Cape Town - MSC Cruises, the Geneva-based global cruise line, has unveiled ambitious plans to create an unprecedented exclusive marine reserve island experience in the Bahamas.
The visionary project was officially launched in the Bahamian capital Nassau, where prime minister Perry Christie and MSC Cruises executive chairman Pierfrancesco Vago signed a 100-year lease agreement that will enable MSC Cruises to occupy and develop the island, to be called Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve.
Over the next two years MSC Cruises will work hand-in-hand with the Bahamian government and ecologists to develop the cay, a onetime sand extraction station, into a thriving marine reserve that will harmoniously coexist with the local ecosystem.
With the project, MSC Cruises hopes transform the local economy base from resource exploitation to resource conservation.
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As well as being the only marine reserve island experience, at almost 40 hectares in size, and with 3.5 kilometres of pristine beach front spread across six distinct beaches, Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve will be – by a large margin – the biggest island development by any cruise company in the Caribbean.
In addition, it will offer a multitude of other key distinguishing features, like a purpose-built berth and pier right on the seafront which will allow MSC Cruises guests to step off the ship straight onto the island.
This unique feature also means guests can move at leisure between ship and island, which will be especially useful since a key part of their visit will be the island’s night life, in particular live music and entertainment.
In addition, the ship and all on-board services – including the casino – will stay open while berthed at Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve.
For MSC Yacht Club guests, the northwest corner of the island has been set aside as an exclusive spa and wellness sanctuary, with private bungalows and massage huts.
The Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve project will offer a permanent MSC Cruises presence in the Bahamas, for which the Company plans to recruit 240 Bahamians in various roles over 2016 and 2017.
In addition, the Company will open a crew training school in Nassau to provide local manpower for the growing number of MSC Cruises ships sailing the Caribbean.
MSC Cruises will invest around R3.2 million (from $200 million) in creating a flourishing natural haven from a desert island.
"Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve and its exclusive offerings will be a magnificent extension of our shipboard experiences," MSC Cruises executive chairman Pierfrancesco Vago says.
“This is what made us the leading brand in many of the markets we operate, including across Europe, South America and South Africa."
In November 2015, MSC Cruises announced the completion of the company's Renaissance Programme - a renewal project which has delivered four improved ships in four different parts of the globe - including South Africa.
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The following ships were renewed in the Renaissance ships’ deployment programme:
For Southern Africa, the new and improved MSC Sinfonia, which homeports in Durban, hopes to further enhance the cruise offering in the South African market. The Sinfonia offers sensational sailings to Mozambique, Namibia, Reunion Island and Mauritius.
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