Operations Manager at Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, Michelle McGregor, gives us a look at what it’s like to live in paradise
What is the back story of the Ocean Cay?
About 5 years ago MSC Cruises was looking for a private island for our guests, so that we could offer something unique on our itineraries in the Caribbean. After an extensive search, our Executive Chairman, Pierfrancesco Vago found the perfect spot – a small cay located just 65 miles from Miami in The Bahamas. The island was an abandoned sand extraction site that was in a pretty bad state. Since 2016 we have worked to transform the island to enhance its natural beauty and more importantly to establish a thriving marine reserve in the 64 square miles of protected water around the island. Thanks to this work, marine life is starting to flourish, and we are working to protect and repopulate the coral reefs close to the island.
What makes Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve special?
You really can’t compare Ocean Cay to anything else in this area. Ocean Cay’s message is one of preservation and restoring nature’s beauty. The environment has always been close to my heart, so developing this island with a vision for protecting the environment is truly magical, both for me and for guests. We have tried to create an authentic Bahamian experience that helps people to reconnect with nature.What makes this place special is the stunning sea views with crystal clear waters, the most beautiful white sandy beaches. We have created lots of options for our guests to enjoy their time on the island whether that be simply relaxing on the beach sipping a cocktail, doing water sports and snorkelling, paddling in the ocean or in the evening joining the Junkanoo parade and watching the stunning light show from the lighthouse. Being able to spend the evening on the island is truly special and I know that this is a real highlight for many of our guests.
What is your background? How did you end up working in an island paradise?
I’m originally from Montreal, Canada, but I’ve worked in the cruise industry for the past 25 years. I started working on board ships, behind the front desk and eventually worked my way up to Chief Purser, before moving on land, working with private destinations. When I got the call from MSC Cruises, it was a chance I couldn’t pass up; to be so involved in the development of a private island is a dream come true.
What is your role on the island?
As Ocean Cay’s Operations Manager, I am in charge of making sure everything runs smoothly. Do the staff have everything they need? Is the dock set for the ship to arrive? Is the music in place? I lead all teams across the island and ensure all operations are in tip top shape so that guests receive the highest calibre of service while ashore.
How much time do you spend on the island?
Since the island recently opened, I’ve been living here full time – I can’t complain! But as things begin to run more normally, I will spend half of my time here and half back home in Canada.
What is your favourite part of your job?
I think a lot of people might expect that it would be waking up in this beautiful place every day, but the best part about my job is really the people. MSC Cruises is a family company and you really feel it. Most of our staff on Ocean Cay are local Bahamians and the spirit they bring to the island always brings a smile to my face. One might say I’m the proud mother of my 120 employees!