MSC Cruises has broken ground on Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, its new private island in the Caribbean.
The reserve, which is south of Bimini in The Bahamas, will open in November 2018.
Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises’ executive chairman, and Perry Gladstone Christie, the prime minister of The Bahamas, were both at the ceremony. The area was previously an industrial sand extraction site.
Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve is part of a €9 billion investment programme by MSC, which includes building 11 vessels that will be launched between 2017 and 2026.
Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman of MSC Cruises, said: “Working in partnership with the Government of The Bahamas, our aim is to turn an industrial wasteland into a thriving environment for man and nature alike, bringing the island and its surrounding waters back to their original state. In so doing, we will substantially grow our Group’s already strong investment in the Bahamian economy, offering long-term employment opportunities to the local population.
“Bearing testament to our ability to innovate, a purpose-built berth and pier will allow our cruise ships to dock directly at Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve. Thus the island will de facto become an extension of the ship.”
Antonio Paradiso, managing director UK and Ireland said: “The Caribbean continues to be a popular destination for guests seeking year-round sunshine and we have been witnessing strong demand for Caribbean cruises from UK and Ireland. In fact, it is one of our most popular products and the addition of Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve is appealing for guests who are looking for something new and unique, which this private island paradise will definitely offer. The introduction of Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve is evidence of our commitment to enriching our itineraries, adding more value and options for our guests.”
Gianluca Suprani, head of global port development and shore side activities at MSC Cruises, added: “Located merely 65 miles east of Miami, Florida, Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve has 11,400 feet of beautiful coastline and crystal blue waters teaming with unique marine life. The island has some of the finest aragonite sands in the world and once the work is completed, its surrounding waters will be home again to beautiful corals and rich aquatic life. It will become a truly exclusive destination for MSC Cruises guests to experience the best the Caribbean has to offer.”