Loved our cruise on the Divina: MSC Divina Cruise Review by Inishmore

MSC Divina 5
Member Since 2010
141 Forum Posts

Overall Member Rating

Loved our cruise on the Divina

Sail Date: August 2014
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Miami
Hi everyone. We sailed on the Divina for a 7 day cruise which departed Miami on August 2nd, 2014. Overall, we had a fantastic cruise. Here are my thoughts and opinions about our experience. We had 2 families traveling together. Our family of 4 (husband, wife, 2 college-age kids), and another family of 6 (husband, wife, 3 college-age kids and an 82-year-old grandfather).

EMBARKATION: As I posted previously from the port, embarkation day was a mess due to a gas leak at the terminal. Basically, thousands of people waiting to board were first stuck outside the terminal in the heat and there was much confusion about at which gate we would actually enter. The port authority employees were for the most part grouchy and not too helpful, which fueled the fire of the passengers' unrest. By the time we made it inside, there were understandably extremely long lines to actually check in. Upon check in, the MSC employee who helped us had zero information, and merely told us to "go sit over More there to the left." Because they could not disembark the returning passengers until the port authority gave the AOK, the departing passengers could not board so that left a glut of people with nowhere to sit. Most were sitting on the tile floor, and it appeared especially hard on the elderly and those in wheelchairs.

As the hours ticked by, there was no word on what was happening either from the port authority employees or from MSC employees. That was the big problem, no information. I understand that it was a serious situation, and a gas leak meant that the safety of everyone was top priority – however, some official information should have been imparted to the waiting passengers. As it was, everyone was disgruntled and there were a lot of rumors and hearsay floating about. Any information would have gone a long way to placate passengers. They finally opened up a seating area in NCL's part of the terminal so that people could get off the floor. A port authority employee told our group that it was MSC's fault, and a MSC employee told us (once we were onboard) that their hands were tied and it was the port authority that was calling the shots.

SHIP/PUBLIC SPACES: The Divina is drop-dead gorgeous! Visually stunning. Beautifully designed, modern, but not over-the-top gaudy. There are a myriad of spaces onboard where you can sit, relax, read a book, enjoy a drink, chat with friends or fellow passengers, or just take in the surroundings. One of my favorite things to do during our cruise was to get up before my family, grab a book, and find some place to settle in for an hour or two. With somewhere around 17 bars/lounges onboard, you'll never run out of a place to relax. Remember that deck 7 runs from fore to aft, and from there you can access anyplace you need to go.

FELLOW PASSENGERS: On our sailing, there was a fantastic mix of international passengers. On one elevator ride, I heard Italian, French, German and possibly Portuguese being spoken. Loved it! One gentleman who helped me at the reception guest told me that he needed to be fluent in 6 languages in order to do his job properly. Impressive! I had a great conversation in the Calumet bar with 2 bartenders from India, and they told me some incredibly interesting things about their part of the country. I could cite many examples where it was fun interacting with other passengers and ship staff who were from all parts of the globe. The international atmosphere on the ship was one of the highlights for me.

DINING: The buffet was enormous. I found the quality and the selection of the food to be quite good. The buffet tended to be a bit hectic at times, however we always found some place to sit. The staff clearing the tables was efficient and friendly, so as soon as a table was vacated it was promptly cleared and cleaned. Loved the fact that a portion of the buffet remained open until late (until at least 2 am). They had a make your own sandwich bar, as well as lots of fresh hot pizza in many varieties – something for everyone. It really fit the bill after an evening in the casino or on the dance floor.

We had breakfast only once in the MDR and found it to be loud and a bit chaotic, so we chose the buffet for the rest of our mornings. We did not eat in the buffet for dinner. We opted for the MDR each evening. I loved the experience. Dinner was leisurely, never rushed, with time between courses to chat. If you want to eat quickly, opt for the buffet. Courses were bread, starter/appetizer, soup or salad, main dish, and desert. If you'd like coffee with your desert, just ask. We opted to go to the coffee bar after dinner each night to have a fancier coffee! Our waiter Jose was excellent, though it appeared to me that he did not have enough help. He had 4 tables (two 10-tops, a 6-top and a 2-top) basically to himself. Dinner portions were perfectly sized – not gargantuan, but enough to enjoy each course without leaving the table stuffed to overflowing. Some at our table requested more than one serving of each course, which was always an option.

We had the Allegrissimo Classic package, so we requested bottles of water for our table to supplement the sometimes slow refilling of water glasses. Worked out just fine. (Your waiter can take bottled water, wine and soft drink orders, but a bar waiter will take cocktail orders.) My son celebrated a birthday onboard, so I ordered a birthday cake for him. It was very reasonably priced - $18, and delicious! The staff carried it to our table and sang happy birthday to him. Really fun!

ALLEGRISSIMO/DRINKS/BARTENDERS: We booked the classic package in advance. Loved, loved, LOVED this package. It was very affordable and made our vacation that much more relaxing. The Divina offered a huge selection of cocktails, wine, beer, liqueurs, cordials, soft drinks, and zero-proof drinks from which to choose. The bartenders were all excellent, and I found my drinks to be very consistent throughout the ship. The cocktail servers are not in-your-face, and I had to flag them down most times, which was fine by me. Many times if I went up to a bar to order a drink, a server would take my order and bring it back to where I was seated, which was nice. My only minor complaint is akin to that of the wait staff in the MDR – there were not enough cocktail servers. Seems to me like they are a tad overworked and in short supply. We found this especially to be true in the coffee bar where our group sometimes had long waits for service.

ENTERTAINMENT: The shows in the Pantheon theatre are unlike anything else at sea. Frankly, I've found the entertainment to be spotty on our previous cruises – some very good, some wincingly bad. Not so on the Divina. Very good across the board. The live music throughout the ship was wonderful. One evening there was a live band playing Latin music in the Black and White lounge. We had a great time just watching everyone dance. The ship also had the usual cruise fare like bingo, trivia, various classes etc. Plenty to do for all interests. The entertainment staff did a great job of mixing with the passengers and keeping them engaged without being annoying.

POOLS: We spent most of our time at the Garden pool and bar area. The pool was always full, but because of the small size it was mostly used for cooling off and chatting. The other 2 pools were always kept clean and there were plenty of loungers to be had, even with a full ship. Prime spots right next to the pool went quickly, but I was happy lounging on the side of the ship away from the main pool area. Also got better bar service there. The main pool deck has a large screen where movies were shown in the evenings, and there were a couple of fun dance parties there as well throughout the week.

CASINO: I found the slots to be tight (a sentiment echoed by some of my fellow passengers), but the casino was beautiful and had a great vibe to it in the evenings. There was no bar wait staff in the casino – but if you sidled up to the bar the bartenders were prompt and quick to take your order. They held slot tournaments on our two sea days – which were free to join. (There is an entry fee on some cruise lines.) Prizes were $200, $100 and $50 in free play. I did not play the table games, but everyone seemed to be having a grand time. The décor in the casino was gorgeous and classy.

ONBOARD ANNOUNCEMENTS: This is one of the things I adored about our time aboard the Divina. In order to contribute to a relaxing cruise vacation, general announcements were kept to a bare minimum. The captain would make an announcement once a day, and you'd hear from the cruise director maybe once per day. Barring that, or an emergency, the loudspeaker was not going off all day long announcing bingo, jewelry sales, excursion bookings, casino contests, drinks of the day etc. I honestly hated that part of our past cruises. All that info can be found in your Daily anyway.

CUSTOMER SERVICE ONBOARD/DISEMBARKATION: I will say that we found all our interactions with any staff throughout the ship a very nice experience. Everyone was pleasant and professional. I only ran into a couple of customer service related issues.

I had prebooked the Allegrissimo Classic package. Upon getting our first 2 drinks in the buffet, however, we noticed we were charged for them. I immediately went to the reception desk and they printed new cards and said they'd remove the charges from our bill. The day before disembarkation, I asked for a printout of our bill. Those drinks were still on the bill. I pointed it out, and was assured the charges would be removed.

The night before disembarkation, we were to have our luggage in the hallway outside our room by 1:00 a.m. Bags were to be picked up and a copy of our final statement was to be delivered to our room. By 3 am our bags were still there. I called reception and they assured me that they would be picked up. When we awoke at 6:30 a.m. our bags were still in the hallway and we did not have a copy of our bill.

I went to reception and was faced with huge lines at both desks. I had to wait for 50 minutes just to get to speak with someone. (Again, they were extremely short-staffed with just 2 workers at each desk - especially on a morning when they could anticipate a glut of passengers needing to settle and/or contest their bills.) When I finally got a printout of my bill, those 2 drink charges were *still* on the bill. The guest relations person had to call someone from the bar staff to remove it. Third time's a charm I guess. I then had to let them know that our bags were not picked up. I will say that the person at the desk was a bit accusatory and asked me what time we put them out (she was the one exception to the consistently pleasant attitude I encountered throughout the ship). I let her know that they were out well before 1:00 a.m. She made a call and told me someone would pick them up. Bags were still there at 9 am and we were to disembark at 9:15. I finally found our room steward and he called someone to assist. After his help, a couple of very nice gentlemen finally came to pick up the bags. They were there in baggage claim shortly after we got through customs, so all was well in the end.

THE UPSHOT: Despite a couple of hiccups, our experience with MSC aboard the Divina was very enjoyable. I would not hesitate to sail with them again. Less

Published 08/14/14

Cabin review: 11234

STATEROOM: We were in stateroom 11234, aft of the ship. It was a balcony room, with a bed that could sleep 2 and a large couch that folded out into a bed that slept another 2. Our family of 4 shared the room. Our college-age kids had the bed that separated into two (it was together when we arrived, but our room steward separated it while we were dining in the evening). The fold-out couch was extremely comfortable. I had my doubts as I've never experienced a truly comfortable fold-out before (usually you feel the springs in or under the mattress), but we slept very comfortably all week. The blackout curtain over the balcony window kept the room dark well into the morning.The room was tastefully decorated in burgundy. The bathroom was impressive for a small cruise ship space. Lots of storage space under the counter and 3 shelves in the corner above the sink. Our stateroom steward was wonderful. Always had a smile on his face and was quick to respond if we had a question or a request. Once or twice we ended up with 3 towels (instead of 4) in the bathroom, and after a call to guest services another towel was brought to our room quickly and cheerfully. The closet and drawers built into the wardrobe had enough space for 3 of us, but not enough room for 4 adults (which is understandable). My daughter had the most packed, so she just lived out of her duffle bag for the week. There was a lot of room under the beds for storage of empty bags, dirty laundry and luggage. We made constant use of the safe to store money, passports, casino vouchers, jewelry etc. At one point we messed up the code and locked ourselves out of it. Again, a call to reception and someone was at our door within about 10 minutes to unlock it for us.

Port and Shore Excursions

Beach Break

We spent the day at Nachi Cocom. It was idyllic. Food was delicious, drinks were unlimited, bartenders were great and we pretty much had the beach to ourselves. Some in our group booked a snorkel trip through them, and others rented paddle boards. If I find myself in Cozumel again, I'll make a beeline back to Nachi.


GEORGETOWN, GRAND CAYMAN: We did a 2 snorkel stop and Stingray City stop booked through Captain Marvin's. It was the highlight of the cruise. Excellent snorkeling at 2 separate coral reefs. Stingray City was absolutely amazing. I could have spent hours in both locations and would book with Captain Marvin's again.

Stingray Swim

GEORGETOWN, GRAND CAYMAN: We did a 2 snorkel stop and Stingray City stop booked through Captain Marvin's. It was the highlight of the cruise. Excellent snorkeling at 2 separate coral reefs. Stingray City was absolutely amazing. I could have spent hours in both locations and would book with Captain Marvin's again.

GREAT STIRRUP CAY: Tendering at this stop was an absolute mess, with long delays, huge crowds in the main atrium area. We did not make it ashore until well past 1 pm in the afternoon. By the time we got there, they'd run out of soft drinks and still water, and were starting to run short of some food items. The tendering process is one area where the Divina missed the boat (pun definitely intended).

OCHO RIOS, JAMAICA: We were originally scheduled to have a port day in Falmouth where we had a Jamaican food tour booked. Because of tropical storm Bertha, our itinerary was reversed and we went to Ocho Rios instead. We did not have anything booked and instead wandered around on our own outside the port and did some shopping. It was beastly hot and the locals were extremely pushy and overbearing. Had I to do it over again, I would have booked an excursion or just stayed on board.

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