We choose this cruise because of its length (7 nights), the itinerary Civitavecchia, Palermo, Caglari, Palma de Mallorca, Valencia, Marseille, Genoa, Civitavecchia, and the cost. Overall, we found it excellent value for money.
Before getting into the cruise itself, I found the MSC website quite poorly designed - it was not smooth to use and required multiple visits. It also failed to answer some of the issues I address below. MSC needs to get some smart software developers to rework the site. Now, ......., on to the cruise itself.
While this was our first ever cruise, I think we are reasonably discerning travelers. The MSC Divina is lovely modern ship that had very good facilities. We were in cabin 11115 which completely met our needs. It was sufficiently spacious and well presented. Our steward, Roberto, was great. A really nice, helpful person (and, no, he didn't pay me to say this!!). Incidentally, while there were plenty of children on the ship, we didn't have any noise problems.
We used the gymnasium regularly and found it quite well appointed. I have a comprehensive gymnasium membership in New Zealand and found this facility more than adequate for what I wanted, albeit a little crowded at certain times. Its location on an upper deck, forward in the ship gives a great view as you approach port.
I think our three negatives, all of which are rather minor, would be firstly, the WiFi - we paid for the comprehensive package and found it expensive but poor. I'm sure MSC could do much better. Our smart phone (European) SIM card helped when we were in or near to port. Secondly, before we embarked we really had no idea if the water package would be necessary - after all, everyone at least provides water (gratis) with a meal, don't they! No they don't. Fortunately, we had decided to take the package for daytime use. This was a good decision - water is not provided at restaurant meals, it needs to purchased. The administrative hassle in doing this seemed needless, why not up the price a few $/person and save everyone time and effort. Having said this, MSC is a European cruise line and purchasing water in Europe is the norm not the exception. It was these little things that left us with the sense that MSC cuts their front-end price, but tries to recover from this by their rather expensive on-board packages. [Note: Free water is available, as is coffee and tea, in the buffet area].
Our third minor irritation was the buffet - it is typically something of a zoo. However, we had read earlier reviews before embarking and were not surprised. That said, apart from one very average restaurant meal (the Mediterranean night from memory), the food was just fine, at least as we experienced it.
In general, we didn't book shore excursions but rather chose our own on shore itinerary. A smart phone helped with navigation problems in some of the cities! The one excursion we did take was the Segway tour of Genoa. For us non-experienced Segway riders it was fun! No problems at all for us 60+ year-olds in learning how to ride and then do the tour. What a blast! Great tour guide. My wife (the speeding menace) now says we need a Segway at home! We chose Marseilles as the place to rest rather than go for a formal shore excursion. However, I went for a 6 km run into the suburbs to get some exercise. I noticed that while MSC was charging 15 Euros to get a bus from the ship into the city there seemed to be a free bus about 500 metres away down the wharf.
Embarkation and disembarkation procedures were smooth and straightforward. Indeed, the staff were very helpful in allowing us priority disembarkation to catch a 9:32 am train out of Civitavecchia. We left the ship about 7:50 am, picked up our luggage, caught the bus to the railway station and were on the platform by 8:30 am. Plenty of time!
One other out of the ordinary thing to report. We needed to make use of the hospital facility - my wife had taken a fall at Rome Airport on our way to embark and had done some damage to her hand. The question was, "How much damage? The doctor and staff were great. Good, basic, first principles (correct) medical diagnosis and treatment. I think, all up, it cost us about 120 Euros.
One interesting thing we noted was the predominance of European travelers on the cruise. We certainly didn't hear many people speaking in English as their native tongue.
Certainly not a problem - just an observation. Incidentally, all the staff we met not only spoke English but were multilingual. In reality, we were the ones who lacked language skills.
Pulling everything together, we were pleased with our choice of cruise ship and with the itinerary. We had a lovely time and would regard any hassles as being very minor in the broad scheme of things.
A really nice cabin with plenty of room for the two of us. The only caveat here, the carpet clearly needed a really good clean.