First impressions are sometimes everything, but sadly it was all downhill after our impressive tour after boarding the MSC Divina. There is nothing subtle about the décor - it is over the top, from the Swarovski crystal staircases ($13,500/step) to the beautifully appointed lounges, and stunning theater, and intimate dining rooms and buffet. That being said, the ship is difficult to navigate - only deck 7 runs the complete length of the ship, so be prepared to get lost frequently, especially finding dining rooms and lounges.
If there was any highlight on the ship it is the ENTERTAINMENT! The main tenors have beautiful Italian voices, and the production quality of the shows was outstanding. Andre, the cruise director, was very friendly and approachable.
The food is in one word - mediocre and uncreative at best, sometimes bordering on inedible. We had expected the finest of Italy, and aside from the freshly-made very thin crust pizza and gelato, nothing was More
worth writing home about. Buffet choices were very limited and repetitive, main dining room food was always served lukewarm to cold, and portions were so small you're forced to order the dessert. There is no "Captain's Night" dinner as with other cruise lines, although one night there was an "Atlantic Lobster tail" entrée that was not much larger than a giant prawn and the "Baked Alaska" was a 1/2" sliver on a plate. We dined in the up-charge "Galaxy" restaurant one night and although the service was better and the food was served hot, my filet was inedible shoe leather although the pasta was excellent.
As a European line, we weren't surprised that the drinks are strictly measured pour, and the choices of spirits are very limited. Flavored vodkas consist of strange options (kurant, peach, raspberry) but no Citron or Mandarin to be found. Get ready to ask for your martini without vermouth, as it's being poured into a thimble-sized glass. And, if you purchase the drink packages, any premium spirits (Ketel One, Grey Goose, etc) are charged at 2 coupons, so if you want a double (US typical pour) of a premium spirit you have just used 4 of your coupons.
But if there's one thing WORSE than the food, it is the SERVICE and ATTITUDE of the staff! We have cruised on 3 other cruise lines (Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, and Holland America) and it seems like this ship's staff was working for the very first time in their lives. Indifferent at best, quite often rude (bartenders who argue when they serve you the drink you didn't order, waiters who roll their eyes and walk away, cabin attendants who don't speak any English and leave used drink glasses in your room and don't replace the dirty towels left on the floor or in the shower, shop staff who can't figure out how to work the register when you buy something). Three different times our dinner service was SO bad that we had to track down the maitre-d because we had been abandoned at our table because they felt they had finished their service. I'm all for a more laid-back Italian style cruise, but we've visited Italy 7 times and never had anything but friendly (if not slow) and attentive service.
Even the photo services, which we almost always purchase on every cruise are poorly run! None of the photos are accurately color-calibrated, so you look washed out (even on "standard portrait" photos where they're not trying to be artistic). Their loss from us there too.
Perhaps MSC should go back to shipping cargo because they treat their passengers as such. Less