As might be expected, MSC Divina's dining comes with a Continental flair. The cruise line has gone out of its way to add American standards such as hot dogs and hamburgers to its buffets, but you're better off choosing European favorites. The pizza throughout the ship is delicious; the buffet version is also tasty and even comes in a breakfast version, topped with an egg.
MSC Divina restaurants range from casual eateries for a quick bite to gourmet options with a more elegant vibe and decadent décor. Although we weren’t impressed with the food on our first sailing on this ship, we noticed MSC has made an effort to upgrade its dining offer, not only by adding restaurants but also by overhauling the menus and by retraining the kitchen staff. Fellow passengers have also noticed this – food on Divina now gets better reviews. Still, you should not expect food to be the highlight of your trip onboard MSC Divina, at least in the main dining room.
In the MSC Divina main dining room we saw a significant improvement from the first time we were onboard, thanks to a subtle tweaking of the menus and recipes. Pasta that was once overcooked and under-seasoned is now al dente and delightfully flavorful. Soups and desserts were delicious, as always. (One small gripe we have: Fresh black pepper is not offered, which we found highly unusual.) We also enjoyed the staff who were happy to accommodate seating requests and dietary issues; vegetarian and gluten-free meals are available in all venues. Keep in mind that portions are European sized, but if you want more of any course, just ask. The meal pace can also seem slow to Americans, but the entertainment offerings are paced accordingly so you never feel like you're missing out if you linger over dinner.
While included dining options are good and offer enough variety, MSC Divina’s specialty and for-fee restaurants are worth the splurge.
MSC Divina dining packages can be purchased ahead of time online or once on board. Passengers can pick their favorite two or three specialty restaurants or book meals at all four for-fee venues at a discount.
MSC Divina has three main dining options that are free or all passengers, plus a handful of snack options available throughout the day. Yacht Club passengers have three additional venues included in their cruise rate.
Black Crab (Decks 5 and 6): The larger of Divina's two main dining rooms, Black Crab is decorated in black, gold and purple with marble touches throughout. There are numerous tables for two, as well as plenty of seats with views.
Villa Rossa (Deck 6): The second main dining room, Villa Rossa, with its gold, black and red color scheme, has sweeping panoramic views from Divina's aft.
MSC Divina’s Black Crab and Villa Rossa menus are the same. Both restaurants also have the same hours, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Dinner has two set seating times – though times vary occasionally – and all passengers are assigned either early or late dinner. Waiter-served meals are available every day, including when the ship is in port, and is a popular option among the international clientele.
Breakfast begins with waiter-offered pastries. Menu items include kippers and smoked salmon, as well as eggs prepared any way, breakfast meats (yes, there's American-style crispy bacon), waffles and pancakes.
Lunch has a choice of brunch offerings, appetizers, soups, pasta, entrees and dessert. The menu includes eggs Benedict, shrimp cocktail, chicken noodle soup, choose your own pasta, fish and chips, vegetable curry, French fries (trans-fat free), soup and salad combos and desserts such as make your own sundae, cheesecake and chocolate cake. There's also an Express Lunch where you're guaranteed to get in and out within 30 minutes.
Dinner at these two MSC Divina restaurants consists of five courses: starter, soup or salad, pasta, entree and dessert. Healthy options are identified on the menu each night, complete with calorie, fat and protein breakdowns, and every menu has vegetarian selections. Those with specific dietary restrictions should notify the line when they book. MSC recommends they follow up with the maître d' upon check-in.
A sample menu could include a choice of shrimp cocktail or zucchini mille-feuille for appetizers; followed by fire roasted tomato soup, New England clam chowder or chilled rhubarb soup or spinach salad. Entrees might include fettuccine Alfredo, maccheroni alla boscaiola, lime and creole-spiced blackened hoki fish, dijon and herb-crusted rack of lamb, cacao-dusted pork tenderloin served with red bliss potatoes and grilled asparagus or a fried vegetable wrap. Desserts could include cannoli, ice cream, a cheese plate, molten chocolate cake or cheesecake.
There's an "always available" dinner menu, as well, with fresh fruit, Caesar salad, pasta with marinara sauce, pan-seared salmon, broiled chicken breast and grilled beef striploin.
Calumet and Manitou Buffets (Deck 14): Manitou and Calumet, located on Deck 14, are MSC Divina's casual buffet options. The two adjoin, essentially forming one mammoth buffet area serving the same items; there's a handy map that gives you the full picture of where everything is. Seating is either at tables (mostly for four or larger), high tables or bars.
All in all, we found the MSC Divina buffet to be crowded but to have plenty of tasty options. Servers were quick to clear away plates, and we didn't see the piles of dirty dishes that we've experienced on other lines. Hot foods were piping hot, as was the coffee, and cool items were kept cool. Because of the international crowd, your fellow passengers might not be as clued in to the tradition of queueing, so bring your patience.
At breakfast, diners can choose from standard breakfast fare, such as eggs, bacon, pancakes and toast. There's also a huge cheese selection, available all day, and European staples like beans, bangers and muesli. Early and late risers can grab a continental breakfast. While there is no egg station within the buffet, there's a cart for made-to-order omelets outside at the Aqua Park.
For lunch, options include burgers, fries, stir-fry and a carving station. The carving station routinely offers the best protein option; for example, chefs carved a whole, fresh turkey during one lunch. And, of course, there's plenty of pasta; up here, we found it al dente and tasty.
The buffet includes a pizzeria that remains open until the wee hours. Pizza options include the standards (margherita or cheese) and some unusual options (frankfurter). Divina offers an afternoon buffet, with limited options that include fruit, cheese and salad, and a make-your-own-sandwich bar. Dinner includes more pasta, a carving station and some tasty curry options that are quite flavorful; try the lentils.
Top Sail Lounge (Deck 15): The Yacht Club Lounge has buffet snacks throughout the day but is only open to Yacht Club passengers. In the morning, you'll find gravlax, cereal, yogurt and rolls, as well as delicious sweets and pastries. At lunch and through the afternoon until Happy Hour, this changes to light bites and canapes. A pianist plays in the evening. This space has sweeping views and is an absolutely civilized place to read or have a drink.
Le Muse (Deck 15): The Yacht Club's restaurant is a jewel box of a space. Oddly, it's not within the Yacht Club complex, but on the other side of the ship, near the Garden Bar and pool; thick orange curtains shield patrons from the view of sunbathers.
The restaurant provides full-service breakfast, lunch and dinner. In the morning, you'll find waffles, pancakes, eggs Benedict, breakfast meats, eggs and omelets made to order. Lunch has a choice of soups and salads, sandwiches and entrees such as fish and chips or seafood tagliatelle. Dinner might have snapper ceviche or escargot as appetizers; roasted sweet pepper and mozzarella soup; and risotto with herb emulsion as pasta. Entrees on gala night were roasted cold-water lobster tail, chateaubriand with truffle-Madeira reduction and Mexican vegetable tacos.
The dinner menu also has a healthy section where calorie counts and nutritional breakdowns are given. Sample dishes are amberjack tartare, rotisserie chicken and strawberry mousse. There is also an "available anytime" menu with Caesar salad, French onion soup, penne pasta in tomato basil sauce, skillet-fried Norwegian salmon, broiled chicken breast and tournedos of beef tenderloin.
The menus in Le Muse may appear to look like those in the main dining room, but the execution is on an entirely different level. Our pasta at lunch was cooked perfectly, as were all the dishes at dinner. Service is superb and -- you get fresh black pepper. The tables are much further apart than in the Black Crab or Villa Rossa, and the portions even seem bigger.
The One Bar (Deck 18): The Yacht Club's pool bar is perhaps the best place to dine al fresco. With plenty of tables and umbrella shade, the grill offers breakfast options such as made-to-order omelets; pasta, a salad bar and light choices like chicken in green curry at lunch; and canapes in the afternoon. Service there is extraordinarily friendly.
Snacks: Croissants are served in the morning at both the Divina Bar on Deck 5 (gluten-free versions) and Caffe Italia on Deck 7 (regular). Self-service soft ice cream is available daily in the afternoon at the Aqua Park on Deck 14. At night, free popcorn is served in small bags that you can eat in front of the big screen, or just take as a snack.
Room Service: A continental room service breakfast is available; you'll find the menu on a door hanger that you place outside your cabin the night before. Choices include cereals, pastries, yogurt and muesli, fruits and juices. Ours arrived a half-hour earlier than we requested.
A full-service room service menu with sandwiches, cheese plates and salads is available 24 hours a day. Overnight orders come with an additional delivery charge. Our mid-afternoon order came quickly.
Butcher’s Cut (Deck 7); a la carte: Entering the steakhouse, we were a little taken aback by the modern and cheerful decor; you just don't expect a steakhouse to look like a well-lit cafeteria. Don't let the clear chairs fool you; a meal here is a real treat. The menu offers outstanding appetizers such as a prosciutto plate and Caesar salad. Our seafood pasta was perfectly al dente and the tenderloin, served with a choice of sauces, was melt in your mouth delicious. Finish with bomboloni, Italy's version of beignets.
La Cantina di Bacco (Deck 7); a la carte: Open for lunch and dinner, Divina's wine bar also serves as its pizza kitchen. The menu of options is wide ranging but all feature crust that tastes like it just came from Naples. Seriously addicting and -- even better -- you can order it via room service in the evening. If you have a group, go for the one meter pizza.
Sports Bar (Deck 7); a la carte: Billed as the American restaurant, the Sports Bar serves food that goes well with watching the game -- in other words, fried and unhealthy. Options include buffalo chicken wings, a BBQ bacon cheddar burger, or an artery-clogging sampler plate with mozzarella sticks, onion rings, chicken nuggets, coconut shrimp and wings.
Piazza del Doge (Deck 7); a la carte: Gelato is sold at the Piazza del Doge on Deck 7. We found it refreshing, although of surprisingly average quality. Piazza del Doge also has sweets and cupcakes. (You can also get gelato at the Tritone Bar on Deck 14 in the Aqua Park.)
Galaxy Kaito Restaurant (Deck 16); a la carte or prix fixe: We admit that we didn't know what to expect at this restaurant, up in the Galaxy Disco. But it turned out to be one of the best seats in the house, particularly at sunset. The space, high atop the ship, has wall-to-wall windows and light alternative music plays in the background. The menu is Japanese and includes sushi, sashimi, teriyaki, tempura, among other options.
Nutella Cart (Deck 14); a la carte: A small Nutella cart near the Aqua Park encourages passengers to give into their sweet cravings. There are sometimes two-for-one specials.
* May require additional fees