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How Divine is the MSC Divina
BY STEVEN B. STERN FRIDAY FEBRUARY 21, 2014 8:27:03 AM  
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How Divine is MSC's Divina -Now Cruising From Miami

 

 

          We took the three-night cruise on  MSC Divina's  maiden voyage from a U.S. port (Miami) along with other members of the media  numerous 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 and  sun 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.

          Several innovations for the ship which were  well received included  the exquisitely majestic lobby/atrium area,  the attractive d√ɬ©cor and furnishings throughout the ship, the Formula 1 simulator, the 4D cinema, aqua spinning at the Aqua Park, the quiet pool area near the spa, the numerous bar/lounge entertainment areas, the expanded casino, and the specialty dining venues.  

          The well-known food emporium from New York, Eataly  offered two excellent dining choices: Ristorante Italia with a fixed priced set menu, and an a la cart-priced steak house with a modern d√ɬ©cor. Combined with the disco was another a la carte-priced  tapas/wine tasting dining venue open in the evenings.

          Hamburgers, hot dogs, fish and chips and ribs could be purchased at the Sport Bar, pizzas and wines at the Cantina, coffee  espresso 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 a  pizza  delivered 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, multi-deck theater.

          The 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, and  had 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 to dine.

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 Holland America 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.

 

Steven B. Stern

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