MSC Cruises has announced a new infrastructure development programme for Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve in The Bahamas.
The heads of agreement was signed at a ceremony today in Bimini attended by the country’s Prime Minister The Honourable Philip Davis and Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation Honourable Chester Cooper along with other government officials.
The cruise line’s further investment for the island stays true to the original vision for the island, which was to create a positive long-term impact both in terms of the environment and the local communities. The development will see a significant benefit for the Bahamian economy benefit as well as the generation of jobs both for the construction work as well as long-term jobs for Bahamians to work on the island.
Enhancements will be made to the island with additional amenities for MSC’s cruise guests who visit the destination, new amenities and accommodation for staff as well as operational and technical improvements and environmental infrastructure.
MSC Cruises transformed Ocean Cay from an industrial sand excavation site to a flourishing marine reserve and private island destination that opened in 2019 and has since won several prestigious awards for both tourism and environmental stewardship.
Guest facilities will be enhanced with the introduction of excursion centres to support watersport activities and island tours, a sea dive and snorkel centre, additional food and beverage outlets and other facilities.
The MSC Foundation’s Marine Conservation Centre will be built as a base for biologists, coral reef experts and students. It will also house interactive pavilions, a lecture hall and coral exhibition tanks and provide MSC Cruises’ passengers visiting the island with educational opportunities about the importance of the marine ecosystem and the need to protect the world’s oceans.
The island is home to the MSC Foundation’s Super Coral Programme, which is considered a critical contribution in the contemporary understanding of coral reef resilience throughout the region.
MSC Foundation is supporting graduate student programmes designed to address and mitigate changes in thermal resilience of coral reefs throughout the tropical Western Atlantic. The coral nurseries at Ocean Cay are thriving with young and healthy, yet critically endangered species of endemic, reef building corals, representing hope in restoring these fragile ecosystems.
The development will also see a third solar farm installed as part MSC Cruises’ aim to achieve zero greenhouse gas emissions for Ocean Cay, an advanced wastewater treatment plant, a landscaping plan to further diversify and develop the sustainable environment on the island with native and adaptive trees, grasses, and shrubs to provide erosion control, improve vegetation and support ecosystem health.
New accommodation buildings will provide new amenities for island staff, which will see an increase in staff numbers from 150 to 280.
MSC Cruises today also pledged, as part of its ongoing social responsibility and commitment to invest in future generations of seafarers, that it will support the LJM Maritime Academy and the University of The Bahamas to enhance the training of Bahamians seeking to enter the maritime sector.
MSC Cruises will deploy its largest capacity in the North American market during the winter 2023-24 season with five ships – MSC Divina, MSC Magnifica, MSC Meraviglia, MSC Seascape and MSC Seashore – all vessels visiting Ocean Cay.