MSC Divina Cruise Review by pdobrynski
- Sail Date: January 2018
- Destination: Caribbean
First a little about us, this was cruise number 99, we are Diamond + on Royal, almost Diamond on Carnival, Platinum + on NCL and have sailed Princess, Celebrity, Holland American and a couple of cruise lines that are no longer in operation. This was our first cruise on MSC. We have friends that love MSC and others who hate it. This was a 10 day cruise with a couple of stops we had never been to before and the price was right.
We used our status match of Diamond plus to become Black Card on MSC, their highest loyalty level. I recommend that everyone who that a status on another cruise line use the status match. We were given a boarding time of 3:45 but arrived at 2 pm and we were directed to the priority security line. The security line moved a little slowly because they used the priority line for the people with wheel chairs also. After security we went to the priority check in line. We were the only ones in that line and went to the next open check- in counter. Check in was fast. To use a credit card while on board, you do not set up a credit card account in advance or at check in, you do it once you are on the ship. Also you do not have to fill out the health form like you do on other ships.
After checking in, we went directly on the ship and to our cabin. We were in an inside room with the Bella experience. The room was small but immaculate! If you have ever sailed on the Majesty of the Seas, the size of the rooms are much the same size. Because we were Black Card, there was a bottle of wine and a plate of fruit already in the cabin. We also had robes, slippers and a choice of pillows. MSC's choice of pillows is called their "pillow menu" - very nice and is available to every passenger. The only thing we needed to ask our room steward for was ice.
We dropped off our suitcase and went to the buffet. No shock - it was crowded and you couldn't get in the door. We passed on the buffet and walked around the pool area. We found the self- serve ice cream machine, and the ice cream was one of the best we have had on any ship. We each had two cones and called that lunch. We then went down to deck 5 and found the stand-alone terminal to set up our on board credit account. It was quick and easy and took less than a minute. At 4 pm we did the muster drill. MSC requires you to bring your life jacket to the drill. Our muster station was in the photo gallery and became warm very quickly. The drill lasted a little longer than usual because the safety instructions were given in several languages. Most of the announcements were made in several languages; better most passengers know what's going on the not.
After changing for dinner, we spent some time exploring. There is a bowling alley, a smokers lounge, a 4-D theater(we did the Canyon Coaster - the best scary simulator ride ever), a formula one simulator car ride, casino, retail shops, etc. The biggest initial impacts were the theater (magnificent), the large number of lounge/bar venues and the overall beauty of the individually designed passenger spaces. The ship is unbelievably gorgeous!
For dinner we were assigned to the 6 pm seating in the Black Crab restaurant at a table for 6. We really lucked out. Our table mates were all from Florida and couldn't have been nicer. The menu was a little different to the ones I've seen on other cruise lines. As as example, shrimp cocktail is an extra cost item, and you order your dessert when you select your dinner. The first night I selected the lamb chops which were really good. The service was a little slow the first night but improved.
After dinner we played in the casino, which to our surprise was non-smoking. We don't smoke so appreciate that the casino was non-smoking. We play the slot machines and hope in the future the MSC management puts together a package listing points-played to earn drinks, dinners, etc. and not just the amount for a free cruise. We purchased the wifi package for the duration of the cruise and it was the fastest wifi we had ever experienced and the best price we have ever seen .
One of the highlights of the cruise was the Cruise Critic meet and greet. I believe there were about 40 of us. The room was set up with tables that held a variety of fruit, other goodies and the wait staff brought around drinks. The waiters offered drinks from their trays but also said you could order any drink you wanted that was not on the tray. The Captain, Hotel Director and several other Senior Officers attended the reception. Captain Francesco Di Palma and Hotel Director spent time with each guest and then gave a short welcome speech in at least five languages. The Cruise Director and the Captain cut and helped to serve a large cake that was in the center of the room. This is the first time I've ever seen a Captain at a Meet and Greet. We were very impressed. A group photo was also taken of all the Cruise Critic attendees and the Captain. This photo was sent to our cabin free of charge - another first!
We would see Captain Francesco Di Palma all over the ship and he always had time to stop and chat.
Since we were Black Card members, my wife and I had a free dinner each at a specialty restaurant. We chose the Steakhouse named "EAT-aly". All of our table mates joined us at the specialty restaurant and all of them were status match Black members. The menu was wonderful and our waiter assured us that everything on the menu was available under our Black Card free offer. Everyone ordered different appetizers, and there was plenty for sharing. We all ordered the surf and turf -steak and lobster with sides that we also shared. Dessert was also included and a wonderful selection. wine was not included but was available for a fee. As none of us ordered alcohol, there were no fees and no receipt was given to anyone to sign. So, no receipt to put a tip on. By the way, service was exceptional. Although we had the choice of two specialty venues for dinner, we chose to go back to the EAT-aly just because the lobster, filet mignon and service were superb! We heard from another passenger later, that the EAT-aly is a chain restaurant . We don't have it in Florida but this passenger was from Boston and raved about it - we agreed it was great! At this second specialty dinner, we invited the Hotel Director, having met him at the Meet and Greet and again at the Loyalty Black Card Reception, to join us for a drink during dinner. We had won a bottle of Proseco at trivia and wanted to share it. He, Alistair Burnett, did join us for about an hour and we shared our thoughts about the ship. We did tell him that although the top officers and the stewards and wait staff were very friendly, we found the rest of the staff a little stiff. We thought that the language barrier might weigh in on this observations and he agreed and said he would pass it on. We also mentioned that we had gotten used to being referred to as the North Americans! We might have been in the minority - by nationality! In many ways the cruise had a very continental vibe and we were prepared for it. We know that Americans are not the only cruisers and not the only culture. we were prepared for passengers to not regard queuing up for things to be the norm so jungle rules often occurred. But, if you're looking for a European trip without leaving the U.S. then this is for you. The entertainment is not what you're used to, but worth seeing. Trivia was daily and fun. We played with couples from Paris, Canada, Slovenia, and Slovakia. The retail shops were very diverse and a wide range of prices. All the items were top quality! Sales were really good too.
We want to mention the staff that we particularly were impressed by: our cabin steward Michelson from Madagascar, Andrey our waiter, and the Cruise Director staff, especially Kaitlan from South Africa. We have to Boris, the technician, who always had a friendly word for us waiting for visual trivia to start. Also, in the buffet is a gentleman who is so suave and cosmopolitan - Simon Osan, who works seemingly everywhere!
For a genuinely different experience in cruising from Miami, we highly recommend MSC!
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