Let me begin with my cruise experience which is somewhat limited. Prior to sailing on the MSC Divina I have sailed on the Carnival Destiny(now renamed I believe) and the Carnival Inspiration. With that being said my point of reference is Carnival so take that for what its worth.
We booked the Divina for a few reasons. First and foremost we wanted to do a 7 night during the Thanksgiving week and most cruise lines where very expensive for this week. I discovered MSC when I found a very affordable rate and kids sail free(11 and under at time of embarkation). When I found that the MSC option was aboard a relatively new ship(launched in 2012) I became interested. I read many reviews and many were mixed. Considering we were taking my mother-in-law and daughter who either have ever been on a cruise before we figured how bad could it be and this might be a good "first cruise" for them. So we booked.
Having just returned from the Thanksgiving trip things are still fresh in my More
mind. Here we go....
The Divina is 140,000 tons and looks and feels large. It took us a couple of days to become familiar with the layout but before long we were comfortable finding out way around. One obvious observation I made on day one was that the ship is kept immaculate. She's clean and very well maintained. I like the decor on board of all public places. Unlike my experience on the two Carnival ships, which had much whimsical m"Las Vegas" gaudy appearance, the Divina is tasteful and elegant. Our balcony cabin was comfortable even though there were four of us. I really liked the pool areas more on the Divina than the Carnvals as well. The areas just appeared more fresh and inviting than the dated look of Carnival.
Food was better to me than what I expected from reading the many reviews. I ate at both the buffets and the two main dining rooms. The Buffets I found no problem finding things I liked. When they say MSC has the beswt pizza at sea they arent lying. I'm from Long Island originally and I know good Pizza and they could sell Pizza in NY and survive. As I mentioned we ate at both the Villa Rossa and The Black Crab restaurants. The Menu's are the same for each night. While the Villa Rossa has better daytime views due to it being at the stern of the ship, at night they close the drapes so you cannot see out anyway. I found the Black Crab decor and furniture more appealing and interesting. The dining experience aboard is somewhat different than what we're used to. They are in no hurry to rush you through dinner(or lunch). They serve each course separate and most meals will take an hour or more. Initially things like water fills or bread offerings were slow but things improved as our cruise went on. I found most selections were good. The only dish I didnt enjoy was a steak on the final night that was average at best but all other dishes were excellent including Thanksgiving night where I had the Turkey dish as well as the Lobster tail dish. Both where excellent. Overall I found the main dining room food to be on par with Carnival but the Buffet to be better than carnival.
The shows each night were excellent. Very professional dancers, singers and one comedian who is Las Vegas caliber. Our favorite was the Michael Jackson tribute. Least favorite was the Frank Sinatra tribute. The Pantheone Theater is awesome! Holds something like 1600 guests and has superb sound quality.
Biggest complaint I had on board was in the Sports Bar. First there was the bar tender who was from eastern Europe and a very dry "all business" attitude. I walk in on Sunday expecting NFL football on the many big screen TVs only to find two different soccer games playing. Many guests including my self were dumbfounded. The excuse we were given was there was a satellite issue. I said "Your Satellite receiver seems to pick up the soccer just fine!". Things got a little better for MNF where they got the game to display but couldnt figure out the whole Sound concept so we couldn't hear anything. Good news is for Thanksgiving we got all three games thankfully and Sound!
There are many many nice bars around the ship. One ship favorite was the Golden Jazz bar with the Dueling pianos. The two pianist/singers kept it a full house every night.
We purchased two 15-pack drink packages for the week and 30 cocktails between three adults were enough for us. We are glad we didnt buy the daily unlimited drink package as we saved alot going the way we did. I found the cocktails to be very enjoyable.
Apparently MSC uses Israeli security(the best in the business) on-board the ship and I had complete confidence we were in good hands on board. Never did I see much presence or intrusiveness but we knew Security was assured.
Our port of calls were St Marteen, San Juan and Great Stirrup Cay. St. Marteen wasnt as grand as I hoped. We booked our excursion through MSC and it was well organized but the Kayak/Snorkeling was "Fair". Now that I got a taste of St. Marteen I dont have a desire to return. At least not to the area we visited. Old San Juan in Puerto Rico is awesome! We walked Old San Juan and the El Mirro fort. AWESOME!!! Next visit to P.R. I was to see the Rain forest! Unfortunately for us we didnt get to go to Great Stirrup Cay as the winds were to great to safely tender onto the island. :-(
Overall an enjoyable cruise on a very nice ship. While I wouldnt hesitate sailing on MSC again in the future, my next cruise will be aboard the Oasis or Allure of the Seas with R.C. as we must experience those ships. For anyone looking for an affordable vacation with an Italian/European taste try MSC with an open mind. You might be pleasantly surprised.