Most of our cruising has been with Holland America (over 300 nights), but we have also sailed with Celebrity, Princess, Royal Caribbean, and Swan Hellenic (of blessed memory). We chose this cruise because we wanted to experience a big ... Read More
Most of our cruising has been with Holland America (over 300 nights), but we have also sailed with Celebrity, Princess, Royal Caribbean, and Swan Hellenic (of blessed memory). We chose this cruise because we wanted to experience a big ship, and we liked the itinerary (Genoa, Italy to Miami, FL, via Civitavecchia, Marseille, Barcelona, Cadiz, Lisbon, Azores, Bermuda, and New York City). Unusually for a trans-atlantic repositioning cruise, we had three overnight stays (Tenerife, Bermuda, and New York City. A hurricane over the Azores caused a diversion to Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spanish Canary Islands.)
The Divina has a capacity of 4,345 passengers, but we were 3,335 upon arriving in Tenerife. Even with the ship only 77% full, it always felt extremely crowded in the public areas, and especially on the sun decks, the restaurants, the bars and lounges, and the theatre. One problem with bigger and bigger ships is the fact that more and more people still have to leave and enter the ship via a couple of gangways. This can lead to long waits in the ship and/or on the quay.
The food was average or below average (my wife's evaluation) to good (my own evaluation). We succeeded in obtaining freshly made, consistently hot dishes at breakfast and lunch in the Black Crab restaurant by insisting (we were frequently told that he was not on duty, but this was true on only one occasion) on being seated with a particularly attentive waiter, Mr. Arturo de Leon, from the Philippines. His consistently excellent service to us, and to some other passengers who sought him out, seemed to provoke jealousy, rather than emulation, on the part of several of his colleagues. Our evening dining in Villa Rosa was also enjoyable, as we shared a table for 8 with two other Canadian couples, and were served by a trio of excellent waiters: Rusdi (Indonesia); Rohan (India); and Gabriel (Romania). My favourite meals were the fish dishes and the desserts.
Our cabin steward (Ronald, from the Philippines) was also very efficient, and almost always managed to service our room while we were away at breakfast or dinner. The fuse for the thermostat burned out, and it took several days to get it repaired.
The fitness centre had only two elliptical machines, was crammed full of people, and had the music cranked up to the maximum.
Apart from the (mostly initial) entertainers (a living shadow artist; a mime; a ventriloquist; and four superb flamenco dancers), we found the dancing and singing acts to be excruciatingly loud, and gave them a pass, after several tries. The very, very worst "entertainment" were the Bermudan drummers and dancers: unbearably loud and incredibly repetitious. Several guests (usually, the same ones) disregarded the order to refrain from recording the shows on phones and laptops. The prohibition was never enforced by staff. There was only ONE solo recital of classical music, by the accomplished pianist on board. MSC's idea of classical singing is to have a third-rate tenor screaming "O Sole Mio" as if he was being burnt alive. Alma Duo gave two great tribute concerts to ABBA and the Beatles. The fashionista and his towering model were good.
The "library" is the worst on the high seas: frequently closed (without warning) because of "staff training," it had the smallest selection of books in any of the five languages used during the cruise (English, Italian, French, Spanish, and German), and not a single reference book (atlas, travel books, almanacs, etc.).
The trivia quizmaster was by far the most obnoxious staff member I have ever encountered on a cruise ship. He treated contestants as if we were half-witted kindergarteners.
Many staff appeared to be poorly trained, and some were observed smoking and drinking on the non-smoking 7th deck (port side), and tossing their butt ends and empty cans overboard. I mentioned this on my feedback sheet, halfway through the 23-day cruise, but received no followup.
The future cruise consultant offered limited office hours, and NO cruise brochures were freely available. I asked for a loan of a brochure in English; was promised one "in your cabin, in a few days," but was never sent one.
One good aspect of MSC cruises is their willingness to match one's status on competing cruise lines or hotels. Even though this was our first (and might be be our last) cruise with MSC, our 4-star Mariner status with Holland America got us Black-card Voyagers Club status (the highest of 5 levels) on MSC. This enabled us to receive various perks throughout the cruise, which made up for some of its less pleasurable aspects. Our favourite meal on board was the sushi tasting menu on deck 15, which was most enjoyable, and one of the aforementioned Black-card perks.
Lastly, it was wonderful to meet a large group of Cruise Critics on board, visit their cabins, and socialize. Read Less