How does a Mediterranean cruise line pay tribute to Italian film legend Sophia Loren? By building a truly beautiful cruise ship, with nods to La Dolce Vita. Launched in 2012, MSC Divina stands out for the sheer attractiveness of its public areas. The atrium's two-story Swarovski staircase glitters with thousands of crystals -- a photo standing on the stairs is the ship's most popular selfie, we're told -- and similar glam touches are displayed throughout the vessel.
MSC Divina was refurbished in 2017 and is still in good shape thanks to its dry-dock days in 2021.
The MSC Divina deck plans are well designed and easy to navigate. Despite its length (333 meters or 1,092 feet), 18 decks and maximum capacity of 3,436 passengers, this vessel has a nice passenger flow. Cabins and public spaces are grouped together on different decks, which allows for the vast majority of staterooms and suites to be quiet at night. Only cabins on decks 5 (Saturno), 8 (Artemide) and 13 (Cupido) may experience noise, as they’re either close to or directly above or below busy common areas.
One of the highlights of this Fantasia-class vessel is its ship-within-a-ship concept, the Yacht Club. With its own pool, restaurant and lounge -- as well as butler service and a host of other perks -- the MSC Divina Yacht Club is a true haven (and a spacious one, at that) where you feel far from the hustle and bustle. Not only that, but since you see the same small group of people day in and day out, the Yacht Club allows you to pretend there aren't over 4,000 other passengers onboard. The Yacht Club is located on decks 15 and 16 forward.
MSC Divina cruise ship offers European and Caribbean sailings, drawing passengers from the US, Latin America and Europe alike. The European sailings have port calls in Spain, France and Italy, while there are a few each year that go from Funchal (Madeira) to Italy with a stop in Morocco. One of the main highlights of the Caribbean itinerary is the stop at Ocean Cay Marine Reserve, MSC’s private island in The Bahamas, which offers water sports and sandy beaches lined with cabanas.
Although its parent company has worldwide recognition with international cruisers, MSC still faces the challenge of name recognition in the United States where Divina is based, although newer ships based in North America such as MSC Seashore and MSC Meraviglia have helped. Still, the line continues to courted Americans with several smart, wallet-friendly promotions specifically geared to Divina. The first is a continuous offer to allow children under 18 to sail for free if they share the cabin with their parents. And the second is a status match program where the line will honor passengers' status from their competitors. We met many people onboard new to MSC who had booked, based upon the offers -- and were happy with what they found.
Will all Americans embrace Divina's international vibe? No. MSC does not have the party hearty atmosphere of Carnival, nor the action-packed thrills of Royal Caribbean. But we met many North American passengers who enjoyed the diversity that Divina offers, at a reasonable price. With so many Italian touches, the ship almost offers two vacations in one -- and that's a bargain no matter what your nationality.
MSC Divina offers tons of things to do, with a large pool deck, a huge spa, live music, fun daily quizzes, a casino, and an arcade with Formula 1 simulators. A high point is the evening programming. Although Divina doesn't have Broadway shows, passengers applauded loudly for the twice nightly reviews full of music and acrobatics.
We also found the evenings packed with fun activities such as name that tune trivia, movies on the Lido deck (complete with popcorn) and enthusiastic theme parties (you haven't seen a White Party until you've seen hundreds of Brazilians participating in an exuberant line dance). Entertainment staff were everywhere, cheerfully encouraging participation. Discos and live music go late into the night, er, morning, and the tables near the pool are packed until late, Italian-style. You have to work hard to not have a good time.
MSC offers passengers three tiers of inclusions (or “experiences”), each with its own perks and price. These can seem confusing to people who are new to the brand.
Bella Experience: This is the most basic package, and comes with a "guarantee" cabin, meaning you'll have a cabin but you won't be able to choose exactly where it is. You can buy a discounted drink package when you book but other perks are not available.
Fantastica Experience: This tier is only available for passengers booking a Balcony, Ocean View or Interior cabin. Perks of the MSC Divina Fantastica tier include the opportunity to choose the cabin and its location, free in-room breakfast, discounted beverage package rates and specialty restaurant meals, and 24-hour room service (with a set delivery fee).
Aurea Experience: Available for Suite passengers only, the MSC Divina Aurea Experience adds a few extras to Fantastica, including welcome wine and sweets, free 24-hour room service, MyChoice dining options, free access to the Solarium and the adult-only Thermal Suite, in-room robes and slippers, pillow menus, and priority boarding.
In addition to these packages, passengers seeking a more exclusive experience can book a cabin in the MSC Divina Yacht Club, which is a separate section within the ship with extra perks. 24-hour butler service, dedicated concierges, a la carte meals at the Yacht Club restaurant, free minibar items, free drinks in all Yacht Club bars and lounges, free Wi-Fi, and exclusive access to a sun deck and Top Sail Lounge are only some of the Yacht Club privileges.
For the most up-to-date testing, masking, and vaccination requirements aboard MSC Divina, please refer to MSC's Health and Safety protocols. You can also use Cruise Critic's guide to health requirements on the world’s major cruise lines as we know them.
· All meals in the two main dining rooms and the buffet
· Water, tea, coffee and milk; juice available at breakfast only
· Use of the water park and sports area
· Use of the fitness center, excluding classes or training sessions
· Most daily activities onboard, including trivia games, live music, and classes and workshops
· Use of the kids’ and teen clubs
· Access to Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, including buffet lunch and use of sun loungers on the beach
· Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks with the exception of water, tea and coffee
· Room service (included for higher-tier cruise packages only)
· Some evening shows
· Meals in specialty restaurants
· Shore excursions
· Wi-Fi (except for Yacht Club passengers)
· Spa treatments, fitness classes and training sessions
· Purchases from onboard shops
· Bowling, F1 simulator and arcade games
Although MSC Cruises prides itself on its international passenger base, the majority of passengers who sail Divina are North Americans. Other passengers might include English-speakers from the U.K., Ireland and South Africa. MSC has a large presence in Brazil and a good reputation in the Latino world; expect to hear a lot of Spanish, German and Italian while walking through the halls. Loudspeaker announcements are made in English only.
When school is out, families are common, especially as MSC lets kids younger than 18 sail free when sharing a cabin with two paying adults. Divina draws from a wide age range, and you'll see all types.
Daytime: During the day, the MSC Divina dress code is casual, and shorts and tees are the norm.
Evening: Generally, the dress onboard is casual, though MSC Divina theme nights -- such as White Night, where all passengers dress in white, and Italian night, where people don green, red and white -- are common. At night, women typically wear sundresses or slacks or capris with blouses; men wear khakis or slacks and button-down or collared shirts. On MSC Divina gala nights, cocktail dresses are the norm for women, while men strut their stuff in suits or jackets and ties. On three- to six-night cruises, MSC Divina hosts one formal night. For sailings of seven to 10 nights, passengers have two formal nights, three for sailings of 11 to 14 nights and four on sailings of 15 nights or longer.
Not permitted: At night, jeans, T-shirts, shorts and bare feet are prohibited in main public areas, including the main dining room, but are not enforced in the theater or disco (except bare feet, which are always prohibited anywhere other than at the pool).
Read more about MSC Cruises dress code.
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