MSC Cruises’ rapid growth continues. Besides having seven new ships for two state-of-the-art prototypes ordered and under construction, the line just signed a letter of intent for up to four other ships. Along with that, MSC Cruises’ recent announcements about its private island, positioning itself as a market player in North America and new partnerships are part of its growth focus. And enhanced international dining experiences and chefs are taking MSC Cruises to new levels.

Exterior View of the MSC Meraviglia photo courtesy of MSC Cruises

Exterior View of the MSC Meraviglia photo courtesy of MSC Cruises

Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve – Private Cruise Destination in the Bahamas

Thanks to a 100-year lease agreement signed on Dec. 16, 2015, MSC Cruises has acquired the use of Ocean Cay, an island located about 20 miles south of Bimini. This 95-acre island, to be called Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, will be a private cruise ship destination. MSC Cruises is investing $200 million in this project and working with the Bahamian government and ecologists to create a flourishing natural haven. A former sand-extraction station, the island will be planted with more than 80 different indigenous Caribbean trees, flowers, shrubs and grasses.

With 11,400 feet of beachfront accommodating six separate beach districts, Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve will provide diverse entertainment options for guests. A purpose-built berth and pier will be located on the seafront, allowing MSC ships to dock – guests won’t have to tender ashore. Other features? MSC Cruises is building a 2,000-seat amphitheater along with restaurants and bars. While the ship is docked at Ocean Cay, all of its onboard services will remain open, including the casino.

Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve

Island Rendering of Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve photo courtesy of MSC Cruises

Plans for Ocean Cay also include a pavilion for weddings and celebrations, a Bahamian shopping village, a zipline attraction and a lagoon water feature as well as a family beach with a kids’ play area and restaurant. A network of walking and running paths, along with bicycle rentals and other stress-free transport options, will be available to guests, making the island easy to navigate.

The northwest corner of the island will have an exclusive spa and wellness sanctuary, complete with private massage huts and bungalows for MSC Yacht Club guests to enjoy.

MSC Cruises describes this as a “permanent presence” in the Bahamas, and it’s the biggest island development in the Caribbean by a cruise company. MSC Cruises plans to have Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve open by December 2017, in time for it to be included in the itineraries offered by the new MSC Seaside, which enters service in December 2017. Other MSC Cruises ships that will include this destination in their itineraries are the MSC Divina, which sails out of Miami to the Caribbean, and the MSC Opera and MSC Armonia, which will be sailing out of Cuba.

Chef Roy Yamaguchi’s Specialty Restaurant

MSC Cruises is known for its ongoing commitment of providing an international fine dining experience thanks to existing partnerships with renowned chefs. The line recently announced a new partnership with Roy Yamaguchi, an award-winning pan-Asian chef. Chef Yamaguchi will have a specialty pan-Asian restaurant onboard the MSC Seaside, MSC Cruises’ next-generation new build, which enters service in December 2017. She’ll be sailing year-round from Miami to the Caribbean.

Chef Roy Yamaguchi

Chef Roy Yamaguchi photo courtesy of MSC Cruises

Chef Yamaguchi will intertwine his Japanese heritage with his love for fresh ingredients. The creator of Hawaiian fusion cuisine and an international culinary visionary, Yamaguchi is founder of 30 Roy’s restaurants – 28 located in the United States. He’s published four culinary cookbooks, has hosted six seasons of the television show “Hawaii Cooks with Roy Yamaguchi” and is a recipient of the prestigious James Beard Award.

Cirque du Soleil Partnership Provides New Entertainment Standards

MSC Cruises has established a long-term partnership with Cirque du Soleil, a world leader in artistic entertainment. Setting new standards in entertainment at sea, the new, exclusively created shows will be on MSC Cruises’ next-generation Meraviglia ships.

MSC Cruises Cirque

MSC Cruises Cirque Aerial – Cirque du Soleil show on the MSC Meraviglia photo courtesy of MSC Cruises

Guests onboard will be able to enjoy these new Cirque du Soleil shows six nights a week, with two performances per night in a custom-built entertainment and dining Aft Lounge area. The 450-seat Aft Lounge also features a 200-seat dining area, so guests can enjoy dinner and drinks before the show.

The first next-generation Meraviglia ship, the MSC Meraviglia, will set sail on its inaugural season starting June 2017 in the Mediterranean.

More on MSC Cruises’ Expansion

The world’s largest privately owned global cruise line, MSC Cruises is based in Geneva, Switzerland. The ships sail throughout Europe, South America and South Africa as well as the Caribbean. And with the debut of the MSC Seaside in 2017, the line will offer year-round cruises departing from Miami.

The expansion includes four Meraviglia class and Meraviglia-Plus class ships already under construction. As noted, the MSC Meraviglia, a 167,000-gross-registered-ton ship will debut in June 2017. The first of the MSC Seaside class ships is the MSC Seaside, set to debut in December 2017.

The new letter of intent just signed for up to four new ships (at 200,000 gross-registered-tons plus) accounts for a $10.2-billion investment.

Exterior View of the MSC Seaside

Exterior View of the MSC Seaside photo courtesy of MSC Cruises

Options for Groups

Stunningly elegant, with diverse dining and entertainment options, MSC Cruises ships offer inclusive experiences where guests can “choose and cruise” from four different options. Bella is the lowest price with a la carte amenities, while the other three – Fantastica, Aurea, and MSC Yacht Club – include a range of free amenities built in, depending on the selection. The line is introducing an exclusive Wellness Experience, thanks to a new partnership with Technogym, a leading wellness company.

With more MSC ships sailing from Miami and other ports around the world, your group has more options to choose from as far as itineraries and onboard experiences. And for Caribbean cruises, the exclusive Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve provides a unique island experience.