MSC Cruises today welcomed the very first guests to Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, its new private island destination in The Bahamas, according to a press release.
Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman of MSC Cruises, said: “Ocean Cay is founded on a deep commitment to ecological principles – beliefs that shape everything from how venues are built, to how the island is run, to the kinds of activities featured on the island. Having the first guests arrive on the island is a moment of great pride for all of us at MSC Cruises. We wanted to create for our guests something sustainable, with a higher purpose. Ocean Cay is not just a vacation island, it is a unique marine reserve where people and nature thrive in harmony.”
The island’s opening is a major milestone for MSC as it builds its North American operation, which has four ships sailing from Miami this winter.
MSC has turned the island from what was once an industrial sand excavation site into a stunning tropical destination, while working with environmental engineers and other experts to revitalize the surrounding ocean beds, marine life and endangered coral, according to a company press release.
The project took nearly three years to complete. 7,500 tons of scrap metal was removed and, throughout the clean-up process, a team of expert divers and marine biologists carefully removed individual hard coral colonies from debris on the ocean bed and relocated them to an approved location outside the construction area. More than 75,000 plants and shrubs planted across the island to create a biodiverse and sustainable environment.
In the coming months, MSC Cruises will also introduce a Conservation Center on the island, which will serve as an active base for coral education and research.
The Port of Valletta today welcomed the first call of MSC Grandiosa as a ceremony was held on MSC’s newest ship to commemorate her maiden call.
Stephen Xuereb, Valletta Cruise Port’s CEO and Global Ports Holding COO, said: “We are proud to welcome MSC Grandiosa on her maiden call to Valletta Cruise Port and to be hosting her on another five calls during this year as part of her inaugural season. Next year she will call Malta on another 43 occasions. On behalf of both Valletta Cruise Port and Global Ports Holding, we congratulate MSC Cruises on their achievements and look forward to many more years of fruitful joint cooperation and partnerships.”
Angelo Capurro, MSC Cruises’ Sales Executive Director, said: “Our cruise ships have served Malta for over 20 years, bringing hundreds of thousands of tourists to its shores. Today, we are proud to bring our latest and most innovative cruise ship to Valletta, to her port of registry, which she will regularly visit for the next 12 months. We look forward to bringing many more of our guests to this beautiful island in years to come, in partnership with Malta and its people.
The MSC Grandiosa will be deployed in the Western Mediterranean for the next 12 months before she is deployed to South America for the winter 2020 season.
A rendering of beaches on Ocean Cay Marine Reserve.
MSC Cruises has cancelled the first four calls that had been scheduled for paying passengers at its MSC Ocean Cay Marine Reserve in the Bahamas.
It said the private island near Bimini is not ready for guests.
MSC cancelled calls planned for Nov. 9 on the MSC Meraviglia, Nov. 15 on the MSC Seaside, Nov. 16 on the Meraviglia and Nov. 17 on the MSC Armonia.
“While we fully anticipated that the island would be ready to receive guests this week, upon further evaluation with our onsite team and learning about last-minute operational issues that could impact the guest experience, we made the decision to cancel scheduled calls,” an MSC statement said.
Port calls elsewhere have been scheduled.
Guests on affected cruises will get a $100 onboard spending credit and a 20% future cruise credit.
Four years ago, MSC signed a 100-year lease on the island, a former industrial sand mining site, and announced plans to transform it into a private destination. Work on the 95-acre island has been ongoing for the past few years.