oceancay

This is what it's really like to work on a private island

In partnership with MSC Cruises

Carla Challis

Nestled among the most popular of dream jobs, we're talking astronaut, dolphin trainer and celebrity stylist, you'll find the most idyllic of professions – working on a private island. So elusive is the job that we can't even begin to imagine what it would be like to be paid to wake up every single day on your own beautiful, blissful island, surrounded by white sand, crystal clear waters and blue skies for days. 

READ MORE: How to travel like a celebrity

Sounds like perfection doesn't it? One woman who knows better than most is Michelle McGregor, Island Manager at the beautiful Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, a private island in the Bahamas owned by MSC Cruises and one of the many exclusive destinations the ships visit on their Caribbean cruises from Miami. Michelle spends months at a time living on the island with a team, who make sure Ocean Cay is always perfect for MSC Cruises' passengers. HELLO! sat down with Michelle to find out what life is really like working on a private island…

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It’s definitely not 9-5, but it's worth it

How does 7am sound as a start time to you? That's the norm on a 'ship day' for Michelle, Island Manager at Ocean Cay, and her team - but it's worth it. "Watching our guests come off the ship, through the greeting line of our Ocean Cay and ship staff and seeing their expressions as they see the island for the first time is always my favourite memory every single time. It makes all of our hard work more than worth it to see how much our guests are enjoying the island and it's natural state." 

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You do your shopping on a ship

Not surprisingly, there aren't many places to shop on a private island – just a little tuck shop selling essentials like deodorant, socks and crisps. So where else do you shop? The ships of course! "I think our biggest shopping centre would be the ships," laughs Michelle. "They're our biggest grocery store."

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WATCH: Step aboard an MSC Cruise ship

The weather is a dream

Michelle and her team never quite know what the day will hold - other than the weather, which is the stuff dreams are made of! The sunny Bahamian skies and clear blue waters are a treat for not just the guests, but the staff too. Imagine working somewhere where you rarely need an umbrella, unless it's to shade yourself from the glorious sun!

It’s not all work, work, work…

"In the summer, when we have less ships, on a non-ship day we'll take the afternoon and play a game of volleyball or we'll go and take the guys for a kayak tour or jet-ski tour. We try to liven it up and make it fun." It certainly beats our usual weekend activity of sitting on the sofa binge-watching the latest box set.

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…But it's the little things you miss

Michelle admits – family and friends aside – it's the everyday things she misses. "The worst thing about working on an island? The little things. I miss going out for dinner, or getting my hair done, getting a massage and getting my nails done! But I couldn't imagine doing anything else - this job was made for me!"

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Michelle McGregor

Spoiler: It's one of the best – and happiest - jobs in the world

Michelle describes working on the private island as a "sane kind of living" and sums it up as exciting, hectic, serene, rare and sane. "I don't have to commute in traffic to work, I get to live in an environment that, 99 percent of the time, has amazing weather, everyone's happy, MSC Cruises' guests come to this island and they're happy. It's such a sane kind of living.

"I absolutely love going to work every day and believe it or not, after a couple of months of vacation at home, I am always looking forward to going back to work. How many people can say that?" 

Book your trip to Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve here and explore the Caribbean from Miami with MSC Cruises.

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