Our Saudi Arabian Experience

Discover Saudi Arabia with Scenic ‘Eclipse’ & Trip Merchant: October 13-21, 2022

What comes to mind when you think of Saudi Arabia?? Perhaps very little, as it seemed to be a secret to the majority of the outside world. However, throughout our travel experiences prior to the pandemic, we continued to hear that Saudi Arabia was going to be an up and coming travel destination in the years to come.

Well…we have some exciting news. Co-Founders of Trip Merchant, Ryan and Tom, will be travelling to Saudi Arabia! Saudi Arabia was unchartered territory for any intrepid traveller, but as of 2019 Saudi Arabia opened their doors where international tourists can now receive a tourist visa. We were invited by our partner Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours (who recently built the World’s first discovery yacht), along with the Saudi Arabian tourism board and Saudia Airlines.

Our purpose for this trip is to not only to immerse ourselves in this mysterious and historic destination on board the Scenic Eclipse, but to continue inspiring you, providing you with confidence to travel and opening your eyes to new destinations and companies! We look forward to sharing our experience with you. To learn about each partner we will be partnering with, and to follow our day by day itinerary, please see below!

Firstly, why Scenic & the Scenic Eclipse?

Scenic – is truly all-inclusive. Canada’s most luxurious river cruise company – has more than 30 years’ experience creating unforgettable, handcrafted journeys for their guests. Their 5-star Scenic Space-Ships were designed with you in mind and include everything you could possibly need, from a pillow menu to e-bikes and everything in between.

When you travel with Scenic, everything is taken care of. Their expert staff, from Cruise Directors to butlers and local guides, will go above and beyond to make your experience unforgettable – your way. Wherever you go, there are countless experiences and activities to choose from – and of course they’re all included.

Scenic Eclipse – where 6-star ultra-luxury meets discovery. Explore beyond the horizon as luxury and discovery combine on board Scenic Eclipse. Make this year one to remember and book your place on the World’s First Discovery Yachts, home to a wealth of world-class facilities and amenities, as well as a helicopter and seven-seat submarine, as we take you to places previously inaccessible to the ordinary traveller.

Scenic Eclipse represents the most luxurious cruise experience available. Our all-inclusive philosophy ensures that when you travel with Scenic you can be confident that every single detail is taken care of. As ever, all-inclusive shore excursions, your in-suite mini-bar and all on board dining and complimentary premium branded beverages are included in the price you pay. To learn more about the Scenic Eclipse, click HERE
Saudia Airlines:

Saudia, formerly known as Saudi Arabian Airlines, is the flag carrier of Saudi Arabia, based in Jeddah. The airline’s main operational base is at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah. King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh and King Fahd International Airport in Dammam are secondary hubs. Saudia airlines is part of the SkyTeam alliance and travels to 132 destinations. To visit their website, click HERE

Why Saudi Arabia?

To visit the Saudi Arabian Tourist Board’s website, click HERE

What is Cruise Saudi?

To visit the Cruise Saudi website, click HERE

Our Day by Day Experiences: October 13-21, 2022

Pre- trip preparation and Requirements: By Tom MacLean

List of Items Needed for Travel to Saudi Arabia.

  • Get a PCR Test done – must be completed within 72 hours of arrival into Saudi Arabia – I got mine done at Fast Test in Vancouver – https://fast-test.ca/ – There is a location at the Fairmont Vancouver in one of meeting rooms on the first floor. I took the 24 hour option for $250 + GST.  Received my negative results in 12 hours. This is a hassle if you’re not living in an urban centre. I’m currently living on Vancouver Island. PCR Tests are available to get done in Nanaimo and Victoria, but nowhere else on Vancouver Island. This will be the case in many places across Canada. So factor this into your travel planning that you may need to stay in a hotel for a night or two if you find yourself in a similar situation. Typical options are 12 hour, 24 hour or 48 hour turn around time for results. The more you pay the quicker the service. Ryan received his in Calgary at Varsity Labs Services (https://varsitylabs.ca/) and the price was between $150-$175. Another option for Albertans is going through DynaLife Medical Labs (https://qme.dynalife.ca/travel/).
  • Apply for the Saudi Arabian Tourism Visahttps://visa.visitsaudi.com/ – Covid Insurance is included with your Visa, which is valid for 90 days from point of entry.
  • Complete the mandatory Arrival Registration. You will need to have all your passport details in hand and provide the names of the Covid Vaccines you took and on which dates you had them. After completion you will receive a copy which you can save into a pdf. I printed out my copy, because at this point I’m not 100% certain they will accept a digital version:  https://muqeem.sa/#/vaccine-registration/register-visitor?type=VaccinatedVisitor

Entry Requirements: All Travelers must;

Have a valid tourism visa obtained before arrival.

Provide proof of a negative PCR test conducted no more than 72 hours of arrival

Have COVID 19 insurance. This insurance is included in all new tourism visa issues and will cover any COVID-19 related medical expenses

Download and register the Tawakkalna application before arriving at the point of departure (we did not end up needing to use this however)

If you are fully immunized against COVID-19 with vaccines approved by the WHO and Saudi Arabia there are no quarantine requirements for fully immunized travelers meeting the below criteria;

To be considered fully vaccinated, travelers must have completed a full course of one of:

Any of the four vaccines recognized by Saudi Arabia: two doses of the Oxford/Astra Zeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna or a single dose of the vaccine produced by Johnson and Johnson; or Two doses of the Sinopharm or Sinovac vaccines supplemented by a single booster dose of any of the four vaccines above. All doses must be completed 14 days or more before the date of departure.

By Tom MacLean

October 12th:  Woo hoo!!! Only one more day to go! After 19 months of not traveling outside of Canada, I can’t tell you how excited I am to experience another new and mysterious (in this case) destination and to cruise the Red Sea in style on the 6 Star luxury Scenic Eclipse Discovery Yacht! Our wives are traveling with us on this trip and Scenic has put us in a “Spa Suite”, which is located on the highest passenger deck. Pictures to follow later.

But before this, we have a few other things to take care of. Like…me getting my nasal swab test. Here I am at the Fast Test location at the Fairmont Vancouver Hotel at 9:30 am. It wasn’t the test that makes your eyes water (thankfully). I’ve been the recipient of two of those back in March of 2020 (hopefully never to be repeated).The test only takes a minute. I got my results emailed to me about 12 hours later.

Next stop – Get Saudi Currency. As the bulk of this trip will be on the Scenic Eclipse and being that it’s all inclusive. Aside from Spa Services and the Submarine excursion. I decided to only exchange a small amount of money exchanged ($100 CAD), which converted to 281 Saudi Riyals. 100 Riyals = $35 CAD, 50 Riyals = $17.75 CAD and 10 Riyals = $3.55 CAD.

October 13th: 

Today is our travel day. I printed out all of the following documents and put in a folder;

  • Saudi E-Visa and Tourism Visa Insurance Policy (which also covers medical expenses/hospitalization as it relates to Covid. This is included as part of the Saudi E-Visa)
  • Proof of negative PCR Test
  • Saudi Arrival Registration Form
  • Air tickets

Arrived at the Vancouver airport 3 hours ahead of my scheduled flight. The airport was a ghost town. Albeit, made for a much more relaxing experience.

Before checking our luggage, we had to fill out the UK Passenger Locator form on our smart phones. Much longer than expected, felt like 40 questions. Once done, you will get a completed pdf emailed to you. This leads me to my next point, you need to have a smart phone with you to travel. It’s not an option to travel without one. With all the new Covid entry requirements, their is no other way to do it. On your way back home to Canada, you need to have the ArriveCAN app on your smartphone. Download the App and set up an account. If you plan on traveling next year, might as well just set it up now and have it ready for when you do start traveling.

We boarded our flight wearing our masks. Masks have to be used for the duration of the flight and can only be taken off while eating and drinking. Masks are required throughout the airport in Vancouver.

Thursday, October 14th: Arrived into London Heathrow

Masks are optional now in the UK and at London Heathrow. We still kept ours on most of the time. Going through customs was pretty easy. I’m assuming that when you scan your passports going through immigration that the information is matched with your completed UK Passenger locator form to a central database as we never had to show it to anybody.

We collected our luggage at Heathrow and then a few hours later checked in for the next leg of our flight to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The second leg of our flight was slightly over 6 hours and 3 more time zones ahead. Ryan and I were provided with business class flights by Saudia Air, which we gave to our wives, and we sat back in coach. First time, flying Saudia Airlines. I was very impressed, the service was good, the seats comfortable (even in economy) and was pleasantly surprised by the food.

Itinerary Map 

Friday, October 15th: Arrival into Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

We arrived into Jeddah around 1:30 am. Jeddah, is a coastal city on the Red Sea with a population of over 5 million. Things went very smoothly. We had to show our entry visas, proof of a Negative PCR test and passports. This airport has the largest aquarium in the world in an airport. Geographically, Saudi Arabia is located on the other side of the Red Sea from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia. It has a Southern land border with Yemen, which, as you may know is going through a civil war and the situation is terrible there. An extreme contrast to the wealth of Saudi Arabia.

We were part of a group of travel industry and media professionals from Canada, the UK and the US. There were 2 other travel industry people from Canada, other than Ryan and myself. It was quite the honour to be part of such an exclusive group and we were fortunate to be able to bring our plus ones. In total I believe their was about 100 that were part of this invite only experience to embark on the 6 Star Scenic Eclipse and Cruise Saudi. In doing so, we became part of history as the first international travelers to ever embark on an Ocean Cruise in Saudi Arabia. We had two buses transfer our group to the Hilton Jeddah, 25 minutes away and located in front of the “Corniche”‘ a beautiful seaside promenade that is 80 km in length. Upon check-in, we admired the spectacular lobby and atrium. Got to our room, and lights out!

Woke up at 8 am, on adrenaline I’m sure. Had our buffet breakfast and then was ready for our 11 am transfer to the ship.

We received some commentary on the 25 minute ride to the cruise port. Jeddah is the second largest sea port in the Red Sea, with more than 3000 years of history. Fishermen used to relax here on the way to Jerusalem. The 3rd ruler, after the Prophet Mohammed created the city and put a port here for the pilgrims who arrived by boat that were on their way to the the holy city of Mecca.


As we drove through Jeddah, I was reminded of parts of Cairo. The difference is how clean it is and the wealth that is very apparent here. We saw no glimpses of poverty or homelessness anywhere. Well maintained highways (4 lanes in each direction),  palm tree lined boulevards. Their are more than 10 million trees in the city. Luxury automobiles like Audis, Lamborghinis, Mercedes, were quite common. Traffic was light, saw very little people walking around outside. Part of this might be the heat. It was 40 degrees today, and felt several degrees hotter with the humidity. We could see a haze across the city. At one point on our drive police stopped all 4 lanes of traffic in front of us and 3 km ahead of us, stopped all the vehicles that were coming in the opposite direction. A few minutes later, we could see up ahead a very large convoy of luxury vehicles with a large police escort. Perhaps members of the Saudi Royal Family. We will never know for sure.

We arrived at the ship. Had to go through immigration at the Port first. Men and women were separated into two different lines. Their are many rules in Saudi Arabia, this was one of them. Will get into more of these rules later on.

11:30 AM: Embarkation. First of all, what a stunning ship. So sleek and modern, the feel of being on a billionaires Yacht. The Scenic Eclipse has 114 Suites and can accommodate up to 228 passengers. Our boarding process was very quick and efficient. The health and safety protocols on the Scenic Eclipse are second to none in the Cruise industry. We all had to be fully vaccinated to attend, required a negative PCR Test (Saudi Rule), then we all had to take a Rapid Covid Test onboard. We were taken through the Scenic lounge to the theatre on Deck 4 (with our masks on). It ran like clockwork. You checked in, two minutes later sat in a seat, got your nose swabbed and then sat down in a comfy seat in the Theatre while a server came back and provided appies and a mocktail.

Alcohol is not allowed to be served while in Port in Saudi waters. I thought they did a tremendous job of making this part of the experience. 20 minutes later we got our results back, which came back negative. We exited the theatre and were taken to the front desk to check in and receive our keys. At that point, we could take our masks off for the entire duration of the cruise while onboard. We also got a private safety briefing onboard.

The highest passenger deck on the Scenic Eclipse is Deck 9. Ryan and his wife were across the hallway from my wife and I. We were treated to the “Spa Suite”, one of the highest cabin categories on this luxury ship. We were awestruck by our cabin, over 500 Square Feet, separate bedroom and living room area, separate toilet and shower with a hot tub. We had a huge balcony with a table and chairs on one side and a sofa on the other side. We were greeted a few minutes after by our butler, Ivan. He showed us around our room to familiarize ourselves with all the features. Our king sized bed had a remote control that we could make adjustments to either side of the bed. It was sooo comfortable!



We arranged to meet Ryan and Lindsay at the Yacht Club for lunch. One of the 10 places to dine onboard. It was buffet style, we tried several dishes including the deep fried crab.


We took some time to explore the ship on our own. You have the observation lounge, if you want to relax and make your own cup of coffee and admire the passing scenery. Or the Champagne Bar (middle), which is located at the Lumière restaurant. Not a bad place to wait for your dining reservation.


There is the Azure Bar & Café, if you want to relax and enjoy a variety of light fare, pizzas, salads, snacks and a healthy selection of meals for relaxed all-day grazing, coupled with barista-made coffee and beverages.

The Gym and Yoga rooms are on Deck 7. They had several classes of yoga throughout the cruise and at different times of day. They even had “aerial yoga”, which is done in a hammock suspended from the ceiling. Apparently is beneficial in helping to decompress the spine, stretch your muscles, and build strength. Running on the treadmill was made more enjoyable as I could enjoy the view of the Red Sea through the floor to ceiling windows directly in front of me.


Scenic arranged an excursion after lunch to “Al Ballad” , the Old Town of Jeddah”. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014. Here are some pictures of our walking tour of “Al Ballad” (you may notice below that Ryan is sporting an air cast as he fractured his ankle a few days before departing to Saudi Arabia, but he didn’t let that stop him!)


Friday is the day off here. So all the market stalls were closed. Ladies..listen up. Their are no taxes for Jewelry in Jeddah. As mentioned earlier, that it was very hot today. Women have to dress very modestly, not quite as modestly as local Muslim women. Long pants and shoulders covered. Men also have to dress conservatively. Shorts are not allowed (or very frowned upon), as is holding hands and other forms of public affection. So as you can imagine, their was a whole lot of sweating going on. On occasion we got a nice breeze that swept through. Many locals were taking pictures of our group. It was evident that they’re not used to seeing tourists.


Many of the local women were wearing Burkas as they went about their day. Saudi Arabia has made some progressive changes in the last few years. Women are now allowed to drive, which was prohibited prior to 2019. They were also not allowed out on their own before without a male chaperone. Men are allowed to have multiple wives in Saudi Arabia. I expect more progressive changes will be coming in the future as Saudi Arabia continues to open up for tourism. International tourists will demand this. Saudi Arabia has earmarked $850 Billion towards developing tourism and building infrastructure to accommodate. This is all part of Saudi Vision 2030, a strategic framework to reduce Saudi Arabia’s dependence on oil, diversify its economy, and develop public service sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, recreation, and tourism.

Time to return to the air conditioning on the Scenic Eclipse. We started sailing around 7 pm. We didn’t even realize this as the ship is so smooth. We had reservations set this evening for 8:30 pm for the 4 of us to enjoy some French fine dining at Lumière. We enjoyed an 8 course meal. With Champagne to start of course. After over 18 months of not leaving Canada, it felt pretty celebratory!



Saturday, October 16th: Submarine and Private Island Day 

Yes, the Scenic Eclipse has a submarine onboard. Built at a cost of approximately $10 million dollars. It can dive to a depth of up to 300 metres with seating for up to six guests, plus the expert pilot. So amazing! Our scheduled dive was set for 9 am. We took a Zodiac with 6 of us on onboard and headed out to the Submarine.


We descended about 30 metres down a Coral Wall. The Red Sea is one of the world’s best diving sites. So this was an experience we will never forget. I didn’t feel claustrophobic at all. You have a 280 degree view with your swivel chairs. There are 2 large ultra clear spheres that provide optimal viewing of all your underwater surroundings. It is an extremely safe submarine, should any of its engines fail the submarine will simply float up to the top. From inside it looked like we were only one or two metres away from the Coral Wall, but that was just an optical illusion, we were actually about 15 metres away. Also, the fish we saw swimming by were actually about 4 times larger than they appeared to our naked eye. We were down there for about 15 minutes. It was a little warmish inside, since the air conditioning uses the temperature of the water outside to cool the submarine. Since the water temperature was in the 28 degree range it wasn’t too cool inside.

After breakfast, we all got on another Zodiac to take us to a private island, which we’re not allowed to name here as it is a pristine ecologically sensitive island. This island was limited to 50 on at a time. Scenic had stand up paddle boards and kayaks there for us to enjoy. They also provided snorkeling equipment for us to explore the marine life. The water temperature was absolutely perfect. I’m used to doing stand up paddle boarding at a local lake on Vancouver Island. To have the opportunity to do this in the Red Sea, surrounded by tropical fish and turquoise coloured waters was pure bliss.

This evening the Canadian contingent on the ship got together for dinner at Elements restaurant. Which is located on Deck 4 and features Italian, steak and seafood from an a la carte dinner menu.

Sunday, October 17th: Yanbu, Saudi Arabia | Exploring Historic Yanbu and a Private Invitation to “Chef’s Table” with Chef Tom Götter

We spent most of the day exploring the amenities of the Scenic Eclipse. I partook in one of the Spa Services. Enjoyed relaxing in the Steam Room and Sauna pre-treatment.


Today, we docked in Yanbu, close to the town centre. We disembarked around 5 pm, and were taken by bus to the Medina. We were treated to entertainment, went to the local night market and got to listen to the Muslim Call to prayer just before sunset. Yanbu means “Spring of Water” in Arabic. Many Muslims come and stop here to pray on their way to Mecca. Below is a view from our balcony of Yanbu. The tower that you can see on the left is actually a lighthouse.

A local businessman owns this house shown below and has two wives. A window for each wife and a bridge in between. Men are allowed to have multiple wives in Saudi Arabia. Women are not allowed to have multiple husbands.

In the main open square, their were many hookah bars for which one could partake. No places to have a beer, but no shortage of hookah bars.



This evening Ryan and I were invited along with 8 others from Canada and the UK to attend a private Chef’s Table with the Executive Chef Tom Götter, to experience an unrivalled culinary journey with an 11 Course meal. With each course, Chef came out an explained the story behind each dish. The level of innovation was truly extraordinary. Here are some pictures to whet your taste buds. From our table we had a glass wall behind us to see the work being done in the kitchen (or galley as they call it).

     Chef doing the intro on our meal


The following pictures in order from top to bottom, left to right are;

Our tool kit, the pumpkintini, tomato mozzarella (obviously?!), Peruvian ceviche, baked bean burrito in the shape of a cigar and ash tray (with a smoky taste), Beef Rib (braised for 2 days), Purple Rain (Red Cabbage with Salmon), Wagyu Beef (placed on hot rocks, and then flamed at your table to cook the top), Rack of Lamb, Espresso Mousse, a gamut of sweet treats




Monday, October 18th: Yanbu, Saudi Arabia – Full Day Tour to Al Ula Valley 

We woke up early (5 am) to get to the airport for our 1 hour flight to Al Ula, that was chartered by Scenic. We arrived at 8 am. Fascinating to see the scenery down below while on our flight. Incredible rock formations and colourful desert scenery. A combination of Sedona and Wadi Rum in Jordan. It was fairly warm, but more of a dry heat versus the high humidity of the coast. It felt more comfortable, but progressively got warmer throughout the day.


From the airport we drove 25-30 minutes in our very comfortable, air conditioned coach to arrive in “Hegra”, the sister city of Petra. Built by the same nomadic tribe called the Nabateans. We marveled along the way at coloured rock formations, seas of green with palm trees dotting the landscape. More than 60 springs are found throughout Al Ula, which is why you can see Palm Trees and other forms of vegetation.


2600 years ago, Hegra was created. 150 tombs of the Nabateans are found here. There are some similarities to Petra, but Hegra is far more spread out and open. There is no dramatic entrance through the Siq, like you have in Petra. Yet, it was very interesting nonetheless. We are so used to seeing many tourists in a place like this. But we are here at the very beginning of tourism. Only 3 buses here at “Hegra” and only our group.



After sightseeing in Hegra, we were taken by bus to the “Shaden Resort” for lunch. A unique resort, nestled against magnificent rock formations. We enjoyed a lunch inside the sit down restaurant as it was much too hot to sit outside.


“Maraya” is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as “the largest mirrored building in the world”. It serves as a concert hall, and is located seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Kind of reminded me of the line in the “Field of Dreams”, “If they build it, they will come”. Julio Iglesias apparently held a concert here last year. There is a lack of accommodations and infrastructure out here now, but it is coming! Ritz Carlton and other luxury hotel chains are building out here. It’s expected that Saudi Arabia in the coming years will be one of the hottest new travel destinations in the world. A lot still has to be done, but this country has the capital to get it done properly. We shall see!

Afterwards, we visited the Old Town of Al Ula. The actual village felt a little bit like a Middle Eastern lost village of Pompeii. We came out on the other end to see a local street market with numerous vendors. Our wives were busy looking for trinkets/jewelry. Then time to head back to the airport for our flight back. It was a long day, we ordered room service when we got back to our ship.


Tuesday, October 19th: Sea Day | Back to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Today, was a sea day. It gave Ryan and I the chance to get caught up on work. The whole plan was to get this blog done on a daily basis. Turns out that was pretty ambitious of us thinking we had the time to do that, in between eating, sleeping, wife time and sightseeing. Not too mention, taking advantage of some of the downtime. So we allocated some time in the outdoor pool, had a late lunch at the Elements restaurant and then watched the ship dock back in Jeddah around 4 pm.

This evening we were taken to our “Dinner Dessert Experience”. About a 60 minute drive from the Cruise port. This was sponsored locally by Saudi Arabia, and not handled by Scenic. It turned out to be a pretty interesting experience, that started out well with a Dessert Dune Buggy ride. We all got dressed up for the occasion, given a safety briefing (no arms and legs dangling outside, a risk in case of a rollover). We must have been going about 70 miles an hour over these desserts dunes. Ryan, took most of the pictures. I was too busy holding on to the “holy sh*t handles”. Afterwards, we were treated to some local entertainment and a buffet BBQ meal outside.


Wednesday, October 20th: Fly back home 

As flights leaving Saudi Arabia that connect back to Canada leave later on in the evenings, Scenic provided a day room for us back at the Jeddah Hilton. The 4 of us stopped for lunch at the Waldorf Astoria, located adjacent to the Hilton. Surprisingly, we had one of the most disappointing dining experiences of our lives. Not too much mention costly. Had a nice rest and got showered up back at the Hilton, before our transfer to the airport. Our flight schedule was Jeddah – Riyadh – London – Vancouver. This time it was Ryan and I’s turn to experience business class on the Riyadh to London segment with Saudia Air. Business Class air is about 3 times more than economy……but I can tell you from personal experience it was easily more than 3 times better of an experience. We had our own pod, a seat that could fully recline to a bed and not disturb the person behind you. The service was top notch, the flight attendants went over and above, ensuring that everybody’s wants/needs were catered to. I was kept well hydrated at all times, we were provided a leather Missoni toiletry kit (with a hand cream, toothpaste, comb, tooth brush, facial cream, compression socks and an eye mask). I ordered granola with yoghurt, a waffle, and some freshly baked pastries. I left that flight with a belly full of food and had a great nights sleep. If you have the extra points/discretionary funds to pay for a business upgrade, then do it! It’s another world, and it transforms the whole flying portion of your trip from a necessary evil to an enjoyable part of your travel experience.

Thursday, October 21st: Arrived back into Vancouver. 

The process was relatively seamless. You scan your passport and answer questions at the kiosks as before, then get in the customs line, show your ArriveCan Receipt to the customs agent. You get this receipt after finishing uploading your flight itinerary and other details in the ArriveCan App prior to your flight back home. The customs agent then enters the code shown on the receipt and all your data pulls up. My wife had a bit of a cold, and since we declared that they randomly selected us to do another PCR test upon arrival. After customs, we proceeded to baggage claim and then went the regular way out, but diverted to another line to register for our test. This took about 5-7 minutes, and then were led to a testing area. There was probably about 30 mini tents for testing (by Lifelabs). There was no line, we went straight in and got the swab up the nose and the back of our mouth. After that, we were free to go. We got our negative test results emailed to us the following day. So there you go, traveling during a pandemic – it can be done and done safely. All precautions that are being done in Canada are being done in other parts of the world. It takes a little more planning and preparation, but its something that we have to accept as part of traveling for the foreseeable future.

Final Thoughts…

In closing we consider ourselves very fortunate to have been invited by Scenic, to visit Saudi Arabia while tourism is at its infancy. This destination has a lot of potential and will be a place to keep on eye on in the coming years. Is it a place that we recommend right now? No…not yet. The infrastructure is not there yet, the Saudi rule of law and regulations in place are not conducive to international tourism – specifically as it relates to women. Their has been progress, but there is still more to be done. We found the locals to be very friendly, open and welcoming. The places we visited very clean, no concern of safety and security. However, this is not a place to do “dumb” things. Anybody coming here, must know the local customs, understand the laws of what can or can’t be done. The laws here are strict and ignorance is not a defense. As it relates to the Cruise component of our trip and the Scenic Eclipse, I can’t speak highly enough of how well we were treated, the exemplary customer service of their staff, the unbelievable meals we had, and the experiences we shared. We unequivocally recommend sailing on the Scenic Eclipse! If interested in booking a cruise on one of Scenic Eclipse’s itineraries contact us at info@tripmerchant.com or call us at 1-800-481-9739 ext 0. We have preferred rates and can answer any questions on this ship and the experience onboard.

Thank you to all our partners, that made this trip happen. Thank you as members for reading and we hope you enjoyed, and learned, from this travel blog experience! Happy Future Travels!


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