MSC Cruises has delayed the opened of a dedicated island in the Bahamas by almost a year.
The Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve was originally due to start welcoming cruise passengers in December 2017 but will not open until October 2018.
Planned calls by new ship MSC Seaside and MSC Divina will be substituted by calls to Nassau.
The line’s executive chairman Pierfrancesco Vago said: “As we set out to finalise construction plans for this one-of-a-kind destination, we realised that to ensure the level of quality and attention to details in both infrastructure and services that our guests have rightfully come to expect from MSC Cruises, it was only appropriate to allot a longer time frame.
“In fact, whilst working on the final project, it was hard not want to further enrich this unique beach destination with new and additional unique services for our guests. This naturally called for more time than originally planned.”
Vago added: “At the same time, I am also pleased to announce that works on the island have already started in earnest, as originally planned.”
The official ground breaking ceremony for Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve will take place on October 6.
MSC Cruises is developing the cay in collaboration with the Bahamian government and ecologists from an industrial site into a marine reserve that will co-exist with the local ecosystem.
The news followed the line naming a second Meraviglia-generation mega cruise ship MSC Bellissima which will enter service in spring 2019. MSC Meraviglia is due to be launched in June 2017.
MSC Cruises UK managing director, Antonio Paradiso, said: “A central part of our €9 billion investment plan is to build 11 new ships, essentially doubling our current fleet in the coming 10 years, representing an increase in capacity that will benefit the UK market.
“In addition to this commitment to bring into service new, next-generation ships, we are also working to enrich the itineraries for our guests focus to create unique and inspiring cruise experiences.
“This year we will be calling at Sir Bani Yas Island to enrich the Emirates Itinerary and from 2018, the new MSC Seaside will call at the Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve.
“The new ships are performing well with the UK market, as MSC Seaside has seen a 20%-25% increase in sales for the same itinerary compared to last year.
“In the Mediterranean, MSC Meraviglia is currently our most booked ship in this region and represents 25% of our volumes for 2017, further strengthening the market leader role that MSC Cruises has in this region.
“We expect to see this trend continue with the newly named MSC Bellissima when sales open next year.“
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