MSC Cruises has announced plans to create a new marine reserve island experience in the Bahamas. The cruise line plans to break ground on the Ocean Cay Marine Reserve in March 2016, with a projected opening of December 2017.
The cruise line has signed a 100-year lease agreement to develop and occupy the island, which was once a sand extraction station. Over the next two years MSC Cruises plans to work with the Bahamian Government and ecologists to develop the cay into a marine reserve, an investment of approximately $200 million.
When complete, Ocean Cay Marine Reserve will be 95 acres in size, with 11,400 feet of beach front across six beaches, which MSC said will make it the biggest island development by any cruise line in the Caribbean. The island will also have a purpose-built berth and pier right on the seafront, allowing quick access for MSC's guests. A 2,000 seat amphitheater will host live music and entertainment, and numerous restaurants and bars will offer refreshments. In addition, the ship and all on board services – including the casino – will stay open while berthed.
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. MSC said that plans call for an architecturally faithful Bahamian village, restaurants and bars offering local specialties, a variety of shops and an arrival center with an island-themed music gazebo.
For MSC Yacht Club guests, an exclusive spa and wellness sanctuary with private bungalows and massage huts will be situated in the northwest corner of the island.
To get around, guests will be able to take advantage of a network of walking and running paths, bicycle rentals and other transport options. There will also be a family beach with kids’ restaurant, play areas and other useful facilities, an inland lagoon, a zip wire crossing the island and a pavilion for weddings and celebrations.
MSC Cruises also said it plans to use the cay 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.