FORT LAUDERDALE — MSC Cruises says the new opening date for its Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve is Dec. 5, 2019.
Originally the opening was scheduled for mid-November.
MSC says ships scheduled to call at the island before Dec. 5, 2019 will be rerouted to alternative Caribbean destinations or will add a day at sea to their schedule.
Passengers will be compensated for the missed call at Ocean Cay.
The cruise line notes that 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.”
The company adds: “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 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.”
The storm winds and surge from Hurricane Dorian in early September forced the demobilization of 600 workers, however MSC says it 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.”
MSC says the work on the island is an ongoing process and the company is committed to protecting, restoring and conserving the cay as part of a multi-phased effort. In the coming months, MSC Cruises will also introduce a Conservation Center and thriving coral nursery on the island, which will serve as an active base for coral education and research.