Friday, December 18, 2015

MSC Cruises to Launch Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve

One of the best-loved ports of call on many Caribbean cruises is a day spent at a cruise line’s private island and to satisfy their guests’ desire for that experience MSC Cruises has unveiled ambitious plans to create an unprecedented exclusive marine reserve island in the Bahamas. 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. In keeping with the company’s commitment to providing absolutely authentic cruise vacations, 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. The company will invest approximately $200 million in creating a flourishing natural haven from a desert island. At 95-acres in size and with 11,400 feet of pristine beach front spread across six distinct beaches, Ocean Cay Marine Reserve will be—by a large margin—the biggest island development by any cruise company in the Caribbean. In addition, as the only marine reserve island experience, it will offer a multitude of 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. Since a unique 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, guests moving at leisure between ship and island will be especially convenient. In addition, 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 just 65 miles 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. There will be an architecturally faithful Bahamian village, plentiful restaurants and bars offering local specialties, a variety of shops and an inviting arrival center with island-themed music gazebo.

For MSC Yacht Club guests, an exclusive spa and wellness sanctuary with private bungalows and massage huts has been designated to the northwest corner of the island. 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.

Other highlights such as must-have water sports and beach games include:
• A family beach with kids’ restaurant, play areas and other useful facilities
• A charming inland lagoon for absolute tranquility
• 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 December 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. 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.

Image Courtesy MSC Cruises

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