We have been cruising with MSC for the last 3 years. This was the 11th cruise with MSC and the 7th on the Divina.This review compares the Transatlantic cruise from the Divina during November 2019 against the previous cruises we did with MSC out of Miami on the Divina, Seaside and Armonia.Comments are the differences between this cruise and all other MSC cruises we took. We didn't compare MSC with other cruise lines we have been on 20+ cruises on three other cruise lines).
We flew into Rome and took the transfer from the Airport to the cruise port. Finding a meeting point at the airport was problematic. Other cruise lines picked up passenger at baggage claim. After some asking around we found a MSC sign and were hooked up with the driver and the transfer van.
Arrived at the port around 9.30 and had to wait until 11.00 Am before embarkation. No computers were available (broke down.....) so only the embarkation ticket and passport let us on the ship. The cruise card was in the cabin. Since our passports we not scanned in, MSC kept our passports. We demanded and got them back the following day. This was not done in other ports as we found out later.
The cabin was roomy and clean as was the ship. Had some broken lights replaced in the cabin at our request. Since we are Diamond members (MSC just changed the name from Black Members to Diamond Voyager Members) all the goodies coming with that level were present. Since we where in an Aurea level cabin we had tissues in our bathroom. Fantastica and Bella had no tissues. No tissues were on sale in the shops either. Cost cutting in the cruise industry continues!
Ship and cabin throughout the cruise were kept clean to the standards we are use to from MSC.
The dining menu has not changed in 3 years. Since this was a crossing some local cuisine was added (Spanish, Portuguese and Caribbean). One problem though, the food was always cold dining room or buffet was no different. Only a few time I had some hot French Fries because I was watching them refilling the bin.This was not a unique experience. Our fellow passengers experienced the same cold food. The steakhouse was a bit better and had good food.
The entertainment on the ship was the same as it has been the last three years supplemented with some opera and a few one man shows which were hard to watch since everything was translated in 6 different languages. The stage has not changed since the ship was built and is not current anymore. The 25 year old MSC Armonia is more modern in that regard than the Divina.
This ship right now is set up for one time cruisers! May one timers said this will be the first and last MSC cruise. MSC has not figured out what the American market wants. Hope they figure out fast before their large investments into the cruise fleet will not generate any income!
Than the activities: There at least 3 dance classes a day, throughout the whole 20 day cruise. The craft projects were the level of kindergarten. Also Calligraphy was taught everyday. What was missing of the activities list was the three times a day Trivia and other activities we have gotten use to on the Divina. The majority of the daily agenda was dance classes and sales in the shops! When Trivia was held a large group participated .
The cruise staff was friendly when approached but behaved anemic in presentations and involvement. Only the Dance instructors were busy. This made the cruise very boring (if you are not into Dance and listening to the same three musicians in the bars!).
Since we are frequent MSC cruisers we are use to the multiple languages. However the announcements were very long and in all different languages , which made it very annoying. Also very lengthy sales announcement were done in at least 6 languages!
The excursions sponsored by MSC were OK. Also here, the multiple languages made it more difficult to follow the tour guide. On previous MSC cruises, leaving out of Miami, only English was the language use.
At this time of the year there are very few kids on board and they didn't cause any issues. Since no children in our party so can't judge the children's program but it appeared to have the same problem (didn't see any children groups with MSC staff as on other MSC cruises): lack of activities..
The cherry on the ice cream came in Porto Rico. Since the cruise had a large amount of none Americans the process of going through customs took over 10 hours. MSC had notified us in advantage of the slow process.We had to wait more than an hour in the staircase after we were told to leave the theater. For many elderly and handicapped certainly a problem. We were not able to get back on board until 6 PM. (the night before it was stated that by 4 PM people could go back onto the ship). During this waiting time in the hall no information was provided by MSC concerning the status of the debarkation. Guests were still leaving the ship to go through customs as late as 5.30 PM. In the mean time the crowd got to be very unruly and a mob scene developed. And when finally embarkation started there was a rush onto the entrance (as per good European tradition) with no control of the crowd!. MSC expected the issues and didn't plan for the comfort and safety of the passengers which were waiting to get on board.
A few days before the cruise I received an email from Cruise Critic stating a mix and mingle party will be organized on the cruise. Two days before the end I checked with the service desk which had no answer and promised to get back to me. Surprise, surprise, never heard from them and no Cruise Critic party was held.My experience with MSC has mainly been positive (except when unannounced a group of 2500 Vegan passengers took over ship making others second class citizens. MSC has compensated us for the inconvenience of that cruise).
This was the first time I took an MSC cruise based out of Europe. Never again. Hopefully they adapted there cruise staff and programs since the Divina now leave from Miami for the next 5 month. Although cruising with MSC is good value for your money, maybe not this time!
Embarkation was poor to a ":computer problem"
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