July 30, 2021

MSC Cruises plans $200 million private Bahamian island

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750x422By Arlene Satchell From Sun Sentinel

MSC Cruises plans to spend 200 million to create a private island in the Bahamas called Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve. (MSC Cruises)
MSC Cruises plans 95-acre Ocean Cay south of Bimini
MSC Cruises is adding a private island for Caribbean cruises.

The European cruise operator on Thursday announced plans to create an exclusive island in the Bahamas called Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve.

The 95-acre island is expected to open to MSC passengers in December 2017, the company said.

The island, 20 miles south of Bimini, will feature a berth and pier to enable passengers to debark directy from MSC cruises onto the cay instead of in small tender boats.

It will have Bahamian-style architecture; several restaurants, bars and shops; an arrival center with gazebo; a 2,000-seat amphitheatre; and six beach areas, the cruise company said.

The project was launched Wednesday in Nassau when MSC’s Executive Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago signed a 100-year lease with Bahamian Prime Minister Perry Christie to allow the cruise line to occupy and develop Ocean Cay.

Construction of the approximately $200 million development will take place in March, MSC said.

“This is a natural progression for our company, which is growing very rapidly,” Vago said in a statement.

Geneva-based MSC, known for its Mediterranean maritime roots, operates its U.S. division from Fort Lauderdale.

During the next two years, the cruise operator plans to work closely with the Bahamian government and ecologists to transform the one-time sand extraction station into a thriving marine reserve.

The development will include a major landscaping overhaul, which will see more than 80 Caribbean trees, grasses, flowers and shrubs, such as Jamaica Dogwood, Red, Black and White Mangroves, and Beach Morning Glory, being planted across the island.

Ocean Cay is expected to generate employment for 240 Bahamians in various roles between 2016 and 2017, MSC said. It also plans to open a crew training school in Nassau to provide local talent for the growing number of MSC ships sailing the Caribbean.

Cruise passengers visiting Ocean Cay will find walking and running trails, bicycle rentals, an inland lagoon and a zip line. Additionally MSC Yacht Club guests will access to an exclusive spa and wellness area with private bungalows and massage huts.

When complete, Ocean Cay is expected to serve as a port call for all MSC ships sailing in the Caribbean including MSC Divina and the new MSC Seaside launching in December 2017, both sailing from Miami. The MSC Opera and MSC Armonia sailing from Havana, Cuba, also will stop there.

IMAGE: Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve illustration

For more on this story go to: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/business/tourism/fl-msc-cruises-ocean-cay-island-20151217-story.html

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