A fun week at MSC DIVINA

Full disclosure: although I knew what MSC was and had quoted it a few times for clients, I was unfamiliar with the brand specifics and, most importantly, how the experience offered on board was.


This past August, I saw an amazing promotion with them and decided to jump at the opportunity to go with my family. One thing that is very important to mention about MSC is that they have awesome promos, which often allow us to get an upgraded cabin for the price of an interior with some other cruise lines.


So up we went, boarding MSC Divina in Port Canaveral. I went in with completely zero expectations and got out feeling excited, happy, relaxed, and thankful that we pushed all the “excuses” to the side and decided to go.

Without further ado, this is my honest review of the MSC Divina, in August 2022. I hope you find this helpful!


BOARDING EXPERIENCE


It went as smoothly as it could go. We went through security (where they checked our booking confirmation, travel documents (either a birth certificate or passport), and the entry requirements that were still in effect when we traveled: vaccination cards and negative Covid test.

After security, we went to the check-in counters (there were many of them, so no line at all) and got our cruise cards.

There is a separate check-in area for Yacht club members with snacks and drinks, so if you opt-in for this upgraded service, know that your experience will start right when you arrive at the terminal.


THE SHIP

As it’s common with other ships and cruise lines, we first entered the Atrium/main lobby. The Divina Atrium is beautiful! You will not miss the Swarovski Crystal Staircases, with sparkling crystals. I found every excuse possible to go on them every time I was nearby.

From the Atrium, I started my self-guided tour to find out what else this ship had. And let me tell you… it’s a ship that keeps on giving! There are so many different spaces that come in very handy in the ship not feeling crowded at all.


A few of these spaces:

  • Black and White lounge: big lounge, with comfy sofas to hang out, have a drink and enjoy whatever is going on in there: dance competition, karaoke, silent disco, trivia, crafts.

  • La Luna Piano bar: right above the Casino, with a beautiful piano. Classy and quiet.

  • Golden Jazz bar: also with a great seating area, it can host a few activities during the day and has live music at night.

  • Casino Veneziano: small but mighty. Lots of slot machines, and tables for Blackjack, Texas Hold’em, 3 card poker, and roulette.

  • Sports bar: a great place to watch your favorite sports and play bowling.

  • Pantheon theater: beautiful, big, and the place to be at 7:45pm every night. You do NOT want to miss the shows. Extremely high quality!

  • Gym: it’s inside the spa, great size, right in front of the ship with a huge window looking into the ocean. Lots of cardio and weights machines. The use of the gym is complimentary although the group lessons (spinning, stretch, yoga) are extra.

  • Aqua park: this is the main pool area. There are a couple of hot tubs around it, lots of lounge chairs, a bar, and a stage where they do many activities throughout the day and at night.

  • Covered pool: behind the stage in the aqua park, there is another pool area with 3 hot tubs. It has a retractable roof that can be used on rainy days.

  • Garden pool: It's an adults-only infinity heated pool with a bar. Perfect to come and read a book.

  • Toboga: there is just one water slide but it’s barely used. It’s fun, you should definitely try it!

  • Teens and kids club: the kids club is really cute and the kids seemed to be having a lot of fun throughout the sailing. The teens club attracted a younger crowd, like 12-14-year-olds. The older teens (15-17y) ended up hanging around in different areas of the ship and really used the ping pong tables. There was also a small sports court with soccer goals and a basketball hoop.

  • 4D cinema, F1 Simulator, Virtual World: I tried the F1 simulator and had a lot of fun being completely bad at it lol. It costs $12 for 6 minutes and it’s a car that resembles an F1 car.

  • Solarium: on the very top of the ship. It was completely empty most of the time so if you are looking for some quiet and alone time, this is the place to go.

  • Yacht Club area: this is for Yacht Club cabins - it has its own restaurant, a lounge, and concierge services.

Did I mention there were A LOT of different spaces? I swear I’m not even listing everything. Plus the shops, more bars, and other services offered.




RESTAURANTS

  • Calumet: this is the buffet restaurant and it was open from 6:30am to 9pm. They had a good variety and the food was good, although most days the majority was the same. They had American staples like burgers, hot dogs, French fries, and also had healthy options like a salad bar, fruits, and vegetables. European classics like pasta and pizza (Italian pizza, delicious!) and a few hot dishes that would change from day to day.

  • Black Crab: this is the main dining restaurant with seated times at 6pm and 8:30pm (you choose your time when you book the cruise). They are also open for breakfast and lunch (a la carte as well). The food was very good. Not amazing (I’m a foodie and picky so there is that lol) but consistently good - as good as dishes can be when cooks have to make thousands of them. On the Capitan’s night (the formal night) there was fillet mignon with lobster and that one my friends, was exceptional.

  • Specialty Dining: MSC Divina has 4 specialty dinings - La Cantina Di Bacco Pizzeria, the Sports Bar, The Butcher’s Cut, and Galaxy Restaurant. These restaurants are not included in your cruise fare but can be added as a package or you can choose to eat there and just charge the extra cost to your account.


DRINKS


They offer 5 types of drink packages: Kids drink package, Non-alcoholic drink package, Easy package, Easy Plus Package, Premium Extra package. Although I found it confusing at first on which drink package to choose, it’s actually good they have more options - this way people are not paying for things they are not using.

You can check the difference between them, and what they include, here: MSC Drink packages.




THE CROWD


We went on the last week of August and there was a good mix of all ages on board. If you paid attention to the hints given so far, you might have noticed that the company is, in fact, Italian (extra points just for that!!). They are very big and well known in Europe and although they have been operating from the US to the Caribbean for quite some time, many Americans don’t know about them at all.


This is to say that the guests had very mixed nationalities which made it extra fun for me since I appreciate the cultural differences and enjoy listening to other languages and seeing different things. But don’t you worry because English is the main language on board.

STAFF


The staff was also very diverse and extremely friendly. In my opinion, the service was really good for a mass market cruise line. Very noticeable: how the staff seemed happy! Always a smile to give and many were very chatty so it was fun getting to know a few of them and learning a bit about their story.


Our cabin was spotless every day, the plates were quickly taken out of the table after eating, the pool deck was always dry, and all places were constantly cleaned. Most important and precisely why the service was great, is the fact that both the cruise director and the staff director were in the front line, talking to all guests, presenting the activities, and directing staff. And both were excellent at their jobs.

THE ENTERTAINMENT


I will start with the awesome parts first: the evening entertainment was top-notch. The shows at night were excellent, to the point where I thought my cruise fare was already worth it just for that. I really enjoy art and music but I very rarely go to the theater. So having that show quality in the ship was incredible. I enjoyed it very much and was part of the many guests who were given a standing ovation at the end. The night parties were also very fun!


The room for improvement: I think the daily activities could be better. There were constantly things happening but they were mostly trivia this and trivia that. I like good trivia but with a big ship like that, I feel there could have been more exciting activities. I sent my list of suggestions to my contacts at MSC so maybe they will like my ideas and implement them by the time you cruise :)




THE ITINERARY


Itineraries can change often, but my sailing was 2 full days at MSC’s private island in the Bahamas - Ocean Cay - which is gorgeous, and have beautiful beaches. And because we spent a night there, they did a great beach party at night with a DJ and everybody was dancing in the sand.


In Ocean Cay, we signed up for a shipwreck snorkeling tour that we enjoyed a lot! We have snorkeled in many places but it was the first time on a shipwreck. Plus, for the first time ever, we saw a shark! I swear he looked straight into my soul when he turned around to see me, but I couldn’t tell for sure as I was really busy trying to swim away from him as fast as I could (as if that would really matter). Mind you, just the day before, we were telling the kids “if you see a shark don’t start to swim like crazy, just stand still, they are not interested in you, especially in a healthy marine habitat. I guess it’s "do as I say, not as I do". Oops.


The next stop was Costa Maya, in the South of Mexico, very close to the Belize border. It’s a small port, but very nice: there is a good swimming pool with a swim-up bar and many shops and restaurants around.


We did a Salsa Cooking and Dance experience (thank you Ilker at the Excursion department for the tip on this one) where we learned how to make a margarita (and drink of course), a traditional salsa, and traditional guacamole. After that, we had a salsa dancing class and free time at the beach, before returning to the ship.


Our last stop was Cozumel. You get out of the ship directly into the city, with many shops, bars, and restaurants. We did an excursion there, the “Buggy and island experience” where we drove a buggy around the island, stopping first for a snorkel, then for lunch, and lastly at a Mayan village (this last stop was quick and very touristy which is unfortunate because it had lots of potential, but still fun to see the Mayan costumes and taste cacao).



THE COMPANY


MSC is the world’s third-largest cruise brand and, as I mentioned before, the leader in Europe. Also well known in South America, and Africa.

Their ships sail year-round in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean and they have seasonal itineraries to Northern Europe, South America, southern Africa, Asia, North America, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar, and Saudi Arabia and Red Sea.

I really like the fact that they have a big commitment to sustainability. We all know how cruising in the past was very bad for the environment and many companies took important steps in the right direction to make it less offensive to Planet Earth. MSC is doing even more, with a new fleet of ships coming in that are LNG-powered. They have a long-term goal to achieve zero emissions for our operations and I just LOVE that.


They are also transforming their private island in the Bahamas, Ocean Cay, into a marine preserve, going in the opposite direction of other cruise lines who also own private islands in the area. The idea of Ocean Cay is for people to go and enjoy a beautiful beach while also helping preserve marine life.

DO NOT MISS


While on MSC Divina, do not miss:

  • The Swarovski Crystal staircase. Try to go early on the Capitan’s night for a photo as pretty much everyone wants a picture there when they are all dressed up.

  • The F1 simulator ($). It was fun and not expensive.

  • The Garden pool, on deck 15 in the back of the ship, when the ship is departing. Go to the edge to look down at the waves.

  • The pizza at least once. The dough is freshly made and it’s baked right there at the buffet. Hot, delicious, Neapolitan pizza.

  • Piazza Del Doge on deck 6 for snacks. They are open from 6am to 1am and have sandwiches and great desserts.

  • Warm cookies at the buffet either in the mid-afternoon or late at night.

  • Venchi gelato ($). Venchi offers amazing Gelato in Italy and has a partnership with MSC.

  • The gym. It’s an order. I don’t want to be responsible for any extra pounds so just go to the gym lol. Or… this is actually a great tip, don’t use the elevators, I mean, ever. Use the stairs - I was impressed with the calories burned just by doing that. Another option: use the Deck 7 to do a few laps walking or jogging.

  • The shows at 7:45pm in the theater.

  • The fancy dinner on Capitan’s night.

  • The white party at the Aqua park.

  • The silent disco.

  • The Masterchef competition (you do a quiz and the people with higher scores are called to go on the stage. I didn’t get a few of the questions right and this is now in my top 10 list of life frustrations lol but it was still fun to watch).

  • The daily program left in your stateroom every night with all the activities that will be happening the next day. Make a habit to go through this every night and read the highlights and offers, so you know what’s going on and can plan your day accordingly.

I never considered myself a cruise person. I like it, I think it’s a fun and convenient way to travel, but it has never been my first choice. I dare to say that MSC might have planted the cruising seed in me. The experience was really great and I’m already looking into their very cool and different itineraries (hello Saudi Arabia, I see you!!).

If MSC wasn’t on your radar, it should definitely be! And if you want to experience this ship or any other of the MSC fleet, don’t forget to reach out to me - I have access to lots of promotions and I can help you pick the right trip for you.


Click here to request a completely no-fee quote


Hugs and hopes for a new adventure,

Marilia Candeloro



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