MSC Divina Cruise Review by MTL=CRUISEFAMILY: Back to Back Feb 22 to March 8th - Good but not great
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Back to Back Feb 22 to March 8th - Good but not great
Smoothest and quickest we have ever experienced, port staff were efficient and pleasant. Arrived at port at 11:30 and on the ship by 12:15.
What hit us first was the absolute beauty of the ship. Stunning atrium, and beautiful decor, rich sleek materials, and stylish furniture everywhere.
No cookie cutter decor here, original, tasteful area. Food stations were functional, and allowed for quick flow at all stations.
Food at the buffet was very good, wide variety and selections available from pizza to pastas, salads, breads, meats and great little desserts. The coffee was better than other lines, full roasted flavour. Drink stations offer a variety of water, juice mixes, tea, hot water and coffee.
Our first quick tour of the ship assured us this was a stunning ship. Stopped by the pool area, as we waited for our room to be ready. Pool is salt water and kept at 26 degrees, very comfortable. Plenty of seating More areas all over the decks. The solarium top was open and offers a nice area to sit and relax. Soft self serve ice cream just outside that area.
Reception staff were very efficient, quick and knowledgeable.
Room, first time with a balcony suite, and I think I can get used to it. Size of room was adequate, even for four, pull out sofa is large and comfortable, but not as large as the king size main bed. Four empty suitcase fit snugly underneath.
Bathroom, a little tight, but functional, liked the full glass shower door, some may not like that there is no bars of soap, or shampoo just dispensers. No creams or lotions either. MSC tries in many areas to be Eco friendly and they do not favor waste.
Muster drill was organized well with staff present and directing as expected.
Late dining at the Black Crab dining room. First week Unanimous confirmation that all our dishes were good to very good, started with the shrimp cocktail, large portion well prepared. Soups and salads all good. Steaks surprisingly tender and generous size. After cruising with Celebrity on our last two cruises we see the difference in general areas, lacking on MSC are a level of refinement, and presentation. At dinner the table setting seemed lacking in appeal, no full set of utensils, they are only brought out when needed, as the dish order dictates. Head waiter, although pleasant, did not seem to be up to the needs of his tables, lacking in attention to basic details such as, ensuring that dishes and utensils are clean before placing, refilling water often, having milk, spoons and utensils for dessert. These in my opinion, are not items one should have to ask for, but should be present at time of need. This improved as the first days advanced... But only slightly.
Late dining at the Villa Rossa dining room. Week two, better service and more experienced staff. Although I understand the European standard of service is more reserved, a certain level of basic interaction would have been appreciated. We tried several times to engage in conversation with staff, but did not seem necessary to them.
Breakfast, buffet was well stocked with a good variety of choices. I personally do miss the made to order omelet station. Plenty of fruit also available.
Although our two other MSC cruises were considered impeccably clean, the Divina, seems to be lacking in some areas of cleanliness, public restrooms are one area that need improvement, having noticed on several occasions, especially at dinner time, no attendants or upkeep being done.
What is up with elevators? Although plenty are present, it seemed to take forever for them to arrive, and many times limited levels could be reached. Many areas of Divina do not allow for an easy flow, we ended up in many dead ends, having to go up or down levels just to continue on the same floor.
Wow! This was one area where MSC obviously spends a lot of money, the production shows are a spectacle, with true artists, singers, dancers and entertainers. No amateur hour here, enjoyed all the show, did not miss one. If you only catch one show, make sure it is the Michael Jackson tribute show. The dancer does a fantastic homage to the king of pop. On our last night, they presented or premiered a new show, "Love me" La Traviata with Tenor Manuel , and Soprano, Irina, if you like opera, it was a nice production, and the audience really enjoyed it.
Animation team. This young troop kept everyone smiling, laughing, singing, dancing and sometimes making fools of themselves. Especially enjoyed the white night party, great atmosphere next to the open pool deck.
Disco, well attended, mainly due to the fact that a good portion of the ship was young and looking to have a good time, lots of fun!
Pool deck, gets crowded early, get out early if you plan on spending a good portion of your time near the pool.
Tender port were surprisingly smooth, no chaos, calm seas, and quick to and from process.
Jamaica, took taxi to Jacob Taylor Beach, found it too quiet and not much to do, so driver took us to Burwood beach, more lively, calm waters, clean beach, only negative was lots of vendors trying to sell you stuff.
Grand Cayman, took bus to Surf side beach, 15 min from port, nice, clean beach, practically no vendors.
Cozumel, we opted to take a ferry to Playa del Carmen. Do no suggest this as we had very little time there, 45 minute ferry each way, and depending on departure time, does not give you time to explore at leisure.
Great stirrup cay, unfortunately weather was cloudy and rainy, and island was all wet, took a while before the decision was made to proceed with tendering. Once on the island, food was served and weather cleared up a little. Nice island. Missed this port on our 2nd week, bad weather.
Miami. Mid cruise return to Miami, we rented an Chevy Captiva from the downtown hertz location, for under .$20 for the day. Need to get there early, the lines can get long, even with a reservation.
St Martin. We did a circle island tour, offered in port area, 3 hour tour, including Marigot, Maho, and orient beach $25
San Juan. Did the sights on our own, easy city to navigate, pick up a map, at the info office near the port. Lots of boutiques for all tastes, lots of photo ops everywhere you look, castles, colourful houses and green areas.
I am now in a more informed position to confirm that Celebrity is more of a fit for us. MSC shines and outperformed in some areas including price, shows, performances, decor, animation team, no bar staff screaming to sell drinks.
It did not hit the mark on service levels, particularly in the main dining room. Some dirty public bathrooms, non enforcement of their own rules, like no bathing suits in buffet area, in fact some men waltzed around the food with no tops, kids in the hot tubs. A little too much smoking in areas that smoking was not permitted.
If you are an experienced cruiser, you will be constantly comparing the differences or shortcomings in areas that may be important to you. I would however encourage first time cruisers, and families with young children wanting to maximize their travel dollars.
Next for us is to try Royal Caribbean, Quantum of the Seas, more precisely, hopefully we will find a product that scores on all areas that are important to us, good food, good service, cleanliness, entertainment that continues past 9 pm (which MSC does very well )
So overall a good offering with room for improvement. Less
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