MSC Cruises is the fourth largest cruise line in the world and growing. Recently announced investment plans will spend $5.4 billion on the construction of up to seven new ships, doubling their current capacity by 2022. But investing $billions in hardware is a pretty safe bet; cruising continues to be a popular travel option worldwide and if a ship does not sell well in one place, the cruise line can always move it someplace else where it might do better. Nothing new about any of the above. But recently, MSC made a move that is turning heads and bringing a bit different feel about the Italian-owned cruise line: for all practical purposes, they bought an island.
Announced in the Bahamian capital of Nassau, Prime Minister Perry 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 will work with the Bahamian Government and ecologists to develop what was once a sand extraction station into a marine reserve that will coexist with the local ecosystem. A bonus: this is a project that will transform the local economy base from resource exploitation to resource conservation.
“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.”-MSC Cruises Executive Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago
To be featured at the Ocean Cay Marine Reserve $200 million project:
- Some of the finest beaches in the world, amid an array of Caribbean-inspired experiences.
- 95-acres in size with 11,400 feet of pristine beachfront spread across six distinct beaches
- A purpose-built berth and pier right on the seafront means that MSC Cruises guests will be able to step off the ship straight onto the island
- 2,000-seat amphitheatre- because MSC ships will be there at night with live music and entertainment
- Casino and all onboard services Open while in port
- 80 indigenous Caribbean trees, grasses, flowers and shrubs, such as Jamaica Dogwood, Red, Black and White Mangroves, and Beach Morning Glory, expertly planted across the island.
- MSC Yacht Club guests will enjoy an exclusive spa and wellness sanctuary with private bungalows and massage huts has been designated to the northwest corner of the island.\
- A family beach with kids’ restaurant, play areas and other useful facilities
- A network of walking and running paths, bicycle rentals and other stress-free transport options
- A charming inland lagoon for absolute tranquillity
- A thrilling zip wire crossing the island
- A pavilion for weddings and celebrations
Beyond Ocean Cay Marine Reserve
The Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve project will offer a permanent MSC Cruises presence in the Bahamas, for which the company plans to recruit 240 Bahamians in various roles. The facility will be ideal for all MSC ships serving the Caribbean region, namely MSC Divina and the under-construction MSC Seaside (launching December 2017), both sailing from Miami, plus MSC Opera and MSC Armonia, sailing from Havana, Cuba. MSC will also open a crew training school in Nassau to provide local manpower for the growing number of MSC Cruises ships sailing the Caribbean. Looks like MSC is here to stay.
MSC Cruises plans to break ground on the development in March 2016 and Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve will open to guests in December 2017.