MSC Cruises’ private Caribbean destination, the Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, is now just about a year away as the island saw its first trees planted recently ahead of its planned November 2019 debut.
The private island promises to offer 360° horizon views of crystal blue waters and white-sand beaches, MSC said.
MSC Cruises’ Executive Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago commented: “It was a very special moment to be on the island together with the team that has been working non-stop on this incredible project to see how our vision is starting to take shape. Words cannot convey the unbelievable natural beauty of our island, and it is only when you have stood there for yourself, surrounded by nothing but beautiful ocean with nothing else on the horizon, that you can really understand what we are accomplishing here. I can’t wait to welcome in one year’s time our first guests to this truly magical place, a one-of-a-kind island experience that will set new standards for a private island experience in the Caribbean.”
With the landscaping work underway, over 75,000 native shrubs and plants will be planted including more than 60 types of indigenous Caribbean trees, grasses, flowers and shrubs to create a lush, tropical environment, MSC said.
Work on over 100 environmentally-friendly structures will soon begin, which will include bars and restaurants as well as housing for employees and staff who will live on the island.
Work on the lighthouse will also be underway shortly – set to become an iconic landmark of the island and a focal point of the evening’s entertainment.
The island will feature a pier, allowing guests easy access.
MSC is also in the process of recreating the seabed surrounding the island, which will soon be repopulated with a variety of marine life.
“We are already seeing the return of the marine life that is usually so prevalent in this area. We are seeing an abundance of lobster, conch, stingrays and other fish, and by the time we finish the work the waters around the island will be again teeming with life and new coral. As a company with such a rich maritime heritage, preserving the oceans is of the highest importance to us and this is a wonderful opportunity to protect a little piece of paradise and allow our guests to experience it,” Vago added.
During the island’s clean-up, over 500 tons of historic industrial waste and scrap metal have been removed, with the final underwater debris clean-up about to begin, according to a press release.
To create a solid foundation, over 500,000 tons of sand and soil have been moved and work has been carried out to shape the island itself.
With the ambition of creating a protected paradise and restoring the natural coral around the island, MSC Cruises is working in close collaboration with environmental auditors, Bahamian environmental experts and other entities to ensure that best practices are followed, the company said. Plans are also underway for a marine laboratory to be situated on Ocean Cay, which will research climate change-resistant coral in hopes of providing insights to similar island habitats.
Around Bahamians will have been directly and indirectly involved in the construction of the island and up to 140 Bahamians will be recruited for permanent operational jobs on the island covering a range of different roles including management, technical staff, island attendants, lifeguards and rescue divers.