Water Parks to Revolutionize Saudi Arabia’s Cruise Industry


Saudi Arabia, in pursuit of hosting 1.3 million cruise visitors by 2035, has identified the cruise industry as a vital element of its Vision 2030 framework. This aligns with Vision 2030’s goals of diversifying the economy and promoting tourism. The increasing popularity of cruises among the under-20 demographic, showing the fastest growth, highlights the demand for innovative onboard experiences.

As younger generations embrace cruise vacations, industry leaders like WhiteWater, the leading designer and manufacturer of aquatic amenities, are becoming essential. Their expertise not only aids the expansion of the cruise industry but also aligns with Vision 2030’s objectives to enhance tourism and position Saudi Arabia as a premier cruise destination. This collaboration between WhiteWater and the cruise industry caters to the evolving expectations of adventure-seeking young travelers, thereby ensuring the industry’s continued success in Saudi Arabia.

Cruise Industry Takes Sail in Saudi Arabia

To bolster the cruise sector, Cruise Saudi is developing world-class cruise facilities in key Saudi ports, facilitating larger cruise ship arrivals. For instance, MSC Cruises reported a 40% increase in Saudi Arabia sailings over a 24-month period. Continuing to build on this success, MSC has plans to run over 20 separate sailings spanning from seven to fifteen nights from Jeddah to Aqaba between November 2023 and April 2024.

Meeting the challenge of keeping guests entertained for extended sailings, WhiteWater collaborates with MSC Cruises to create dynamic mix of attractions for different age groups on over 10 ships, enabling families to equally all be entertained within a small space. The two AquaTube water slides on the MSC Seascape, for example, provide thrilling experiences as they spiral above the deck. These slides, crafted from translucent fiberglass, create alternating light and dark sensations, amplifying the excitement and offering stunning views of the water below. The AquaTubes are ideal for guests over 102 cm tall, while the AquaPlay 150 caters to younger passengers—an immersive pirate ship-themed playground experience without long lines

“There’s enormous potential for the cruise industry within Saudi Arabia, especially with AROYA Cruises on the horizon,” said WhiteWater’s GM & RVP, Middle East & India, Mike Rigby. “As more people come to embrace the cruise industry as a way of travel, there will continue to be a need for these venues to keep people entertained over long spans of time, and water parks are one of the best ways to accommodate large volumes of people all at the same time.”

Addressing Unique Design Challenges

Cruise ships, akin to floating cities, require efficient space utilization while providing various amenities. WhiteWater, with a team of over 100 skilled engineers, tackles the challenge of crafting attractions that can withstand UV exposure, corrosive seawater, and constant ship motion. Their innovative solutions include locating mechanical equipment below water slides with a restaurant in between.

“Space is a precious commodity on cruise ships, and we’re tasked with a delicate balancing act—fitting in water slides and attractions while ensuring safety, functionality, and aesthetics,” said Burcu Karaca, Park Designer. “In designing for cruise ships, creativity is key. Sometimes, we must think outside the box, or in this case, over the edges of the decks, to maximize space while providing thrilling experiences.”

It’s a delicate balance, designing for both space and appearance, as passengers seek an escape in a beautiful setting. Aquatic attractions must look pristine, visually engaging, and tell a cohesive story to immerse guests. Aligned with one of MSC Seascape’s goals, WhiteWater, for instance, brought the Kraken to life, tying the water park to the ship’s strong sea theme.

Fostering Repeatable Activities

To keep passengers engaged on extended sailings with limited onboard exploration, offering repeatable activities is vital. The FlowRider®, a surf simulator attraction, is a compelling solution. Placed on the back of the ship, it creates a continuous sheet wave. It accommodates various skill levels, making it appealing for families and groups. The gentle learning curve encourages riders to keep trying new tricks, ensuring they queue up for more, providing lasting entertainment throughout the cruise