Updated: MSC Cruises moves private island opening to December

MSC Cruises has again delayed the opening of its private island Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve over concerns the destination is not ready to host passengers.

The line had planned to open the island up to passengers on November 9 but has now pushed back the launch to December 5.

On Tuesday, MSC had anticipated delaying the opening by 10 days and welcoming passengers from November 20 before confirming a December launch.

MSC said the project to redevelop the former sand excavation site had been “extremely complex”, adding its commitment to ensuring that the destination was environmentally sustainable had contributed to the delay.

Hurricane Dorian and issues with the levelling of the sand in parts of the island had also caused problems for the 600 workers trying to complete the project, the line added.

More: MSC Cruises set to open Bahamas ‘Marine Reserve’

MSC Cruises reveals details of private island

All MSC ships affected by the delay will now call at alternative Caribbean ports or spend an extra day at sea.

“The company anticipated that the island would be ready to receive guests 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,” a MSC spokesperson said.

Speaking on board MSC Grandiosa on Tuesday, Antonio Paradiso, the line’s UK and Ireland managing director, said before the opening was pushed back to December 5 that the island was not “up to the standard”.

He said: “It is a brand new island so it will take time.”

Paradiso said Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve – which is 65 miles off the coast of Miami – showed how MSC Cruises was taking sustainability “seriously”.

“We have had hundreds of people planting the trees on the island and a coral keeper who is in charge of restoring the coral to help bring the fish back,” he said. “We are bringing back nature.

“The idea is to show our customers the natural beauty of a bohemian island.”

Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve will feature eight beaches, including a main beach where water sports will take place.

Lectures on the work the line has done on the site will be available on the island for visiting passengers.

Every MSC ship sailing from Miami on a Caribbean itinerary will call at Ocean Cay once it opens on December 5.

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