Stern's Guide to the Greatest Resorts of the World, Stern's Guide to the Cruise Vacation, Stern's Guide to European Riverboats and Hotel Barges, and The Indispensable Guide to Foreign Words and Phrases--by Steven B. Stern (Sponsored by Stern's Travel Guides, Ltd.)
How Divine is MSC's Divina
-Now Cruising From Miami
We took the three-night cruise onMSC Divina'smaiden voyage from a U.S. port (Miami) along with other members of the medianumerous travel agents, and passengers that
had sailed transatlantic from Venice. The sail-away party from the port included a
spectacular fireworks display.
Any passenger who opted for the Yacht Club, the luxurious,
exclusive area atop ship with its charming dining room, all day lounge with
free drinks and snacks,outdoor bar,
pool andsun deck, private elevator to
the spa, larger accommodations, and excellent attentive personal butlers was
ecstatic.This ship within a ship (as it
is referred to) is a superior experience for those that can afford the tariff.
Hamburgers, hot dogs, fish and chips and ribs could be
purchased at the Sport Bar, pizzas and wines at the Cantina, coffeeespresso and cappuccino at several locations,
and of course, alcoholic and other beverages at the numerous bars and in your
cabin's mini-bar. Also, for a charge, you could have apizzadelivered to your room.Many of
the passengers resented having to pay extra for so many of these items.
Dancing and several musical entertainments were offered in
the evening, as well as excellent production and cabaret shows in the large,
scuttlebutt from the passengers we interviewed was mixed. Apparently the
transatlantic crossing had glitches that apparently were somewhat corrected by
the time of our crossing. Passengers seemed to object mostly to the service and
to being charged for water, coffee, room service, and everything other than
food served in the dining room or buffet restaurant. However, even on our cruise, there were
charges for bottled water in the rooms, espresso, cappuccino,and other items often gratis.
We were especially disappointed that there were no amenities in the staterooms
such as body lotion, bars of soap,(soap
and shampoo were available in dispensers), wash cloths, magnifying mirrors,
clocks, more English TV programs, etc. However, the average balcony staterooms
and bathrooms were large by comparison to many other cruise ships, andhad very good storage.
Two of the biggest negatives were the service in the dining
rooms and food and service in the large buffet restaurant. The food offerings
at the buffet though varied and numerous were often not hot, not served by
crew, and you had to help yourself to hot drinks and water. There was no omelet
station and hamburgers and other sandwiches were wrapped up in paper a la
McDonalds rather than being made fresh. Also there was no outside area in which
The waiters in the dining
room seemed often confused and were not up to par with those we have found on
other ships. However, the meals we had at Eataly and the Yacht Club's
restaurant were outstanding.
MSC offers very attractive deals for families with
children and has good children facilities.
It seemed that the past cruise experience of most of the
passengers we interviewed, other than on MSC, was on Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Costa and NCL. Some had been on HollandAmerica and Princess. The demographics seemed to include all
ages. As indicated above, the opinions were mixed.MSC has had its problems introducing ships into the US market. The jury is out on whether banking on a
larger ship offering more options in dining and entertainments will be the
magic formula that turns the tide.