BAHAMAS. MSC Cruises will open four stores at Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, the private Bahamian island that it is developing, which will welcome its first guests in November 2019.

The cruise line is now in the final phase of works turning the former industrial sand extraction site into what the company claims will be a “flourishing ecosystem for tourism and exploration”. In addition to 360-degree ocean views and white beaches, Ocean Cay cruise guests will get a full Bahamian experience with bars and restaurants, a lighthouse set to be a focal point for evening entertainment, plus retail outlets.

Cay features: Bars, restaurants, a lighthouse and retail stores will all be available to cruise passengers at Ocean Cay.

Commenting on the project, MSC Cruises’ Executive Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago said: “Only when you have stood there for yourself, surrounded by nothing but beautiful ocean – with nothing else on the horizon – can you really understand what we are accomplishing here. It sets new standards for a private island experience in the Caribbean.”

Adrian Pittaway: “We will operate four shops on the island and will focus on MSC & Ocean Cay own-label products predominantly.”

Speaking to The Moodie Davitt Report, MSC Cruises Head of Retail Adrian Pittaway said: “We will operate four shops on the island and will focus on MSC & Ocean Cay own-label products predominantly. Other local Bahamian partners will also offer some products for guests.”

Ocean Cay will not offer duty free pricing. While many Caribbean islands have low or no taxes in place, Bahamian VAT has just seen a hike from 7.5% to 12% in July this year. Products sold on the island will therefore not be competing with those available on the ships.

One of the island’s most distinguishing features will be a pier that allows the ship to dock alongside so that guests can simply walk on and off at their leisure throughout the day and evening.

Largest Dior shop-in-shop

In other news, MSC Cruises opened a brand new Christian Dior beauty boutique this week onboard MSC Opera. The store cements a long-term partnership with the Christian Dior travel retail team. “It is the largest Dior shop-in-shop in our fleet so far,” said Pittaway.

He added: “Our guests will love our new beauty experience with lots of great events during their cruise with us. We continue to invest and improve in our beauty offer onboard, supported by our supply partner Gebr Heinemann.”

The Christian Dior beauty boutique on MSC Opera is the largest Dior shop-in-shop in the MSC fleet to date.