MSC Cruises Reveals More Details on New Private Island
There are just four months to go before MSC Cruises’ private Bahamian island, Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, welcomes its first cruise passengers. Today, the line announced new details on the experience that will await visitors when they head ashore there.
The Bahamas is home to a diverse ecosystem that needs to be protected, and as part of the island’s development, MSC is working to establish a plan for the restoration of marine resources, including species and habitats native to the area. Ocean Cay was founded on a commitment to be as environmentally conscious as possible, shaping how venues are built, how the island is run, and what activities will be featured there. The island sits within protected waters spanning 64 square miles, but the goal is to further extend that parameter to have an even greater impact.
Exploring the Ocean
At Ocean Cay, visitors won’t find the typical motorized water sports they might be used to when visiting other island resort destinations. Stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, and other less invasive equipment will be available for passengers to use. Those looking to see marine life up-close will have the opportunity to book a snorkeling & secluded island getaway excursion. This trip to the nearby cay will allow guests to either snorkel on their own, or follow a snorkel guide who points out the colorful marine life in the area. After snorkeling, visitors are taken to a private beach on the cay for swimming and relaxing in the water. Those who want a bit more adventure can sign up for scuba diving with PADI qualified instructors. Guests who just want to dip their feet in the diving world may choose to book a Discover Scuba Diving class to try it out in shallow water, also with a PADI instructor.
Time to Relax
Located at the northern tip of the island at an ideal location with ocean views will be The Spa at Ocean Cay. The spa has been designed to immerse guests in their natural surroundings, and provides the perfect contrasting experience to the Balinese MSC Aurea Spa onboard MSC’s ships. Products used there will be from AVEDA, a beauty brand known for their environmental commitments and natural products. A variety of massages will be on the menu, as well as fitness sessions including morning beach yoga, sunset yoga, and even stand-up paddleboard yoga.
Fun For the Family
With all of this talk about yoga, diving, and massages, don’t worry — kids haven’t been forgotten at Ocean Cay. The island will include Seakers Family Cove, a paradise for families with a shallow lagoon, sandy beach, and lifeguards always at the ready. The MSC Cruises Kids Club staff will organize games and activities throughout the day at the cove, including sand castle contests, kite building, treasure hunts, and a family sports challenge. There will also be dedicated programs for teens.
The Seakers Food Court is conveniently located close to the cove for when kids and adults alike get the midday munchies. Serving American classic dishes and kids’ favorites, the buffet will be complimentary for guests. Food trucks will also be found around the island for some unique options, and as always, guests can also easily return to the ship for meals before heading back out for more fun in the sun.
After a day of enjoying the water, one of the island’s highlights will be its evening entertainment and activities. After sunset, the area around the 98 foot red and white lighthouse will come to life with a light show that can be enjoyed even from a perch at the bar. Fire pits will also be dotted around the beach, and a traditional junkanoo parade — inspired by the historic Bahamian festival and consisting of colorful costumes, music, and dancing — will get people into the party mood.
Ocean Cay will also offer a stargazing experience, where visitors can enjoy a welcome drink as an astronomer guide, using computerized tracking telescopes, finds beautiful star clusters, planets, nebulas, and galaxies in the sky that evening.
To better understand conservation needs and decide on key environmental initiatives, MSC commissioned a Rapid Ecological Assessment (REA) that provided an overview of the waters around Ocean Cay. The line’s top priority is the restoration of coral in the water there. The survey established that there are three types of coral which are found around the island in abundance - lettuce coral, mustard hill coral, and massive starlet coral. These species are capable of withstanding harsh temperatures and silation more than other species. Also found around the island was the critically endangered Elkhorn Coral. Four colonies of that species were seen along the island’s rocky shoreline. Now that the waters around the island are protected and it’s no longer a sand excavation industrial site, the seabed is returning to normal. Plans are already underway to establish a coral nursery on the east side of the island, and these corals found during the survey will become candidates for restoration in the nursery.
The Ocean Cay team has already seen an increase in marine life in the area, and the REA identified 88 different species of fish around the island as well as lobster, sea turtles, and rays. One important part of the ecosystem that was assessed is the queen conch, which is the symbol of the Bahamas. The survey found the large sea snails living in the seagrass beds around the island, who help keep the water clean from algae produced by the seagrass. Conch populations have been declining, and some of the few remaining breeding populations are those within marine protected areas in the Bahamas. At Ocean Cay, steps will be taken to ensure that the conch there thrive.
From November 2019 forward, all MSC Cruises voyages from Miami will call at Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve as part of their Caribbean itineraries. Learn more at mscoceancay.com.