MSC Cruises has introduced what it calls the “perfect comprehensive itinerary” combining the cultures and nature experiences offered by Red Sea destinations. In addition to a full range of shore excursions, including historical tours in Egypt, Jordan and Israel, the cruises feature relaxation and snorkelling opportunities, and a variety of desert tours.

The MSC Armonia sails seven-day cruises from Sharm El Sheik from Nov. 10, 2012 through April 6, 2013, departing every Saturday. Ports of call are Safaga, Egypt; Elat, Israel; Aqaba, Jordan; and Sokhna, Egypt.

Themed menus and entertainment onboard are also designed to bring the region to life. According to MSC, menu items range from Mediterranean dishes to Arabian appetizers and traditional main courses, including marinated meats and fish dishes, tagines, koftas and couscous.

The ship’s theatre will show the movies Cleopatra and A Queen’s Life, “taking guests back to ancient Egypt.”

Tour highlights include a drive and fly tour to Jerusalem through the Negev desert; a visit to the ancient fortification of Masada, Mount Sinai and King Solomon Mines, as well as a visit to anl Israeli kibbutz where “communal living and traditional customs survive in the modern world.”

Calling in Aqaba, Jordan, passengers can visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Petra or ride the desert sands of the Wadi Rum valley.

Egyptian tours also include visits to Gizah and its pyramids, the Valley Temple and Saladin’s Citadel, or a two-day trip to Luxor and the Valley of the Kings.

And for relaxation are sandy beaches and crystal clear water – “a haven for sunbathing or setting off on a discovery of the Red Sea’s underwater world,” according to MSC.

Related tours are snorkeling excursions, trips in glass-bottomed boats, camel rides or jeep drives in the desert, or just floating in the saline waters of the Dead Sea for its alleged therapeutic effect.