MSC Cruises has released more details about Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, the line's private island in the Bahamas, set to open in November.
The island's features will include:
• Seven distinct beaches with lifeguards on each. Sun beds will be available on every beach, and some will also have cabanas. Each beach is being designed to have a unique appeal; the Great Lagoon, for example, is perfect for those seeking protected swimming. A smaller Family Lagoon has shallow, calm waters as well as family-friendly games. The half-mile-long Great Bimini Beach is the place for water sports.
• The option to rent a smaller, private island close to Ocean Cay. The experience includes a private boat to transport guests that will remain at their disposal; sun beds and loungers; food and drinks; and a marquee. The island is near an old shipwreck, making it ideal for snorkeling.
• Activities including snorkel safaris, kayak tours and paddleboarding. A Family Explorer Club will offer all-ages fun.
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• Food carts near the beaches offering casual fare including tacos and conch fritters. Onshore food and beverages will be available for an additional coast and will include a buffet near the Family Lagoon.
• Seven bars, each with its own personality. Lighthouse Bar, for example, is described as a "Hemingway-style cocktail bar" offering a wide selection of rums and cocktails. Authentic Bahamian Bar, located in the Marina, features local drinks.
• Four distinct shopping areas. These will offer local products as well as Ocean Cay- and MSC-branded souvenirs. Visitors can pre-order some items and pick them up at the island's welcome center. Most payments on the island are managed via passengers' cruise card, but the Bahamian Market will accept U.S. dollars.
Located 23 miles south of Bimini and 65 miles south of Miami, Ocean Cay was the former site of an industrial sand extraction plant. The most distant part of the island is a 20-minute walk from where the ship is docked, meaning passengers can reboard for meals, if desired. Visitors can also opt to use a complimentary electric cart service. Four MSC ships will visit the island during its inaugural season, docking at a pier alongside the island.
"For the guest services on the island we have kept it authentic and designed an experience that will allow guest to simply enjoy nature at its best," MSC CEO Gianni Onorato said in a news release. "The ship is an integral part of the experience as we have built a pier so that guests can go back and forth between the ship throughout the day making full use of both the ashore and onboard facilities."
MSC advises guests to book Ocean Cay excursions and spa services in advance. Those booking excursions pre-cruise will receive a 20 percent discount. Reservations can also be made onboard at the service desk or via the MSC for Me app. Those looking for a Wi-Fi connection on the island can purchase a package specific to Ocean Cay or upgrade an existing onboard internet package.
Other island amenities revealed by the company in November 2018 include the MSC Aurea Spa; entertainment including dance lessons and sporting events; and sunset catamaran tours. MSC's commitment to the island includes using local vendors and materials; hiring as many as 140 Bahamians to work on the island; bringing in more 75,000 native shrubs and plants; and building a marine laboratory dedicated to researching climate change-resistant coral.