays in Saudi. The launch of Aroya Cruises marks a significant step in providing new holiday options for Saudi-nationals, expatriates and regional guests. 





We caught up with Lars Clasen, CEO of Cruise Saudi, a global industry expert with 30+ years of experience in the shipping and cruise industries across Asia, Europe and North America. Prior to joining Cruise Saudi, Clasen held several key roles across leading cruise companies; Managing Director at The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, Co-founder and Managing Director of Dolce Cruise Management, CEO of A-ROSA River Cruises, President of AIDA Cruises, and is also the founder and owner of Lars Clasen Cruise Consulting.


Tell us a bit about what inspires you?

Cruising is something I’m passionate about and there is nowhere more exciting for the industry right now than Saudi Arabia.

Until Cruise Saudi was launched three years ago, Saudi Arabia was a destination that was relatively unexplored by international travellers.

My role as CEO means that I’m at the helm of one of the most pioneering organisations in the industry. Since launching in 2021, Cruise Saudi has made tremendous strides, setting up in an entirely new industry and welcoming cruise passengers to Saudi for the first time. I’m thrilled to be part of the journey.


What difference do you hope to make while you’re there?

I hope to continue building on Cruise Saudi’s successes by introducing more of the coast along the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf for cruising.

We have already welcomed several international cruise lines to Saudi, including MSC, Silversea and Viking, and by continuing to develop infrastructure at more ports, I hope to welcome many more.

My role is to keep building the network of cruise lines and work with key industry partners to promote Saudi Arabia as a world class cruise destination.

By spearheading the development of a fully integrated local cruise industry we can establish the country as a premier global cruise destination.


What is your goal as CEO of this multi-faceted organisation?

My goal is to put Saudi Arabia on the map as a tourist destination. In line with Vision 2030, we are ensuring that cruising is a key economic pillar of Saudi’s tourism industry.

We are creating a world-class cruise industry in Saudi Arabia and opening-up a new gateway for the world to discover Saudi by sea.

Saudi Arabia is an incredible country with so much to offer; from pristine beaches and bustling cities to Unesco World Heritage Sites dating back hundreds of years. I hope that international travellers can discover and appreciate the diversity of the country.

Our ultimate goal at Cruise Saudi is to welcome 1.3 million cruise passengers annually by 2035 and position Saudi as a regional and international cruising hub.