The 85 acre island in the Bahamas will be the only marine reserve island experience and the largest island development by any cruise line. There will be six distinct beaches and a dock so passengers will not have to use tenders. The island will have the following features:
- Family beach with kids’ restaurant, play areas, and other useful facilities
- Charming inland lagoon for absolute tranquility
- Thrilling zip wire crossing the island
- Pavilion for weddings and celebrations
The visionary project was officially launched yesterday afternoon (16 December) in the Bahamian capital Nassau, where Prime Minister Perry Christie and MSC Cruises Executive Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago signed a 100-year lease agreement that will enable MSC Cruises to occupy and develop the island, to be called Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve.
Over the next two years MSC Cruises will work hand-in-hand with the Bahamian Government and ecologists to develop the cay, a onetime sand extraction station, into a thriving marine reserve that will harmoniously coexist with the local ecosystem. This is a project that will transform the local economy base from resource exploitation to resource conservation.
And in keeping with the Company’s commitment to providing absolutely authentic cruise holidays, the island will offer some of the finest beaches in the world, amid an array of Caribbean-inspired experiences.
The family that owns MSC Cruises has more than 300 years of seafaring heritage, which has engendered a deep respect for the ocean that underpins the Company’s operations today. MSC Cruises is committed to protecting the waters it navigates and, as one of the most ecologically conscious cruise lines in the world, will invest around USD 200 million in creating a flourishing natural haven from a desert island.
Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises Executive Chairman, gave the following staement
“This is a natural progression for our company, which is growing very rapidly, and we are thrilled about providing this totally new experience for our guests in the Caribbean.”
Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve and its exclusive offerings will be a magnificent extension of our shipboard experiences. We are scrupulous about ensuring every decision we take keeps each of our ships true to the promise of our brand, offering the authenticity and quality our guests expect. This is what made us the leading brand in many of the markets we operate, including across Europe, South America and South Africa. We will apply the same thinking and attention to detail to our Caribbean offering, of which this exclusive marine reserve will become a cornerstone, because we know our guests will be bowled over by this industry-unique experience.”
As well as being the only marine reserve island experience, at 95-acres (38.5-hectares) in size, and with 11,400 feet (3.5 km) of pristine beach front spread across six distinct beaches, Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve will be – by a large margin – the biggest island development by any cruise company in the Caribbean. In addition, it will offer a multitude of other key distinguishing features.
For example, a purpose-built berth and pier right on the seafront means that MSC Cruises guests will be able to step off the ship straight onto the island. This unique feature also means guests can move at leisure between ship and island, which will be especially useful since a key part of their visit will be the island’s night life, in particular live music and entertainment at the 2,000-seat amphitheatre, and many restaurants and bars. In addition, the ship and all onboard services – including the casino – will stay open while berthed at Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve.
All installations and experiences on the island, which lies 20 miles (32 km) south of Bimini and just 65 miles (104.5 km) east of Miami, Florida, will be fully sympathetic to the culture and traditions of the Bahamas. A comprehensive landscaping plan will see more than 80 indigenous Caribbean trees, grasses, flowers and shrubs, such as Jamaica Dogwood, Red, Black and White Mangroves, and Beach Morning Glory, expertly planted across the island. And there will be an architecturally faithful Bahamian village, plentiful restaurants and bars offering local specialities, a variety of shops and an inviting arrival centre with island-themed music gazebo.
For MSC Yacht Club guests, the northwest corner of the island has been set aside as an exclusive spa and wellness sanctuary, with private bungalows and massage huts.
Also, getting around the island will be a breeze, thanks to a network of walking and running paths, bicycle rentals and other stress-free transport options.
The Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve project will offer a permanent MSC Cruises presence in the Bahamas, for which the Company plans to recruit 240 Bahamians in various roles over 2016 and 2017. The cay will be ideal for all MSC Cruises ships serving the Caribbean region, notably MSC Divina and the under-construction next generation ship MSC Seaside (launching December 2017), both sailing from Miami, plus MSC Opera and MSC Armonia, sailing from Havana, Cuba. In addition, the Company will open a crew training school in Nassau to provide local manpower for the growing number of MSC Cruises ships sailing the Caribbean.
MSC Cruises plans to break ground on the development in March 2016, and Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve will open to guests in December 2017.