MSC Cruises is to develop a private marine reserve in the Bahamas with an investment of around $200m.

A 100-year lease agreement was sealed by Bahamian Prime Minister Perry Christie and MSC Cruises executive chairman Pierfrancesco Vago in the capital city Nassau.

The 95-acre island, with 11,400ft beach, is located 20 miles south of Bimini and 65 miles east of Miami. It was initially used for mining sand.

Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve will have an array of entertaining facilities synchronising with the local Bahamian culture.

The island will have a pier built to provide an easy passage to the passengers off the ship, so that they can utilise the activities both on-board and off-board.

A 2,000-seat amphitheatre will host live music and entertainment.

The island will have an array of water sports and beach games, including ziplining and a beach dedicated to kid’s playzone, restaurant and other facilities.

There will be running and walking paths, with bicycles will be offered for rent to move through the island.

The north-west corner of the island will be dedicated to the MSC Yacht Club guests, offering spa treatments, and private bungalows and massage huts.

The landscape of the private marine reserve will be repleted with 80 varieties of Caribbean fauna, such as Jamaica Dogwood, Red, Black and White Mangroves, and Beach Morning Glory.

Restaurants and bars on the island will promote Bahamian delicacies, and will greet the guests with local music.
Artificial villages will be developed in keeping with the local culture.

A part of the island will be used as a pavillion to host weddings and celebrations.

MSC Cruises executive chairman Pierfrancesco Vago said: "Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve and its exclusive offerings will be a magnificent extension of our shipboard experiences.

"The project is scheduled to start in March 2016, with opening for guests in December 2017."

"We are scrupulous about ensuring every decision we take keeps each of our ships true to the promise of our brand, offering the authenticity and quality our guests expect. This is what made us the leading brand in many of the markets we operate, including across Europe, South America and South Africa.

"We will apply the same thinking and attention to detail to our Caribbean offering, of which this exclusive marine reserve will become a cornerstone, because we know our guests will be bowled over by this industry-unique experience."

The project is scheduled to start in March 2016, with opening for guests in December 2017.

The island will be visited by most of the MSC fleet plying on the Caribbean waters, including MSC Divina and the under-construction MSC Seaside.

A crew training school will be established in Nassau to recruit local manpower into the project. A batch of 240 Bahamians are anticipated to be employed over 2016 and 2017.

Image: MSC Divina will be one of the cruise ships to visit the island: Photo: courtesy of MSC Crociere SA.