A huge new island project
By Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon
CJ Travel Editor
MSC Cruises has announced plans to develop its own private Caribbean island experience in the Bahamas.
The company said it would be spending around $200 million on the project.
Bahamian Prime Minister Perry Christie and MSC Cruises Executive Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago have signed a 100-year lease agreement for the 95-acre island, which will be called Ocean Cay MSC Reserve and will offer, the line says, “an unprecedented exclusive marine reserve island experience in the Bahamas.” The line plans to break ground on the development in March 2016 and to open the island to guests in December 2017.
Over the next two years, MSC Cruises will work with the Bahamian government and ecologists to transform the former sand extraction station, located 20 miles south of Bimini and 65 miles east of Miami, into a marine reserve that will harmoniously coexist with the local ecosystem.
Plans for Ocean Cay include a berth and pier so that passengers can disembark straight from the ship to the island without tendering; a 2,000-seat amphitheater; a zipline; wedding pavilion; inland lagoon; and several restaurants and bars.
Passengers staying in the line’s premium-tier cabins, MSC Yacht Club, will have exclusive access to a spa and wellness sanctuary with private bungalows and massage huts on the northwest corner of the island. A landscaping plan includes the planting of more than 80 indigenous Caribbean trees, grasses, flowers and shrubs and a network of walking and biking trails. The line also says there will be an architecturally faithful Bahamian village; shops and an arrival center.
“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,” said MSC Cruises Executive Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago.
Ocean Cay will be a port call on the itinerary of MSC’s Caribbean-bound ships, notably MSC Divina and MSC Seaside (which launches in December 2017) sailing out of Miami, as well as MSC Opera and MSC Armonia, which sail from Havana, Cuba. The line also announced plans to establish a crew training school in Nassau to provide local manpower for the growing number of MSC Cruises ships sailing the Caribbean.