Fabulous ship, gorgeous and amazing to look at. Really incredible! Huge and you will need a map for the first day.
Our interior stateroom 8253 was just perfect, larger than expected and well decorated. A place for everything. Bathroom surprisingly large with room for all your products. We received fresh towels at least twice a day.
Food was outstanding. We couldn't find fault with it anywhere on the ship, no matter where you ate. The buffets were extremely chaotic, so after Day 1, we ate most of our meals in the restaurants. Also, we really liked ordering breakfast in our room. We did this on days when we had early excursions, or just didn't want to be bothered with the crowds. Take advantage of this - it was great!
Speaking of crowds, we had a full ship - all 4300 people were on board. It was the last week of europeans' vacations, so kids were still out of school. It was loud crowded and not very relaxing. Excursions to Istanbul and Olympia were particularly crowded and not very enjoyable. It was also extremely hot, we drank 37 liters of water in one week.
We preordered the 'classic' wine package which came with 6 bottles of wine and 7 waters. The wine was excellent, a nice selection of 2 reds, 2 whites and 1 rose.
Evening shows were decent, but make sure you see "Starwalker", a tribute to Micheal Jackson. Very well done.
The photographers are out and about at all times. We weren't interested in the dinner shots or mandatory fun shots, but I did drag my husband to sit for a posed shot of the two of us, hoping that we may have a nice one to buy. However, they all turned out super! NOTE: they photo shop, so your wrinkles and chins magically disappear. Hence, we bought three. A great opportunity for your family holiday card - they really are quite nice. Small ones were 19 euro, but they had a 'deal' - buy two get one free.
Lots of 'opportunities' to buy things, like the DVD of the cruise, more excursions, ect. We got tired of this by the end.
Bring lots of sunscreen, aspirin and pepto-bismo. You either can't afford them or can't get them on the ship. Just saying...
If you arrive the day before the cruise, I recommend staying at the "Ca Doge Hotel". It is in Venice next to the bus station (P. de Roma)and people mover. Extremely convenient to the ship.
Boarding the ship happens earlier than they tell you in the paperwork. We were at the port by 11 and on the ship by 12 noon. Very organized and not much waiting. You can probably arrive at 10:30 am. This is how it went:
Take People Mover to port (1 euro each).
Walk for about 5-10 minutes to blue and white MSC tent.
Free shuttle will take you to MSC Divina check-in.
Line up to drop off luggage. You need your passports and ship tickets.
They will take your bags and give you a boarding number.
Enter a/c building and head upstairs.
They take your photos, give you MSC card, drink tickets, ect. By the time this all happens, our boarding number came up and we walked onto the ship.
Our room was ready, but luggage didn't arrive for a few hours. SO, make sure to pack your swimsuits with your carry-ons. This way you can use the pool before everyone else.
Excursions were fast and furious however well-organized.
Bari: We stayed on the ship and had our pick of deck chairs and pool location -the only opportunity on the cruise. Most people did get off to explore, but we had a fine time in the sun.
Olympia: We took MSC trip. 1.5 hours total on the bus, only 2 hours for site and museum. It was a drive-by. No time to even buy a postcard!
Izmir: We did our own thing and had a blast. Walked to the Agora (30 minutes), saw the site. Walked to Bazaar (10 minutes) and bought a rug. Took a cab back to boat (10 euro). Best trip of the vacation, because we were on our own.
Istanbul: A big, hot mess. Took Viator tour (same tour as MSC but 1/2 the price) and literally ran through 5 sites. There were THOUSANDS of people at each one. Amazing locations, but we couldn't really appreciate them in the limited time we had. We discussed with our dinner mates who took the MSC tour and they said the same thing. Everyone went to bed early that night exhausted.
Dubrovnik : Recommend taking MSC shuttle to old town (10 euro each). We tried taxis, but had to fight with the Italian families to get one. Not a good idea. Again, hot and crowded, so we had lunch by the water and did our own thing. Loved the town - beautiful and would like to visit again.
Strollers are probably not a good idea. The streets (Olympia, Istanbul, Dubrovnik) are really narrow and mostly cobblestone or unpaved. We saw many unhappy parents trying to wrestle them, and winding up carrying their kids. Also the bridges in Venice will be a terror with a stroller.
Disembarking from the ship:
Once off, we didn't find a shuttle to get us back to the people mover, so we had to walk a long way with our luggage.
We recommend organizing transportation with the ship.
We wound up storing our luggage at the hotel (Ca Doge Hotel) for the day, which was great. There is luggage storage at the bus station, but a very long line to drop it off.
So that's it! Overall, it was a great way to see so many places, but it only gave us a taste. Food and service was excellent, you won't be disappointed with that. However too many people, rude and obnoxious who brought their kids. Not for us.