I was pretty shocked to see some of the negative reviews on this site with people going as far as cancelling their service charges which is a real pity as this is taking directly from the pockets of the hard working people aboard.
First of all, read all the instructions you will get with your cruise agent. Many people on this site get upset with certain things that were already explained by MSC on their web page.
We liked our cruise so much that we are actually having our wedding this year on the sister ship Preziosa.
Check-in was pretty smooth. Once the official time for boarding came it took no longer than 15 minutes to be on the bus to the ship. This was La-Spezia.
The cabin was great considering we had an inner one. Clean, tidy, cleaned every day without interrupting our routine.
Yes the ship is very large with huge amounts of tourists so some congestion is to be expected at peak times in the buffet or leaving to shore. It can get real crazy with people roaming around with full plates of food. My suggestion to this is to simply organize your schedule to avoid these peak times. Have breakfast later than most people, leave to shore an hour later etc etc. On the other side the dinner was always very well executed with great food. So good in fact that the Ala-carte restaurants were ghost towns throughout the entire voyage. I honestly have no idea why people are criticizing the food on this ship. Perhaps different cultural expectations? In any case the buffet is 100 meters long and I could always find some kind of specialty. Especially the deserts easily made me put 3kg during 7 days.
Sometimes you have to go to the bar to get your drink as at certain bars/places you will have more people than usual but realize that this is a good value for price cruise. If you want a high end-cruise perhaps MSC is not the right one for you or you should consider the yacht club or a smaller ship from their lines or a different itinerary.
I can't imagine cruising without the all inclusive drinks package so we definitely got those right from the booking agent. After all was said and done we had drank at least twice than what the packages had cost (including bottled water, coffee etc etc). Some people complained about all the smiling people trying to offer them all kinds of packages. Why? I consider it a plus to be welcomed by all the options available to me in case I had forgotten to book them online. I would consider it a bigger negative if they were not trying to sell the drink package and trying to get you to buy your drinks one by one.
Personnel was very kind, always smiling and always trying their very best to get us a drink in case there were many more people around. I don't think I met a single rude person.. only a few stressed out due to the big amount of orders. Let me give you a tip for such situations: Simply order your next drink while you are finishing the previous one somewhere in the middle :). After a few nights at certain bars the waiters remembered us and they were even more friendly and more willing to get us our favorite drinks.
Entertainment was awesome. We really liked the dancing / acrobat routines and the relatively short duration. 30-50 minutes is just enough as every day there is so much more to do on the ship / off the ship.
Excursions - Too expensive and my gf doesn't understand English well anyway.. but again if you like to save few hours of planning they are fine. We like to do our own planning. Again people complained for the paid bus organized by MSC. Why? Realize that part of the price you pay is that all the planning/research of bus lines is done for you and you don't have to care about a thing. Normally we did our research for each port and used the city transport / free shuttles. In Barcelona we didn't bother and got the MSC provided more expensive bus.
It can get pretty loud at certain times of the day but again it is all up to doing your research around the ship. The solarium at the top floor is a sure bet albeit you may need to pay 10 euros per day. An acceptable price even though we never really used it as we always managed to find some quiet nice spots.
Formal night was great.. it gave a nice feeling to the nights out in the bars. The only pity is that some people don't play along and were seen in casual attire. A cruise is more than just vacationing. I can only give one advice here.. play along.. MSC tries hard to create a nice atmosphere for all of us but it won't work unless we go along with it.
Every day there is a 'newspaper' delivered in your cabin about everything going on in the next 24 hours. Definitely read it through and through as many times you may find special excursions, classes or other important information. We saw too late the excursions to the 'off limits' areas of the ship and it is the only piece I regret we didn't get to see.
All in all, cruising with MSC Divina was a great experience. It packs a whole lot of value for a good price. Do your research, ask your agent to make a full calculation of how much the cruise will cost (state room cost+drink package+service charge+some change for special stuff), don't be afraid to visit reception and ask in case anything is unclear and you should be absolutely fine and please don't cancel your service charges. If your budget doesn't allow it and you want to save on buying a bottle of water then perhaps a cruise is not the right place for your vacation. The people aboard the ship I met were very nice and hard working, they deserve better.
Nice bed, clean, good water pressure, pretty good given the fact it was the lowest category. Honestly, we were so busy that the only time we ever used the cabin was to take a shower, change clothes or sleep :)
Arrived at the terminal with a special bus from Vienna. Waited for official embarkation time. After the time came, it took no longer than 15 minutes to be seated on the bus going to the ship :)