Msc Cruise Port: No Lease Agreement Yet

No agreement has yet been reached to transfer the lease of Ocean Cay to Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) for its private cruise port, with the current holder saying of the project: "It won't be done overnight."

Tony Myers, whose Sandy Cay Development Company holds a 25-year lease on the island, and an option to renew for the same duration, told Tribune Business that while he was negotiating with both the Government and MSC, no deal had been concluded.

Pledging to co-operate with the other parties' desires for Ocean Cay, Mr Myers acknowledged that their proposal for the island was "pretty spectacular".

Yet he agreed that there was "a tremendous amount of work" that needed to be done before MSC's vision became a reality, given that the cruise port amounted to a radical change in the island's usage.

Ocean Cay is a man-made island near Bimini that is presently used by Mr Myers' company for industrial purposes, namely the mining of sand and aragonite. Such usage is, at first glance, completely incompatible with MSC's plans for a high-end, exclusive cruise port.

Mr Myers, though, expressed optimism that the two sides could co-exist side-by-side as there was enough space to accommodate both.

He added that it was "business as usual" for Sandy Cay Development Company until the Government and MSC finalised their plans, and then informed his company of their intentions.

MSC's cruise port, which is also to be called Sandy Cay, was discussed at length between senior company officials and Prime Minister Perry Christie and his team when the two sides recently met in London.

Obie Wilchcombe, minister of tourism, told the House of Assembly last week that the Government and MSC would sign a Heads of Agreement for the project and other initiatives as early as this week.

But Mr Myers' comments gave an indication of how much work remains to be done before MSC's Ocean Cay port/private island dream becomes a reality.

"At the present time, there's no deal on the island," Mr Myers told Tribune Business. "We're in negotiations with the Government and MSC to look at the possibility of the [lease] transfer, but at this stage we don't have any agreement."

He confirmed that the 'transfer' and any agreement would involve MSC's ability to use Ocean Cay as a cruise tourist destination, adding that he was unaware of what had been discussed with the Government in London.

"We're just continuing to operate under the terms and conditions of our lease," Mr Myers told Tribune Business. "We're listening to what the parties would like to do and their intent. Beyond that, there's nothing much more.

"We're co-operating with them, but we've not come to any agreement with them. I think it's an exciting agreement for the Government and MSC to turn the island into a cruise ship destination."

Mr Myers suggested that Ocean Cay might be able to accommodate the cruise port and the mining operations, as exports of sand and aragonite were not significant enough for the island to be employed as a staging area.

"I think it's a great opportunity for the Bahamas," he added of the MSC project. "The lease is determined by the Government of the Bahamas, and they're the ones that have to make the decision. They're the ones critical for the process.

"What they're proposing is pretty spectacular, and I don't mind either way. We'll continue to operate as we have with or without MSC there. But we're happy to work with the Government to make it a success."

Further highlighting Ocean Cay's industrial history, Mr Myers took over the island's lease from AES, after the US energy company finally abandoned its plans to site a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal on the island due to years of Government 'foot dragging' on whether to approve the project.

Mr Myers conceded to Tribune Business "that going from an industrial island to a tourist destination is a major change", and would require MSC to do numerous Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) related studies.

"There's a huge amount of work that needs to be done. It's not going to be done overnight," he said. "You have a huge EIA to do, we'll look at co-existing with their entities and, as a new revenue stream will be created we have to look at the best benefits to the Government of the Bahamas.

"There's a tremendous amount of work, and still a lot more to go into it." Mr Myers expressed hope the negotiations would be resolved within the next several weeks.

Mr Wilchcombe, in his House of Assembly report on the Government's MSC meetings, said: "We finalised our discussions on a Heads of Agreement to be executed in Nassau next week relating to an imaginative and exciting Ocean Cay port project.

"Work on the project, which will be lushly tropically landscaped, includes picturesque beaches, water sports, numerous attractions, entertainment, facilities, shops etc. to be operated by Bahamians.

"Due care and attention will be given to preserving the marine and natural environment. MSC will position a new class of cruise ships, which will call at both Ocean Cay and Nassau, catering significantly to affluent Europeans."


sealice 3 years, 5 months ago

MSC wants to lease a manmade sandbar in the middle of the ocean to create a tourist stop over point? WTF??? Anyone ever heard the word sustainable, as in the seawalls around ocean cay could not sustain the northerly cold fronts that batter the island during the winter.....


MonkeeDoo 3 years, 5 months ago

MSC is also in the Ocean Freight business. Arawak Port is a Gonner. Sell your shares now while you can.Loftus Roker was dead serious. PGC them getting everything they can before its over.


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