Having read the reviews prior to booking I was a bit apprehensive. No need to be.
Embarkation in Civitavecchia was very easy and swift. Just be sure if you're travelling to the City by train to validate your train ticket, we accidentally didn't and were fined by a conductor. I imagine its a common revenue raiser. So we were in a bad mood due the train experience but were very pleased we could board the ship upon our arrival.
The cabin was excellent, a lot larger than I expected (outside Bella cabin 5071). During our stay it was cleaned probably twice each day, we had a fantastic cleaner.
The ship itself is excellent. We didn't find it too hard to get around and work "things" out. The elevators are often busy and easier if able to sometimes take the stairs. We quickly worked out that waiting in line for your turn musn't be a common European/Italian trait. This was most evident at the Ports queuing for hop on hop off buses. But it's something we got use to and just had to take in our stride (and nothing to do with the ship - they can't teach manners).
We found the service on board was excellent. Only very minor things like asking for the price of a bourbon and coke at dinner was met with "I don't know" by the waiter. And she didn't find out -so saved me some money by not buying one. But again no big deal. The food in the Balck crab was great. We only ate there twice purely as we were often too busy to make the dining times and the buffet was more convenient. We didn't try any of the extra pay restaurants.
We didn't take the drink packages as they were very expensive in Australian dollar terms. Particlularly as we had 4 in the cabin, my wife and a 4 and 9 year old that would all have had to take the package. Our children don't drink soft drink, my wife doesn't drink much.
The sports bar was a favourite spot. You could order burgers, nuggets hot dogs etc. whilst watching world sporting events. The staff were exceptional. Whilst we cruised, there was a 10 beer for 25 Euro beer special. This was the best value/deal we could find for drinks on board by a long way.
The theatre shows were excellent. We went every night and the kids also loved them. We played bingo a couple of times which again the kids loved, but I thought this was overpriced given the prize.
I read some reviews abot the buffet. The whole family thought the range and quality was excellent. Though busy at times, you could always find a table. We rarely needed lunch on shore after the excellent breakfast. The access times to food on board should mean you'll never be hungry.
Before cruising we probably had high expectations of the kids club. We didn't really give it a chance as when we signed the kids up, they basically seemed to be doing craft and drawings (it seemed a bit like baby sitting). My 9 year old and his friend pleaded with us not to stay as they basically wanted to play soccer on deck every spare moment. The kids that were there seemed very happy, just wasn't for our boys.
The on deck soccer pitch was excellent. My son went on the waterslide, not sure why but it was too slow. He stopped in it a couple of times. Might have been water flow? Anyway he went on it a couple of times, but thought it average.
The pools looked fantastic. We used the spas near the basketball court they were a bit quieter than the main ones. I tried the pool but it was a little too cold for me.
We never did any of the cruise organised tours, made our own way on shore. Never used the boat shuttle as there was generally cheaper options at the port.
It was greatly appreciated when on departure they waived the gratuity fee when requested. we preferred to tip direct and the gratuity fee is significant money in Australian dollar terms due the exchange rate.
My wife gets very sea sick normally. This was a major concern and risk when we booked. Thankfully she was completely fine as were our kids with no ill effects whatsoever. Our friend unfortunately did and does suffer motion sickness so she spent some time in her cabin unwell. The boat and the ocean was very stable and smooth sailing.
When organising our next holiday cruise, MSC would be my first choice based on value and quality. When booking this cruise part of the reason we chose MSC was the price so I was concerned the cheaper price would be reflected in service, quality or "somewhere", I was happy to find this not the case. I'd happily recommend the Divina to anybody looking for an excellent family cruise.
Excellent. Plenty of room and very comfortable sleep.