MSC Cruises has reached out to booked guests and travel agents with a notification that the cruise line’s private island, Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, will be closed from April 7 through May 22, 2024.
As a result, various MSC ships are having their itineraries modified with new ports of call, and some sailings are even being cancelled or extended to accommodate the closure.
Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve to Be Updated
MSC Cruises’ private island in The Bahamas, Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, is closing for more than six weeks for updates, according to communications the cruise line has sent to booked guests and impacted travel agents. While the closure is only temporary, the extensive time frame is affecting many cruises on different MSC ships.
“Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve will be temporarily closed to MSC Cruises Guests from 4/7/2024 to 5/22/2024 in order to make necessary guest experience enhancements and support the island’s future growth plans,” the email read.
For some sailings, alternative ports of call are being substituted for Ocean Cay. Depending on the ship, sailing date, and cruise length, travelers may be visiting Nassau or Freeport in The Bahamas instead. Some longer sailings will be scheduled for Isla Roatan in Honduras as well.
The nature of the “guest experience enhancements” has not been revealed. Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve first welcomed guests in December 2019, and of course, was not visited during the industry-wide pandemic shutdown from mid-March 2020 until reopening to guests in the summer of 2021.
Because Ocean Cay is one of the newest private island destinations and has not been welcoming guests for long, the closure can seem unexpected. MSC Cruises has likely gotten a great deal of feedback from the past two years of sailings, however, and can now make upgrades and improvements that guests will most enjoy.
Options for Impacted Cruises
Guests on one of the dozens of sailings impacted by the closure have several options to choose from. Many sailings are adjusted with new itineraries, and guests can remain on those altered cruises that will now not be visiting Ocean Cay. No action is required if guests choose to stay on the booked cruise.
Travelers can also opt to move to any comparable MSC Cruises summer 2024 sailing, of the same length and accommodation type, between April 1 and October 31, 2024, without penalties.
The best price will be honored – either the price of the original sailing or the new cruise, whichever is lower. Because Ocean Cay will only be closed for a few weeks, this gives guests the opportunity to reschedule their sailing to still visit the popular island.
A second option is to switch to any other MSC Cruises voyage, on any ship or date. There will be no change fees, but prevailing cruise rates will apply and guests will need to pay the current price for the new cruise (minus the funds from the transferred cruise). Third, guests can simply cancel their cruise vacation for a full refund, with no penalties.
Some guests will also find their cruises completely cancelled or extended to a different length as all of these sailings – more than 35 in total – are adjusted. Passengers on extended cruises will not have any price increase for the extra length of their cruise.
Booked guests should note that MSC Cruises is currently working on updating all existing bookings, and the amended bookings will not be available to access until July 5, 2023.
This gives travelers ample time to consider their options and choose how best to adjust their travel plans, as guests have until July 31, 2023, to decide.