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Ocean Cay is a private island in Bahamas owned by MSC Cruises. The Italian company announced its plans to buy a small Bahamian island in the end of 2015. MSC negotiated with Bahamas Government to build an exclusive cruise port in the Caribbean.
The USD 200 million project was launched in Nassau, where country's Prime Minister and MSC's Executive Chairman signed a 100-year lease agreement. The deal gave MSC rights to occupy and develop the island as an exclusive cruise destination - officially named "Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve".
MSC Cruises private island Ocean Cay (Bahamas)
MSC's Bahamian private island is located off Bimini islands (westernmost district of Bahamas). The island is at short distance (approx 105 km / 65 mi) from Miami Florida, where for winter 2017-2018 MSC had 2 homeported ships (Divina and Seaside).
The island purchase gave MSC cruise passengers an exclusive Caribbean destination, making MSC more attractive for its newly introduced North American itinerary program. As of November 2019, all MSC liners homeported in PortMiami call at Ocean Cay as part of their Caribbean itineraries.
The island is sized 95 acres / 38 hectares (0,38 km2 / 0,15 mi2) and is currently world's only private marine reserve. It has a 3470 m (11400 ft) long beachfront (across 6 beaches) and is surrounded by ~166 km2 (64 mi2) protected marine zone (sea waters). "Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve" is the biggest Caribbean private island development done by a cruise ship company. The waters surrounding Ocean Cay Island feature coral reefs and ~90 different fish species. No motorized water sports are allowed. Water-based activities include kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkeling (on a 1,5-hour tour to the nearby cay) and scuba diving (with PADI-certified instructors). Lifeguards constantly monitor island's beaches. A shallow lagoon (Seakers Family Cove) was specially designed for young kids.
Island's clean-up works included removing of 500+ tons of underwater debris (historic waste and scrap metal), before creating a solid seabed foundation. The project created 140 Bahamian jobs as permanently occupied employees (management, technical staff, attendants, lifeguards, rescue divers). An adjacent to Ocean Cay smaller isle can be privately rented.
The USD 200 million development project was initially scheduled for completion in December 2017. However, in September 2016, MSC announced that "in order to ensure quality", Ocean Cay will be operational and open to cruise ship passengers in October 2018. Because of the delay, Divina's and Seaside's scheduled visits (December 2017) were substituted with Nassau. Works were then rescheduled for completion in mid-November 2019, with all 4 MSC liners visiting weekly (on different days). These are Meraviglia, Seaside, Armonia and Divina. MSC island's official opening for cruise shipping was once again delayed (mainly due to adverse weather / Hurricane Dorian) and planned for December 5, 2019. Hurricane Dorian's impact on the project resulted in the demobilization of all the 600 workers. Additionally, the heavy swells in early-November required the reinforcing of one of the beaches, building a second breakwater, sand leveling and additional landscaping in certain areas.
In November 2018 started the planting of over 75,000 native plants, including 60 types of Caribbean grasses, flowers, shrubs and trees. Soon are expected to start construction works on around 100 structures, including restaurants and bars, accommodations for local staff and employees ((living on the island), marine laboratory (to research climate change-resistant corals), Lighthouse (island's landmark and evening entertainment venue), deep-water pier (docking facility). The seabed surrounding the island will be repopulated with various marine life.
MSC Yacht Club passengers enjoy exclusive access to the island's northwest corner, where is located a spa and wellness complex (including private bungalows and massage huts). Part of the project are also walking and jogging paths around the island. Bicycle rentals are also offered.
Among the amenities available on the new MSC "Caribbean island" destination are also:
- 6 beaches, including an exclusive Yacht Club Beach (VIP), crew beach, and family beach (with a restaurant)
- water sports, beach games, kids playground areas
- an inland lagoon (adults-only)
- zip-line (across the island)
- weddings / private parties / celebrations pavilion
- amphitheater (capacity 2000 seats) hosts live music and entertainment
- several restaurants and bars, retail shop (souvenirs, vacation essentials)
- The electricity needed for all land operations is generated by solar panels.
Self-service restaurant offers food at nominal cost. At all beaches, food carts sell hamburgers and hot dogs. Ashore beverage services have an add-on cost to the shipboard offered drink packages. Also at extra cost are provided Wi-Fi, watersport equipment and cabana rentals.
An interesting fact is that when the MSC liner is berthed in Ocean Cay, all shipboard facilities and services (including the Casino) stay open and operational. The following image show's island's kids beach area.
In mid-January 2019 was announced that Ocean Cay Island will be officially inaugurated on November 9, 2019, during the scheduled port call of MSC Meraviglia. Next table shows this "inaugural" 13-day itinerary (repositioning cruise from NYC to Miami) as call ports and times.
13 days, one-way from New York to Miami New York
|Date / Time||Port|
|28 Oct 19:00||Departing from NYC, New York|
|01 Nov 07:00 - 17:00||Philipsburg, St Maarten Island, Dutch Antilles|
|02 Nov 08:00 - 18:00||Fort-de-France, Martinique|
|03 Nov 07:00 - 19:00||Bridgetown, Barbados|
|04 Nov 07:00 - 14:00||St Georges, Grenada|
|05 Nov 13:00 - 23:00||Willemstad, Curacao Island, Dutch Antilles|
|06 Nov 07:00 - 19:00||Oranjestad, Aruba Island, Dutch Antilles|
|09 Nov 09:00 - 23:00||Ocean Cay, Bahamas|
|10 Nov 07:00||Arriving in Miami, Florida|
Ocean Cay Island's proximity to Miami allows late-evening departures, with port stays between 7-9 am and 11 pm.
MSC Ocean Cay cruise terminal
In January 2017, MSC Cruises started construction works on "Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve". Project's completion was first scheduled for November 2018, then for November 2019. Island's development was part of MSC's EUR 9 billion investment plan, which also included building of 11 new cruise ships (entering service between 2017-2026).
MSC private island's infrastructure includes a purpose-built docking pier and 1 berth. MSC ships are able to dock directly at the island, as opposed to passengers being transported/ferried from the liner to the shore via tender boats. Walking from the berthed ship to island's farthest point takes around 20 min. An alternative is using one of the electric carts.
Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve features 2,16 mi (3,47 km) long coastline, surrounding crystal blue waters, beautiful coral reef, rich and unique marine life, several beaches with world's finest aragonite sands. The landscaping plan included planting over 80 indigenous Caribbean trees, also grasses, flowers, shrubs.
Port MSC Ocean Cay cruise ship schedule shows timetable calendars of all arrival and departure dates by month. The port's schedule lists all ships (in links) with cruises going to or leaving from MSC Ocean Cay, Bahamas private island. To see the full itineraries (ports of call dates and arrival / departure times) and their lowest rates – just follow the corresponding ship-link.
|1 February, 2020|
|2 February, 2020|
|7 February, 2020|
|8 February, 2020|
|9 February, 2020|
|14 February, 2020|
|15 February, 2020|
|16 February, 2020|
|17 February, 2020|
|20 February, 2020|
|21 February, 2020|
|22 February, 2020|
|23 February, 2020|
|25 February, 2020|
|28 February, 2020|
|29 February, 2020|