December 17, 2015
Ocean Cay MSC rendering
(7:15 a.m. EST) -- MSC Cruises has today announced that it will develop a private marine reserve island in the Bahamas called Ocean Cay MSC, with a view to open in November 2017.
The project will be the biggest island development by any cruise company in the Caribbean and the only marine reserve island experience. The cruise line is working closely with the Bahamian government and ecologists to transform a 95-acre former sand extraction station which lies 20 miles south of Bimini and 65 miles east of Miami. Work is scheduled to start in March 2016.
MSC Cruises will invest around $200 million in the development which is set to feature six beaches, a 2,000-seat amphitheatre, numerous water sports options, walking and running paths, and a Bahamian village with shops, restaurants and a music gazebo. It will provide a purpose-built berth and pier on the seafront to enable passengers to step straight off the ship onto the shore.
MSC Cruises Executive Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago said: "This is a natural progression for our company, which is growing very rapidly, and we are thrilled about providing this totally new experience for our guests in the Caribbean."
In a press release from the company, the cruise line states that the development will be sympathetic to the culture and traditions of the Bahamas and they are committed to protecting the waters it navigates. The landscaping will include 80 indigenous Caribbean trees, flowers and shrubs and will feature restaurants and bars offering local specialities.
Passengers onboard MSC Seaside's maiden voyage from Miami in December 2017 will be the first to visit the island.
--By Rachel Beard, Destinations Editor, Cruise Critic U.K.