MSC Cruises announced last week that it has pushed back the opening of its Ocean Cay private island destination in The Bahamas to December 5, as a result of adverse weather conditions and unexpected last-minute operational challenges which slowed down the completion of the project.
Reportedly, the island was to receive one of MSC’s newest ships this week, as the company announced months ago that the island would open this month.
A statement from MSC explained that despite Hurricane Dorian and the demobilization of 600 workers, the company took measures to remain on track and deliver the project on time. However, in the weeks that followed, “further adverse weather conditions with strong winds and heavy swell caused several days of interruptions and created additional delays”. This included heavy weather in early November which required part of one of the beaches to be further reinforced.
“Secondly, last-minute issues with the leveling of the sand in certain areas of the island, the completion of the second breakwater and the landscaping aspects to be fully in line with the company’s exceeding environmental criteria, have created further last-minute operational issues that could impact the guest experience.”
The statement further noted, “The development of Ocean Cay MSC marine reserve has been a multiyear project in which MSC Cruises worked with multiple contractors and partners to transform what was once an industrial sand excavation site into a stunning tropical destination, including designating the surrounding waters as a flourishing marine reserve.
“This has been an extremely complex project, as MSC Cruises has been fully committed to developing the destination in the most eco-friendly and sustainable way. At the same time, while the company anticipated that the island would be ready to receive guests by mid-November, as it reached the final stages of readying the island for its opening, some adverse weather conditions and unexpected last-minute operational challenges slowed down the completion of the island.”
MSC explained in its statement that the ships scheduled to call on Ocean Cay have been rerouted to other Caribbean destinations, or will add a day at sea to their itineraries.
“Guests will be compensated for the missed call at Ocean Cay,” the company stated.
In July, MSC announced in partnership with the Bahamas government it had committed to making an area around Ocean Cay a marine protected area.
MSC has spent $300 million to remediate and develop the former industrial site and turn it into a “paradise” that will be visited by 500,000 people annually aboard MSC’s cruise ships.
MSC has turned Ocean Cay into a marine reserve and has committed to sustainable development on the island, ecosystem restoration projects, a conservation center and the safeguarding of coral colonies.