The second day of my MSC Seashore cruise was a much anticipated visit to the Ocean Cay Marine Reserve (Ocean Cay). MSC’s private island is the Bahamas, not far from Bimini.
With the current weather issues in the Caribbean, I felt very lucky that we were able to call at this port.
There are tons of activities on the island. You can enjoy a day in the sun or participate in many activities. One of the great things about Ocean Cay is that you can have a fantastic time on the island without spending extra money because there is so much to do.
Here’s how I spent my day.
Morning / arrival on the island
I got up quite early this morning, just before 7am, having a very good night’s sleep. One thing about an inside cabin is that it’s nice and dark, which makes it easier to sleep. I set an alarm, however, as I didn’t want to oversleep today’s layover.
I headed to the market buffet for a light breakfast, with eggs and toast and some apples to take away later in the morning. In general, the buffet is well stocked with a good selection of breakfast items.
Market Square has spectacular views from most vantage points, and I could see our approach to the island while eating. Although lightly covered at this time, the lighthouse was highly visible with its crisp red and white stripes. My first impression is that MSC has done an impressive job with this island, which is a converted industrial site.
Around 9am I ventured out of the ship and the clouds started to clear. Our ship docked at the dock, which is great; no tendering is involved. It is a short walk from the main center, where there is a reception pavilion, as well as a steel ban to welcome guests.
Walking around the main area, the island has a natural Bahamian feel, with colorful buildings that house a number of shops and services for passengers.
explore the island
Without a fixed plan, I followed the main path to South Beach. which is one of the many beaches on the island. It is quite long, with plenty of sunbeds and chairs in the shade. It faces a calm lagoon with crystal clear waters, ideal for families. It overlooks North Beach, which is connected by a small bridge, which was not busy at all.
After resting in the sun for a bit, I wandered around a bit more in another part of the island. You really get a feeling of paradise on this island. It’s different from other cruise ship stops in that there are no pools or waterslides, but it has a very relaxed vibe with tons of space to hang out.
Most of the eating places on the island are free, a bonus for passengers. The main spot is Seakers Food Court, a large buffet with tons of covered outdoor seating.
It has a fairly extensive menu with a variety of salads and meats such as burgers, hot dogs, pork chops, sausages and ribs, as well as jerk chicken and fish. There are lots of good sides, including fries, corn on the cob, and mac and cheese. There’s plenty of fresh fruit for desserts, as well as cookies and other sweets. My meal of mahi-mahi, black rice and beans, yucca salad and a small burger was not bad, but a bit dry.
They also have a bar in the food court where you can use your onboard account to buy beer and soda, although there are bars nearby for something more substantial.
There are a few food trucks spread all over the island that serve barbecue dishes with pasta salad, fries and brownies, all free. Funnily enough, they only had ketchup and mayonnaise, limited toppings for any hot dog lover. You can also get coffee and ice cream for an extra charge at nearby Smiling Fish.
After filling my stomach and a quick return to the boat, I set off to explore the other part of the island, including Sunset Beach, which had very few people and the most amazing views.
This led me to the island’s iconic lighthouse, which sits at the easternmost point. Such a beautiful walk that takes you along a winding path to a bar at the base of the lighthouse. There were a few energetic passengers walking to the top of the lighthouse, but I took a pass in the midday heat.
This area has got to be my favorite spot on the island, with its stunning views of the Caribbean Sea. With a light breeze and old school Bahamian design, it’s a great place to hang out in a quiet and relaxing environment. Some of the other bars closer to the ship were quite busy, but if you want some peace and quiet this is a great place.
I must commend MSC for designing this island; it looks like a tropical oasis They have done a great job planting bushes and palm trees all over the island; it’s not too neat in its landscape, which adds to the authentic touch.
Getting around the island is quite easy (and I say that as someone with reduced mobility). There are several easy-to-use walking trails throughout the island, as well as open-top buses that take guests everywhere. They even covered shaded areas which is helpful on a hot day.
You can use your MSC card all over the island to make purchases, buy drinks and any other extras. The MSC drinks package operates on the island.
For added convenience, there are free lockers in the changing rooms, which are dotted around the island. I saw nowhere to find extra towels, although I may have missed them.
Activities / things to do
On the day of our visit, there were many complementary activities on the program, including volleyball, kite flying, a treasure hunt and pétanque.
For an additional charge you can also rent kayaks, a jet ski and floating boards, as well as boat/snorkeling trips, which I didn’t do.
There are a number of shops on the island, with Bahamian-made products such as soaps, ceramic works, authentic Bahamian sponges, and classic straw bags. There are also plenty of classic t-shirts, jewelry, and other memorabilia.
Later in the afternoon I returned to the ship for a quick break and to grab some food before the evening activities. One of the highlights of visiting Ocean Cay is the nighttime entertainment on the island. With the route change, it ended up being the same time as the official night; however, I was much more interested in spending the evening ashore.
Many people had returned to the ship when I came back along the small wharf. The sun was starting to set and the daytime temperature in the 90s eased to become more moderate.
Crowds started gathering along the main boulevard, and in the distance I could see some of the Junkanoo dancers gathering. Junkanoo is a famous Bahamian tradition where dancers and musicians come together to celebrate, usually around Christmas, but luckily for us MSC puts on a show all year round.
Dressed in incredibly bright costumes with beautiful feathered hats, it was a sight to behold. The musicians followed with drums and shakers, creating a magical repeating beat. They traveled along the main island road, dancing with the passengers, and everyone had a great time. Onlookers joined them in concert on their way back to the ship, the MSC Seashore sign gently illuminating the night. What an amazing evening and end to an amazing day at Ocean Cay
Tomorrow is a day at sea and I look forward to exploring the ship more.