Preview: MSC's New Ocean Cay Marine Reserve

MSC Cruises has released new details on Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, the cruise line's new private island 65 miles south of Miami that is set to open November 9. 

Built on a former industrial sand extraction site, Ocean Cay has been designed to immerse guests in the natural beauty of their surroundings, MSC said. The vision is to create a sustainable destination with activities that allow guests to connect with nature and provide opportunities to learn about the protection of the oceans and the importance of preserving coral reefs through dedicated edutainment programs.

The island is surrounded by 64 square miles of protected waters, and a coral nursery is being established to encourage and sustain the growth of new coral. Plans are underway for a marine laboratory to be situated on Ocean Cay for researching climate change-resistant coral in hopes of providing insights to similar island habitats.

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The destination will have over two miles of white sand beach spread over seven distinct beach areas, ranging from more relaxing zones to active places with beach games and water sports. 

Sun beds will be available on all beaches, and some beaches will offer cabanas that can be rented for the day. The Great Lagoon’s shallow crystal-clear water is perfect for protected swimming and water sports, while the smaller family lagoon is designed for younger guests to enjoy, offering very shallow, calm water and plenty of games. At over half a mile long, the Great Bimini Beach is the largest stretch of beach on the island, as well as the place to go to enjoy a variety of water sports.

In terms of excursions, guests will be able to discover the waters around the island through snorkel safaris, kayak tours and paddle boarding. The Family Explorer club will also offer fun activities for the entire family.

For those looking for a special experience, Ocean Cay guests are able to privately rent a smaller island close to the main body of land for the day, which will include: a private boat that will take the group to the island and remain at their disposal; and a marquee, sun beds and loungers and food and drinks. Near the island is an old shipwreck, making it a good spot for snorkeling.

In addition to the excursions, guests can participate in a wide range of entertainment activities, including sports games and tournaments, dance lessons as well activities for the entire family.

One of the key highlights of Ocean Cay is that the ship will remain in port into the evening, since the island is located just 65 miles south of Miami, allowing for a range of evening experiences. Once the sun goes down guests can enjoy night time activities, such as stargazing on the beach or romantic sunset catamaran tours, to bring the day to a very special close. The entertainment on the island will focus around its Lighthouse with breathtaking sunsets and with live music or DJs and a surprising visual experience that will further enhance the atmosphere.

As part of the commitment to ensure that the island is sustainable and to minimize waste, there is a select number of dining options on Ocean Cay. The ship will also be fully operational while docked at the island, and the furthest point from the ship is only a 20-minute walk. There will also be an electric carts service available to transport guests around the island.

The choice of options for food and drink ashore will include: 

  • Buffet: Conveniently located near the family lagoon, at the buffet guests will get  freshly prepared meals from a variety of international culinary traditions, including American classics and authentic Bahamian flavors as well as some kids’ favorites.
  • Food carts: For guests not seeking a sit-down meal, food carts with casual street food will be available including a taco truck, conch fitter truck, and more. The trucks will be stationary during the day around the beaches and will move to the Marina area at night, creating an atmospheric food festival-style feel.

Food and beverage services will be offered at an additional cost with upgrades available to the beverage package. As the ship is easily accessible guests are able to walk on and off at their leisure, allowing them to also be able to freely dine on board as they choose, MSC said. 

Bar options will include: 

  • Authentic Bahamian Bar: Located in the Marina, this friendly bar offers cocktails and drinks in an authentic Bahamian style.
  • Lighthouse Bar: This Hemingway-style cocktail bar offers an ample selection of rums, other spirits and delicious cocktails, all with  incredible sea views. It’s the perfect spot to take a break from one of the island’s many activities during the day.
  • Beach Bars: There are seven beach bars spread across the island, each with its own personality and its own special look and feel.
  • Ice Cream Parlour and Coffee Bar: Located in the Marina, this venue offers different kinds of ice cream, from classics to more innovative flavors. The coffee bar serves freshly brewed whole bean and ground coffee, espresso and cappuccino for an energetic start or a quick afternoon boost.

Shopping will be available across four distinct areas. The Bahamian Shop & Market hosts authentic arts and crafts by local artisans and Bahamian companies, while the Ocean Cay Trading Post offers a wide selection of exclusive Ocean Cay souvenirs and gifts inspired by nature, with items for adults and children ranging from T-shirts, caps, beach items, towels and accessories. Guests will be able to purchase essentials for the whole family from the MSC Shop, with a range of MSC Cruises-branded products such as hats, flip flops, towels, beach bags, sunscreen and lip balms. Guests will also find a number of exclusive partnership products highlighting the marine and sustainable values of the island. Finally, guests can collect pre-ordered essential items at the Welcome Center, including Ocean Cay survival kits and other essentials and at the same time gather top tips for a day on Ocean Cay.

For those guests looking to relax and rejuvenate on the island, there will be services provided by the MSC Aurea Spa with a selection of relaxing body and facial treatments. All the beauty products used on the island are bio-degradable and eco-friendly. Some of the specially designed treatments include the Ocean Cay Breeze Boost massage, which uses aromatic spray waters with soothing and refreshing properties, mainly aimed at the legs, feet and back — the areas of the body normally more exposed to sun. The Ocean Cay Breeze Facial offers the soothing properties of a calming mask and refreshing spray waters, providing relief for delicate facial skin exposed to the sun.

The island will welcome its first guests on November 9, 2019. To find out more visit www.msccruises.com.

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