MSC Cruises More Details on Private Island Ocean Cay

Beaches at Ocean Cay

MSC’s Ocean Cay is set to welcome guests later this year to its private island experience in the Bahamas, with the cruise line releasing new details today.

Among the features are eight beaches; Seakers Family Cove, a shallow lagoon to play in with a beach for games, monitored by lifeguards; Seakers food court, which will be complimentary for guests; the Spa at Ocean Cay; various evening entertainment including a light show around the 98 ft. lighthouse at the centre of the island, a traditional Junkanoo parade — Bahamian festival and consisting of a feast of colourful costumes, music and dancing.; and shore excursions including stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, snorkelling and stargazing in the evenings.

“The vision for the island is to immerse guests in the natural beauty of their surroundings in the Bahamas. Ocean Cay is founded on a deep commitment to ecological principles – beliefs that shape everything from how venues are built and how the island is run, to the kinds of activities featured on the island. Work is underway to design opportunities for guests to learn about the protection of the oceans and the importance of preserving coral reefs through dedicated edutainment programs,” MSC said, in a prepared statement.

Ocean Cay (Conrad Schutt)

As part of the development of Ocean Cay, MSC said it is working to establish the roadmap for the restoration of marine resources, including habitats and species present in the area. This will include the restoration of endangered corals and the implementation of other conservation and educational programs.

The island is situated within protected waters spanning 64 square miles, but the ambition is to further extend this parameter to ensure an even greater impact, MSC said.

MSC also said it had commissioned a Rapid Ecological Assessment (REA) that provided a short term overview of the waters around Ocean Cay.

“An integral part of the marine ecosystem, coral needs to be protected as they maintain biodiversity, provide a habitat for marine life and protect coastlines,” the company said. “Now that the waters around the island are protected and it is no longer an industrial site once used for sand excavation, the seabed is returning to normal. The hope is that the coral will again begin to thrive. Plans are underway to establish a coral nursery on the East side of the island with the goal of propagating even more coral, particularly the more endangered varieties.”

The recent survey established that there are three types of coral that can be found in abundance — primarily Agaricia agaricites known as lettuce coral; Porites astreoides commonly known as mustard hill coral or yellow porites; and Siderastrea also known as massive starlet coral. These species are more capable of withstanding harsh temperature conditions and siltation than other species. Also found around the island during the assessment is the critically endangered Acropora palmata known as Elkhorn Coral. Four distinct colonies of this species were observed along the rocky shoreline of these cays. Over time these corals will become candidates for restoration in the coral nursery.

The Ocean Cay team is already seeing 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.

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Next MSC Opera cruise cancelled

MSC Opera

MSC Cruises has decided to cancel the next cruise of the MSC Opera, which collided with a docked river cruise ship and the pier in Venice.

Although the damage to the ship’s hull has been repaired, MSC is still awaiting the completion of the investigation conducted by the authorities, MSC said. The collision occurred after the MSC Opera sounded its horn at length before ramming the river ship. A later statement attributed the ship’s inability to stop to “technical problems.”

The cancelled cruise was scheduled to depart Bari, Italy, on June 8. MSC said that 2,451 guests from 53 countries will be affected.

Guests will be offered a full refund of their cruise fare and incurred travel expenses as well as any pre-booked services, plus a 50% discount on a future 7- to 21-day cruise before the end of 2020.

Cuba Travel Ban Could Ignite Secondhand Ship Market

Cuban Flags

The secondhand cruise ship market could pick up steam following recent Cuba restrictions.

With nautical and infrastructure restrictions in Havana, cruise lines calling on the Cuban city have been using older, medium-sized vessels that may not have fit into their traditional fleets.

Industry sources said they expect some pick-up in the secondhand market with Cuba now off limits, as the now less-competitive tonnage could find new owners, or become ships in new ventures.

Among the players, Carnival Corporation sold multiple ships in 2018 but has not announced any transfers or sales thus far in 2019.

Last year, it was announced that the Pacific Eden was sold to Cruise & Maritime Voyages while the Pacific Jewel was sent to Indian start-up Jalesh Cruises.

Holland America Line sold the Prinsendam, which will become the Amera this summer for Phoenix Reisen.

P&O Cruises UK also announced the Oriana will leave the fleet in 2019, joining the Piano Land startup in China.

Royal Caribbean Cruises has not announced any significant fleet changes in some time, nor has Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.

In December, on an earnings call, Carnival Corp. President and CEO Arnold Donald said that if a ship is earning and relevant, that is most key.