MSC Cruises has undertaken an ambitious and large-scale revitalization of a formerly threatened island space in the Bimini chain in the Bahamas.
The result is a recaptured slice of paradise with a mission of ecological preservation that allows cruise visitors to share in the story of responsible tourism.
With Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, MSC Cruises is transforming a former industrial sand extraction site into a flourishing marine reserve and private island destination that will exist in harmony with the ecosystem.
Imagine a tranquil morning spent relaxing in a cabana on the beach followed by a snorkel tour to discover the coral and taking in the colorful fish and abundant marine life. The afternoon is spent taking part in beach activities, perhaps a game of beach volleyball or shopping for souvenirs. As the sun starts to set, move to one of the beach bars to sip on a cocktail, taking in the stunning sea views and an atmosphere of peace and serenity. Finally, finish the evening with a movie under the stars before returning to the comfort of your ship.
Ocean Cay has been designed to allow visitors to enjoy the natural beauty of the island, beaches and lagoons. The vision is to create a sustainable destination with activities giving cruisers the opportunity to connect with nature and learn about the protection of the oceans and the importance of preserving coral reefs through dedicated edu-tainment 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.
MSC Cruises has been working hand-in-hand with the Bahamian government and ecologists to develop the cay.
"Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve will bring something new and unique to our Caribbean itineraries from Miami and is set to become a truly memorable highlight for our guests," MSC Cruises' CEO Gianni Onorato said. "We have created a guest experience that complements the breath-taking natural beauty of this remarkable part of the Caribbean.
"There was no need for us to build extensively on an island that already had the ingredients of a natural paradise. However, we have undertaken extensive work to clean-up the island, removing tons of historic industrial waste and helping to return the beaches, and the entire 64 square miles of protected waters surrounding the island, to their pristine state."
Onorato continued, "For the guest services on the island we have kept it authentic and designed an experience that will allow guests to simply enjoy nature at its best. The ship is an integral part of the experience as we have built a pier so that guests can go easily back and forth between the ship throughout the day making full use of both the ashore and onboard facilities."
Ocean Cay is scheduled to welcome its first cruise visitors on November 9, 2019.
With more than two miles of beautiful white sandy beach shore formed from the world's best aragonite sand, you will be spoiled for choices -- with seven distinct beach areas, 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 youngsters to enjoy, offering calm water and plenty of games. At over a half-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.
DISCOVER AND EXPLORE
Ocean Cay excursions allow visitors to experience 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.
You also will be able to rent a smaller island close to the main body of land for the day. This experience will include the following: a boat that will take your group to the island and remain for your private use; sun beds and loungers; and food and drinks. Near the island is an old shipwreck, making it a wonderful spot for snorkeling.
In addition to the excursions, passengers 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. The island is conveniently located just 65 miles south of Miami, allowing for a range of incredible evening experiences. Once the sun goes down, you can enjoy night-time activities such as stargazing on the beach or romantic sunset catamaran tours. Entertainment on the island will focus around the iconic lighthouse with breathtaking sunsets and with live music or DJs and a special visual show.
FOOD AND DRINK
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. Electric carts also will transport visitors around the island.
The choice of options for food and drink ashore will include:
Buffet -- Located near the family lagoon, freshly prepared meals from a variety of international culinary traditions, including American classics and authentic Bahamian flavors.
Food cart -- If you don't prefer a sit-down meal, food carts with casual street food will be available, including a taco truck, conch fitter truck and other options. The trucks will be stationary during the day around the beaches and will move to the marina area at night, creating a 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, passengers are able to walk on and off at their leisure, allowing them to also be able to dine onboard as they choose.
A range of different bars with varying atmospheres and ambiences are spread across the island. These include:
A Bahamian Bar: Located in the marina, this venue offers cocktails and drinks in an authentic Bahamian style.
Lighthouse Bar: This Hemingway-style cocktail bar offers an ample selection of rums, spirits and delicious cocktails, all with incredible sea views.
Beach Bars: Seven beach bars are spread across the island, each with its own personality and special look and feel.
Ice Cream Parlour and Coffee Bar: At the marina, this sweet spot offers all varieties of ice cream, from classic flavors to more innovative concoctions. The coffee bar serves freshly brewed whole bean and ground coffee, espressos and cappuccinos.
A specially designed retail concept reflects the overall vision of the island. Across four distinct shopping areas, you have the opportunity to take home unique souvenirs or find vacation essentials.
The Bahamian Shop & Market hosts authentic arts and crafts created by artisans and Bahamian companies to perfectly complement the spirit of the Bahamas. Meanwhile, the Ocean Cay Trading Post offers a wide selection of exclusive Ocean Cay branded souvenirs and logo wear.
SPA AND SAND
Looking to relax and rejuvenate on the island? Spa services are provided by the award-winning 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.
Sounds like an amazing new private island experience. Plus, it's a wonderful thing to be able to rejuvenate and restore such a special place in the world to a more pristine and sustainable state.
What do you think about this bold new cruise destination created by MSC Cruises?