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As more new cruise ships launch, it becomes increasingly important to find distinct destinations for them to visit. MSC Cruises is keenly aware of this.
The line’s Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve in the Bahamas will open to guests Nov. 9. Structures will be dialed back to allow the natural environment to shine. There will be eight beaches (one of which is for MSC’s crew), with sun beds available at each, and some will also have cabanas for rent. Shoreside activities will extend to daytime and evening excursions; watersports such as paddleboarding, games and tournaments; live music or DJ entertainment; and dance classes.
For multigenerational passengers, the Family Explorer club will be on hand for parents and children. Wellness seekers can enjoy exclusive treatments at MSC Aurea Spa, such as the Ocean Cay Breeze Boost Massage, which focuses on areas exposed to the sun, or the Ocean Cay Breeze Facial, which takes a similar solar-focused approach.
Dining options will include an international island buffet with American and Bahamian fare, as well as food carts such as a taco truck and a conch fritter truck. There will also be an ice cream parlor and a coffee bar at the marina, along with a Bahamian bar, a lighthouse bar and several beach bars. Complimentary food services will be available onboard, but those on land will require a surcharge.
To gain additional insight into the island’s features, we chatted with Gianni Onorato, CEO of MSC Cruises.
As cruise lines develop more private islands and attractions, how will MSC’s stand out?At Ocean Cay, there will be very limited superstructure; the island was practically a piece of sand in the middle of the ocean, and we want to keep it natural and pristine. We are creating eight beautiful beaches for a total of more than 2 miles of linear beaches. There is a beach for every experience that people will be looking for, from the family beach to the watersports beach to the MSC Yacht Club beach and so on.
We are also invested in minimizing the impact on the environment. So, there will be mainly electrical facilities and transportation added. Most of the power will be generated by solar panels. We are going to reduce the impact of garbage as much as possible. In this, we are helped by the fact that the ship is a sort of extension of the island, and all the services will be operational, from food to entertainment to the casino.
Most of all, we want people to have an emotional experience in nature. With 65 square acres of sea around the island, all populated with coral, the opportunity is there. There are beautiful spots for snorkeling and scuba diving, including a shipwreck site. Guests can also enjoy the day with kayaking, a snorkeling safari and other watersports activities.
We will have a retail experience with a Bahamian shopping market, as well. There will be 140 Bahamians permanently working on the island. The farthest point on the island to the ship is only a 17-minute walk. You can either walk or use one of the electrical transportation carts.
We also have a small island connected to Ocean Cay — only 15 minutes away by boat — that we will be renting for private use, either for individuals or for groups of up to 40 people. It really fulfills the desire of being on a private island exclusively for the day.
Additionally unique are the island’s nighttime activities. We will be offering a set of events for evenings, such as a movie under the stars on a giant screen.
What we are not doing on this island is creating superstructures such as waterslides or ziplines.
Will any of MSC’s future dedicated luxury ships also visit the island?I think that ships passing by Miami or close by will always be calling on the island because this will be an integral part of our brand’s offering, including with the luxury ships. We are planning four ships per week calling there. The ships from Miami will always have Ocean Cay on the itinerary.
Have any recently announced competitors prompted MSC to further enhance Ocean Cay's offerings?No, we are fine with our plan and what we’re going to offer. We do believe that there is a difference from other cruise line islands, but this is also a way for us to be an option in the market and to offer a different product.
Are there any shoreside features you are excited to have guests experience?We’re offering some lectures from biologists that will explain the coral life and how important the coral is to keep the balance of the environment.
We will mainly have features for clients looking for relaxation and emotional experiences. For example, we want to have a lighthouse positioned in a specific place where we can showcase the sunset.
The DetailsMSC Cruiseswww.msccruisesusa.com