This was our second cruise, we were with a big group and MSC did nothing to make us feel welcome or valued. The previous cruise was with Carnival which wasn't perfect but had much higher standards of customer service, more english speaking staff and better food options.
Check-in procedure is online which is fine, you print off a 1 A4 sheet with your room details but little else and you're told you don't need luggage tags, except when you get to the port and you have to chase a porter to get one and fill it in on the dockside, the tags are waxed paper so take a good biro and have your cabin number to hand!
Boarding in Miami is relatively smooth, I walk with a cane so was directed to the special assistance desk, although no one asked if I needed a wheelchair or any additional help boarding or not.
The cabin was okay, even though it had been recently refitted, the dressing was pretty dark and plain, browns and yellows dominated. We had a larger balcony room with a sofa at the back of the boat which was a reasonable location. There was a good sized wardrobe with hangers and a small set of drawers. The bathroom has a small toilet, and average shower cubicle, with storage under the sink. TV is small with limited channel selection - lots of spanish channels, only english channels are CNN, BBC South America and Cartoon Network.
We had booked a double bed and arrived to find two singles, we rang to ask to have the bed rearranged and was told it would happen after 6pm, it took four more calls before it was finally sorted out at 11.45PM!
Cabin steward was noticeable by his absence, he was more visible smoking on the outdoor stairs next to our cabin, we raised this with customer services as the smoker blew into our balcony and cabin, they said that we would have to call when they were smoking so that they could come and catch them…I thought the cruise had camera's in all public spaces…
The sheets weren't changed for 3 days and we had to chase to get fresh towels. Although it is useful to know that if you leave a key in the electrics pad (the thing you slot your key into to turn on the room electrics), then the steward can't enter the room, although this wasn't the case when the sheets weren't changed.
The two main dining rooms are Black Crab and Villa Rossa, we were in Villa Rossa in the 2nd sitting. The food was really hit and miss, some days good, some days truly awful and inedible….the pasta was usually raw (and I know what al dente italian style is, this was not it!). They had really packed the tables close together which made it really hard to get in and out of table some time.
The buffet was worse, with really limited salad selection, everything either undercooked and almost raw or stewed to the point of breaking down into brown sludge. The lunch time buffet was really bad with poor seasoning, uninspiring dishes and a real lack of imagination in the cooking. The desserts were the same every day and really disappointing compared to out other cruise experience.
There aren't really any alternative included options, we didn't eat in any of the three paid for restaurants but everyone who did was really disappointed.
They make a big thing in the brochures of the gelatto, and it is nice ice cream but you have to pay for the nice stuff and the stand was rarely staffed.
All the staff were pretty rude and abrupt, with the majority having very bad english or really none at all, this included the customer service staff who's english was appalling.
unlike other cruises, on the MSC Divina it is really hard to get served a drink…..hunting down a waitress was the first challenge, then trying to get across the order was the second challenge, and finally waiting for the drinks to arrive (with the right order)….and then the disappointment that the majority of the cocktails were truly disgusting, pure alcohol and no finesse or skill in mixing…the bar staff need a major lesson in bar tending….
We went to one show while on the boat, the Witches of Paris, which was boring and really underwhelming. The singing was bland, the choreography was weak and the acrobatics in line with a third rate circus. Our friends went to see the Micheal Jackson Tribute which was equally bad.
The one highlight was the astronomy talks and guides, our friends went to these and loved them, really informative, interesting and innovative taking advantage of the beautiful clear skies and stunning stars.
The pool areas are okay, there are a range of hot tubs at different temperatures with the largest seating 10 people, so was always a bit of a gamble on getting a seat and the pools were small salty plunge pools really. You are not allowed to have drinks by the hot tub - despite everything being plastic - which was a bit of a downer.
The gym is large and was well used on the cruise, there wasn't much else to do given the poor entertainment and awful food.
The highlight was the excursions which were well organised, although in general they were local tours which MSC facilitates access to, and in two there were long coach journeys which weren't mentioned in the guide on the boat or website when we booked them, not sure we would have chosen Tulum ruins if we'd have know 3hrs would be taken up on a coach and boat! There were issues for people with limited mobility getting on and off the tender and the crew just didn't seem to have thought about disability awareness and were rude handling some of the elderly passengers on and off the boat.
Disembarkation was a bit chaotic and we were given the wrong tags and when we went back to swap them they had run out, so was all a bit messy but we got off the boat with our luggage so I guess that's success.
So in essence, bad food, poor service, and disappointing environment….