Early in 2013, our friends from England contacted us to say that they were contemplating a cruise with MSC, on the Divina. They had never seen the Caribbean, and wondered if we would like to accompany them on this cruise. We had sailed on the Lirica some years ago, and really enjoyed the Italian flavour of that lovely ship - so we agreed to join them.
The cruise we selected was a back to back cruise sailing in the Western Caribbean first week, and the Eastern Caribbean the second week. Coming from the cold North, we chose to fly in to Miami two days early .
I always do my homework before a cruise. I check internet rates, check deck configurations, and with some good information, I contact my travel agent who will match any posted price, and will work to get the cabin I want. The cabin we had was on deck 10, an aft cabin with a huge balcony.
We arrived at the port at about 11:30 a.m. and were on board by noon. The terminal is very comfortable, and the process was speedy. The Divina is truly a beautiful ship, and although I was a little apprehensive about being on a ship with over 4, 000 passengers, I have to say that we did not feel crowded at all - except for a little wait for the tenders.
At this point I need to say that we have experienced six different cruise lines, and have enjoyed them all. We select ships for itineraries - or in this case for time with friends - and find that every ship has something special to offer.
With the Divina, what we found was an exceptional crew. Our cabin steward was cheerful, accommodating, and efficient. Our waiter and his assistant were always ready to take our orders, fill water glasses, bring our coffee at the end of the meal, and ensure that our choice were on the table in a timely manner. Spending quality time with good friends is important to us, and we appreciated the fact that we could sit for a long time over dinner. The bar service was unobtrusive, but always available when we needed a drink. Any time we passed a crew member we would hear a cheery greeting.
Addressing a few of the comments made by others who have experienced the Divina:
Being aft, we never had to wait for an elevator. In fact, many times we were the only passengers. When we wanted to go to dinner, we walked to the middle banks, and, again, had no trouble.
Our food was always at the right temperature - hot entrees. There was always something to select from the menu .
I have food allergies, and there was a letter in the cabin on day 1, assuring me that I would be looked after - and I was! The assistant Maitre D’ checked my choices every night, and ensured that they were appropriate.
We agree that the entertainment was absolutely first rate! The shows are among the best at sea - and if Herminio Hurtado, the brilliant dancer who impersonated MIchael Jackson “lip synched” the songs in Starwalker - well - really? The only criticism here is that back to back cruisers will only see repeats of the show in the second week. Our final night we did see a new show - Love Me - a selection from La Traviata. We are opera lovers, so we really appreciated the talents of the singers, and the fact that Andre, the Cruise Director, gave a brief summary of the story line . Our favourite performers were in La Luna Piano Bar on deck 7. The Duo Ameritalian are truly talented performers who will keep you entertained and wanting more.
We booked the Allegrissimo vouchers - 15 tickets for cocktails. That was a good deal, and lasted us quite well. We also booked the wine package - seven bottles with a choice of pretty good Italian wines for dinner.
We ate at Eataly for a birthday surprise. It is true, the chairs are quite different, but the service was exceptional, and the food a tasty treat.
Every port we had a tour - mostly through MSC, but sometimes on our own. The MSC tours were well worth the money, but on one occasion we had extremely long waits to get on our bus, and felt that we lost valuable time because of that.
One problem that arose - we booked everything on line as soon as the tours were available. I copied the email that was sent to me with the confirmations and that accompanied us on our trip. Tickets for tours are sent to your stateroom - and we found that the one tour we really wanted was not there. We were told that we were not booked and that the tour had a waiting list. I will tell you that patience, a little “honey” and a copy of a confirmation finally did the trick, and we were given our trip - which was wonderful.
Back to back passengers are given tickets that indicate their status to the customs officials in Miami, and allow you back on board quite easily.
I could fill pages about the trip - it was a real treat, and we would happily sail with MSC again.