November 22, 2013 | By Colleen McDaniel | 4 Comments
MSC Divina is making its debut sailing from its new Miami homeport. The Italian line, which generally has plied the waters of the Mediterranean, is dipping its toe in the Caribbean in a big way, offering deals and holding contests to entice North American travelers to a product relatively unfamiliar to this market.
hasn’t taken the move lightly. In fact, Ken Muskat, senior vice president of sales and marketing for the line, said everyone in the company has been uniquely focused for five months on making sure Divina’s move to Florida is a successful one. “It’s a market we have to be in,” Muskat said.
While the ship still is clearly an Italian product — and Muskat said the ship won’t abandon its Mediterranean roots — here are five reasons North Americans should give Divina a shot.
1. The pools.
Divina has five pools, and to reflect North American preferences, MSC expanded the hours for the pool areas. And the pools are impressive. I particularly liked the lovely aft pool, on Deck 15; it’s as close to a true infinity pool as I’ve seen on a cruise ship. We’ve had some rain on our current sailing, so Le Sirene, with its magrodome, has been a popular spot. The line also added a movie screen to Divina’s main pool area.
2. The Sports Bar.
Located on Deck 7, the Sports Bar is definitely aimed straight at Americans, with its menu of bar munchies like chicken fingers, burgers and fries. Passengers will be able to watch American sports here on the bar’s numerous flat-screen TVs. It’s also a surprisingly quiet place to grab a brew and hang with new pals. Here, you’ll find Divina’s two bowling lanes.
3. The smoking policy.
This is always a point of contention for cruisers. MSC has made sure its smoking policy on Divina is among the more stringent at sea. While smoking isn’t permitted in cabins or on balconies on any ship in the line’s fleet, MSC added restrictions on Divina, where the casino is nonsmoking. It also banned smoking in virtually all public areas except the cigar bar and designated portside areas on outside decks.
Read about Divina’s smoking policy.
MSC made some changes to its entertainment options onboard Divina. It has added a comedian to each of its sailings, and dueling pianos can be found in its Golden Jazz Club, which seems to be a favorite for the crowds on its current sailing. Karaoke also was added in the jazz lounge, and steel drums play poolside. More English-language TV channels were added.
5. The Italian touches.
Sure, MSC wants to appeal to a North American passenger base, but it also wants passengers on Divina to enjoy the touches it is most proud of from around its fleet. Of note is the decor — lots of marble, crystals and punches of bright color. The line also partnered with Eataly, the Italian-based chain that has expanded into the U.S., with a location in NYC. You can’t help but notice the variety of olive oils throughout the ship, and mozzarella appears to be a staple everywhere. It also offers excellent pizza via room service (starting at $8 per person). And something no North American will ever complain about? There’s plenty of gelato.