While the Divina is a beautiful ship and did many things well, the design is not terribly functional and the service not terribly efficient and there is room for improvement. We met many seasoned cruisers who found the ship's interior ... Read More
While the Divina is a beautiful ship and did many things well, the design is not terribly functional and the service not terribly efficient and there is room for improvement. We met many seasoned cruisers who found the ship's interior difficult and confusing to navigate and details lacking.
The decorating choices in the nightclubs and lounges around the vessel, were pretty, but impractical, cutting down on available seating. The deep banquettes, made it necessary to either perch on the edge of the seat or crawl on and off of the seating. Washrooms in public areas were inadequate to the number of passengers. There were constant long line ups near the main dining rooms and theatre and in other areas washrooms were difficult to locate or absent. The choice to go with the electronic automatic flush toilets resulted in frustration to many of the guests, when they either wouldn't flush after use or seemingly flushed randomly. It was also difficult for the staff to keep up with stocking of the toilet tissue and thorough cleaning. On several occasions, we noticed the smell of urine or sewage when walking past the washrooms in the corridors.
The food offerings and selections available for both assigned seating and buffets were good but, they were not exceptional. One evening everyone at our table ordered the entree that came with a "Duchess potato". When you put your fork into it to take a mouthful, it was so dry it disintegrated into little dry bits that were inedible! Another evening, the steak was very gristly. The main dining rooms: Villa Rosa and the Black Crab were ridiculously and needlessly crowded, making it difficult for the guests or servers to move easily to or from the tables without squeezing awkwardly between diners. Also, rather than the servers having serving platforms centrally located to their tables, they had to keep negotiating their way in and out of the closely packed diners to get their orders from a serving station elsewhere in the dining room. There seemed to be insufficient staff available in the dining rooms to quickly and effectively serve the number of diners, resulting in frustration by those waiting a very long time for the various courses of their meal or even for refills of water or other beverages. And when we tried the Black Crab one morning for breakfast, it was even worse! Not one person at our table got their breakfast requests totally correct! And the wait was ridiculously long to even get a menu! Items that should have been served together were served separately, such as one guest who wanted oatmeal with raisins, milk and a banana for breakfast. First her oatmeal arrived, after a long delay, then with additional delays for each additional item to be delivered separately to her table...by which time her oatmeal was no longer warm.
When some of the guests mentioned the overcrowding, they were told it was "European-style dining." We recently spent a few days in Paris...while the cafes may have been more crowded than most North American restaurants, there was still more space to get between the tables for the servers and diners than this dining room allowed and the river cruise dining room was spacious and the service and food exceptional! After the first two nights of excruciatingly slow service, many diners opted for other dining choices rather than face the loud and chaotic environment of the main dining rooms. I shudder to think what would happen to the diners and staff in the panic of an emergency situation!
The attitude of the senior staff to comments by the guests, suggesting concerns that should be addressed seemed to be one of dismissal. My spouse pointed out a problem he'd witnessed with guests being confused about how to open one of the doors from the buffet area to the outside deck area. He had noticed them trying to figure out how to open the door and pointed out a blue button to them, which opened the door. They had been afraid to push the button, in case it set off an alarm. There was no signage beside the button to indicate it could be used to open the door. When he addressed this issue with the senior staff member on duty, the staff person pointed out the button was obvious and that there was a sign, located at the foot of the door! (Yes, that's right there was a 3 or 4-inch square green graphic image of a person pushing a button--located at the base of the door...by your toes...about 3 feet or so below the button!) When my spouse pointed out that people didn't see it there. It should be located at eye level with the button. The staff person, then turned the automatic door opener on and told him that would solve the problem. But in reality, it would probably just serve to further confuse people using the door, if it opened automatically some of the time, but not at others!
The biggest disappointment was the change in itinerary. We were told it was due to rough weather causing strong currents. Most of those aboard had taken the cruise for the opportunity of having 2 full days and nights to explore the beautiful island of Bermuda. Sadly, the change in itinerary resulted in everyone having to be aboard by 3:30 p.m. on day 2 for an early departure rather than 7 a.m. of the third day. Due to the ship not providing its own tenders to the major tourist attractions of St. George or Hamilton, it made it difficult to see everything in such a short time when having to rely on the public transportation. The ferry took 25 minutes to return to or from Hamilton and it took 45 minutes to return by bus, longer from St. George at the far end of the island. When you consider a bus holds only about 40 or so people and the ferry only about 150 and the ship disgorged 3900 cruise guests, it made it a worry for those who did venture out on their own to make it back on time.
As for beverages, their voucher system would be improved by setting a dollar limit for items chosen from their beverage menus, rather than what seemed like an arbitrary selection of items being unavailable by voucher even though the actual dollar amount was less than others that were available by voucher. For example, a cocktail costing $7.25 or a glass of wine at $6.50 was available for one voucher; however, a Guinness beer costing $6.00 was not available with a voucher!? Why not just say anything under $7.50 is available by voucher and anything over that amount can be purchased with the voucher, but the difference will be added to the guest's account. It would also be appreciated if the cruise line would provide a beverage station on the pool decks rather than just bars requiring the guests to either pay for their beverages or go all the way back to the buffet area.
While the ship offered the ability to find quiet places to just soak up the sun and sea air, it would have been nice to have them provide blankets and have the seating arranged to accommodate those guests wanting to watch the movies shown on the big screen on deck. The screen itself made it difficult to actually see the movie being screened, as for some reason it was pierced by a scattering of red lights. In spite of the Cruise Director's nightly invitation to try out the lovely shipboard Galaxy disco, with a lovely view from the 15th deck, the one occasion we tried to do so, it was so loud it hurt our ears and we couldn't hear each other speak when we were yelling in each other's ears...not exactly our idea of a romantic, fun-filled evening of dancing.
The musical performances in the main theatre were very good, as were the other performers on board; however, we heard from many of our fellow travelers that they would have liked more of a choice of entertainment, such as comedians, in the lounges. We and others would have also welcomed more on-board activities, particularly during days at sea. Briefings about the ports of call would have been welcomed, with more details and videos of the actual excursions offered. It would probably helped them sell more excursions if more information were available either on the Cruise Director's daily "morning show" or in a separate seminar in the theatre or on their Excursion TV station which only showed a few photos of each port town and one long video of the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas. The excursions desk staff were not terribly good at promoting the excursions and didn't offer information, but only seemed to respond to direct questions asked of them.
We had an interior cabin, the bed was hard and the two mattresses put together to make our queen bed, resulted in an uncomfortable ridge between us when we cuddled together to sleep. The pillows appeared to be filled with latex foam chips and even two didn't make for adequate neck support. When I asked if it it might be possible to get a more comfortable pillow, I was told those were the only pillows available, all they could offer was an additional pillow. We were surprised when we were unable to locate face cloths or bathrobes in our cabin. I thought perhaps it was just an oversight, but while we did receive face cloths on the second day, when I requested them; we were told they did not supply bathrobes. A few envelopes and sheets of writing paper and a postcard of the ship were provided--but, not a single writing implement: no pen, not even a pencil was provided for guest use in their cabin. So silly! I'm mean really! promotional pens are an inexpensive means of advertising for the company and even the most spartan inexpensive motel provides a pen or pencil for their guests! More sound-proofing between cabins would also be appreciated! We had a young family beside us, whose wee one's cries and tantrums made it very difficult to get a full night's sleep for them and for us!
The flight on Sunwing and the transfers arranged to and from Fort Lauderdale were good, and the disembarkation process fast and very efficient, although it did result in our having to vacate our cabin by 7 a.m. and then sit at the airport for 3 hours waiting for our flight.
Sadly, while Divina may be a beautiful ship with much to offer, any of the guests we spoke with all spoke of those little details that needed improvement, as well as the attitude of the staff when issues where brought to their attention. Many said MSC needed to "step up their game" if they wanted to build loyal North American return business. Some had given the Divina a second chance, having traveled on her previously and thinking she was relatively new in the North American market and was still learning the market. Sadly, they didn't see any improvement and would not be returning and or recommending her or MSC to anyone. The devil is definitely in the details. Just as anyone who has been kept awake or bedeviled by the buzzing or biting of tiny insects in the night, can agree that sometimes the smallest annoyances can be the worst!
I wouldn't say never to travel on the Divina or MSC cruises, but just be prepared for their idea of "European-style service." Read Less