I must apologize in advance for my very lengthy review, but felt I should be fair and practical in my findings. I will say that prior to this cruise, I had only sailed on Carnival, so in all fairness, it isn't a true apples to apples comparison to stack MSC next to Carnival. Both lines are completely different, as are their customs & ways of doing things. If you have a passion for cruising like I do, you have to be open to new experiences. The cliff's notes version is simply this: if you compare every little thing to other cruise lines, you'll never find the good or joy in anything, period. Have an open mind and you'll enjoy your experience like we did. With that, here goes....
Preface: I booked this cruise as a birthday gift for my husband, as he's always wanted to visit St. Maarten, and I wanted the peace of mind that we wouldn't have a huge bar tab to pay at the end. What drew me to MSC was the kids sail free promotion since we have an 8 yr old. I'll admit at first that I was hesitant to book MSC only because I had read negative reviews here; common complaints were "horrible food" and "rude staff"; however, thankfully I have a very knowledgeable travel agent who had sailed on the Divina twice, so he gave me some very useful tips beforehand. He did say that MSC is a European cruise line that is looking to compete in the American cruise market, hence repositioning the Divina to Miami.
Admittedly when comparing the different fares (aka, "experiences", Bella, Fantastica, Aurea & Yacht Club), my head was spinning. I was only used to a "pay as you go" experience on board (Carnival). With MSC, the cabin you book matches the "experience" (aka "amenities") you get. For example, the Bella experience is as "bare bones" as it gets (aside from cabin & dining room, all "extras" are truly extra). Fantastica experience included priority dining room seating over Bella guests & had cabins positioned at more appealing areas of the ship (higher decks, mid-ship, etc.). There was also a drink voucher program included but anything after that was extra.
LOVED the 2 room suite; worth every penny! Walk-in closet, lots of storage space. Views from bedroom were breathtaking!
Maho beach is a must! Just take a cab!
Don't like Nassau & stayed on the boat for a spa day!