This was the maiden voyage of the Divina from Venice to Miami, 18 days aboard luxury.
Well this was our third Cruise with MSC,and upon walking aboard at Venice, we were pleasantly amazed.
We check internet rates,Repositioning cruises and do a lot of trolling cruise lines before deciding,but have found MSC have certainly upped their game since our first cruise on the Armonia.
The Divina is in a class of it's own. We were originally a bit hesitant about being so low down on deck 5, but this turned out to be one of the best decks to be on. Ok if you have plenty of money and are wanting a balcony or suite,but we just like an outside room so we can see arrivals in ports, and apart from that,who wants to spend all their days cooped up in their cabin anyway
We arrived at the port at about 2pm and were straight on Board and enjoying our first drinks within the hour. The terminal at Venice is very comfortable, and the processing speedy. Train takes you from the bus terminal to the berth.
The Divina is a fantastic ship,as soon as you step aboard she has you memorised.and although we were a little concerned about being on a ship with over 4,000 passengers,we did not feel crowded at all.You were meeting new people each day that were elsewhere on the ship that you had not disovered. With the Divina, what we had an exceptional crew.A lot of the staff are from Bali and have the spirit and friendlyness of Indonesia,but they are worked hard for the money they get and are treated poorly by those in authoritve roles.This is why I asked to have my gratuities rescinded so I could pay those who made my trip worthwhile rather than the money go into the big pot and those at the top taking the cream.
We had exceptional service from the bar persons and waitresses,always smiling, and as I have certain alergies to certain foods,the The assistant Maitre D’ checked my choices every night, and bought a menu for the following night so I could choose. The helpfulness and personal touch certainly made our trip a memorable one. Food in the dining rooms was a let down,maybe because we had had such good meals on the last cruises made us more critical,but one night we had lamb,which was sent back by the majority of those who were served it. the meals lacked variety.Chef needs a wake up call. But saying that, the buffet meals were varied and plentyful,although we only discovered the different selections on going to other parts of the massive self serve areas there was Chinese,Italian,Indian,Greek,vegetarian etc.
We booked the Allegrissimo drinks package at $44 per person per day,and although expensive due to the fact my wife did not drink that much,and you had to have two per cabin. But, it was nice not to have to worry about how much it was going to cost for every drink, and there were nice wines for the evening meals as well. One did not have to worry about the 15% surcharge per drink,and speciality coffees were included.
Being in the center of the ship has it's advantages,less rocking,and when we boarded it was only a short walk to our cabin.
The Autrium rose up 9 floors and along with piano playing and the bars dotted around, this became quite a focal point for people to meet. tt was nice after an evening meal to congregate and indulge in a cocktail or two before retiring. There were several bars and entertainment areas around the ship to suit all tastes. We agree that the entertainment was absolutely first rate! The shows that they put on were well done, but they had a fasination with violin players,and going by the lack of patronage,it should have signalled that the customers wanted more shows and variety. A bit more of the singers and a Italian opera would have gone down better. Those that they did,were well attended.
The one annoying aspect we found on the poolside,was the continued showing of MSC propoganda on the big screen,day in day out.It would have been nice to maybe have scenes from the previous days entertainment on board or movies at night .
One let down was lack of buses when the ships hit a port,one would think that the companies plying the tourists would be well prepared and lay on extra services to accommodate the crowds.
We really felt we were treated to a holiday and despite our misgivings of last cruises would happily sail with MSC again.
One good thing is they look after repeat customers,with discounts for future travel.
In fact we are booked to go on our next cruise in November on the Orchestra