We just returned from a 7 week cruise with the MSC Divina and we have loved it. Before writing this review I have been reading some others to see what the general thought is.
Well, if you want to enjoy this cruise, you need know a few things and adept to it.
Let me start be saying that you can see that MSC is an Italian company and you can see it in everything in the ship. Learn to love it and use it to your advantage: you will have real coffee, you can expect good cocktails, high prices for alcohol (if you don't have a package) and the restaurants will be Italian style as well.
I have read a few review saying that some of the people in the ship have no manners: pushing in front or not saying 'excuse me'. Well, you can start bothering about this, or just live with it. When you come in to the ship (after an excursion or something), you can push around and try to get into the elevator. Or you walk 1 stairs up, walk 20 seconds to the next elevator group and not have to wait for it.
The ship has a restaurant service 19:00 and 21:00 dinner. The waiters work extremely hard and try to speak your language (I have seen Indonesian waiters trying to speak and understand Germans and Italians). In general: when you are nice to them, say thank you, have a bit of patience and try to understand their situation (they literally run around bringing your food!!) then they will be kind to you as well. Being kind generally works better then shouting in your own language, be upset that he/she doesn't understand it and hope for great service because you tip him a bit.
The food isn't great. But what can you expect if the kitchen has to serve 4-5 courses for a few 1000 people within 2 hours. Expect food you can prepare in mass or which are easy to through on a plate. The use of spices is also minimal; you have Italians, Germans, English, Americans and many other nationalities on board, all with a different taste-palette.
There is also a buffet restaurant. Not great quality either and the behavior of the people makes it look like 'feeding time' in a zoo. Same things holds for the breakfast. Well, if you want to have excellent fine dining on your cruise-ship, chose one of the line where you pay triple the amount of money.
The currency of the ship is Euro. Except 5 euro's for a beer, 4,5 E for below average wine, and 6.5 for a cocktail. 1-3 E for coffee and 2 E for 1,5L of water. On top you have to pay a fee of 15%. I think that is expensive; but is it any different on another ship? You can also take the Allegrissimo package. For 23 euro's per person per day you can drink yourself stupid, have ice cream, have wine, take some bottles of water for in your room or on shore. For what I have seen from other cruise lines: this is basically the cheapest you can get. Drink 2 cocktails + 1 coffee + 1 ice cream and maybe 1 coke; and you already cover your costs. It just makes holiday so much easier when you don't have to think about bar-costs. The cocktails are great and quick btw. I loved it! You can also go for the 46 euro pppd package and get real champagne, some even fancier cocktails, mini bar service and some aged whiskey's and beer in a bottle.
The ship is new. The inside looks nice, flashy, shiny. There are plenty of themed bars, live music, shops, a large theater and it all looks nice. The shows are nice: the last about 45 minutes. Some are more music oriented (3 of them), there is 1 ballet show, 2 acrobatic and 1 mixed shows. It might not always be your style, but you see the effort and the dedication the performers put into it.
The guests do use the towel-tric: trying to reserve their seat. Yup: if everybody wants to go have a tan on top of the ship, there is not enough space. If you see that boarding time from your excursion is 15:00 and you plan to go tanning afterwards: try to get a chair before 15:00, before the rest tries to get a chair.
If you don't want to think and book the excursions: they are fine. It all goes a bit slow though; but that is what you can expect if you are in a group of 20 - 50 people...
Or you read quickly want the main excursions are about and you will have an idea of what there is to do in a city. I will name two examples:
In Bari you can do a 3-4 hour city tour: go on a bus, have a walk and see about what is there. Maybe there is a lunch in it as well: expect 50 euro per person. Or you walk out of the ship, and go to a hop on hop off bus. Pay 15 euro's a person, do the same things and have a guide as well. Afterwards you go find a lunch yourself. Either find a restaurant or go to your favorite review page and find a restaurant. We had a 2 people lunch for 20 euro including free wifi. Easy saving.
In Istanbul you will probably do the same touristy things as everybody: Haga Sofia, Blue Mosque, Topkapi palace, Hippodrome and the Bazaar. You can follow your group... or pay 3TL (1,20 eur) to take the tram which stops in front of the blue mosque! Over there everything is at a walking distance.
So, all in all, I had a great time. For the money I could not have wished for more. I still had a 5 star feeling and am happy to have seen all these cities!