I have just returned from 7 days in paradise! Oh, yeah...the Caribbean ports were nice too :) I must say I chose to sail on the Divina purely on the basis of price. Admittedly, I was a little concerned reading some of the more negative reviews on the internet. But I shouldn't have been because we all had a wonderful time. Taking my 16 year old son and friend with me, we set sail out of Miami on Saturday evening. I have nothing good to say about my own personal embarkation as it was wrought with troubles, but it appears most other people were able to embark without difficulty. (Just hope you don't have to deal with the MSC employed immigration purser) The terminal does have free juice and water available and the average wait appeared to be about 30 minutes. We did spend some time in the Yacht Club lounge and it was wonderful service. Most of the terminal (including the lounge) is staffed with shore service employees of SMS Cruises and every single one of them I encountered was polite, helpful and professional. Now, on to the cruise experience:
The Divina is beautiful! Sparkling and shining in every aspect. The public areas are very tastefully decorated in a European style. The ship is laid out fairly well, once you get the point that there are some decks you can't get to from certain areas of the ship. We had a balcony cabin in the aft portion of the ship, on deck 10. This was great because the dining room, buffet and pools were all just off the elevators. The cabin itself was roomy enough for myself and two teenage boys. The shower was great as the doors actually swung in and out to make more room in the bathroom itself. Plenty of storage with 6 drawers in the closet as well as perhaps 20 hangers. 4 other drawers are available in the bedside tables. The sofa bed was the most comfortable sofa bed I have laid on, even if I gave it to one of the boys.
We ate 4 meals in the main dining room, The Villa Rosa. Such a beautiful place! The food was incredible and always way too much! You order an appetizer, soup, salad, pasta, and an entree, plus they bring different breads around throughout the meal. Of course there is dessert too, but we were always too full from dinner for dessert right away. The service was very good, they kept the courses coming as soon as you were completed with the prior course. Good attention to keeping your glasses full at all times, although I would have preferred more ice in my water. Other times and for breakfast and lunches we ate in the buffet. Again, the food was very good and always a decent choice. They always had hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries, and several different types of pizza. Different dishes of fish, beef, chicken and of course, pasta were offered daily. An endless collection of fresh fruits and salads was available. The desserts there were always tasty and well presented. Free ice cream was also available on deck from 2-5pm.
As other reviewers have said, the entertainment in the theater was phenomenal! Extravagant musical productions with acrobatics, contortionists and magicians!. The young man who played Michael Jackson was wonderful. Also, in "Wonderland" I was very impressed with the Mad Hatter...I could have swore he was Johnny Depp himself...he had the movements and facial expressions perfect!
My sons spent a lot of time at the sports arena, the teen club activities and the disco late at night. We all enjoyed the pools at different times from morning to night. The entertainment in the lounges was also very good. Don't miss the dueling pianos...they were great! The violinists in the main reception area were also wonderful to relax with.
Overall the service was very good throughout the ship. Requests were attended to promptly. Our waiter was the "bomb" as my kids would say. He was always right on top of things, efficient, friendly and personable. Same goes for our cabin steward. The room was always picked up, beds made and towel animals every night. Those were fun to see when opening the door.
I think one of my favorite aspects of this cruise was the diversity of cultures onboard. I met people from all over the world and there were many different languages. The captain even greeted everyone in at least 6 or 7 different languages when he spoke to everyone in the theater.
Disembarkation is never a fun time. This was made more true by the fact that ours was delayed somewhat. We were set to disembark at 9:30 but really didn't get off the ship until closer to 11. But retrieving our luggage was much easier than I have experienced on my other cruises.
Now, a couple of observations, suggestions for improvement: Many staff members were not very happy. Although they did their jobs and would be respectful and courteous to guests, they would talk amongst themselves about their managers and conditions onboard. These people work very long,hard hours away from their homes and families, and I did not like to hear that they were mostly unhappy and just waiting for their contracts to be up. There was actually a member of management that was loudly reprimanding an employee in the middle area of the ship where the shopping area is and it was very crowded at that time.
I had a bit of a problem with the music in the pool areas. It seemed to be playing quite loudly most of the time, often making it difficult to hold a conversation. So, people talked louder to be heard over the music and this made the areas even more louder than normal. Also, I did hear music played in the family pool areas during the day that did not have language I would have deemed suitable for small children. I was in the casino a couple of times and would have appreciated a hand sanitizer dispenser in that area. So many people touch those slot machines, this would help cut down on the chance of infection spreading.
Overall, the cruise was fantastic and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, I am only able to take a vacation such as this every 5 years or so.