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MSC Divina Cruise Review
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
1,756 Reviews

MSC Divina Transatlantic by a couple of Australians. We warned you!

MSC Divina Cruise Review by CruiseCoupleX

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Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Nov 2019
  • Destination: Transatlantic
  • Cabin Type: Balcony Stateroom

My partner and I spent 20 nights on the south bound transatlantic crossing which sailed from Genoa on 5-11-2019. We (41 and 42) were accompanied by 1 set of parents (64 and 65) and 1 couple who are friends our age. I researched thoroughly before choosing this cruise. Our primary reason to select this journey on MSC Divina was the brilliant itinerary. I read the reviews and noted the negative and positive accounts. We have been on Cunard QM2 and Q-Elizabeth, Celebrity Solstice, Golden Princess and Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas since 2015. We enjoyed Celebrity and RCL the most. I took a pragmatic view when reading past reviews as we were primarily motivated by the destinations and itinerary which were fantastic !!!! We were incredibly lucky with weather and the uneventful marine operation of the ship. Our group had a great time all up BUT the MSC experience was unfortunately mediocre at best. If you enjoy Celebrity or RCL you will have a very different experience on MSC.

The SHIP. Newish, cleanish, cheaply but tastefully decorated, okay layout, a bit worn – particularly the furnishings. Not much to do. Not much on. Not many crew visible.

The ROOM. We had fantastica balcony deck 10. Bigger than average, good bed, great bathroom, small tv, good fridge, just enough storage, well kept by our lovely room steward but VERY dusty as were the hallways. Buy some decent vacuums MSC and maintain them.

The FOOD in MDRs. Sorry to say it was well below the standard of all the other ships we’ve experienced. We had to change restaurants because our wait staff were so bad and incorrect meals were delivered 5 days straight. They laughed it off and made no offer or attempt to bring what we actually ordered. It was quite shocking and they had a very blaze attitude amidst disingenuous platitudes. Some of the dishes were ok but it was, mostly, cheap and simple rather than simple and delicious. Even the paid meals in the MDR were of a poor standard at 23 euro for what turned out to be a cold steak - a real disappointment and we were charged for the same steak 3 times instead of a refund. We were so glad to have some amazing meals ashore and absolve ourselves of the ship’s abysmal food whenever possible. Breakfast in the MDR was survivable but the service random. The stories of tough cold steaks and tasteless or just salty food are all credible as that was exactly what we experienced.

The FOOD in the buffet. The buffet was pretty busy with our load of 3222pax. It was really the better option for lunch and dinner despite the crowd. A good range of hot dishes and some nice cold options were varied and well replenished. Again an ‘economic’ approach was conspicuous. No smoked salmon or other cold seafood or fancy cheeses and only cheaper fish and cuts of meat. Only 2 DIY toasters in the entire buffet and no staffed toasting available. Daily specials being made to order at pop-up stations like pasta and hot roast rolls were often the best thing going. The Pizza was indeed lovely. My Coeliac (gluten free) father had very limited options and zero G/F labeling in the buffet.

The ROOM SERVICE. Is Not Free (except Breakfast) on Fantastica or above. Whilst the spiel suggests it is included the wording just means no delivery or service charge. There is an item charge of 3 / 5 / 8 / 10 euro for 1 / 2 /3 /4 items respectively. The only hot item was soup. We were impressed with the quality of the room service. The breakfast was continental - only the drinks were hot.

The ENTERTAINMENT. We went to two shows in 20 nights. The talent was good and gave it 100% but no sets to speak of, just the odd prop and it is aimed at a multilingual crowd so is a bit ‘different’ to what an anglophone audience might expect. Again, it looked cheap. The theatre and lighting were the main visual backdrops which made the entertainers look sparse. Oh and best to avoid the crew/captain introduction presentation unless you have a massive sense of humour and the patience of a saint.

The ACTIVITIES. Origami, a bit of ‘visual trivia’ to bridge the language gap. Various fitness and dance activities. We felt like there was very little to do and were consigned to reading in our room on sea days. There was only news in English on the TV and nothing else. We were given 12 FREE movies on the pay per view for the 5 consecutive sea days. Perhaps the channels are reconfigured whilst the ship is sailing from Miami… but it seemed like they wanted to force us to buy movies.

The COFFEE. Okay here is my most positive comment. The BEST CRUISE SHIP COFFEE I’VE EVER EXPERIENCED !!!!!! Great self-serve coffee in the buffet when it’s hot. Espresso 9/10 times was strong and pleasant.

The DRINKS PACKAGE. We had the ‘Easy’ included and upgraded it to ‘Premium’ for 9 euro a night per person plus 15%. So, 207 euro for 20 nights per person. It covered most drinks at max 10 euro. If it’s 10.50 you pay the whole 10.50 not the difference. They ‘ran out’ of most of the good by-the-glass red wine early on. You can only get large 1 or 1.5 litre water on the premium package. The easy package would have been a problem for us as we like wine and the odd cocktail. The speciality restaurant wine list has only a handful of by the glass wines 10 euro of less. The 6 euro or less options are limited. I believe they were running stocks down prior to arriving in the US where they change all the drink menus as the currency becomes USD. Perhaps a restock of US duty paid liquor has some bearing on the dwindling stocks of various things. Also, there were no prices on most of the items in the various shops. Oh, and in the gym health bar only fresh orange is available on the premium package. No smoothies etc. Also, gelato and ice-cream are NOT INCLUDED despite the connotations of the advertising. Upside was they are in no-way mean with the drinks or pours.

Our FELLOW passengers. Older with an obvious sense of entitlement but not particularly decrepit. Now there have been various comments about the social tendencies of particular cultures on MSC and other European cruise lines on Cruise Critic. I think the average Australian, American, Brit, New Zealander, Canadian, German or French guest might have found the manners and approach to interaction somewhat confronting on this particular voyage but not unbearable. There seemed to be a conspicuous lack of enjoyment and conversation amongst our fellow passengers. Barely any children and none of the “noisy Italian families” others mention on MSC cruises. I’d imagine a school holiday Mediterranean summer cruise may be a different story but if you were in a new port every day it would probably be survivable. There were quite a few of the selfish towel pegs on the sun loungers by 8am – a pet hate of mine.

The UPSELL. It was everywhere and the prices were a bit silly. A 50% off 50 min massage was 80 euro. The crew weren’t all that pushy though.

The SPECIALITY RESTAURANTS. Our best meal of the cruise was at the Butchers Cut. The Sushi place was ok-ish. Again if you buy the 2 dinners package you get a limited menu and have to pay if you want certain items but it was great food. I ordered additional sides which were very good. MSC speciality dining is much more expensive than other lines and nowhere near as good.

The STATUS MATCH. One of us got black the other gold. It was as advertised but mostly meaningless and more of a sales tool than a passenger benefit. Loyalty in MSC speak means ‘gotcha’ rather than ‘we got you’ I felt.

The CRUISE DIRECTOR. Who ? Made a few announcements. Very multilingual but never saw the guy or any of his staff.

The CAPTAIN. Met him for a photo. Clearly an excellent sailor and manager as the ship was spotless on deck and ran like clockwork. Otherwise never heard from him or any of his officers who seemed to avoid passenger areas at all costs.

The PORT CALLS. All wonderful except Puerto Rico where the ship was drilled by the US Coast guard with lifeboats down and all manner of alarming announcements that were just for practise. Also EVERYONE had to disembark including all crew via 6 or so border agents which took all day and no one was allowed back on until everyone had come off. It was 8pm before reboarding was allowed. MSC use this day to clear the ship into US waters with a load of paying passengers who are massively inconvenienced in the process. It was nothing short of a disgrace and a shambles. The ship should have been scheduled with a lay day with no guests to go through this process but MSC like to keep the euros flowing. Our HIGHLIGHTS were probably every port other than Barbados.

The embarkation port of Genoa is actually worth a day or more of exploring.

> Civitavecchia – be wary of delays if using trains to get to Rome.

Valencia – the old city on foot is fantastic as are the tapas bars. La Siena was our pick and the food was amazing.

> Lisbon was great and a ride on tram 28 to the old cemetery is a must.

> The Azores (Ponta Delgada) – a beautiful place with the loveliest people. Our jeep day safari with GREENZONE AZORES (booked directly) was brilliant and our lovely guide Eduardo Miranda made the day so enjoyable!

> Martinique - is a lovely island with French finesse and all the bells and whistles.

> St Marteen – we spent the whole day at the famous airport beach drinking at the bar which was fun!

> Miami – having never visited before, Miami was a pleasant surprise! A cool town where you do need a car but heaps to do, great cuban food and a relaxed fun atmosphere.

OVERALL We all enjoyed our journey and loved the places we visited and the people we met. The cruise was unfortunately a big letdown and devoid of those little luxuries and premium experiences we’ve found on other ships. Had we been on an RCL or Celebrity ship it would have been a damn near perfect holiday but unfortunately MSC spoilt it a bit. Now I know they are a cheaper option, but we paid full brochure price of $6980 AUD for the room (2 pax) for this cruise and don’t think it was good value given the truly awful food, mediocre service and cheaply appointed ship. If you’re looking for a mobile 3 star hotel and are happy to eat ashore MSC is ok but it’s not the cruise experience I think most people expect if they’ve been on a few ships. If you get an incredibly cheap deal on a last-minute voyage and go with no expectations then you might rate it but we definitely did not.


CruiseCoupleX's Full Rating Summary
Cabin
Onboard Experience
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
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Cabin Review

Balcony Stateroom

More spacious than most with plenty of storage, decent bathroom but dust in all the crevices.


Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

Genoa

I wished we had arrived a day earlier to look around this lovely city more thoroughly.

Rome (Civitavecchia)

We did Rome in a day from Civitavecchia which was very straightforward other than a train cancellation from Rome back to the port which caused some excitement. We arrived back on time but others were not so lucky and the ship sailed nearly 3 hours late.

Valencia

The old town is worth a day roaming around and sampling Tapas. We used the ships shuttle to get there.

Lisbon

We loved Lisbon! The ship was berthed at Lisbon Cruise Port - Jardim do Tabaco Quay and you can walk into the main part of the old town easily. Tram 28 is a great ride to an old cemetery and back after a walk and a coffee at the tram terminus. We checked out the old town center near the main station and the old elevator then walked up to the St Jorge castle and back via various cafes and wine bars that had delicious food and wine.

Sete Cicades Crater Lake Tour

Ponta Delgada is a beautiful place with the loveliest people. Our jeep day safari with GREENZONE AZORES (booked directly) was brilliant and our lovely guide Eduardo Miranda made the day so enjoyable!

View All 41 Sete Cicades Crater Lake Tour Reviews
Barbados

Didn't think much of Bridgetown. We encountered those annoying touting situations that are so worn and boring and there wasn't really much to do other than go to the beach which was pristine. Probably one of the boating excursions would have been a better use of the day as we heard others had had great trips snorkeling and diving from catamarans etc.

Martinique

A lovely island with modern infrastructure and a relaxed french flavor. The old library is a must see and walk around Fort de France is well worth braving the heat!

St. Martin

We took a taxi (painful experience) to the famous beach near St Juliana airport and watched planes while drinking and eating! It was fun and we made it back to the ship in time by sharing a cab.


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