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I’m writing this review as part two covering the last 10 days of a 21 day back to back sailing so I can detail the second cabin and Eastern Caribbean ports. For a more detailed overall review of our sailing please first see my part one as this will be a shorter review covering only things specific to this sailing. As back to back passengers we were able to be some of the first allowed back on the ship, Yacht Club and special assistance passengers were gathering as we were queued to re board just ahead of them. As Aurea passengers we were entitled to two massages which is the first thing we went to schedule once on board. We then slipped by our cabin, met our steward and were able to drop off our carry on bags before heading to lunch. Aurea guests are allowed to eat in the lower Black Crab restaurant for embarkation day lunch, don’t miss this as it is one of the best lunches you will get on the ship, including special items available only that day. After our wonderful meal service on our previous leg I decided I wanted to give up our My Choice dining, where we could have a two top table (albeit tightly spaced), and asked if we could get an eight top group table for people from our Cruise Critic Roll Call. Arthur, our head waiter, was able to get one assigned and again we had good service with great company for all our MRD meals. I want thank the Divina dining staff for being so accommodating with our multiple special requests. We moved from an aft facing Fantastica cabin to this sailings forward Aurea Suite with large balcony. Cost for this cabin was about $1500 more for one less day. Aurea included the Classic drinks package at the time, we upgraded again to the Deluxe package which cost about $206 per person less than when we upgraded from the Fantastica included Drinks On Us package. So we got the Aurea perks including thermal spa access, two massages and a much larger stateroom for about $1100 more. I’ll go ahead now and say it wasn’t worth it, I really preferred the aft facing Fantastica balcony. As noted after looking at the special two tops for My Choice dining, with literally two inches between tables, we decided to forego that perk. In the end we didn’t even use the massages and cancelled them the day before. We also never used the thermal spa access as it really was a let down after being on Seaside. They even removed heated tile loungers so quite little remained to entice us back to the spa. We went to the Exclusive Top 18 solarium once, it couldn’t even begin to compare to the Aurea area on Seaside. In addition to being a pain to get to the loungers were barely different than the regular pool decks, the round cabanas, which were the only shade, were extra cost and bar service was sporadic and extremely limited. Servers had coolers stored in a side room where they got your drinks. The hot tub looked nice and was actually hot, the view down onto the main pool deck was questionable. Since I had sailed Divina in 2017 I was aware or these Aurea shortcomings, the sole reason I booked Aurea was the cabin. We were able to secure cabin 10007, a fairly rare opportunity as these suites book up early and deck 10 are considered the best. Be aware that each deck’s corner Aurea suite is different. Cruise Critic and YouTube proved invaluable in seeing the differences. While deck nine cabins are actually slightly larger, they have a significantly obstructed view from the bow structure and the useable balcony area is much smaller. This was a true suite with separate living area and bedroom, something I’ve grown to like after sailing many NCL suites. The living area had a couch that became a double bed, storage was a little limited and the TV was small (both rooms). The master bedroom was spacious with lots of storage, the view from those forward facing full windows was spectacular. What I didn’t expect was the overall dilapidated condition of this cabin. Our cabin steward, Eduardo, did everything possible to keep it clean, but overall it was a letdown. The couch/bed was horrible, the cushions were destroyed and it looked like it came from a yard sale. One of the end tables was missing a lamp so there was a hole in the top where it once was mounted. Over the desk in the main bedroom there were three lights missing, covered over by peeling duct tape. Everywhere the furnishings were chipped and had peeling scuffed corners. The worst by far was the bathroom. I did know there was a tub rather than shower, what I didn’t know was how dysfunctional it was. Having only a half glass partition water sprayed onto the floor at the back. It was also too high so the showerhead proved much too low for my 6’4” body to use. Getting back to that water issue, over the years it has evidently caused an issue under the bathroom floor. The bathroom had a severe mold smell, covered up with lots of bleach. I tried putting water into the floor drain to be sure that wasn’t it, we ended up having to leave the door closed as the horrible smell was then contained by the negative pressure from the air vent fan. I really should have said something on the ship and I did mention it on the post cruise survey, but it was so painfully obvious that I’m sure they’ve had a multitude of complaints. Until this ship has a refurbishment I would never recommend this cabin. The balcony is accessed from the side at the living area. It opens to a very narrow balcony where you can only walk forward to a wider forward section that is in front of the bedroom’s sealed windows. We had some wonderful sailings into and out of ports, but it became too windy for my taste once at sea, the aft facing balcony was better. Sun exposure was also a problem for me, again the aft balcony was better. I don’t regret booking this cabin as it was a unique experience that I have seldom seen available. On other ships I would consider booking Aurea again, on Divina it is highly unlikely as I do not see it being worth the increased price point, especially now that it includes a lower drink package. Aurea and Black status guests were assembled in the theater for disembarkation within 15 minutes of each other. Both were called at the same time to leave the theater to join the disembarkation line. We had a late flight home so debated whether to stay on the ship as long as possible or find a place to stay for the day, in the end we put our luggage out the last night and booked a day hotel for the time before our flight. We had time for breakfast in the MDR headed to the theater and left the ship as the first official group about 8:45am. As typically happens there were already people from later groups trying to get into their baggage areas even though their disembarkation color had not yet been called. We quickly found our bags and were through customs waiting with the masses for an Uber about 20 minutes after leaving the ship. We booked a day room at B Ocean Resort in Fort Lauderdale. While fairly expensive at $140 for an afternoon I couldn’t take hanging around FLL airport until our 5:30pm flight. We got a room in the complex across the street and a long walk to the beach area. It was decently clean and had a few expensive dining options for lunch. We were allowed two beach chairs and use of the pool and other facilities. It was nice to be able to relax and shower before heading to the airport. I had read that FLL was not allowing anyone past security until three hours before their flight departure so did not want to get stuck there with the severely limited venues before security. It would be nice for MSC to offer some excursions ending later at this airport.

21 day back to back - Part 2

MSC Divina Cruise Review by Boschmann

Trip Details
I’m writing this review as part two covering the last 10 days of a 21 day back to back sailing so I can detail the second cabin and Eastern Caribbean ports. For a more detailed overall review of our sailing please first see my part one as this will be a shorter review covering only things specific to this sailing.

As back to back passengers we were able to be some of the first allowed back on the ship, Yacht Club and special assistance passengers were gathering as we were queued to re board just ahead of them. As Aurea passengers we were entitled to two massages which is the first thing we went to schedule once on board. We then slipped by our cabin, met our steward and were able to drop off our carry on bags before heading to lunch. Aurea guests are allowed to eat in the lower Black Crab restaurant for embarkation day lunch, don’t miss this as it is one of the best lunches you will get on the ship, including special items available only that day.

After our wonderful meal service on our previous leg I decided I wanted to give up our My Choice dining, where we could have a two top table (albeit tightly spaced), and asked if we could get an eight top group table for people from our Cruise Critic Roll Call. Arthur, our head waiter, was able to get one assigned and again we had good service with great company for all our MRD meals. I want thank the Divina dining staff for being so accommodating with our multiple special requests.

We moved from an aft facing Fantastica cabin to this sailings forward Aurea Suite with large balcony. Cost for this cabin was about $1500 more for one less day. Aurea included the Classic drinks package at the time, we upgraded again to the Deluxe package which cost about $206 per person less than when we upgraded from the Fantastica included Drinks On Us package. So we got the Aurea perks including thermal spa access, two massages and a much larger stateroom for about $1100 more. I’ll go ahead now and say it wasn’t worth it, I really preferred the aft facing Fantastica balcony. As noted after looking at the special two tops for My Choice dining, with literally two inches between tables, we decided to forego that perk. In the end we didn’t even use the massages and cancelled them the day before. We also never used the thermal spa access as it really was a let down after being on Seaside. They even removed heated tile loungers so quite little remained to entice us back to the spa. We went to the Exclusive Top 18 solarium once, it couldn’t even begin to compare to the Aurea area on Seaside. In addition to being a pain to get to the loungers were barely different than the regular pool decks, the round cabanas, which were the only shade, were extra cost and bar service was sporadic and extremely limited. Servers had coolers stored in a side room where they got your drinks. The hot tub looked nice and was actually hot, the view down onto the main pool deck was questionable. Since I had sailed Divina in 2017 I was aware or these Aurea shortcomings, the sole reason I booked Aurea was the cabin.

We were able to secure cabin 10007, a fairly rare opportunity as these suites book up early and deck 10 are considered the best. Be aware that each deck’s corner Aurea suite is different. Cruise Critic and YouTube proved invaluable in seeing the differences. While deck nine cabins are actually slightly larger, they have a significantly obstructed view from the bow structure and the useable balcony area is much smaller. This was a true suite with separate living area and bedroom, something I’ve grown to like after sailing many NCL suites. The living area had a couch that became a double bed, storage was a little limited and the TV was small (both rooms). The master bedroom was spacious with lots of storage, the view from those forward facing full windows was spectacular. What I didn’t expect was the overall dilapidated condition of this cabin. Our cabin steward, Eduardo, did everything possible to keep it clean, but overall it was a letdown. The couch/bed was horrible, the cushions were destroyed and it looked like it came from a yard sale. One of the end tables was missing a lamp so there was a hole in the top where it once was mounted. Over the desk in the main bedroom there were three lights missing, covered over by peeling duct tape. Everywhere the furnishings were chipped and had peeling scuffed corners. The worst by far was the bathroom. I did know there was a tub rather than shower, what I didn’t know was how dysfunctional it was. Having only a half glass partition water sprayed onto the floor at the back. It was also too high so the showerhead proved much too low for my 6’4” body to use. Getting back to that water issue, over the years it has evidently caused an issue under the bathroom floor. The bathroom had a severe mold smell, covered up with lots of bleach. I tried putting water into the floor drain to be sure that wasn’t it, we ended up having to leave the door closed as the horrible smell was then contained by the negative pressure from the air vent fan. I really should have said something on the ship and I did mention it on the post cruise survey, but it was so painfully obvious that I’m sure they’ve had a multitude of complaints. Until this ship has a refurbishment I would never recommend this cabin.

The balcony is accessed from the side at the living area. It opens to a very narrow balcony where you can only walk forward to a wider forward section that is in front of the bedroom’s sealed windows. We had some wonderful sailings into and out of ports, but it became too windy for my taste once at sea, the aft facing balcony was better. Sun exposure was also a problem for me, again the aft balcony was better. I don’t regret booking this cabin as it was a unique experience that I have seldom seen available. On other ships I would consider booking Aurea again, on Divina it is highly unlikely as I do not see it being worth the increased price point, especially now that it includes a lower drink package.

Aurea and Black status guests were assembled in the theater for disembarkation within 15 minutes of each other. Both were called at the same time to leave the theater to join the disembarkation line. We had a late flight home so debated whether to stay on the ship as long as possible or find a place to stay for the day, in the end we put our luggage out the last night and booked a day hotel for the time before our flight. We had time for breakfast in the MDR headed to the theater and left the ship as the first official group about 8:45am. As typically happens there were already people from later groups trying to get into their baggage areas even though their disembarkation color had not yet been called. We quickly found our bags and were through customs waiting with the masses for an Uber about 20 minutes after leaving the ship.

We booked a day room at B Ocean Resort in Fort Lauderdale. While fairly expensive at $140 for an afternoon I couldn’t take hanging around FLL airport until our 5:30pm flight. We got a room in the complex across the street and a long walk to the beach area. It was decently clean and had a few expensive dining options for lunch. We were allowed two beach chairs and use of the pool and other facilities. It was nice to be able to relax and shower before heading to the airport. I had read that FLL was not allowing anyone past security until three hours before their flight departure so did not want to get stuck there with the severely limited venues before security. It would be nice for MSC to offer some excursions ending later at this airport.
Boschmann’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Service
Onboard Experience
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Antigua
    Our second visit to Beach Limers (Limerz), a short taxi ride from the pier to Fort James beach. I strongly recommend reservations ahead of time as it can be popular and getting there early as it is a small venue and prime spots can go quickly. In the end the $60pp all inclusive would be the best deal if you plan on drinks and food. The remains of Fort James are next door, on the cove side are good hunting grounds for sea glass.
    View All 1,542 Antigua Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Carbet Falls
    Our only MSC excursion chosen as we had on board credit and I really didn't want to mess with Euros and don't speak French. Kudos to MSC for pulling of these excursions as there was a taxi strike that closed down access to the cruise port. Many people with private excursions were stranded. MSC chartered a ferry and took all their excursions across the bay to the industrial port where they staged the tour buses, circumventing the taxi blockade of the cruise port. The tour itself was a typical cruise line bus tour with about 50 people. The road to Carbet Falls is windy and fairly treacherous for such a vehicle. The walk to the bottom of the falls is about 1.5 miles and very steep at times. The viewing platform has mostly collapsed and there was a line for taking quick pictures once there. Many signs were posted not to leave the trail and walk on the river rocks, but of course there were people ignoring them. There was barely enough time to walk the trail wait to take a picture and walk back to the bus. Smokers had a very difficult time and made us late returning.
    View All 7 Carbet Falls Reviews
  • Island tour
    One of the best driving island tours I've been on. Booked directly with two other couples from our roll call. Royston provides an off the beaten path detailed tour of his home island. Be aware he operates from his modified non air conditioned van with open windows and will take you from driving on secluded beaches to winding mountaintop trails. He provided a detailed look from the arid Southern tip of the island to the volcanic Northern mountains. Royston is an avid cycler and outdoor enthusiast, yet could customize the tour enough for those of us who are not so young anymore. This is not your typical tourist trap island tour.
    View All 263 Island tour Reviews
  • St. Maarten
    We walked over to Great Bay beach, found a bar and talked with passengers from the new HA Nieuw Statendam. Corona bottles were only $2 at several nice bars.
    View All 4,710 St. Maarten Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Tortola
    Having ported here before we decided to just walk around town, learned there is not a lot to do in town. There are many beaches that are worth the taxi or ferry ride.
    View All 1,370 Tortola Cruise Port Reviews
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