Can't Understand the Negative Reviews! Great Ship in Every Way!: MSC Divina Cruise Review by pennydog1

MSC Divina 5
Member Since 2011

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Can't Understand the Negative Reviews! Great Ship in Every Way!

Sail Date: February 2014
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Miami
We booked a 13XXX cabin (couldn't afford Yacht Club) and were concerned before departure by some of the reviews we read. This was not helped by a real mess at Miami Airport where our transfer coach driver apologised for being two hours late, claiming he hadn't been told we were coming. This followed our inability to book in online for the BA flight (the two of us formed too big a group apparently!); only some skilful diplomacy by a sympathetic BA steward allowed my wife and me to sit together, so we were quite grumpy when we arrived at the Divina. None of the above was in any way the responsibility of MSC and everything changed right from our arrival.

Embarkation was the easiest we have ever experienced (after 8 other cruises with various companies, but never previously any with MSC) and we were given a royal welcome as we passed on to the ship - and what a ship! All the positive comments about taste, decor and variety of public areas are fully justified: the atrium is More spectacular, the theatre worthy of the West End and the 'dolce vita' theme a constant source of interest. Our stateroom (13080) was more spacious than any previous cabin, with a neat, sheltered balcony, giant bed and small but well-designed bathroom (shower only as, we believe, are most cabins despite the brochure suggesting shower or bath as standard). Both the attitude and work ethic of our cabin steward were exemplary and added greatly to our feeling of luxurious living throughout the cruise.

Our late arrival caused a stir when we tried to enter the restaurant - 1st sitting had been advanced to 5.30 presumably to fix some of the complaints in earlier reviews - but we explained that we had only reached the ship at 6.15 and all was fine. To our relief the food was excellent (and remained so throughout). The Italian bias led to a nightly pasta option following the entree and soup courses and preceding the 'main' course (fine choice of fish, meat and vegetarian options). My $89 pre-booked wine package saw me through the fortnight and was well worth the fight with the (frankly hopeless) MSC website before departure (much more expensive on board, although allowing a wider variety for your seven wines). Those worried about complaints elsewhere that the self-service buffet is 'cafeteria food' can be reassured that there is such variety that there is no need to stoop to the 'burgers & hot dogs' option; daily specials included ribs of beef, speciality fish dishes etc.; also breakfast and lunch of equal quality to the dinners can be taken in the main restaurant; given that fruit juices and coffee were offered free throughout the day (not just at breakfast as often with other companies), I cannot commend the dining experience too highly - and, yes, the staff were welcoming, friendly and extremely helpful throughout.

I could go on, but others have enthused about the shows (operatic tribute was our favourite) etc.; live backing musicians would improve these still further but only the Michael Jackson tribute really suffered with, as far as we could tell, no live singing/music at all in this one show. Any niggles elsewhere were more to do with our fellow cruisers rather than MSC: a view of the deck on the webcam at 06.00 each day revealed every lounger reserved with the ubiquitous orange towels, and no staff were brave enough to uphold the 30 minute rule and clear these (true also on every other cruise we have taken!); generally though, fellow guests were friendly and we found plenty of kindred spirits to join in quizzes and shows. If you enter into the spirit of the ship positively and courteously you will not find the staff or guests any more of less easy to get on with than on the other major cruise lines. One last testimonial: three hours after leaving Grand Cayman a medical emergency necessitated returning there to offload a patient. As the anticipated excursion highlight of the cruise (for me at least) was to be the Mayan ruins at Tulum on the following day, I was so impressed with the slick way the late arrival in Mexico was managed to ensure we actually made it to Tulum; well done all concerned! Less

Published 02/23/14

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