We just got off a three day cruise on the MSC Divina and had a wonderful time and experience!! It was our first time cruising with MSC. Here are some of our thoughts on the cruise.
The embarkment process was fairly routine. We arrived around noon and got in line to check in. It seemed a little slow, maybe took about an hour to get us checked in. We got a boarding group number and had to wait for a while before they started to let us on board as they were running behind. We were on the ship by 2:00pm and able to get lunch.
While you can't tell from the outside, the inside of the ship is very beautifully, and uniquely, designed to where you understand why MSC likens it to Sophia Loren!! The ship has many different bar and lounge areas, most of them with an Italian flavor, for guests to hang out at and relax in and take in the various entertainment options that were available to us. Overall, it was a very pleasant environment to be in.
We thought that the entertainment options on the Divina were one of the best that we've ever encountered on a cruise. The nightly productions were extravagant and entertaining. There were multiple musical sets and bands throughout the ship offering a variety of music to please all. I thought the quality of the musicians was a cut above and we loved spending time in the evenings before dinner hanging out in the atrium listening to music while sipping on an adult beverage and chatting with our fellow cruisers.
The food on the cruise was good, nothing special to distinguish it from any other cruise, other than their made from scratch pizzas. The breakfast buffet was fine with the usual assortment of breakfast items. The lunch buffet is somewhat limited in terms of what was offered, with a daily dose of pastas and other items. As noted above, their pizza was excellent and available anytime. We did the sit down dinner and were pleased with the service and the quality of food. We did not try any of the specialty restaurants, so unfortunately cannot tell if any of them were worth spending extra for.
We had the basic drink package, which comes in handy. While the package that we got limited us to drinks that were $6 or less, it was fine for the most part. It would have been nice if MSC would allow you to use the package for more expensive drinks and just charge you the difference over the $6. However their policy is to charge full price, which meant that we tried to stay within the $6 range.
One thing that we struggled with was getting our preferred dining time. MSC for some reason assigned us early dining (6pm) while we wanted the later dining time. Usually on other cruise lines it is not an issue to get it switched. However, I twice called MSC's customer service before the cruise and they could not help me change it. I tried changing it when we were checking in at the terminal, only to be told that we had to do it on the ship at the restaurant. When we tried to do it on the ship, the maitre d' told us that no table were available and the best he could do was put us on standby. So when we came back for the later dining, he acted like he might not be able to accommodate us. At which point, I got a little upset with him and told him in no uncertain terms that we felt like MSC was lacking in customer service and in taking good care of their guests. I also shared with him how hard we had tried to get it corrected. Whether he got tired of dealing with me or I might have actually said something that resonated with him, he told me to wait a few minutes while he found something. Which he did and we were able to get the later seating for the rest of the cruise. So that turned out fine in the end.
As for the ports we visited, our first stop was at Freeport, Bahamas and it's an okay port of call with limited things to see and do. We had been there before and toured the island, so were content this time to just hang out at the cruise port visiting the local shops and having a drink at Senor Frogs.
Our other stop was to MSC's private island called Ocean Cay!! Firstly, it's brand new and we were one of the first ships to stop there. Wow, what an awesome place!! It's literally a private oasis with different beaches all over and a fun way to spend the day. The ship was didn't leave till 11pm and so they had evening entertainment on Ocean Cay, highlighted by the Lighthouse light show. Really a must see and experience!!
Disembarkment was fairly easy and hassle free. MSC assigns disembark times based on cabin numbers (with the flexibility to get off early if needed) which makes for a simple, yet effective system. We got into Miami early and when our number was called, we breezed through customs and immigrations.
Overall this was a very good cruise, one that I would highly recommend. We loved the ship, loved the entertainment, loved the service, loved their private island.
However, I am not impressed with MSC's customer service system with long delays in getting a hold of the rep and finding out that they are very limited in how much they can help you. Also, not a fan of being assigned a dining time that is not what we wanted. I think that MSC will have a challenge winning over American cruisers if they cannot change their customer service system. Which is why I did not give them 5 stars.
We had a balcony cabin on the 9th deck. It was a nice, clean cabin. Well laid out and fairly spacious with a nice sized balcony. We never got to meet our room attendant, but they did a good job of keeping the cabin clean and tidied up. The bathroom was fine with the soap and shampoo dispensers which seem to be the norm anymore.