Virgin Voyages to feature Key West instead of Havana

With Cuba cruises from the U.S. no longer permitted, Virgin Voyages’ four-day “Havana After Dark” cruises will be replaced with a four-day cruise featuring Key West.

The new itinerary will be called “Fire and Sunset Soirees” and will include a sunset departure from Key West and a midnight departure from Bimini.

All Virgin cruises will visit the line’s Bimini Beach Club but only the Key West itinerary will offer a “late-night beach bonfire soiree” in Bimini.

Virgin said the evening will feature artistic fire installations that draw their inspiration from the fireball sculptures on Necker Island, home to Virgin founder Richard Branson.

Virgin also detailed two seven-day holiday sailings. “Holidaze and Nights” and “New Year’s Ahoy” will call in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, and feature late-night sailaways in Bimini and San Juan.

Wendy Williams was named captain of the Scarlet Lady, Virgin Voyages' first ship.

Wendy Williams was named the captain of the Scarlet Lady, Virgin Voyages’ first ship.

Virgin also said it has appointed a captain for its first ship, the Scarlet Lady. It said that Wendy Williams will become the first Canadian woman to be captain of a ship for a major cruise brand. Virgin said the appointment is in keeping with its Scarlet Squad program, an initiative dedicated to bridging the gender gap in leadership roles across the maritime industry.


MSC Cruises reveals details of the private island

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Gallery: First pictures of MSC Cruises’ private island Ocean Cay revealed

MSC Cruises’ new private island in the Caribbean will give guests a “ticket to paradise”, according to chief executive Gianni Onorato.

Ocean Cay, 20 miles off the coast of the Bahamas and 65 miles from Miami, will boast eight “pristine” beaches, seven reserved for different guests, such as families, Yacht Club or Aurea Spa passengers, and one for the crew.

There will also be a sunset beach, lagoon beach and main beach where all water sports and activities will take place. Water sports will include snorkelling to a shallow sunken shipwreck through to scuba diving.

Lectures on the coral life around the island and what MSC has done to clean up and preserve it will be offered, something Onorato felt would be popular with younger guests and children.

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Every Caribbean itinerary from Miami, whether sailing to the Eastern or Western Caribbean, will call at Ocean Cay. Onorato said: “Because it’s so close to Miami, we can stay there until 1am so people can experience it at night and still be back in Miami for 6am the following morning.”

Guests will be able to watch movies under the stars with their feet in the sand.

Food will include a family buffet and a food cart going around the island, but the ship’s restaurants will remain open all day as many guests are expected to go back on board to eat. The furthest point of the island is a 17-minute walk from the ship and “completely flat”, Onorato said.

Deckchairs and some activities will be included in the cruise price, but cabanas, cocktails, island Wi-Fi, and certain sports like scuba diving will be extra. All will be bookable through package upgrades via the MSC app.

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Onorato also revealed there would be a second private island, for groups of 30-40 people, that could be booked out exclusively for the day. He said this would be a perfect upsell for travel agents. Costs for this and other extras would be added to the website at the end of the month.

The island will have three shops; one selling Bahamian goods manned by locals, one selling Ocean Cay-branded merchandise and the other selling MSC items.

Onorato said it was his “dream” to open an island in the Mediterranean but explained that the only location it would be possible to have an island open year-round, off the North African coast, was currently out of bounds.

“We will have to wait, but it is my dream to open a private island in the Mediterranean at some point,” he said.

MSC builds: own private island Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve

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MSC Cruises celebrates groundbreaking for the MSC’s own private island Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve

 The ceremony will start the construction of a unique Caribbean destination, which MSC guests will be able to experience exclusively from November 2018 onwards.
Munich, 17 January 2017 – MSC Cruises, the market leader in Europe, South America and South Africa, yesterday celebrated the groundbreaking for the Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve. The island south of Bimini in the Bahamas will become an exclusive nature paradise for MSC guests from November 2018 onwards. 

The Prime Minister of the Bahamas Perry Gladstone Christie and Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman MSC Cruises, as well as other Bahamian ministers and government representatives, accompanied the ceremony. Thus the transformation of the island, which was formerly used for sand extraction, begins an original natural experience.

The development of the Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve is an integral part of the 9 billion euro investment plan, which also includes up to eleven ultra-modern new buildings to be commissioned between 2017 and 2026.

Pierfrancesco Vago commented: “In close co-operation with the Bahamian government, we are transforming the crumbling industrial area into a blossoming natural paradise, thereby returning the island to its original state. We are thus expanding our significant investments in the Bahamian economy and providing the local population with long-term job prospects. “

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The innovative power of MSC is demonstrated by the fact that MSC ships will dock directly on the island, without – as usual. This allows the newly built berth with pier. The island is a direct extension of the ship and reflects all the experiences of board through a variety of facilities.

“The island is located 105 kilometers east of Miami, Florida, and offers 3.5 kilometers of beach, crystal blue water and a unique marine flora and fauna.” Gianluca Suprani, Head of Global Port Development and Shoreside Activities at MSC Cruises, added. It has the finest coral sand and, after completion of the work, the coastal waters become the home of dreamlike corals and exotic marine animals. MSC offers its guests a truly exclusive and unique caribbean experience. “

The island is lined with more than 80 different species of native trees, grasses, flowers and shrubs that bring back the original nature to life.
The MSC Seaside and other ships of the MSC fleet will start the Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve from November 2018 on wards.