Overall, the MSC Divina is an enjoyable ship. The ship is simply the most elegant ship we've been on, but service is where MSC seems to be lacking. The ship needs more open deck space, especially at the buffet area. There was never anyplace to sit during breakfast/lunch. I'd never experienced this problem on Carnival and we were on a full ship on the Breeze in the Med last fall, so I'm pretty sure it's related to ship design or perhaps due to the fact that Europeans don't eat and clear a table as quickly as an American audience and this causes backlog in table availability. Embarkation in Venice was about on par with other embarkations we've done. Getting so many people on a ship just takes a lot of time. The ports (Bari, Katakolon, Izmir, Istanbul, and Dubrovnik) were all great destinations with something to do at every one. It's nice that the more low key Bari and Dubrovnik ports bookend the more hectic activities that are available at Katakolon, Izmir, and Istanbul. The only More
problem I have with the itinerary was the fact that the port times were rather short (ex. only 5 hours in Dubrovnik). I'd have rather lost a port day in Bari in exchange for longer port times in Katakolon or Istanbul. MSC excursions are well run and enjoyable if you're willing to pay for the most expensive ones. Disembarkation is a little irritating because they want you to vacate your cabin at 0700, which seems early since they don't start unloading passengers/baggage until 0830 at the earliest. Overall, a great cruise as far as the ship, cabin, and itinerary are concerned.
Now, the problem that we had on the Divina centered around the service. We are Americans living in Europe, so we are used to the less personal service provided at dinner. You can expect the dinner service on the Divina to be very impersonal. We felt like the server was just there to do a job, which I guess he is, but we missed the connection that we had with our servers on previous cruises on different lines. This extended to the cabin steward and other servers as well. I realize service is a very personal thing, but we were fairly put off by the lack of service above and beyond the expectation.
The major issues on our cruise that would make us choose to not sail MSC again center around the Mini Club (Kids center) and the poor dinner service. We had quite a bit of trouble just getting the proper dishes that we ordered on the cruise and were often rushed to order our entire meal mere minutes (five at most) after being given the menu. It felt like a crap shoot as to whether we would receive what we ordered or not.
The Mini Club was terrible. We had booked excursions based on the availability of the Mini Club to watch our 3 year old son during the one port day in Istanbul. The MSC website is clear that Mini Club only accepts children 3 and over, and is available for port excursion days. What they neglect to inform you of is the fact that your child must be fully potty trained in order to participate and they refuse to assist in any way. So, we were forced to purchase an excursion ticket for him onboard for the full day trip in Istanbul as they wouldn't refund our excursion that we had already purchased. Now, I understand that policies are what they are and the reasoning behind the policy (molestation liability, etc.) but I would have greatly appreciated MSC explaining the entire policy on their website up front so we could have planned accordingly. Additionally, when we did take him and our daughter to the Mini Club on the sea day, they weren't welcoming to our son (he cried out of apprehension in the new environment and they chose to simply ignore him) and the staff neglected to explain directions to our daughter in English, even after asking to be spoken to in English (a language they support, by the way). So, our son didn't participate at all and our daughter was not interested in returning after the two hours she spent there. I would definitely state the Carnival's Camp Carnival is much better because they will assist with bathroom visits and actually try to welcome the child. Unless your child speaks Italian, they may not do well in MSC Mini Club.
Conclusion-Great ship and itinerary. Thoroughly enjoyed most parts of the cruise, but the lack of quality service at dinner and the Mini Club would make us choose another line in the future. If you don't have kids, I would definitely recommend. Less