This was the first experience my boyfriend and I had with cruises. We flew in from Toronto into Fort Lauderdale. To preface, we felt that we did have a very nice time on the ship. In general, the service was good and we were generally ... Read More
This was the first experience my boyfriend and I had with cruises. We flew in from Toronto into Fort Lauderdale. To preface, we felt that we did have a very nice time on the ship. In general, the service was good and we were generally satisfied but feel there could have been many improvements. In general, we would consider trying other cruises for comparison purposes but the experience on the Divina wasn't enough to make us go, "WOW, WE HAVE TO DO IT AGAIN!".
The transition from the plane to the cruise a bit confusing and I would have preferred more direction. We were never given any information prior to arriving in Florida except we would be bused to the port. At the baggage carousel, there was a lady walking around with a 8x11 inch sign yelling for anyone going on the MSc Divina. I felt this could have been done better. Nonetheless, we got the tags to attach to our bags and was ushered to the bus fairly easily. All that I would have needed to know was to be told more instructions, that someone will be at the carousels to meet you or just a couple of extra signs. I was a bit worried, a bit confused but it worked out fine.
When we got to the port, the line-up took about 1.5 hours to finally get our cards and up to our rooms. We noticed there were 3-4 counters that were not open despite the large numbers of people. I'm not sure if this is the usual amount of time it takes to embark. Unfortunately, my bag didn't end up getting to my room until around 9pm the first night but I was just glad to get it by that point.
FOOD & BEVERAGES:
From 6am to 10:30am the buffet served a full breakfast, then a continental breakfast, followed by lunch from 12-4pm, snacks from 4-6pm and then dinner from 6-9pm. There is water, tea and coffee available whenever it was open. They actually probably served the full breakfast until maybe 11am. At peak times, the buffet was PACKED. With this amount of people, that was invariably going to happen. Also, the design of the buffet could have been better. Instead of being a perfect mirror image with similar foods arranged on both sides, this was the case at some areas but then some foods could only be found in one section. Therefore, I'm sure we never found certain foods. Apparently, there were cookies which we never ended up finding. The waiters are meant to ask for drink orders and deliver drinks to diners but we only had this happen once in many meals. I don't really blame them, there are way more diners than waiters can reliably bring beverages to.
The other free dining options were the Black Crab or the Villa Rosa, whichever you were assigned to. In general, the food and service was very good during the dinners. I found the steaks were never quite medium rare as I asked, but more medium. Once again, when you're dealing with such high numbers of diners, I don't expect perfection...would have been a plus though. They had a nice little custom of making a big deal about their desserts, which I found sort of fun. Our waiter, Agung, in the evenings was great and after a few days began to learn our preferences and anticipate our requests quite nicely.
There is also the option of going to the Black Crab for lunch between 12-2pm. On Day 3, my boyfriend and I arrived at the restaurant at 1:50pm for lunch. Unfortunately, we had a very unpleasant experience. The waiter did not understand my questions, him and another waiter rushed us immensely. They hovered less than a metre away from where we sat and the moment the last bite was done, they took away the plate and put on the next course e.g. salad, main, dessert. They were so bent on going as fast as possible, that the waiter would have the main ready in one hand while he took away my salad plate. My boyfriend was also served his food at a faster rate because he was a faster eater. Therefore, I was still eating my main, by the time he was almost done his dessert. While we were eating our meal, they were also setting the rest of the table (there were 4 empty seats at the table) for the evening meal at 6pm!
The moment I finished the last bite of my dessert, we were told they needed the table to prepare for the evening! My boyfriend and I upon leaving the restaurant went straight to the reception and made an official complaint. I was given a 15 minute meeting with one of the senior officers. He wrote down my complaints, apologised profusely and assured us that even if we had arrived at 1:59, that we should have received the same services as if we arrived at 12:00. He gave my boyfriend and I a free meal at the Eataly Steakhouse for our troubles. I felt this was appropriately handled.
The Eataly restaurant was quite good and did give us the proper medium rare in our steaks. We did not find the prices that expensive compared to steakhouses at home. The food was quite good but service was very slow. We saw a few tables looking quite dissatisfied with the pace of service and witnessed a couple complaints to the waiters. Generally, we had a nice meal.
Also note: outside of the free restaurants and the buffet, you must pay for water. We brought water bottles and just refilled every chance we got at the buffet.
Another thing that seemed very confusing to us. Perhaps because we had never cruised before, but we purchased the Cheers package prior to our departure. Beware, if you purchase a package ashore, you cannot change it on the ship! After the first couple days we FINALLY understood that this package only applied towards free wines and beer from the Buffet (which is on the 14th deck, away from many of the activities!) from 12-4pm and 6-9pm and from the Black Crab during 12-2pm and 6-8pm. We were able to use this in the form of a bottle at dinner though. We ended up getting 18 drink vouchers for cocktails and times in between for $86 US + 15% gratuity (or $98). All they needed to do was give each person a print-out when we boarded explaining what package we had, what it included and when it was applicable as opposed to us trying to figure it out along the way.
Another thing that was overwhelming was the immense excursion package/book they gave us to choose ashore. There were 15-20 options per port, each with their own long, descriptive paragraph. By the time we got through the options for the first 3 ports, we were done shopping for excursions. We refused to read further. All they need to do is do bullet point lists of what the excursions included, not write flowery mini-novels that were all really the same at the end of the day.
The excursions were also, as expected, more expensive to purchase onboard than ashore. Compared to an all-inclusive resort, we found the excursions shorter, SOMETIMES cheaper, and more watered down. We did an excursion in the Cayman Islands and visited the Turtle nursery and did a stingray excursion in Cozumel. We enjoyed parts of both of them.
I was stunned at the quality of the shows. The cruise makes a point of doing a high-quality production every night. I've been to professional musicals and major live concerts and I was quite impressed by the calibre and professionalism of the performers. Some nights were more exciting and more variety-show style, other nights were more sophisticated like a classical voice concert and the Michael Jackson show was fantastic. Highly recommend making a point of going to these shows!
There are photographers enticing you to take photos every night. We had every intention of buying at least some of the photos as we meant for them to be souvenirs for our parents.
The process of purchasing photos was the single most infuriating process I have ever encountered on any vacation. Ever. First, you had to search for your photos among walls and boxes full of everyone's photos. Just do the math, 4000 guests, 10-20 photos each means you have to search through around 80,000 to find your own. And no, your photos weren't all together, they were spread out all over the place. After an hour of looking we found most (couldn't find them all) of our photos, nobody would tell us a price. In order to get any information about the cost, we had to wait in line for 45 mins to speak to a sales person. They told us that unless we made a 'package' that they would be extremely expensive.... only they couldn't tell us what the 'packages' were. We spent 30 mins at the counter trying to mix and match the photos we liked to get a 'package' before the staff finally caved and explained the pricing model to us (he had a sheet taped to their desk that he let us look at). It turns out that they arbitrarily print the photos as either 'large' or 'medium' and you have to buy 10 of the same size to get a deal. Only you couldn't change the size of from their arbitrary selection. Want then on a disc? That's an extra $50 on top of whatever you pay for the photos. If you want photos, expect to spend about 3 hours of your time and around $250 for 8-10 generic photos.
Needless to say, we ended up buying none out of principle, and we recommend you avoid this process altogether.
This was a huge pain and left us quite anxious given we had a flight to catch. I'm not sure whose fault this is. We ended up getting off the ship 1.5 hours later than expected. If our flight hadn't also been delayed, we would have barely made it. If we had been placed on a later group for disembarkation, we would certainly have missed our flight. Read Less