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Cruise company to create first ever marine reserve island in Bahamas

Posted in: Regional News by admin | 28 December 2015 | 6212

    Artist impression of Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve. (Photo: MSC Cruises)
    Artist impression of Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve. (Photo: MSC Cruises)

    Geneva-based global cruise line MSC Cruises has unveiled plans to create an unprecedented exclusive marine reserve island experience in the Bahamas.

    The project was officially launched recently in Nassau, where Prime Minister Perry Christie and MSC Cruises Executive Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago signed a 100-year lease agreement that will enable MSC Cruises to occupy and develop the island to be called Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve.

    Over the next two years, MSC Cruises will work hand-in-hand with the Bahamian government and ecologists to develop the cay, once a sand extraction station, into a thriving marine reserve that will harmoniously coexist with the local ecosystem.

    “This is a project that will transform the local economy base from resource exploitation to resource conservation. In keeping with the company’s commitment to providing absolutely authentic cruise vacations, the island will offer some of the finest beaches in the world, amid an array of Caribbean-inspired experiences,” MSC Cruises said.

    “The family that owns MSC Cruises has more than 300 years of seafaring heritage, which has engendered a deep respect for the ocean that underpins the company’s operations today. MSC Cruises is committed to protecting the waters it navigates. As one of the most ecologically conscious cruise lines in the world, the company will invest approximately $200 million in creating a flourishing natural haven from a desert island.”

    Vago said the development was “a natural progression” for the rapidly growing company.

    At 95 acres in size and with 11,400 feet of pristine beach front spread across six distinct beaches, Ocean Cay Marine Reserve will be the biggest island development by any cruise company in the Caribbean.

    In addition, as the only marine reserve island experience, it will offer a multitude of key distinguishing features. For example, a purpose-built berth and pier right on the seafront means that MSC Cruises guests will be able to step off the ship straight onto the island. The ship and all on board services – including the casino – will stay open while berthed at Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve.

    Other features will include: a family beach with kids’ restaurant, play areas; an inland lagoon; and a pavilion for weddings and other events.

    “All installations and experiences on the island, which lies 20 miles south of Bimini and just 65 miles east of Miami, Florida, will be fully sympathetic to the culture and traditions of the Bahamas. A comprehensive landscaping plan will see more than 80 indigenous Caribbean trees, grasses, flowers and shrubs, such as Jamaica Dogwood, Red, Black and White Mangroves, and Beach Morning Glory, expertly planted across the island. There will be an architecturally faithful Bahamian village, plentiful restaurants and bars offering local specialties, a variety of shops and an inviting arrival center with island-themed music gazebo,” the cruise company said.

    MSC Cruises plans to break ground on the development in March next year and Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve will open to guests in December 2017.

    The company says it plans to recruit 240 Bahamians in various roles over 2016 and 2017. In addition, the company will open a crew training school in Nassau to provide local manpower for the growing number of MSC Cruises ships sailing the Caribbean.