MSC Divina Cruise Review by cruise pup: MSC = MOST SHODDY CRUISELINE
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MSC = MOST SHODDY CRUISELINE
Yes, the ship is as gorgeous as others have reported. But that's the same as putting lipstick on a pig because what really counts, like service, passenger flow, entertainment and dining made this the worst of 91 cruises I have taken. I travel on many cruise lines so I have a good idea as to what makes a good cruise ship.
First and foremost is service and the MSC Divina is horrible in that area, especially when it comes to the wait staff in the buffet where you hardly get a smile from anyone and no one seems to be accommodating. I asked for walnuts at the oatmeal station (where they were placed on previous mornings) and you would have thought I asked for plutonium. One morning in the dining room (before I gave up on going there) I asked for a glass of water (which is usually offered at every meal) and it took 10 minutes before it was brought to me. You will also notice that at the dining room breakfast (Villa Rossa Restaurant) it is like a beehive of waiters who don't seem to More have much to do except walk around. Dinner was a horrible event which I loathed having to return to. Service was so slow. And yet, a nasty assistant maître d' came over to us and asked us to leave the dining room because they needed to set up for the next seating and we had just been served our desserts. In fact, every evening the lights would be brightened to give us the "bum's rush" whilst many diners had yet to complete their meals. The menu did have some good offerings but the "always available" selections were not on the men on gala nights and the gala nights did not seem to be anything special. Lobster tails were miniscule. I also noticed that they offered similar dishes at dinner that would be on a lunch menu on Princess. Also, the tables were very tight. When I mentioned to the matire d' on the first evening that I wasn't happy with my assigned table because my seat was practically up against the table behind me, I received a surly reply and he refused to change my table, claiming they were all full (despite a lot of tables remaining empty throughout the cruise). At one dining room lunch I was seated at a table where I was wedged in and another couple were seated right on top of me. When I left I noticed a lot of large tables with just 2 diners so there would have been plenty of better tables to place me. MSC needs larger dining rooms but the space was sacrificed to make room for the pay restaurants on board.
Now let's talk about the staterooms. I was "upgraded" due to a price drop to an ocean view stateroom. When I walked in I could not believe my eyes. It was smaller than a Carnival inside stateroom and did not have the same layout as the photo and blue plan MSC displays on their website. Those show room for a table and love seat. There was no room for that. You only got a small box shaped divan placed under the desk to sit on, aside from sitting on the bed. There was only one functional closet with 10 oversized hangers making it difficult to get all of your clothes hung. The adjoining closet houses the mini-bar on the bottom and then the safe above that. On top is the shelf for the life jackets. This leaves a small hanging space which could only accommodate baby clothes. There was a set of drawers next to the bathroom which were small (the width was about the length of my size 9 1/2 shoe (men's)! That's it folks, except for some more drawer space at the desk and the night stands. How a couple can manage is beyond me. Obviously MSC was more interested in getting more passengers on the ship than it really should have and sacrificed passenger comfort in the bargain. This is also apparent in the passenger flow of the ship. I already mentioned how crowded the dining room was. The pool areas were a zoo and people were having a difficult time getting a lounger. In the evening, the public spaces, like the photo gallery and the corridors leading to the loungers were virtually impassable.
The layout of the ship is very confusing. Villa Rossa Restaurant can only be accessed from the aft elevators and staircase. You need to go up one deck in order to walk forward on the ship. The Guest Relations area at the bottom of the atrium on Deck 5 must be accessed from higher Decks if you want to reach it from the aft section of the ship.
At first, I thought the entertainment looked very promising with a huge theatre offering many production shows and a lot of lounges with live music. Well, the production shows were a mess. It's a big theatre with only canned music (no live accompaniment, even when the do an "opera"...more on that later). The stage is crowded at the food with lighting equipment and speakers making it difficult to see the dancers feet unless you are sitting in the stadium seating section or the balcony. And for Lord knows what reason, they included set pieces, such as lamp posts and pillars at the foot of the stage, blocking your vision unless you are seated dead center. There really isn't much more to the scenery. Same stair units and light bulbs adorning them for every show. Only the lighting, which was impressive, varied. The shows became the old SSDD story. They had the same singers, dancers, and specialty acts worked into each show. The biggest joke was a show called "Wonderland" which had the ensemble made up and dressed like the characters in the Disney live action Alice in Wonderland. However, the show did not follow the storyline of the film or the Lewis Carroll books and the specialty acts just did their thing while the ensemble did nothing special. None of the music played that I can recall was associated with the film. Some Disney songs from other films, like Aladdin and Dumbo were used instead and for what can only be explained as insanity (well maybe that's a Mad Hatter thing) they included the song "Gangnam Style." Obviously because everyone associates Psy with Alice in Wonderland (duh!). Most of the other live music was a performer or 2 or 3 using pre-recorded music as an enhancement to make it sound like they're a larger group. Only the lovely classical trio who performed in the atrium lobby every evening were the only authentic musical act on board. Back to that opera. On the final afternoon of the cruise at 4:00 pm a scaled down version of Verdi's "La Traviata" was performed at the theatre. This turned out to be just a tenor and soprano singing live to pre-recorded tracks, including a pre-recorded chorus. They used the ships dancers to fill the space and also portray the 2 leads in dance. The music was over-amplified and I left very shortly. As someone who has attended the Met for over 30 years this was sheer torture. And for those who thought they were soaking up culture by attending have no idea how far from a real opera this was.
I did have a very good stateroom steward and have no complaints about him. There was also one very hard working buffet waiter who was working the way all of the others should be working. I forgot to mention that I also encountered a buffet waiter who not only would not give me the right of way but pushed into me to pass me.
The ports of call were okay. St. Thomas, San Juan and Great Stirrup Cay (Bahamas - NCL's private island). I did not bother to go to Great Stirrup Cay and someone did mention that there was some sort of delay in the tendering process and gave up waiting after 40 minutes. The port days were the best days on the ship since that is when the pools emptied and there were plenty of loungers to be found. Buffets were also easier to deal with. Speaking of the pool. Pool towels were available at both the main pool and near the garden pool (sometimes referred to as the infinity pool). After the first day, they removed the towel station by the garden pool. I asked one of the attendants what had happened and he told me they closed it due to being short on staff. I'm sure they would have found staff if this was a money making operation for the cruise line.
I attended a Cruise Critic meeting on the first sea day. The rep from the ship kept explaining that they are new to the cruise industry and that's why there are so many problems with service. If this was a new hospital you wouldn't find it acceptable if it wasn't running properly! That might be a severe comparison, but basically, if you can't do it right then you have no business being in the game. Not when people are paying good money and also devoting their earned vacation time. Like Sam Goldwyn said, "If I wanted an idiot to do it, I would do it myself!" Less
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Cabin review: 8188
Pay no attention to the photo of the cabin category on the deck plan. There is definitely no loveseat nor is there room for one. Stateroom is much smaller. This photo has to be from another ship.