MSC Cruises has announced ambitious plans to create an exclusive marine reserve island experience in the Bahamas.
Over the next two years MSC Cruises will work in partnership with the Bahamian Government and ecologists to develop the cay, a former sand extraction station, into a thriving marine reserve. The project will transform the local economy base from resource exploitation to resource conservation.
The island, called Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, will offer guests the opportunity to enjoy some of the finest beaches in the world alongside 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. 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 $200 million in creating the flourishing natural haven.
At 95 acres in size, and with 2.4 km of pristine beach front spread across six distinct beaches, Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve will be the biggest island development by any cruise company in the Caribbean, as well as the only marine reserve island experience.
In addition, it will offer a multitude of other distinguishing features and these include a purpose-built berth and pier on the seafront so MSC Cruises guests will be able to step straight off the ship and straight onto the island. This unique feature will be especially useful since a key part of visits will be the island’s night life, in particular live music and entertainment at a purpose-built 2,000-seat amphitheatre, and many restaurants and bars. The ship and all on-board 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 south of Bimini and 65 miles east of Miami, Florida, will be 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 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.
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.
As well as all must-have water sports and beach games, other highlights include:
- A family beach with kids’ restaurant, play areas and other useful facilities
- A charming inland lagoon for absolute tranquillity
- A thrilling zip wire crossing the island
- A pavilion for weddings and celebrations
MSC Cruises plans to break ground on the development in March 2016, and Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve will open to guests in November 2017.
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.