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MSC to invest $200m in an exclusive marine reserve island experience in the Bahamas

Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve - 2,000-seat amphitheatre, beaches, restaurants, bars, MSC Yacht Club spa and wellness sanctuary
MSC Cruises unveiled plans to invest around $200m in creating an exclusive marine reserve island experience in the Bahamas. The project had been rumored for some time, and Prime Minister Perry Christie last month told the House of Assembly something was in the works.

It was officially launched Wednesday afternoon in Nassau, where Christie and MSC Cruises executive chairman Pierfrancesco Vago signed a 100-year lease agreement that will enable MSC Cruises to occupy and develop the island, to be called Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve.

Over the next two years MSC Cruises will work hand-in-hand with the Bahamas government and ecologists to develop the cay, a one-time sand extraction station, into a thriving marine reserve. This is a project that will transform the local economy base from resource exploitation to resource conservation. The company will offer excursions on the island amid an array of Caribbean experiences.

Vago commented: '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.'

Ninety-five acres, and with 3.5 km of pristine beachfront spread across six beaches, Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve will feature a purpose-built berth for ships plus a 2,000-seat amphitheatre, and many restaurants and bars. In addition, the ship and all on-board services – including the casino – will stay open while berthed at Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve.

The island lies 20 miles south of Bimini and 65 miles east of Miami. A comprehensive landscaping plan will see more than 80 indigenous Caribbean trees, grasses, flowers and shrubs, such as Jamaica dogwood, red, black and white mangroves, and beach morning glory, planted across the island. And there will be an architecturally faithful Bahamian village, plentiful restaurants and bars offering local specialities, a variety of shops and an arrival centre with island-themed music gazebo.

For MSC Yacht Club passengers, the northwest corner of the island has been set aside as an exclusive spa and wellness sanctuary, with private bungalows and massage huts.

As well as water sports and beach games, other highlights include a family beach, an inland lagoon, a zip wire and pavilions with kids’ restaurant, and pavilion for weddings and celebrations.

MSC Cruises plans to break ground on the development in March, and Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve will open in December 2017.

The line plans to recruit 240 Bahamians in various roles over 2016 and 2017. The cay will feature on all MSC Cruises ships serving the Caribbean region, notably MSC Divina and MSC Seaside (launching December 2017), both sailing from Miami, plus MSC Opera and MSC Armonia, sailing from Havana, Cuba. In addition, the company will open a crew training school in Nassau to provide local manpower for the growing number of MSC Cruises ships sailing the Caribbean.