I left West Virginia snow and all for sunny Florida!
We went to The Port of Miami and went through the Embarkation Process.
I met a Marine and we talked for a while.
A wheelchair was obtained and we tipped a skinny young man to wheel me in and he did just that.
After doing all the paperwork, we were assured by the staff that we would be "Priority" when they started to board.
Well, they called "Priority" then numbers 1-11 which took hours and still no one came to help us.
That never happened.
He returned several times with other people needing assistance.
The announcements started with "Priority" then 1-10 he and other employees that assisted wheelchair people were not to be found.
My father served in WWII, Korea & Vietnam and am Combat injured which includes frostbite, wounds in my hands from gunshots, deafness from Artillery shelling and I have a bad back from a tank exploding near me in Korea.
He is 95 and patiently waited.
And waited, and waited and waited more.
Nearly 2 hours later, as the room got thinner from people, I went to the Front desk again, and after 25 more minutes of waiting, someone showed up with a wheelchair and they got us to our room.
We should not have to had to wait that long.
They finally came over placed me in a wheelchair, and gave us a new set of room cards.
When we entered the room, it was not an interior cabin, but an oceanfront balcony suite!
The person that pushed me to our room asked if it was ok.
What could I say but yes!
MSC DIVINA IS DROP DEAD GORGEOUS
This ship is brand new had its maiden voyage out of Miami and is designed after Sophia Loren.
The staff is mostly Italian but there are many other countries represented there as well.
The ships designer is a lady from Sorrento Italy and it was built in France.
The staircases are made out of Swarovski Crystals!
The ship is drop dead gorgeous, just like my wife was!
The artistic element is amazing!
Being a photographer, I must say no matter where you walk, there is an artistic element that having a photographer’s eye I catch.
The pools, Jacuzzis and saunas are always clean and they were enjoyed by I daily which is most likely why they needed cleaning.
Every night we walked from our room which is on the very back end of the ship to the other end of the ship where the shows are.
Then we walk all the way back to the other end of the ship to the elegant Villa Rosa restaurant and enjoy our 8:30 dinner.
Not once did a staff member ask us if we needed assistance, but if it was offered, I would have accepted the assistance.
THE SHIP HAS MANY THINGS TO DO
The ship had many activities.
Seeing the sun melt into the ocean was a treat, the tropical breeze and the stars were awesome.
I thought how cool God is for making all of this stuff
MY FAVORITE PART OF THE SHIP, FOOD!
The best part was that the buffet was right upstairs on the 14th floor, we were in the 13th floor.
So all I had to do was to exit my room, walk 2 feet to the right, walk outside, climb 10 steps, turn around and VOILA!
It was open 24 hours a day and I like pizza, after 11 pm that is the only food they have and I enjoyed it.
One morning I ordered toast and bread, fruit, cereal and juices.
The poor little lady entered our room with 6 covered dishes!
The food in the buffet has been great!
Only once did the coffee taste stale.
The variety is nice and nothing has tasted bad, nothing.
The food in the restaurant has been good but not as good at the other cruise lines we went on.
Nearly every night we had to remind the server to bring us coffee and it gets really annoying asking twice or three times.
The sugar containers often lack Splenda or Sweet and Low and we have to ask and I should not have to.
The Indonesian staff is overworked.
I ordered a steak medium rare to medium and it came out well done so I could not eat it.
I was too embarrassed to send it back, so I only ate salad, bread and ice cream.
I like the food at Villa Rosa, but it needs improving.
The entertainment, it is top notch.
The lights, sound system, dancing, singing and performers do not miss a beat and I have been to a lot of shows in my life.
I think that the entertainment is great.
I only wish people would not take out their cell phones and ruin a good show with the LCD screen going off during the performance.
Of course, that is difficult to enforce.
I would have loved to meet some of the performers after the show and get their photo with them.
Each night there was entertainment and I caught them all except for the first night.
We ate at 8:30 at the Opulent and beautiful Villa Rosa restaurant on the 6th floor.
We would go to the entertainment at 7 pm as per the ships request, we only missed one night.
The first as it was relaxing to watch the vibrant colors of Miami at night as we left.
That night we missed the only show we would miss "The Tribute" show a modern representation of some of the most famous Opera stars.
The following nights we watched: Wonderland (Alice in Wonderland), "Simply Italian" Italian songs and dance show, "The Witches of Paris", "Pirates Billy Bones", "Starwalker"
(A Michael Jackson tribute)
The lead dancer from The Dominican Republic did an amazing moonwalk!
The girls bent like pretzels and the men did amazing gymnastics on a rope.
My favorite show was the last one, "Frank Forever My Way" a Frank Sinatra tribute.
There was a show later that night called "Love Me" a "La Traviata" operatic debut.
I was a little disappointed that "Gravity" was not played under the stars as he was waiting patiently for it to begin.
I understand the Oscars always take a long time, but I would still have loved to have seen it played that night or rescheduled on another night.
Something about an outer space movie under the Caribbean stars…
I waited patiently for that but the Oscars seemed to go on till 5 am, (slight exaggeration), and they did not show the film.
The next night they showed "Captain Phillips" an appropriate film for the High Seas!
Now if one does it right, a cruise ship can be a great vacation, or a fiscal nightmare.
We did not opt for and drink package, I can give up sodas for a week..
We only used the Fridge for keeping our drinks cold and not to buy theirs.
No massage, or extras, no shore excursions.
You should see the bills some people had at the end of the ship!
Each day there are numerous activities.
Each morning they brought us room service breakfast and then I opted to go to the buffet for the hot food.
PEOPLE EATING TASTY ANIMALS aka THE VEGAN WACKOS
There was a "Holistic At Sea" gathering of over 1500 passengers, and they BLAH BLAH BLAHED all day to me in the Jacuzzi or pool or even in the Sauna about "Macrobiotics, Vegan and eating healthy."
Good for them but I believe PETA means:
Some of the same people that got tired of eating vegan stuff were later spotted chowing down on bacon or pizza!
They were nice people and made healthy choices, but my dad is 95 and eats whatever he doggone well pleases.
I DID EXERCISE BUT SPENT MORE TIME IN THE BUFFET!
Each morning after the buffet, I would either walk around the ship a few times, headphones blasting ALBANNACH, seems to motivate me.
I also mentions this as September 18th should be a landmark day for my Scottish friends should they gain independence.
There is a gym where I rode the bikes and used the saunas and relaxation rooms.
Or go to the Jacuzzi, or coconut room sauna (Spraying mist of eucalyptus and coconut).
Then lie in the sun or chat with other people.
In general being on a luxury ship with nice weather and no snow rocked!
There was an exhibition of "LA DOLCE VITA 1950-1960 Stars and Celebrities in The Italian Fifties" near every elevator.
John Wayne, Frank Sinatra amongst others adorned the walls.
The ship was spotless, no trash and in the mornings, I spotted a man cleaning the tracks inside the elevators.
It was that clean!
These people seldom get any thanks, but I fist pumped and thanked all he could.
I even tipped as much as we could.
They charge $12 a day per person to be split up to the entire ships 1500 employees, and if they do that it is worth it.
The servers, cooks and bartenders should not be the only ones who get tips.
The unseen people that change my sheets bring fresh towels and clean the pools deserve tips also.
WE MET ALL KINDS OF NICE PEOPLE THERE
We met two nice French Canadians, Jaqueline a beautiful 86 year old French Canadian Grandmother along with her 25 year old dancer daughter equally sweet.
Through her translating, we were able to talk for a long time.
I Wish we had met them earlier in the cruise, they were both beautiful and wonderful ladies who enjoyed talking to me.
Seems all the ladies talked to me and not to I, HA HA HA HA HA!
One day we met "VINNY" from the Bronx, a tough Italian character who had no problem going through the buffet in his little motor scooter with no shirt on!
I met a State Trooper from Massachusetts who gave him warning years ago for speeding; he is a Veteran and loves the Lord!
THE VETERANS GET TOGETHER
On Monday, the Veterans "get together" only had one person show up, my Father, which of course was no one’s fault.
I was hoping to talk to other Veterans about their experiences.
Kathy Schmidt, the MSC representative from South Africa however, made him feel appreciated and she was very nice.
Kathy spoke to my Father for nearly an hour before she had to go to another function.
Kathy was very personable, not phony and really made me feel special!
One lady came by and she lost her father who was a WWII Vet and she cried talking to us about him and thanked him for my service.
Two nights later there was a card at our door for a Private Reception with Captain Francesco Veniero.
Kathy told me she wanted me to meet the captain.
My Father had his first glass of champagne, since WWII, first in over 70 years!
I had more than one as my favorite server; the lovely Yuni from Jakarta Indonesia kept coming over.
She is a sweet lady and her smile is beautiful and infectious and so is she.
The drinks were free but I love her smile!
After about 45 minutes of indulging ourselves, the captain and his staff came in and he spoke for about two minutes in 6 languages.
He then lifted his glass and toasted us all and then left.
As he was leaving Kathy, stopped him dead in his tracks, brought him over to where we were sitting and introduced him to us.
He gave him a kiss on both cheeks, (An Italian Custom), shook his hand, and thanked him for my service while pointing at his hat.
Saturday night the ship left at 7 pm and Monday and Tuesday we sailed on the Caribbean Sea.
Wednesday we docked in St. Martin, got off the boat and took a water taxi to another part of the beautiful island.
We could not get a taxi as the drivers are too cheap to drive us 3 blocks as the sun was at least 85 or 90 and I was drained.
No one had push pedals or carts to take us old folks on the boardwalk.
We were getting annoyed.
He said he was going to take us on a smaller boat on the ocean.
OK I thought, why a smaller boat?
As we sat under an umbrella at a restaurant a lady from New York told us about their FREE WI FI.
About 30 minutes went by and we were getting ready to go back to the water taxi and another lady came by.
A nice Dutch lady named Crystal Horst from SMX parasailing saw my Fathers 3 Wars hat and asked our names.
We were puzzled but she remembered I was taking my 95 y.o. Father parasailing.
She then said good as our scheduled time of 1:30 could be moved up if we wanted.
She said that I had emailed her and somehow she figured out who we were.
I told her we had to cancel as it is too far for him to walk.
"No worries" was her answer and went to the Segway shop, talked to her friend and he assisted him to the parasailing office.
He rode his first Segway!
When we got to the office, we met a very nice tattooed man from Las Vegas who serves as a magician on one of the cruise ships.
The guard dog drifted off to sleep against my leg and there was a cockatiel bird along with a nice tropical breeze.
We had a choice 400 or 600 ft. high with choice of a splash in the ocean or an 800 foot ride.
800 FEET SEEMED LIKE A MILE HIGH! But we did it!
We boarded the boat and they strapped us in and off we went.
Up up and away!
When we got back, I got my Father a Parasailing Certificate with photographic proof and a Memory card of the photos.
One disappointment and the photographer is not a and there was no "background" in any of the photos to show off our height.
I took care of that however with my new "Toy" a GOPRO video camera and took a wonderful video!
At SMX Parasailing, I broke the record for age, the eldest before me 89, I am 95!
The next morning we arrived in San Juan Puerto Rico.
I went into town and without paying $60 for a 2 hour MSC Ship sponsored TOUR; I opted to be a cheapskate.
So exiting the ship and heard a man say 1 hour tour for $10.
I jumped at that and "Christopher" a retired USMC born and raised in Puerto Rico gave a great tour.
They stopped at Fort San Juan where I left the tour, spent nearly 3 hours photographing the fort.
Walked up San Juan Hill like the Rough Rider Teddy Roosevelt and gave out beads.
I also tipped the man $10 as he is a Vet and others did not tip.
NO BAHAMAS NO FREE MOVIES EITHER!
The last full day at sea was just that a day at sea.
The sun was not out and the waters were choppy so the Captain decided that with the weather not getting any better, they cancelled going to The Bahamas.
Good call, except about 2 hours later the weather cleared.
Many people were upset and rightfully so in the case of my neighbors.
The two nice lads from Miami had nothing to do so they asked for a free movie and the ship refused, petty!
The food servers in the buffet and at night in the Villa Rosa restaurant are not that personable; they seldom smile and are shy.
The food DOES however have great presentation when served however.
I did most of the buffet runs for me as I got tired of hearing how great being a vegan is and how macrobiotics increases longevity.
Hey! I eat WHAT I want, WHEN I want HOW I want and I do not need a bunch of bird food eaters telling me how evil meat is.
I could care less about what Minnie the Cow looks like; I care how she tastes when cooked up right and served on a bun.
Besides people do lack manners when running through the food buffet, like it is the last one they will have.
It also disgusts me and I how much food they leave on their plates!
They could feed a Third World country with the leftovers.
I was in heaven when they served cannoli one night!
I feel they are overworked and treated bad, but that is my opinion.
They never read the book "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie.
Not once in our trip while in the buffet has anyone come over to offer me coffee or water or ask how things were.
The other people that take drink orders are pleasant but do not smile much.
This in my humble opinion is very poor service.
Maybe it is a European thing, not sure, but we do not like it at all.
Back home in the restaurants they treat us like royalty or a Rock Star.
Neither of us liked getting up two to three times for a coffee and we should not have had to done so.
I am certain it has to do with the training MSC does, because universally whether a cruise ship or restaurant or hotel, we are ALWAYS treated different.
Either by asking if you need coffee, coming up every 15-30 minutes or to see if everything is fine.
The Guest Services and everyone else here who works on this ship is superb.
Once again, not trying to say they are doing a bad job, they are not, they are just not friendly.
YUNI AND BEADS
"Yuni" from Indonesia has a smile is genuine and she is very pleasant to talk to.
She came over and talked to us for a bit invited us both to her Motherland and really wants us to visit her.
I guess girls like beads and I have plenty of photos for proof.
I beaded the doors, the servers, the room we were in, and about any person he could give them to.
But not the Captain as I did not want to walk the plank.
The normally reserved Indonesian restaurant staff really hammed it up when I gave them all beads.
Beads are good!
Kristian Brncic who is a Head Waiter from Croatia was talkative with us.
Especially about Croatia beating Brazil in the World Cup in the Opening Match.
I hope so, but good luck with that one!
They both posed for photos with us.
The ice cream station on the pool deck is open from 2-5 each day is a nice touch but my I want one in my room the next time! He he he
I wish the TV had more channels to watch and think the Paid movies are too expensive.
I brought some DVDs to pass the very late nights.
I do enough ship activities where I think the TV is not important.
Top notch, everything has been clean and Tato Sugianto from Indonesia who took care of it all is very polite.
The ship overall cleanliness?
A Perfect 10!
I think that when booking a cruise it would be helpful to let us know if a "70's night" or "Gala" night.
I say this as we could have dressed and packed accordingly and of course made a fool of myself!