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CruiseReportMSC Cruises MSC Divina3A cruise review of MSC Cruises MSC Divina in Caribbean
 
 
by C. Dikmen and
R. Richardson
 
Journalist  90
 
 
 
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  MSC Divina Editorial
 
MSC Divina Review
 
April 2014
 
Reviewer Rates This Cruise
 
Itinerary: Miami, At Sea, Falmouth, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, At Sea, Great Stirrup Cay, Miami - read cruise blog

There appears to be a race to see who can build the biggest cruise ship. Royal Caribbean is currently in the lead with Allure/Oasis of the Seas which can carry 6,296 (max capacity) guests and 2,300 crew. Depending on which chart you look at, MSC Divina comes in at around 10th place with a max guest capacity of around 4,300. But make no mistake, with a 4,000+ guest capacity, MSC Divina is BIG, really BIG. Many cruise enthusiasts are still unaware of MSC Cruises---after all, they only operate one cruise ship in the Caribbean. MSC Cruises may have a smaller fleet (currently 12 ships) than the North America household name cruise lines (Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Princess, NCL), but the parent company, MSC, operates more than 450 ships worldwide! MSC stands for Mediterranean Shipping Company and they just happen to be the second largest operator of shipping container vessels in the world. MSC Cruises has
plenty of muscle and the company appears to be flexing it at the moment.

Update: MSC Divina earned four CruiseReport Editors' Choice Awards in 2014 for Most Beautiful Ship, Best Entertainment, Best Gourmet Pizza and Best Internet/Wi-Fi service.

MSC Divina
MSC Divina

A cruise ship's appeal goes far above the tonnage figures and the number of guests or crew. As we set out to spend a week aboard MSC Divina, we had two burning questions we wanted answered: 1) What differentiates MSC Cruises from the rest of the mass-market cruise products? 2) Has MSC improved since our last cruise aboard MSC Orchestra in 2010? To be fair, it should be noted that we approach an assignment from a perspective of two mature adults sailing without children. A family may come away with a completely different opinion. And, there was no shortage of families sailing with small children, many in strollers, on our voyage. So, our first observation is that this is a family-friendly cruise line. In fact, family cruising is encouraged by MSC Cruises' "KIds Sail Free" promotion.


MSC Cruises Divina Review
MSC Cruises Kids Sail Free promotion

But, before we get ahead of ourselves, let's take a step back to the beginning of our MSC Cruises' voyage. We took advantage of MSC Cruises' Online Check-In through their website. Therefore, we received no documents in the mail. Everything was printed from the MSC website, even the luggage tags! I was initially concerned that the luggage tags would not survive the abuse of American Airlines' baggage handlers, so after folding them as instructed, I covered both sides in clear packaging tape then stapled and taped the tags to our checked bags. This method worked and the tags did survive.

MSC Cruises Luggage Tag
MSC luggage tags printed online

When we arrived at the Port of Miami, a porter cheerfully took our bags and loaded them onto a luggage cart. I always tip the porters in Miami. I just think it is a good practice. Upon entering the port terminal, we went through Security then up the escalator to the check-in counters. We arrived at around 1:15pm and breezed through check-in in under five minutes. MSC has plenty of staff on hand to deal with the crowd. We were given our stateroom keys and invited to board the vessel. Of course, this means going through the Welcome Photo line where the ship's photographers take a photo of guests standing in front of a picture of the ship. We stopped buying these photos years ago. But, they make great souvenirs for most cruisers. We boarded MSC Divina on Deck 7 aft and were told that our stateroom would not be ready until 2:00pm and that lunch was being served in the buffet on Deck 14. We were lucky enough to find an elevator with room for us and our roll-aboard luggage, so off we went.

MSC Divina Buffet
Buffets are located on Deck 14 aft

When we arrived at the Calumet and Manitou buffets on Deck 14, we discovered that they were pretty much laid out as we remembered from MSC Orchestra. The Calumet is just forward of the aft elevator/stair lobby on Deck 14 while Manitou is all the way aft. We had just enough time for a quick snack before heading down to Deck 12 to check out our cabin.

Accommodations


When we arrived at our balcony stateroom (#12230), we were pleased to see that MSC has updated the accommodations over what we remembered from our previous MSC cruise. The room has a much more logical and usable layout and includes a nice-sized desk. When we arrived, the beds were separated into two twin beds, but this was later rectified by our excellent stateroom attendant, Putra.



Balcony Stateroom

We were pleased to see the same sliding door to the balcony. The closet is large enough for a 7-night cruise for two people, even though we are not crazy about the cheap plastic 'captive' hangers offered. One-third of the closet consists of a chest with 6 drawers and a couple of shelves. The drawers are dampened so that they do not slam shut, a nice touch. The flat-screen LCD television is in a good location above the desk and is visible from anywhere in the stateroom. A small mini-bar/fridge is located under the desk and is stocked with soft drinks and snacks (for a fee). The mattress could be more comfortable, as could the lumpy pillows. And, even though there was a non-smoking sign prominently displayed on the desk, several cigarette burns were visible on the carpeting and there was an ashtray attached to the wall by the toilet in the bathroom.

MSC Divina Review
Cigarette burns in carpet

MSC should consider a carpet with a pattern design that would work to hide permanent stains and burns like this. The solid gold carpeting shows everything. The large sofa was comfortable and quite usable, as was the oval coffee table. However, a large pyramid-shaped pizza delivery ad took up most of the space on the coffee table. We finally moved it next to the television to free up space on the table. A small, padded cube slips nicely under the desk and can be used as a seat when working at the desk or as seating at the coffee table. The cube is much better than a chair since, when not in use, it can be stowed out of sight and out of the way. The biggest improvement was in the bathroom. The shower curtain has been replaced with a very nice, split shower door design. The shower itself is roomy and everything works as it should. While far from "upscale", the bathroom does look much nicer than what we remembered. Bathroom amenities are limited to liquid soap and shampoo from dispensers. If you want a bar of soap, you had better bring your own. Also, there is no hair conditioner or body lotion. Even though our stateroom was located very close to an elevator lobby, we found it to be reasonably quiet. Noisy (and rude) people standing in the hall yacking it up late at night could be heard through the door, but the doors themselves are well designed and do not slam shut when left to close on their own, something other cruise lines should figure out how to copy. Overall, we would rate the balcony stateroom at 3 out of 5. A more comfortable mattress and burn-free carpet would get a 4 out of 5 rating.

As Rickee was unpacking our bags, I wasted no time in signing up for the ship's Wi-Fi Internet service. I booted up my MacBook and opened Safari (web browser) and the New Account form appeared as well as the screen showing all of the different Internet plans offered. I selected the 8 hr plan for $149.90 in hopes that eight hours would be enough for all of my blogging duties and checking email during the seven-day cruise. The signup process was very well designed, logical and fast.

MSC Divina Internet Wi-Fi
MSC Internet Rate Screen

MSC Internet rates are competitive with other cruise lines. The 24hr program gets the per minute rate down to 20 cents, one of the cheapest you will find on a cruise ship. When we sailed on MSC Orchestra back in 2009, the Internet service was virtually unusable. In fact, signs in the Internet cafe apologizing for the system were prominently displayed each day. Well, MSC has obviously addressed that issue. The Wi-Fi on Divina is one of the best I have used on any cruise ship. Not only are the connections reliable and fast, but MSC has the best user interface of any Internet service I have found on a cruise ship. A browser screen counts down how much time you have left in your account and a big LOGOUT button makes disconnecting simple. The signals were available in our stateroom and every public room I visited. Cisco Wi-Fi repeaters/antennas could be seen mounted in hallways throughout the ship. My only complaint is that the Internet account only applies to Wi-Fi using your own equipment. If you visit the ship's Internet cafe on Deck 5, as we did on the final day to print our boarding passes, you will incur an additional 60 cent per minute charge. That seems a little odd. In spite of that, MSC offers excellent Internet service.

Food & Dining

To say that the buffet is massive might be an understatement. There are serving lines on both port and starboard sides of the vessel. We found that if you show up for breakfast early (before 8:30am), you can breeze through with no problem. After 9:00am, forget it. In spite of multiple areas serving scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage and breads, the lines are long and crowds begin to form at the drink stations. There are no eggs made-to-order at the buffet, but they do offer fried, scrambled and boiled eggs, at least at a couple of the stations.
MSC Divina Buffet
Large platters and flatware are found at several locations on the buffet

The buffet is open throughout the day and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. The variety of hot dishes changes each day, but some items are always available. The most notable is the pizza, which can be found near the front of the Calumet buffet. They do place pizzas at various stations, but the freshest pizza can be found here coming right out of the oven. The pizza is quite good. I think it is as good as you will find on any cruise ship and much better than most.

MSC Divina Pizza
Pizzas are being made by hand at Calumet buffet

In what would seem to be an attempt to appeal to American tastes, MSC is also providing a selection of burgers, hot dogs and French fries. I tried the cheeseburger and, even though the meat was not super hot, the bun was soft and the meat had good flavor. Notwithstanding the pizza, which exceeds expectations, the rest of the buffet fare is pretty typical. The confusion comes from the way the buffet is laid out. Instead of separate island stations, it is basically one long serving line that is sort of divided into stations. The problem is, unless you work your way through the entire buffet line on port and starboard sides of the ship, you might miss some items. Some items, like the burgers and hot dogs, are only located in one place. This can create a real traffic problem during peak periods.

There are two main restaurants on Divina. The Villa Rossa is located aft on Deck 6 and was our assigned dining room. The larger Black Crab is located on Decks 5 and 6 amidships. Both dining rooms are beautifully decorated, and both serve full menu service at dinner. Only Villa Rossa was open for breakfast and lunch on our sailing. Traditional early and late seating (6:00pm and 8:30pm) with assigned tables are adhered to in both dining rooms. We were assigned to a table for two located at the very back of Villa Rossa, right next to a window. It was a perfect location for us. We found the service to be much improved from what we noted on our 2009 MSC sailing. Our waiter, Mega, and his assistant, never allowed our water glasses to go empty and they kept our wine glasses filled as well. Both were friendly and efficient. We were impressed. The food we experienced in the Villa Rossa was pretty typical for a cruise ship dining room: good, but not great. Well, maybe with one exception: the bread. The bread served throughout the ship is excellent.


The Black Crab Restaurant on MSC Divina

On MSC Divina, guests are not limited to the buffet or the main restaurants as there are a variety of other dining venues on board from which to choose. However, most will incur an additional charge to your shipboard account.

Galaxy Disco - Yes, there is a dining room in a disco! The Galaxy Disco offers a daily brunch for $28 per person. In the evening, there are three "Dining Experience" options: a 3-course meal for $24.00, a 5-course meal for $35.00 and a 7-course meal with 7 different glasses of wine for $59.00. There are also a' la carte choices.

La Cantina Di Bacco - This is the ultimate made-to-order pizza on board Divina. Watch a master pizza chef make your pizza and bake it in the brick oven. A Margherita pizza is only $8.50 and is large enough for two people to share. We had the "custom" pizza for $13 which consisted of half what I wanted and half what Rickee wanted. It was worth every penny. I am pretty sure that this is the BEST pizza we have had on any cruise ship.


MSC Divina Pizza
The pizza at La Cantina Di Bacco is the best we have had on a cruise ship

Eataly Steakhouse - This is Divina's Italian steakhouse (Deck 7) and is a partnership with the New York and Chicago chain of Eataly restaurants. The hip decor is highlighted by red-and-clear acrylic seating. The menu is a' la carte and a multi-course meal for two can easily cost into the triple digits. Service was a bit sketchy on our visit with patrons arriving after us getting served first. The bread-in-a-bag is clever, but served cold. Honestly, better bread can be found in the ship's main dining rooms. My Rib Eye steak was nicely cooked and flavorful, but the highlight of the meal was the Parma Vs San Danielle, a combination of two famous Italian Prosciuttos that, by itself, would be worthy of a return visit. Rickee's Beef Carpaccio was large enough to be a main course. We both agreed that the pasta course of 'Spaghettone' was just a bit too al dente for our liking. In spite of the shortcomings, Eataly is well worth a visit for the unique atmosphere and beef-inspired menu.

MSC Divina Eataly Steakhouse
Delicious Parma Vs San Danielle starter at Eataly

Italia Ristorante - This small, more formal venue, is located within the Eataly space on Deck 7 and is somehow connected to Eataly, but I never exactly figured out the connection. This Italian restaurant features a fixed-price menu for $59 per person and reservations are required. On our sailing, we never saw more than one table occupied at a time.

Sports Bar - In yet another departure from the "norm," the Sports Bar on Deck 7 also has its own galley and finger food menu. I tried the Sampler Platter ($12) which includes a combination of fried mozzarella cheese, chicken nuggets, onion rings, coconut shrimp and chicken wings. Everything but the onion rings was piping hot. The onion rings would have been better if they had been freshly made. Everything else was good with the fried cheese the best of the lot. You can also get cheese-stuffed jalapenos. There is a selection of burgers ($6 to $7) a hot dog ($7) and a Philly cheesesteak ($7). It would have to be a pretty good hot dog for $7!

MSC Divina Sports Bar
Enjoy a deep-fried feast at The Sports Bar on Deck 7

Le Muse - This is the private dining room exclusively for MSC Yacht Club guests. The dining room is located on Deck 14 aft and is beautifully decorated, albeit overlooking the aft pool. The service here is impeccable and we found the food to be a step up from the main dining rooms. Our recommendation for those staying in the Yacht Club: make reservations after dark, otherwise you will be enjoying your meal whilst looking out on scantily-clad sun worshippers.

MSC Divina Le Muse
Dinner at Le Muse is reserved for MSC Yacht Club guests

Piazza Del Doge - This is MSC Divina's gelateria and pasticceria located on Deck 5 just forward of the Casino Veneziano. Here you will find a variety of sweet baked treats including cupcakes, cakes, macarons as well as hand-dipped Venchi Italian gelato. A macaron will set you back a measly $1.10 while a dip of gelato is $2. We heard that the gelato is made on board, but wherever it is made, it is delicious and well worth the price. The same gelato is available at Aqua Park (poolside) on Deck 14.

MSC Divina Gelato
Hand-dipped Italian gelato is delicious

During the day in the Caribbean, the pool deck (14) is the busiest place on the ship. MSC Divina has tons of open deck space and enough loungers so that anyone who wants some sun can probably get their share. Aqua Park on Deck 14 is the largest pool area and is the ship's headquarters for sun worship. Here you will find dozens of lounge chairs, some are even positioned so that you are protected from the sun and other elements. The Tritone Bar and Poseidon Bar are responsible for keeping sun-lovers hydrated. A large television screen plays programming during the day, mostly ads for the ship's services. A small stage is used for various ship's activities. In fact, many of the ship's activities take place at Aqua Park during the day. Bingo is played poolside with numbers being displayed on the large TV screen. Even the shops set up tables along the perimeter of Deck 14 to sell merchandise.

MSC Divina Pool
Aqua Park is the largest pool area on MCS Divina

For those who would like an escape from the younger crowd, Top 18 is an adult-only sanctuary with premium deck space and panoramic ocean views. In addition to sun loungers, Top 18 features "cacoons" which are sort of like egg-shaped wicker loungers that offer protection from the and a comfortable padded cushion. There's also a bar menu, complimentary fruit skewers and a menu of express spa treatments. There is an additional charge for access to Top 18, but it is reasonable and well worth it for the additional privacy.

MSC Divina Top 18
Cacoons are available for daily or weekly rental

Le Sirene is a covered pool just forward of Aqua Park. Le Sirene is one of the nicest covered pools you will find at sea. On our voyage, the retractable roof was opened in the afternoons on most days. The Pool Shop located here sells anything you could possibly need for water-related activities. The Garden Pool is located aft on Deck 14 and is the "hidden gem" of pools on Divina and also has its own Garden Bar to make sure you don't have far to go for refreshment. MSC Yacht Club members enjoy their own private pool and bar area on Deck 18 forward.

MSC Divina Le Sirene
Le Sirene has a retractable roof and is located forward on Deck 14

In addition to the pool areas, sun lounge chairs are scattered on every deck where there is sun washing over them. Bright orange towels area available for guest use, but must be "checked out" using your room key. Fail to return the towel and a $20 charge might appear on your shipboard account.

MSC Divina Pool
The One pool is located on Deck 18 exclusively for MSC Yacht Club guests

There is no shortage of things to do on MSC Divina. There are usually multiple activities going on simultaneously in various areas of the ship. The next day's activities are listed in the Daily Program which is delivered to your stateroom each evening during turn down. The Daily Program is still in need of a redesign as the information is confusing and poorly laid out. This is something we also noticed back in 2009 onboard MSC Orchestra.

MSC Divina Daily Program
The Daily Program on MSC Divina
Activities & Entertainment

Evenings on MSC Divina can be spent in your choice of the ship's unique and stylish bars and lounges. On Deck 5, the Divina Bar offers seating right next to Guest Services, which can get a bit crowded. A small stage at the base of the impressive atrium features a pianist accompanying two talented violinists. If you walk up the atrium stairs, which are blinged out with Swarovski crystals embedded in clear acrylic, you can enjoy a cocktail at Silver Lounge. Here you can still enjoy the music coming from the atrium without the Guest Relations crowd.

MSC Divina Silver Lounge
Silver Lounge on Deck 6

For our tastes, the best place to enjoy an evening drink and still be able to listen to the atrium music requires a visit to Deck 7 and Caffe Italia. Not only is this my favorite spot for morning coffee, it is a warm and inviting place for evening cocktails.

MSC Divina Caffe Italia
Caffe Italia offers a more peaceful and "warm" place to enjoy evening cocktails

If you enjoy a glass of wine, there is no better place to do so than La Cantina Di Bacco on Deck 7. This was one of our favorite spots on Divina. The decor is reminiscent of a cozy Italian wine bar.

MSC Divina La Cantina Di Bacco
La Cantina Di Bacco

Order a glass of wine here in the evening and you will be treated to a small plate of amazing finger foods. In fact, the tapas served here are so substantial that we skipped dinner a couple of evenings and just had the snacks served here!

MSC Divina Wie Bar
Impressive small plates are offered with wine in the evenings at La Cantina Di Bacco

It is also important to note that the wine list here is quite impressive and includes a large number of wines "by the glass" at reasonable prices. A typical glass of wine is between $6 and $8, comparable to any restaurant or bar on land. But, don't forget the incredible small plates! If the small plates are not enough, you can always order one of the amazing pizzas.

If you move forward on Deck 7, you will eventually come to our second favorite watering hole, The Golden Jazz Bar. We love the quirky, ultra-contemporary seating that only an Italian designer could pull off.

MSC Divina Golden Jazz Bar
The Golden Jazz Bar

Even though the decor here is modern, the brown and gold color scheme warms the place up at night and makes it an inviting spot to enjoy a drink and listen to some excellent music. Unfortunately, we missed the dueling pianos featured here, but we did get to enjoy the music of Duo Devotion on a couple of visits. Next door to Golden, you will find the Sports Bar with its flat screen televisions showing ESPN programming. The Sports Bar even has a couple of Mini Bowling lanes! We never saw anyone bowling here. At $7 a game, price might be a deterrent. Also, instead of allowing you to swipe your room key to bowl, you have to go to Reception and obtain a special token! What's up with that? Why not sell the tokens at the Sports Bar? Who is going to walk all the way down to Deck 5, then stand in line at Reception, just so they can pay $7 to bowl? MSC needs to re-think this one. The mini-bowling is really cool idea for which the logistics have been poorly executed.

MSC Divina Mini-Bowling
Mini-bowling in the Sports Bar

I suspect that the ship's designers figured that Mom and Dad could have a drink at The Golden Jazz Bar while the 'tweens would be next door bowling and filling up on chicken wings, burgers and milk shakes. Makes sense. Just forward of The Golden Jazz Bar is La Luna Piano Bar. This space has a completely different vibe with a dark blue and purple color scheme and chrome accents. The large sofas in La Luna are perfectly suited for large groups to sit together and enjoy cocktails while listening to Duo Ameritalian entertain. The last notable lounge is the Black and White Lounge located aft on Deck 7. This is a substantial space with a large stage and dance floor. Here you could enjoy international dance music courtesy of Caribbean Flavor and Trio Latin Mambo.

MSC Divina Blacn and White Lounge
The Black and White Lounge on Deck 7 aft

Of course, the highlight of every evening aboard MSC Divina is the entertainment in The Pantheon Theater. With its red seats, the Pantheon is one of the prettiest theaters you will find on any ship. The stage is massive and sight lines are excellent from virtually everywhere in the theater, including the balcony. We attended two of the ship's premier evening shows, Wonderland and The Witches of Paris. Both were excellent productions with exceptional dancing, vocals, acrobats and contortionists. The costumes, set design and vocals almost make you forget that all of the music is recorded. A live orchestra would really add a lot. Nevertheless, these shows are some of the best we have ever seen on a ship.

MSC Divina Pantheon Theater
The cast of The Witches Of Paris enjoy a standing ovation

The real shocker came on our last day at sea when we attended an Italian opera matinee performance. This was the first time we have ever been to an opera on a cruise ship. Wait a minute.This is the first time we have ever been to an opera anywhere! The vocals were absolutely amazing. I now understand the appeal of opera. This turned out to be one of our favorite shows of the week.

MSC Divina Entertainment
An Italian opera on a cruise ship? Yes!

Throughout the day, you can find entertainers in various lounges and pubic spaces, and they are all very talented. If you choose to spend your time pumping iron or in a spin class, Divina has a very well-equipped fitness center with all the latest weight training equipment and cardio gear. A selection of group fitness sessions are held throughout the day. Guests can sign up for these sessions at Aurea Spa on Deck 14 forward.

MSC Divina Fitness
Group fitness sessions are available at Aurea Spa

The Aurea Spa is a large and beautiful spa with every imaginable service available. In fact, there are so many services available, at so many different price points, that it can be confusing trying to find what you are looking for. I tried to locate the price for a Swedish massage in the large book at Aurea and after flipping through several pages of spa treatments, in multiple languages, I gave up looking. I am sure if I had asked someone, they could have told me, but I just wanted to find it on my own. It is safe to say, however, that whatever type of treatment you are looking for, they have it.

MSC Divina Massage
Keep your eyes open, special offers like this are everywhere on Divina

There is a steam and sauna area available for $99 for the entire week. A one-hour pass to the steam/sauna is $16. A full-service Beauty Salon is nearby offering a wide variety of salon services. They were running haircut specials for $15, but they did not specify if it was for a men's or lady's cut. The Spa Bar offers a color-coded menu of healthy and delicious smoothies and vitamin-rich concoctions. Rickee and I each tried one of the fruity creations and they were delicious. The spa also sells a wide variety of exercise clothing and shoes.

MSC Divina Spa Bar
Our fruity and delicious smoothie is mixed at The Spa Bar

We only made one visit to Casino Veneziano to play the slot machines. We we got up $40 we decided to quit while we were ahead. The casino is located on Deck 6 forward and is located such that guests heading to The Pantheon Theater must make their way past the gaming tables and slot machines on their way to the show. The casino has most of the popular table games (blackjack, craps, roulette, etc.) and dozens of slot machines.

MSC Yacht Club

Surely there are cruise enthusiasts who would love to have all of the amenities and services of a large cruise ship like Divina, but prefer the luxury of a smaller, more intimate space. This is exactly what MSC Yacht Club offers. Basically, MSC has designated specific areas of Divina as exclusive to MSC Yacht Club "members". How does someone become a member? Book a MSC Yacht Club category stateroom or suite, and you are in! There are a total of 69 Yacht Club staterooms located on Decks 12, 15 and 16 forward. The majority are on Decks 15 and 16 with three located on Deck 12. Access to the Yacht Club areas on 15 and 16 is only available using a Yacht Club key card. An MSC Yacht Club Concierge lobby and desk is located on Deck 15 and provides guest services to Yacht Club members.

MSC Yacht Club
MSC Yacht Club lobby and library

Yacht Club members also have exclusive use of the Top Sail Lounge on Deck 15 forward. The Top Sail has a full bar with complimentary cocktails, beer and wine for Yacht Club members. A Continental breakfast is served here each morning and finger foods are available throughout the day. The panoramic view of the ocean is probably second only to the Bridge. An Afternoon Tea service is offered each day between 5pm and 6pm and it is one of the nicest we have seen anywhere. In fact, it is the nicest we have seen on any ship. A private pool, hot tub and lounge area is located on Deck 18 forward and is only accessible to Yacht Club members. In fact, the only time a Yacht Club member is required to leave the confines of the Yacht Club is to dine at Le Muse, MSC Yacht Club's private restaurant located on Deck 15 aft. Le Muse is a beautiful, Italian-theme restaurant with its own galley, chef and service team. Maitre d, Tomislav, from Croatia, and Sommelier, Luigi, from Italy, make sure each Yacht Club member has a memorable meal at Le Muse. We were privileged to dine here one evening and were quite impressed with the service, the wine and the food.

MSC Divina Le Muse Restaurant
Luigi, Sommelier and Tomislav, Maitre d at Le Muse

Interestingly, the standard MSC Yacht Club balcony staterooms are not much larger than a non-Yacht Club balcony stateroom. They are, however, a bit more upscale with walk-in closets, marble vanity and upgraded bathroom amenities. Yacht Club members will also find a bottle of chilled champagne in their stateroom upon arrival as well as a lot of little extras throughout the cruise. Making sure MSC's most demanding guests are taken care of is the job of Federica Gasparrini, the MSC Yacht Club Concierge. Federica and her assistant go above and beyond to meet the needs of the Yacht Club members. After our brief visit to the Yacht Club, we are convinced. The MSC Yacht Club is for us!

MSC Yacht Club Concierge
Federica Gasparrini is the MSC Yacht Club Concierge on MSC Divina


MSC Divina Dress Code

As you would expect in the Caribbean, casual wear is perfectly fine throughout the ship before 6pm. However, tank tops, bikini, bathrobes or bare feet are not acceptable in any restaurant at any time. After 6pm the dress code will change from day-to-day. Casual means ladies can wear trousers, sporty outfits and gentlemen can get away with a nice t-shirt and jeans or trousers. On Informal evenings, men will need to leave the jeans in the closet and wear trousers and a shirt with a collar, ladies can wear slacks with a blouse or an informal dress. There are two Gala nights were gentlemen are asked to wear a tuxedo, a dark suit and tie or a dinner jacket, ladies can wear formal gowns or cocktail dresses. Most people did adhere to the proper dress code during our cruise. There were a few 20-somethings that could be seen in shorts, even on formal night, but not many.

Itinerary & Daily Blog

You can read a day-by-day cruise blog here

In A Nutshell

We can always tell more from a second or third sailing on a cruise line than we can from the first one. On this cruise, we had the opportunity to see the trajectory of the brand. The good news is that, in our opinion, the MSC Cruises product has definitely improved over our 2009 experience. The things that we liked in 2009 have remained the same or improved and many of the things we did not like have been fixed.

From a hardware standpoint, MSC Divina is a big cruise ship, not that much different from many big ships sailing around the world today. The difference is in the "soft-ware". The experience is noticeably more European. Even with a majority of guests on Caribbean sailings being North American, there are still a lot of Italian, Russian, South/Central American and other European guests. When you sail on MSC, you will hear a lot of different languages spoken and you will feel like you are vacationing in Europe. Many Americans will find this to be an exotic and intriguing alternative to the 'run-of-the-mill' mainstream cruise lines dominating the Caribbean.

  • MSC Cruises is a very family-friendly cruise line
  • The staterooms have been improved over what we experienced in 2009
  • Dining in the buffet during peak periods is still chaotic
  • Dining room service has improved dramatically since our last cruise
  • They still have Dr. Pepper available in the bars! Yeah!
  • The ship's in-stateroom Interactive Television will not let you review your shipboard account balance
  • La Cantina Di Bacco serves the best pizza we have ever had on a cruise ship
  • La Cantina Di Bacco is the best place to enjoy a glass of wine (on any cruise ship)
  • The ship is spotlessly clean
  • The Venchi gelato might be the best ice cream you will find on any ship (fee applies)
  • MSC Divina has a very European feel compared to other 'mainstream' cruise ships
  • Perhaps the best Wi-Fi service you will find on any cruise ship
  • Friendly crew, very good service, some speak broken English making communicating a challenge at times
  • MSC Yacht Club offers a unique, private and upscale experience for those booking Yacht Club staterooms
  • We have a MUCH more favorable opinion of MSC today than we did in 2009. Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian had better watch out.

Other Observations and Notes

  • I felt like the daily program still needs help. I thought the layout and content were confusing, Rickee did not agree with me on this one.
  • The ship's photographers are more aggressive than the shopkeepers in Cozumel. In the evening, you can't go anywhere on the ship without being approached by multiple photographers.
  • There are so many options for drinks, food, spa treatments, etc. that it is very confusing and almost overwhelming. We saw at least three different wine tasting prices.
  • The smoking on the pool deck (starboard side) means you have to walk through a gauntlet of smoke to get anywhere on Deck 14.
  • There are lots of children on board, most likely due to the "kids sail free" promotions. As we said, this is a very family-friendly cruise line.
  • There is a very European feel on board and you will hear many different languages spoken by the guests. Many announcements are delivered in multiple languages; however, English is the primary language on Caribbean sailings.

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https://cruisereport.com/crReview.aspx?id=2741   |  5/22/2019 11:48:24 AM