MSC Cruises reports that it has passed an important milestone in the construction of its new private island destination in the Bahamas, the Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve. The event, the planting of the island’s first trees, marks one year until the destination begins officially welcoming MSC guests.
Landscaping work is now underway in the former industrial sand extraction site, with the aim of turning it into a private island destination and marine reserve. Over 75,000 native shrubs and plants will be planted, including more than 60 types of indigenous Caribbean trees, grasses, flowers and shrubs to create a lush, tropical environment. Work on over 100 environmentally friendly structures will soon begin, MSC said, which will include bars and restaurants as well as housing for employees and staff who will live on the island. Work on the lighthouse will also be underway shortly – set to become a landmark of the island and a focal point of the evening’s entertainment for guests.
One of the island’s most distinguishing features will be a pier that allows the ship to dock alongside the island so that guests can walk on and off at their leisure throughout the day and evening.
MSC Cruises is also in the process of recreating the seabed surrounding the island, which will soon be repopulated with a variety of marine life. A year from now, guests will have the opportunity to swim in the warm shallow waters, snorkeling, dive or take a boat trip to one of the neighboring deserted cays.
During the island’s clean-up, over 500 tons of historic industrial waste and scrap metal have been removed, with the final underwater debris clean-up about to begin. To create a solid foundation, over 500,000 tons of sand and soil have been moved and work has been carried out to shape the island itself. A shallow water lagoon will be created in the center of the island to provide an area for families to relax. The island will have eight beaches, each with a different character and ambience. The beaches are formed from aragonite sand, which is distinguished not only by its white color but also by the key role it plays in the growth of coral reefs by maintaining the pH levels of the water.
MSC Cruises said it is working in close collaboration with environmental auditors, Bahamian environmental experts and other entities to ensure that best practices are followed. Plans are underway for a marine laboratory to be situated on Ocean Cay, which will research climate change-resistant coral in hopes of providing insights to similar island habitats.
Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve will open November 2019 with four MSC Cruises ships calling at the island on different days. More information about the guest experience will be revealed in the coming months, the cruise line said.