This was cruise #4 for my wife (27) and I (29). First two were Royal Caribbean. We were on the MSC Seaside in November 2019 and had a great experience. The ship was beautiful, food was great, etc. However, we were supposed to be some of the first people to go to MSC Ocean Cay on that November cruise on MSC Seaside, but the island was deemed not ready. We were given future cruise credit to compensate. We used that future cruise credit to book this 3-night cruise on MSC Divina that allowed us to visit MSC Ocean Cay.
Embarkation day (Feb 18, 2020):
We arrived at the Port of Miami around 12:30. The line was longer than I remembered. We got on board and to our room around 2:45pm. I heard from other passengers that they arrived around 1:30-2pm and only waited about 1 hour to board. So, maybe it's not good to arrive too early as we did.
My wife had to use the restroom as soon as we got to the cabin. There was no toilet paper or tissue for her to use. I called for service twice, and after 30 minutes I went off to find toilet paper on my own, while my wife waited in our cabin restroom. Needless to say, we weren't impressed to start. There was also only one pool towel (supposed to have 2). When you consider that MSC charges you $20 per towel for not returning them, you want to make sure you at least start out with the proper number. We called and received another towel without any trouble.
We then proceeded to the welcome buffet. We absolutely loved the buffet on MSC Seaside, and we thought MSC Divina's buffet was actually even better. It seemed like they had even more options, and of course the area was clean and the presentation of everything was immaculate.
The safety drill was scheduled to start at 4:45pm. We arrived on time to our location after asking around exactly where "I" was. Of course, the rest of the crowd didn't show up until probably 5:15pm. The whole thing seemed disorganized. We were glad to get it over with.
Dinner at the Black Crab at 6pm was great. We were seated with another couple, which was an unexpected but pleasant surprise. We tried to eat quickly so we would be outside for the 7pm sail away.
However, at 7pm, the ship was still tied to the dock, access ramps were still connected, and it seemed like the ship was not going anywhere at any time soon. There may have been some announcement, but it was quick and difficult to hear if there was one. We continued to hang out on the ship and grab drinks until the theater show at 9pm.
With the ship still in port at Miami, the cruise director greeted the crowd at the 9pm theater show and explained. A car had fallen off of a ferry with two people inside, and search efforts were obstructing the exit of our ship. She assured us we would be underway around 11:30pm. We did not hear any further announcements. Around 1am, my wife and I went to sleep, hoping to wake up in the Bahamas, but wondering if we might wake up to still find ourselves in Miami. Around 3:00am, we were awaken by the rumbling of the ship's engines and propellers maneuvering us away from the dock. Alas, we were on our way.
As we hit the open seas, a constant repeating loud banging was keeping me awake. After realizing it was coming from the balcony, I went outside and realized that the door that separated our balcony from our neighbor's balcony was not locked. It was swinging wildly in the wind, banging loudly on the wall and chairs. I propped a chair up next to it to hold it still until the morning. Not major, but this, along with the lack of toilet paper/tissues, and the missing beach towel painted a picture of inattentiveness in my eyes. I should note that our first cruise with MSC we had an Aurea balcony, and on this cruise we were Bella. I think I saw the difference.
Freeport, Bahamas (Feb 19, 2020):
Due to the ship's late departure from Miami, all excursions in Freeport were canceled. Luckily, we did not plan on getting off the ship here. The weather was beautiful, and we found great tanning spots on the ship after a nice workout at the gym. We were starting to feel the way we felt on our first MSC cruise - beautiful ship, beautiful people, unlimited drinks, and great food. Shows that night included an extreme acrobatics show and Beerprov comedy. Beerprov was funny on Seaside so we tried it on Divina. It's essentially just a group of stand-up comics doing improv comedy. It's funny the first 1-2 times, but the routine was basically the exact same on Divina as it was on Seaside. Still pretty funny since they are improvising. The Extreme Acrobatics show was awesome. It wasn't just acrobatics. There was a young man singing who was truly inspiring. He really had the crowd engaged. Very fun show to watch.
MSC Ocean Cay (Feb 20, 2020)
This was the main event! The reason we booked this 3-night cruise in particular. We were supposed to get to see this island back in November, and now here we finally were.
At first glance, the island looked clean - white sand, freshly painted colorful buildings, and clear water. We were worried about finding spots on the beach on this small island with potentially 4,000 ship passengers roaming around. However, this island is designed in such a way that it has the beach area of an island 10 times the size. There were open beach chairs everywhere. There were bars conveniently located around the island. Snack shacks were scattered around, with one main dining area more centrally located. Alcohol packages and food are included on the island.
It was very easy to go back and forth from the island to the ship, since the ship was docked.
We hung out at the beach all day, went back to the ship for dinner and to change clothes. Then we went back to the island at night for the lighthouse show and dance party. We had a great time. This stop made the entire cruise. It was great to be able to hang out on the island at night and not be rushed back to the ship by 4-5pm. We were told to be back on board no later than 10:30pm.
We originally booked an oceanview, so we were thrilled to learn we were given a balcony. The room was clean, and everything functioned as it should. One thing I noticed about being at the back of the ship is I think you feel and hear the engines and propellers a lot more. It woke me up a couple of times, but it was nice to be at the back of the ship for easy access to the buffet and pool. No complaints about the room itself, just the issue with the toilet paper/balcony door that were easily fixed. The balcony has plenty of space for two people to relax with their feet out and enjoy the views.
This place makes the cruise, as I described before. It's clean, there's plenty of space on the beach for everybody, and there's plenty to do - jet skis, kayak, paddle board, snorkel, deep-sea fishing, etc. Food and alcohol packages covered on the island. Easy to go back and forth between the ship and the island. Get to stay until 10:30pm so you can actually party at night on the island for a little bit.
Didn't look like there was much to do here. There was a Senor Frog's and a few other shops at the port. We didn't even get off the ship. The weather was perfect. Seems like a placeholder port. Maybe it's cheap to park the ship here and just let passengers enjoy the weather on board.