MSC Cruises has broken ground on Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve.
Located south of Bimini in The Bahamas, the island is set to become a natural paradise exclusive to MSC Cruises guests as of November 2018.
Perry Gladstone Christie, prime minister of The Bahamas, joined Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises’ executive chairman, at the official ground-breaking ceremony along with other Bahamian ministers and government officials.
This milestone marks the official commencement of the works that will turn this former industrial sand extraction site back into its original pristine state.
The development of the Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve is part of MSC Cruises’ unprecedented €9 billion investment plan, which includes the building of up to 11 next-generation smart ships coming into service between 2017 and 2026.
The first phase of development of the marine reserve will now begin as the island is cleared of existing industrial infrastructure so it can be turned again into a pristine marine reserve.
Vago commented: “Working in partnership with the government of The Bahamas, our aim is to turn an industrial wasteland into a thriving environment for man and nature alike, bringing the island and its surrounding waters back to their original state.
“In so doing, we will substantially grow our group’s already strong investment in the Bahamian economy, offering long-term employment opportunities to the local population.
“Bearing testament to our ability to innovate, a purpose-built berth and pier will allow our cruise ships to dock directly at Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve.
“Thus the island will de facto become an extension of the ship.”
Gianluca Suprani, head of global port development and shore side activities at MSC Cruises, added: “Located merely 65 miles east of Miami, Florida, Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve has 11,400 feet of beautiful coastline and crystal blue waters teaming with unique marine life.
“The island has some of the finest aragonite sands in the world and once the work is completed, its surrounding waters will be home again to beautiful corals and rich aquatic life.
“It will become a truly exclusive destination for MSC Cruises guests to experience the best the Caribbean has to offer.”
A comprehensive landscaping plan will see more than 80 indigenous Caribbean trees, grasses, flowers and shrubs, planted on the island, returning to their lush natural habitat.
MSC Seaside and other MSC Cruises ships operating in the Caribbean will call Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve regularly on their itineraries from November 2018 onwards.