MSC Divina Cruise, December 6, 2019
Quick thoughts: very beautiful ship, especially the atrium; poor food; very crowded ship with large unused rooms; great 1600 seat theater; mostly poor entertainment choices, but some notable exceptions; very smokey casino; excellent waiters and room steward, not much closet space for an eleven day cruise.
Random Thoughts about basically inconsequential stuff:
The Butter Challenge - butter served in little pouches that were nearly impossible to open with your fingers. Even the waiters couldn't figure them out until the last day.
The Kleenex Revolt - cabins have built-in places for Kleenex packets, but there was no Kleenex. One rumour had it that the Yacht Club was hording Kleenex. Some people were ready to storm the yacht club with pitchforks and torches. Anger strikes deep.
The Name That Song Game - the main theater presented all music like it was European opera. Imagine tributes to Queen and to Tina Turner, performed without guitars. It was difficult to recognize the songs. The opera arias were better, but they were done karaoke style. The singers warbled into the microphones - warbling is fine in a non-amplified theater, but it distorted the sound something awful when yelled into the sound system.
Spot the Cigarette Smokers - any place close to the casino became smoke-filled. Half the casino was supposed to be smoke free. It was easy to spot the smokers after a theater performance; they descended on the next door casino and puffed away. It's enough to gag a maggot.
Navigate the Papparozzi - formal nights had photographers everwhere you (didn't) look.
The Deck Chair Scavenger Hunt - 4000 Passengers, 400 deck chairs. Good luck finding one.
Caste System of India - if you pay enough for the yacht club, you get access to parts of the ship that the rest of us hoi polloi were denied. Sometimes the best route between places involved entering those holy of holies. On the private island, the YC people ride around in chauffered golf carts, while the rest of us walk.
Caste System of Eastern Europe - if you get to the pool before breakfast, you get to mark a chair as occupied for the day. And if you get into a ten person hot tub, you glare at the seventh and eighth persons who want to join you. Just learn from the Europeans and spread out as much as you can, if you get the chance.
Blind the Guy Behind You - if you want to record a performance, brighten your screen so that others around you see only your phone.
Good stuff - the barman juggling show (get your seat early); a duo called Ameritalian was the best small group on the ship, too bad they performed right where the smoke rose from the casino; announcements were done in six languages, but there were very few announcements (good job, cruise director), the Cruise Critic Meet and Greet was well attended and a lot of fun (don't miss it); the ship plays grand opera music every time it leaves a port, which was stirring (I was reminded of the Ride of the Valkyries in the movie Apocalypse Now, but the Divina used an Italian opera song - too bad); the Ocean Cay private island is spectacular, it really mellowed out my negative attitude toward the Divina (recommendation - try swimming with the baby shark in the lagoon).
Other: embarkation was terrible, we were there a little early but didn't get on board for four hours. The privileged people in the yacht club were treated better, being escorted through the crowds of waiting normals. Disembarkation was smooth and on-time.
I would go again on this cruise. It comes down to poor food versus a beautiful ship and great private island. My decision will be based mostly on the price. But MSC has to promise to do a better job on the food.
Poor to non-existent storage space, especially for an eleven day cruise. The balcony was steel hull enclosed, which wasn't as bad as I had expected. It may be different on another cruise, but starboard was consistently the better side of the ship for views in port.
Low stress, fun restaurant near the ship
Fun place to walk around. Beautiful city.
Merchants in Ocho Rios are not as pushy as they used to be.
Best fish sandwich of the cruise (I had several in different ports). Took a private van on a two hour tour, which was so much less expensive than ship excursions.
Lovely. Great beaches on the lagoon, but a better beach with a little surf. Enjoyed the baby shark that swam by, and scared the bajeebers our of other people.