MSC turns former industrial site into private island destination and nature reserve

Uninterrupted ocean views, crystal clear waters, soft white sandy beaches with blue skies and sunshine – this is what MSC Cruises’ guests can expect when they visit Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve.

Two miles and seven sandy beaches to explore and relax on at Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve

Creating a paradise, and a nature reserve, out of an industrial site

To create Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, MSC Cruises is transforming a former industrial sand extraction site, and turning it into a flourishing marine reserve and private island destination that aims to exist in harmony with the local ecosystem.

Ocean Cay has been designed to immerse guests in the natural beauty of their surroundings. The vision is to create a sustainable destination with activities that allow guests to connect with nature as well as providing opportunities to learn about the protection of the oceans and the importance of preserving coral reefs through dedicated edutainment programmes.

Around the island lies 64 square miles of protected waters and a coral nursery is being established to encourage and sustain the growth of new coral. Plans are underway for a marine laboratory to be situated on Ocean Cay that will research climate change-resistant coral in hopes of providing insights to similar island habitats.

MSC Cruises’ CEO Gianni Onorato explained, “Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve will bring something new and unique to our Caribbean itineraries from Miami and Havana and is set to become a truly memorable highlight for our guests. We have created a guest experience that complement the breath-taking natural beauty of this remarkable part of the Caribbean. There was no need for us to build extensively on an island that already had the ingredients of a natural paradise.

However we have undertaken extensive work to clean-up the island, removing tons of historic industrial waste and helping to return the beaches and the entire 64 square miles of protected waters surrounding the island to their pristine state.”

Opportunities to kick back and relax or play hard

With over two miles of beautiful white sandy beach shore formed from the world’s best aragonite sand, guests will be spoilt for choice with seven distinct beach areas, so that guests can either switch off from it all with warm sand between their toes and the sound of the ocean or for those looking for something more active there will be beach games and water sports. Sun beds will be available on all beaches and some beaches will offer cabanas that can be rented for the day.

Ocean Cay excursions will allow visitors to explore, discover, relax and enjoy nature’s beauty at it’s very best. Discover the waters around the island through snorkel safaris, kayak tours and paddle boarding. The Family Explorer club will also offer fun activities for all the family. 

The protected lagoons provide a safe space for water-sports and swimming

In addition to the excursions, a range of entertainment activities will take place from sports games and tournaments, dance lessons and activities for all of the family.

One of the key highlights of Ocean Cay is that the ship will remain into the evening owing to its convenient location just 65 miles south of Miami, allowing for a whole range of incredible evening experiences.

Once the sun goes down guests can enjoy night time tours, stargazing on the beach or romantic sunset catamaran tours to bring the day to a very special close. The entertainment on the island will focus around the iconic Lighthouse with breathtaking sunsets and with live music or DJs and a surprising visual experience that will further enhance the atmosphere.

Food and Drink

As part of the commitment to ensure that the island is sustainable and to minimise waste, there is a select number of dining options on Ocean Cay. The ship will be fully operational whilst docked at the island and the furthest point from the ship is only a 20-minute walk or there is an electric cart service that will transport guests around the island.

There is a choice of options for food and drink ashore, including: 

  • Buffet: Conveniently located near the family lagoon, this is place for freshly prepared meals from a variety of international culinary traditions, including American classics and authentic Bahamian flavours as well as some kids’ favourites.
  • Food carts: If you don’t feel like a sit-down meal, food carts with casual street food will be available; including a taco truck, conch fitter truck, and more. The trucks will be stationary during the day around the beaches and will move to the Marina area at night creating an atmospheric food festival-style feel.
Marine Plaza at Ocean Cay Marine Reserve

A range of different bars with different atmospheres and ambiences are spread across the island. These include:

  • Authentic Bahamian Bar: Located in the Marina, this friendly bar offers cocktails and drinks in an authentic Bahamian style.
  • Lighthouse Bar: This Hemingway-style cocktail bar offers an ample selection of rums, other spirits and delicious cocktails, all with incredible sea views. It’s the perfect spot to take a break from one of the island’s many activities during the day.
  • Beach Bars: There are seven beach bars spread across the island, each with its own personality and its own special look and feel.
  • Ice Cream Parlour and Coffee Bar: Located in the Marina, this venue offers different kinds of ice cream, from classics to more innovative flavours. The coffee bar offers freshly brewed whole bean and ground coffee, espresso and cappuccino for an energetic start to your day on Ocean Cay or a quick boost later on.

When does it open?

Guests will first call at the island from November 9th 2019.

Four MSC Cruises ships: MSC Seaside, MSC Meraviglia, MSC Divina and MSC Armonia calling at the island from November 2019.


If this was helpful to you consider sharing it using the buttons below. What do you think of MSC’s plans for Ocean Cay? Have you been to other private island resorts? Got a question I haven’t answered here? Feel free to leave a comment, or contact me on twitter at @CruisingWithTom or Instagram at @TomLovesCruising

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