After reading so many reviews both positive and negative, I decided I should share my experiences on my recent MSC Divina cruise.
First about me; I am a 54 year old now single man from Ohio. After a somewhat recent ending of a six year relationship and enduring a tough winter, a friend of mine told me about the Divina and when he was going. I chose to sign up and used the idea of a cruise to help me get through the winter. On this cruise I was traveling on my own, but knew that my friend would be aboard the Divina along with several fun people from the Cruise Critic Message Board.
Arrival at the Port of Miami: I arrived to the port at approximately 11:00 am. I made it through multiple security checks and walked into a large hall loud hall. (Wearing hearing aids, the noise was too much for me.) I walked into a line with little waiting approached the agent and started to check in. When the gate agent asked for my medical form in which I did not know what she was talking about. She was able to supply one and it was completed along with the rest of the check in process. When I asked about boarding groups, she told me that I should have a number handed to me at the beginning of the line. At that point it became apparent to me that I had not been approached as I should have been by a staff member handing out both the medical form and boarding group numbers. I found the right staff person, got my boarding card and everything was remedied easily. I guess this was just a hazard of travelling solo.
Boarding the ship was a snap. Once on board, the ship was gorgeous. I immediately went to the Buffet and had a nice quiet lunch. As other reviewers have pointed out, the further back you go in the buffet, the quieter is it. I chose to sit near the aft, where there were large picture windows allowing for a view of the Miami Skyline. The food was quite tasty and there was a wonderful selection of both healthy and decadent selections at the buffet throughout the week.
There were lots of public spaces in which to congregate, in fact most of Deck 7 is club after club after club. Probably my favorite place was the Garden Bar. The Garden Bar is outside and tucked away on the aft near the infinity pool. It was much quieter and much more relaxed than the other two pools. Our CC Roll Call had an informal gathering at the Garden Bar and it very quickly became our meet up area throughout the cruise. I must say that our CC Meet and Mingle was quite well attended there were dozens of members there. I guess there was so much traffic on our roll call, it caught MSC’s attention. In fact, Ken Muscat MSC’s Senior VP of Sales and Marketing attended our Meet and Mingle. He was a very nice man and took copious notes from our suggestions as well as our complements.
I was travelling alone and chose to book and inside cabin on Deck 8. The cabin was small, but for one person it was just the right size. Storage was ample for one person, but with two formal nights, I could see how the storage space could be just a bit tight. The storage area had three cabinet doors, two which opened to a closet and one which opened to a shelf, the safe and several drawers. There were also two night stands, each with a drawer. The cabin had a desk with an upholstered cube to sit on with two shallow drawers, one which held a blow dryer. Additionally, there was a mini bar and a flat screen TV perched upon the mini bar. The bathroom was ample and had wonderful glass like doors which folded in allowing for the bath to feel even more spacious. The shower, once the doors were pulled out, made for a roomy shower.
One interesting thing happened to my cabin while on the cruise; my cabin steward moved my beds apart to turn them into twin beds. The “renovation” of my cabin came as a surprise when I walked back in that evening. Seeing as the central space of the cabin made things seem roomier, I decided to try it for a day or two. After the second night, I saw my steward and ask him why he changed my beds. He told me that my neighbors had insisted that was their cabin and asked for the change. I did find the excuse weak, as told him I was not comfortable in a twin bed and to please change it back. When I returned to the cabin, the “renovation” had been un-done and all was back to normal. Speaking of cabin stewards, mine was quite pleasant and found the right mix between being friendly and not intrusive. The cabin was always clean and towels, regardless if I wanted them replaced or not, were always fresh.
Dining aboard the ship was always a pleasure. Food was quite tasty and my dining mates at my table were wonderful people. At my table was my friend, who is Canadian, whose parents were from the UK, and five Brits. Even though we speak the same language, the Canadian often translated for me. One example of my Canadian friend translating for me, one of the ladies at the table was a retired Matron. I innocently asked her if she enjoyed her work in prisons, which elicited huge roars of laughter. My Canadian friend explained that in Britain, a Matron is the equivalent of a Head Nurse. I think I may have actually blushed at that point! One difference with dining on MSC, dinner is an experience. Dinner often lasted at least an hour and a half. Dining with delightful people often made that hour and a half go so quickly.
Wait staff and bartenders were always pleasant and attentive. During the entire week, I ran into only one server who was a bit too surly for my tastes. Other servers more than made up for the one person’s surliness and the issue was quickly forgotten.
A couple of other thing I must mention. Prior to leaving on the cruise, I had ordered the Allegrissimo Premium Drink Package. I must say I am glad that I did. Not only did the package include most liquors, it also included top shelf liquors, soda pop, the items in my mini bar, gelato from the gelato bar, pastries from the pastry counter and coffee drinks. While I am not a big drinker, the unlimited selection allowed me to try things I would never ever try. For example, Johnnie Walker Blue Scotch was one of the drinks included. Not being a Scotch drinker, I would never have tried it at $22.00 a shot. Since I was on the package I tried it and decided it was something I liked. A double or two of Johnnie Walker Blue in the evening or a Hennessey XO at $17.00 a shot would help me meet my cost quota to break even each day. I must say that after totaling my receipts from the week between all of my indulgences, the total more than exceeded the original $399.00 price for the package. If this package is available to you, I would heartily suggest ordering this before your board the ship. The package once you are on the ship increases in cost and is not available after the first day of the cruise.
I must also mention the entertainment. Not only is the theater beautifully designed, with great sight lines and wonderful acoustics, the shows were also very good. Each show had a good combination of music dancing and acrobatics throughout the week. Even though I am not a huge fan of opera, there were two shows opera shows done throughout the week. Please do NOT miss these shows. They are incredible. The tenor was unbelievable good.
Additionally, the ships photographers are extremely talented and took the time to take wonderful photos of passengers wanting their photos taken. After the first dinner, the photographers were never intrusive and often were stationed in different locations throughout the ship. The photographers would actually pose people to get a good photo of the person. My Canadian friend took several photos which were incredible.
This was my thirteenth cruise and second with MSC. After this cruise, I will most certainly be taking more cruises with MSC as this was probably one of the best cruises I had taken in years. Would I recommend MSC? I most certainly and absolutely would!