The long-awaited opening is a milestone in a complex undertaking that was first announced in December 2015. MSC Cruises has transformed an industrial sand excavation site into a cruise destination, while working with environmental engineers and other experts to revitalize the surrounding ocean beds, marine life and endangered coral.
Preserving coral colonies during construction
This has involved removing 7,500 tons of scrap metal and dispatching a team of divers and marine biologists to carefully remove individual hard coral colonies from debris on the ocean bed and move them to an approved location outside the construction area. More than 75,000 plants and shrubs were planted across the island to create a biodiverse and sustainable environment.
In the coming months, MSC Cruises plans to introduce a Conservation Center on the island to serve as an active base for coral education and research. The restored natural beauty of the ocean and beaches is at the heart of the Ocean Cay experience, with the surrounding waters to become a flourishing marine reserve.
Tours to discover the marine life
Shore excursion offerings, including snorkeling, stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking, facilitate discovery of the marine life up close.
Visitors can purchase a spa treatment or relax in a private cabana, stroll a village with Bahamian arts and crafts by local artisans or grab a bite at the complimentary Seakers Food Court or from one of six food trucks. Multiple bars are positioned around the island. Evening events including Junkanoo parades and lighthouse light shows.
Creating something with a higher purpose
‘Having the first guests arrive on the island is a moment of great pride for all of us at MSC Cruises,’ Executive Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago said. ‘Ocean Cay is founded on a deep commitment to ecological principles – beliefs that shape everything from how venues are built, to how the island is run, to the kinds of activities featured on the island. We wanted to create for our guests something sustainable, with a higher purpose. Ocean Cay is not just a vacation island. It is a unique marine reserve where people and nature thrive in harmony.’
Following today’s first call, all four of MSC Cruises’ North America-based ships — MSC Armonia, MSC Divina, MSC Seaside and MSC Meraviglia — will visit Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve on different days.