Imagine a tranquil morning spent relaxing in a cabana on the beach followed by a snorkel tour to discover the coral taking in the colourful fish and abundant marine life. The afternoon is spent taking part in beach activities, perhaps a game of beach volleyball or shopping for souvenirs. As the sun starts to set move to one of the beach bars to sip on a cocktail taking in the stunning sea views and an atmosphere of peaceful tranquillity. Finally, finish the evening with a movie under the stars and then return to the comfort of your ship. Simply magical!
With Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, MSC Cruises is transforming a former industrial sand extraction site into a flourishing marine reserve and private island destination that will exist in harmony with the local ecosystem. Ocean Cay has been designed to immerse guests in the natural beauty of their surroundings. The vision is to create a sustainable destination with activities that allow guests to connect with nature as well as providing opportunities to learn about the protection of the oceans and the importance of preserving coral reefs through dedicated edutainment programmes.
Around the island lies 64 square miles of protected waters and a coral nursery is being established to encourage and sustain the growth of new coral. Plans are underway for a marine laboratory to be situated on Ocean Cay that will research climate change-resistant coral in hopes of providing insights to similar island habitats.
MSC Cruises’ CEO Gianni Onorato explains, “Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve will bring something new and unique to our Caribbean itineraries from Miami and Havana and is set to become a truly memorable highlight for our guests. We have created a guest experience that complement the breath-taking natural beauty of this remarkable part of the Caribbean. There was no need for us to build extensively on an island that is already had the ingredients of a natural paradise. However we have undertaken extensive work to clean-up the island, removing tons of historic industrial waste and helping to return the beaches and the entire 64 square miles of protected waters surrounding the island to their pristine state.”
Mr Onorato continued, “For the guest services on the island we have kept it authentic and designed an experience that will allow guests to simply enjoy nature at its best. The ship is an integral part of the experience as we have built a pier so that guests can go easily back and forth between the ship throughout the day making full use of both the ashore and onboard facilities.”
UNINTERRUPTED SUN, SAND, SEA AND SKY
With over two miles of beautiful white sandy beach shore formed from the world’s best aragonite sand, guests will be spoilt for choice with seven distinct beach areas, each with their own allure and character so that guests can either switch off from it all with warm sand between their toes and the sound of the ocean or for those looking for something more active there will be beach games and water sports.
Sun beds will be available on all beaches and some beaches will offer cabanas that can be rented for the day. The Great Lagoon’s shallow crystal-clear water is perfect for protected swimming and water sports, whilst the smaller family lagoon is designed for the enjoyment of the younger guests, with very shallow, calm water and plenty of games. At over half a mile long, the Great Bimini Beach is the largest stretch of beach on the island, as well as the place to go to enjoy a variety of water sports.
DISCOVER AND EXPLORE
The Ocean Cay excursions will allow visitors to explore, discover, relax and enjoy nature’s beauty at it’s very best. Discover the waters around the island through snorkel safaris, kayak tours and paddle boarding. The Family Explorer club will also offer fun activities for all the family.
For those looking for a really special experience, Ocean Cay guests are able to rent privately for the day a smaller island close to the main body of land and this will include: a private boat that will take the group to the island and remain at their disposal; and a marquee, sun beds and loungers and food and drinks. Near the island is an old shipwreck, making it a wonderful spot for snorkeling.
In addition to the excursions, a wide range of entertainment activities will take place from sports games and tournaments, dance lessons as well activities for all of the family.
One of the key highlights of Ocean Cay is that the ship will remain into the evening owing to its convenient location just 65 miles south of Miami, allowing for a whole range of incredible evening experiences. Once the sun goes down guests can enjoy night time tours, stargazing on the beach or romantic sunset catamaran tours to bring the day to a very special close. The entertainment on the island will focus around the iconic Lighthouse with breathtaking sunsets and with live music or DJs and a surprising visual experience that will further enhance the atmosphere.
FOOD AND DRINK
As part of the commitment to ensure that the island is sustainable and to minimise waste, there is a select number of dining options on Ocean Cay. The ship will be fully operational whilst docked at the island and the furthest point from the ship is only a 20-minute walk or there are electric carts that will transport guests around the island.
There is a choice of options for food and drink ashore, including:
• Buffet: Conveniently located near the family lagoon so convenient for families, this is place for freshly prepared meals from a variety of international culinary traditions, including American classics and authentic Bahamian flavours as well as some kids’ favourites.
• Food carts: If you don’t feel like a sit-down meal, food carts with casual street food; including a taco truck, conch fitter truck, and more. The trucks will be stationary during the day around the beaches and will move to the Marina area at night creating an atmospheric food festival-style feel.
These services will be offered at an additional cost with upgrades available to the beverage package. As the ship is easily accessible with guests being able to walk on and off at their leisure, guests will also be able to freely dine on board at their leisure.
A range of different bars with different atmospheres and ambiences are spread across the island. These include:
• Authentic Bahamian Bar: Located in the Marina, this friendly bar offers cocktails and drinks in an authentic Bahamian style.
• Lighthouse Bar: This Hemingway-style cocktail bar offers an ample selection of rums, other spirits and delicious cocktails, all with an incredible sea views. It’s the perfect spot to take a break from one of the island’s many activities during the day
• Beach Bars: There are seven beach bars spread across the island, each with its own personality and its own special look and feel.
• Ice Cream Parlour and Coffee Bar: Located in the Marina, this venue offers different kinds of ice cream, from classics to more innovative flavours. The coffee bar offers freshly brewed whole bean and ground coffee, espresso and cappuccino for an energetic start to your day on Ocean Cay or a quick boost later on.
A key part of the island experience is a specially designed retail concept which has been designed to reflect the overall vision of the island with four distinct shopping areas and offer guests the opportunity to take home unique and special souvenirs or to find holiday essentials that they may need.
The Bahamian Shop & Market offering authentic arts and crafts by local artisans and Bahamian companies to present perfectly complement the spirit of the Bahamas. Meanwhile the Ocean Cay Trading Post offers a wide selection of exclusive Ocean Cay souvenirs and gifts inspired by nature with gifts for adults and children, ranging from T-shirts, caps, beach items, towels and accessories.
Guests will be able to purchase essentials for the day for all the family from the MSC Shop with a range of MSC Cruises branded products such as hats, flip flops, towels, beach bags, sun creams, lip balms. You will also find a number of exclusive partnership products highlighting the marine sustainable values of the island. Finally guests can collect pre-ordered essential items at the Welcome Centre including Ocean Cay survival kits and other essentials and at the same time gather top tips for a day on Ocean Cay
RELAX AND REJUVANATE
For those guests looking to relax and rejuvenate on the island, there will be services provided by the award-winning MSC Aurea SPA with a selection of relaxing body and facial treatments. All the beauty products used on the island are bio-degradable and eco-friendly. Some of the specially designed treatments include the Ocean Cay Breeze Boost massage that includes the use of aromatic spray waters with soothing and refreshing properties, mainly aimed at the legs, feet and back - the parts of the body normally more exposed to sun. The Ocean Cay Breeze Facial offers the soothing properties of a calming mask and refreshing spray waters, providing relief for the delicate skin on the face exposed to the sun.
In addition to all of this, MSC Cruises is already planning further enhancements to the already unique and rich offering that has been designed to welcome guests on Ocean Cay.
The island will welcome its first guests on November 9th 2019.