In a ceremony south of Bimini in the Bahamas this week, MSC Cruises officially broke ground on its new exclusive private island, Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve.
Originally scheduled for December 2017, the opening was delayed in September for 10 months in order “to ensure the level of quality and attention to details in both infrastructure and services.”
But now, with a new opening date of November 2018, “everything is looking good,” MSC Cruises North America president Roberto Fusaro told TMR. “It’s our first private island so we were a little optimistic at the beginning. We wanted to take the additional time to make sure the island has everything we wanted it to have, but now we are fully on schedule.”
When it opens, Ocean Cay will be the largest development of any cruise line in the Caribbean; its 95 acres, including 11,400 feet of beachfront, will host a family beach and kids’ restaurant, an inland lagoon, a zip wire and a wedding pavilion—and serve as a key cog in MSC’s Caribbean operations.
Five MSC ships will call at Ocean Cay this winter—two sailing from Miami, two from Cuba and one from the southern Caribbean.
The cay’s close proximity to Miami (60 miles) and Havana (200 miles) means ships can stay until midnight—and guests can take advantage of private entertainment and specialty dining options late into the evening—and still arrive in port by morning.
With 95 acres to work with, MSC also will be able to construct a purpose-built berth and pier that allows ships to dock directly at the island, so guests can travel from the ship to the beach and back again without waiting for a tender.
Everything MSC offers onboard—including group activities, weddings and MSC Yacht club activities—will also be offered at Ocean Cay.
The good news for travel agents is that they will earn commission on any prepaid services offered at Ocean Cay, including shore excursions and specialty dining.
“One of MSC’s policies is to recognize the commission of travel agents on all prepaid activities and we will continue to do that,” Fusaro said.