I must say this is absolutely not our first cruise and I am a big cruise fan, so we decided to take this cruise because I heard of many people saying it was the new cruise company, new modern ships ( in fact the Divina is less than a year old), has all the European charm that many other cruise companies don't and also because of the itinerary. I always read reviews before booking and reviews seemed to be like " still needs to mature", "the misunderstood cruise line", " all critics are not true" - that one coming from a first time cruiser- etc, so it still did not seem so bad to me and we decided to try it.
We were a party of 10 so we booked 4 staterooms, 3 of them balconies on our cruise departing from Venice June 15, 2013. As I did not want any problems, I decided to book directly through MSC USA instead of a travel agency. Our first day was my son's birthday so I called a few times before our cruise to make sure they would have a cake ready for our dinner. After we embarked, we left our bags and went to our rooms. First thing I noticed, was that the bathroom was filthy and the sheets were dirty, so I called room service and they brought a pile of sheets to show me that it was not dirt but stained. All of them with yellow stains! Unbelievable for an 8 months old ship, so I still asked them to change my sheets. They cleaned the bathroom and left the entire floor wet with the water from the toilet. I didn't want my day to be ruined by that so I had to wipe it and got ready for dinner. Just before leaving my room called about the cake and they had no idea what I was talking about. They told me it was the "travel agency" mistake and if I did not presented a voucher with the value of the cake I can not have it, and they did not believe me when I said I booked directly with MSC in the USA. After 30 minutes on the phone with 5 different people the Guest Service Manager agreed to have a small cake ready for our dinner. That was the second problem.
The third problem of the day was that they misplaced one of our bags. It was past midnight and my husband's bag never arrived in the room. So I had to leave my children alone in the room while my husband and I searched all over the ship for his bag. Front Desk staff said that the person who delivered the bag was already sleeping so they sent someone else to help us search. After 2 hours the bag was found on the 13th floor ( we were on the 10th floor). I could spend many hours writing about the other many problems that we had, but just to give a big picture, the staff is not helpful at all. I would recommend you first walk to the elevator and go to the 5th floor and make the line to talk to the front desk rather than call them (that would be faster).
If you eat breakfast or lunch at the buffet they will definitely approach you to ask you if you need anything but we figured out that if it something that you are not paying for ( beer, wine or cappuccino) they will look at you and say " you can get it yourself", very loud and clear! So besides plain water and ice all other drinks you have to pay for, not as other cruises where you can always find ice tea and juice.
And yes, the Divina does have a Formula-1 simulator ( my 16 years old son was so excited about it) but you have to pay for it, and not at a cheap price. And yes it does have a bowling alley, but you have to pay for it. And 4D movies, but you have to pay for it. Oh and if you have been on other cruises, you would love this...they DO have ice cream, but guess what? You have to pay for it! As for the shows..yes they were nice but first you have to sit through 20 minutes for the Cruise Director to introduce the show for 3 minutes in each of the 7 languages that they use on board, before it starts. The guy is not funny or nice, but he IS a polyglot and that is something!!
Traveling with children? My daughter (10) simply ran away from the IPuffy club. Not only were they not nice staff, but all the activities were extremely boring. And the water slide? Sure there was a slide where everyone got stuck in the middle because there was not enough water to slide, so my children were also greatly disappointed. Too bad, because the ship is really beautiful but they need twice the staff and a lot of customer service training!