MSC Cruises has announced plans for a new private island destination off the southwest coast of Abu Dhabi, Sir Bani Yas Island.
The move marks the second beach destination under development by MSC Cruises. Last year the line announced that it was developing the Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve 65 miles from Miami.
The 1.5 mile stretch of land on the natural island of Sir Bani Yas will be available to guests onboard MSC Fantasia sailings starting in December 2016.
MSC partnered with the Abu Dhabi Ports Authority on the new destination, which is on a smaller island connected to the main island by a wooden boardwalk that allows MSC guests exclusive access to the beach, which has palm trees, shaded cabanas and sunbeds. Other key amenities include a private area for MSC Yacht Club guests and an MSC Aurea Spa area with massages available in beachside cabana huts. There will also be sports facilities, including beach volleyball and tennis, an area for families and kids with a parents’ pergola, a Bedouin tent selling local arts and crafts, and a lounge space with a bar and live music.
For dining, guests can enjoy options from a range of cooking stations serving local cuisine and international favorites. Beachside charcoal BBQs will serve light dishes and snacks, and six beach bars will serve cocktails and drinks. Ship food and drink services, such as drink packages, extend onto the island.
The beach area will have a selection of natural sunbathing spots and walking trails, open all day. Guests can also go on a 4x4 or mountain biking expedition on the main island, or opt to enjoy water sports like snorkeling, paddle boarding, sea kayaking and more.
The island is one of region’s largest wildlife reserves thanks to decades of intensive conservation work and ecological investment to restore and maintain its biodiversity. The Arabian Wildlife Park on the main island of Sir Bani Yas is today, as a result of this work, home to more than 13,000 indigenous and endangered animals, as well as millions of trees and plants. MSC Cruises has been working closely with the Abu Dhabi Port Authorities and ecologists to develop the island beach oasis for guests in line with the broader Sir Bani Yas island project and to support the ongoing preservation work.
The MSC Cruises beach oasis will also offer direct access to the natural reserve, with a range of specially designed excursions for MSC guests. These include a horse riding tour, a safari-style nature drive through the reserve as well as a Dhow tour around the island in a traditional powered boat – giving guests the opportunity to see giraffes, hyenas and cheetahs in their natural habitat.
Finally, there are ongoing archaeological excavations taking place on Sir Bani Yas island. For guests who want to discover more about the history and the culture of the island, a dedicated tour to the ruins of an early Christian monastery site from 6th century AD is available for them.
MSC Fantasia itineraries calling at the new destination will range from seven to 14 nights. Guests can embark from Abu Dhabi or Dubai, with itineraries also calling at Bahrain, Doha, Khasab, Khor Fakkan and Muscat.
Guests are able to book their cruise with an itinerary calling at Sir Bani Yas Island now, with the first cruise of the winter season departing December 3, 2016, and making the first call at the island on December 5, 2016. Sir Bani Yas Island beach oasis is available exclusively to MSC Cruises guests when the ship calls at the island. Prices start at $719 per person for a seven-night cruise this winter on MSC Fantasia.