MSC Divina Cruise Review by hotdog647: Go for the experience, not the food
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Go for the experience, not the food
From its graceful lines outside to the elegant décor inside, the Divina is a beauty to behold. Attention to detail is everywhere. The swarovski crystal staircase is probably the most photographed icon onboard. The Pantheon Theater is superb. No posts to block views and a huge capacity. A host of bars and lounges were full most nights, and the dueling piano bar was a big hit. Even the banks of elevators are not flat walls with a series of opening doors. Pools and hot ubs are tucked everywhere. It seemed the main pool area drew most people and few used the aft pools or the hot tub on deck 18. The ship was clean-very clean.
Food preparation for evening meals in the dining room was not consistent. The osso buco was superb. The risotto it was served over was like a warm pasty cream of rice cereal. The guinea fowl was dry like it had been out too long. The pasta alfredo was wonderful; the handmade meat tortellini had no taste itself, and the sauce that overpowered it could More have been canned dog food with peas and carrots. Four at our table had monk fish: three were fine and one had a piece of mystery ??? that made the fish taste foul. (we all saw and smelled it) Also the variety on the menus was more limited than on other cruise lines. At breakfast in the dining room the salmon & bagel with cream cheese was fine. The eggs benedict needed a sharp steak knife to saw through the dry ham and muffin. The hollandaise sauce was yellow-that's about all I can say.
The buffet is huge. It seems such a misnomer to name the area Calumet and Manitou after peace pipes and Native Americans, then plastering chiefs in war bonnets behind the food serving areas. Why not call it Circus Maximus and put pictures of gladiators, togas, and Italian scenes? After all, isn't this sort of an Italian line? Anyway, a huge buffet doesn't equate to huge selection or great food. The same types of food are repeated around the areas of the buffet, but there was an Indian food section. The food was mostly average. Warm dishes were not hot, not cold-they were just there. The main dishes were not great, they were not bad, they were just there. They were not overly seasoned, but I saw a lot of people using salt especially on green beans. And quite a bit of oregano or Italian seasoning, red pepper and grated parmesan cheese was being spooned onto the pizza.
Personally, I feel they could do much better with their food service. Things like quality control, a food thermometer, and extended menu choices at dinner and in the buffet would go a long way. The executive chef and those under him should be tasting food and making sure it's really the way it should be. If it is the way they think it should be, they need a new cook book and/or new chefs. You won't starve on Divina-just don't expect divine food. Except for the gelato.
Now that we're in the dining room let me begin my rant. The service is poor in the dining room. Our table was beside the bus table so we could observe just what was going on. The assistant waiter brings bread and water and disappears. The waiter takes the order and disappears. Usually on other lines they stay within sight and have a certain number of tables to wait on. We don't know where our wait staff went. After a bit they returned and placed many covered plates of food on the bus table. We think that was everyone's entire order. The appetizers were served, then pastas, then entrees. I think at one time there were over 50 covered plates on the bus table. The waiter served the 6 or so tables on our side of the bus table, then took dishes to the other side. If the waiter has this many tables to wait on, it is no wonder you can't ask for another glass of water or piece of bread. And if it is the case, shame on dining room management. One night a little boy had vanilla ice cream with Nutella for dessert. He asked for it the next night. The waiter said 'No! That was yesterday!' gee whiz. Breakfast service was weak but in a different way. Not as many people ate in the main dining room when we were there. Our breakfast was served, then the waiters stood by a wall and talked till we left. Some people at the table wanted more tea or coffee. Needless to say they didn't get any more. Where was the maitre'd? I looked but didn't see him.
MSC says it brings European style cruising to the Caribbean. This includes entertainment. The Witches of Paris was a fast paced variety show choreographed to include contortionists, acrobats, a violinist, singers, dancers, etc. into a mind boggling show. Our cruise had a condensed opera-the second performance on Divina. Dueling pianos, packed bars and lounges. Concert violinists and pianists in the centrum. I did not like every act or entertainer, and quietly left those.
The daily activities are not extensive. No belly flop contests, no Mr. Hairy Chest etc. However many Germans, Canadians and others were on the cruise and were happy to enjoy the sunshine and warm weather so that wasn't missed. It seemed the cruise director's staff was ill prepared when weather caused us to bypass the private island visit. They did add a bingo game and another event that day at sea. Hmmm.
Reality check: This was the least expensive 7day cruise for a balcony we have ever taken. The ship was beautiful, we had a great time, and didn't starve. If the cruise was available at the same price would we go? Sure. If the cruise was the same price as some other lines we have been on, probably not.
The weakest parts of this Divina cruise were the food and dining room staff. Even if the current menu can't be expanded, at least every dish could be exceptional, or at least good. And hot, or at least warm for warm dishes. This falls on the shoulders of the executive chef and his staff. And the dining room manager and maître 'ds and their staff need to figure out the issue of wait staff, and be available to watch what's going on during meal service. Less
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