MSC Divina Cruise Review by cruisecruisetoo
- Sail Date: November 2015
- Destination: Eastern Caribbean
Let me be as objective as possible. No doubt everything wasn't perfect and nor has any previous cruise we've been on. That is all part of going on a vacation -- you need to sometimes take the good with the bad and make your own experience out of it. Also, it appears many people simply lack researching.
Embarkation: No doubt that this was by far the worst embarkation experience we have encountered (and a main reason why i can't give the overall cruise an excellent rating). In fairness to the cruise line, it appears a lot of the embarkation issues stem from the people running the check/in terminal (which don't appear to actually be MSC employees). It was the first time on a cruise that we truly felt like cattle being herded onto a boat. The terminal is simply not designed to accomaoate 4,000 people. The loudspeaker does not work well so you have a guy walking up and down the terminal verbally yelling what number is ready to board. That definitely was not a good start/impression. Also, when we checked in we were given a paper saying they had moved embarkation up to noon. However the guy then said it wouldn't be until 1:30, while other family members we were traveling with were told 1. I understand they can't know for sure when they would start embarkation, but then please don't give us a paper telling us one time when that clearly is not true.
Once onboard, all the positive began. This was our fifth cruise and no other cruise line has given us such a warm hospitable organized welcome on board. Crew members were readily available and lined up making sure you knew exactly where to go for lunch and giving you a warm smile and welcome. It was very nice to see as we have not encountered this recently on Carnival nor RC. We traveled with children and they clearly directed us to an organized set up for kids to get their kids club wrist bands. I can't help but compare how well organized and refreshing this was for them to be so organized.
This issue seems to get so many critiques. Reality is dining opinions are not solely for MSC but every cruise line if people would read what others are experiencing on our cruise lines, I believe they'd be far more appreciative of MSC. Our dining room experience was good. The food was very good. May not reach into the "excellent" category but that is our opinion. Food was always served warm, edible and tasted very well. The service was also very well with friendly staff. The food does take a LONG time. This is something that we had read prior to going on the cruise and it is something we prepared for. However, I personally don't believe this is a problem because it is "European" as many people try to claim and use as a reason to knock the cruise ship. The length of time to be served was no longer than what we experienced on RC, nor what you find others are experiencing on other lines upon reading other ships' reviews. We determined not to be so critical of this issue w/ MSC knowing that long waits are experienced on several other ships, including some of the newest ships out there.
The buffet was the largest we have seen at sea and the food was very good. No complaints in the buffet. Our only concern is it seemed to always been super busy and chaotic more than what we've experienced with other ships. The layout in some areas create congestion. But that is no reason for us to not cruise on this ship again. Food was always plentiful at the designated eating times. Keep in mind that though they claim the buffet is open 20 hours a day, that does not mean full meals 20 hours a day. You still need to look in your daily program which has it clearly outlined when food is served and if its lunch, dinner, snacks, etc. People who claim that they only had hamburgers and hotdogs, did not venture into the full buffet but must have merely stopped at the entrance. Also if you go to the buffet for dinner at 5 or 5:30, you will NOT find dinner but only hotdogs, pizza and hamburgers. But, the truth is dinner does not start until 6 or 6:30 some days in the buffet so that is where I believe some of the criticism of lack of food is coming from.
A concern we did have is that there is no staff at any of the entrances of the buffet to ensure people are using the hand sanitizers or even welcoming you to the buffet. The entrances are side entrances at the beginning of the buffet and then half way through buffet. No main entrance to buffet like you see on Norwegian or RC ships. The hand sanitizers also didn't always work which definitely is a problem and I believe the ship needs to correct this problem immediately.
Service was very good on this ship. It definitely was no worse than our experiences on others. Staff was always willing to give you a smile or hi as you passed them in the halls. The key is for you to engage them. They no doubt have been trained to deal more with Europeans. That is not an issue if you start talking to them, they are more than willing in talking to you and have a smile for you. I can understand the pressure the staff must be under knowing that they have so many cultures on board and not knowing who wants a hi or conversation and who would be offended if they start talking to them. So please give the staff a break as they do a great job keeping the ship cleaner than most ships. There are sometimes language problems, but we didn't see that as a reason to be so against the ship. It was a very good educational experience. And please don't hold the ship responsible because you found you couldn't communicate with others on the ship. We had heard that and read several reviews prior to going on ship. If you do not want to be around several nationalities, most not speaking English, then it is by far better for you to stay off this ship as it appears most negative comments from this ships center around that issue.
We did not utilize the kids club except once. All the kids appeared to be having a fun time and the schedule of the events was no different than activities found on other ships. One concern is that we had completed the check in form online. We turned it in first day. Later in week, when attempting to sign kids in, we were basically told that the online form now needs to be re-completed onboard with other information on it. We went back and forth w/ the worker and eventually was determined that the online form was ok.
It should be no surprise for any one embarking on this ship regarding activities for kids on board. This ship no where claims to have a water park for kids, rope course, or other outdoor fun things you'd find on the newer Norwegian or even Carnival ships. This ship does have one waterslide, which is rather slow and personally think it would be better removed to give the deck space larger seating area. As much as it would have been more fun for the kids to have a larger water park area or mini golf, and things like that....it was no surprise to us and we knew that going on this ship. However the ship does have 3 pools and our kids for the first time enjoyed going in the pools because they weren't so crowded with people.
What was also nice for kids and just the overall ship experience was not having hip hop/rap/rock music blasting poolside non-stop.
Entertainment in the theatre was top-notch with singing, dancing and acrobats. Some shows we would agree did get repetitive in nature but at least we had good entertainment to go to.
The cruise line has revamped several shows since coming back to the US. Though we've never sailed DIvina before, our understanding is these new shows aren't really new shows but just a remix and refresh of previous shows. Out of all the shows, our least favorite was one of the new shows "Mask". Though the acrobats were good, the show just didn't flow and spliced with songs and dancing that didn't really have anything to do w/ what was going on.
We would sail Divina and MSC again. Please do your research beforehand. We heard complainers while onboard or people upset because they didn't know about all the theme nights on board (white night, italian night, etc). However all this is clearly on MSC website.
i was surprised that 2 of our ports the times of arrival and departure were different than what was on itinerary when booked. There was also no official announcement regarding this nor reason behind it. Thankfully the change in times didn't create a hindrance to any pre-booked excursions as the times created extra time in port, it was odd as we had never experienced this before.
Please Please Please stay off this ship if being around a multitude of nationalities not speaking English will hinder your enjoyment of a vacation. This was not a negative for us but obviously is for a lot of people.
If you enjoy sailing on a clean, new, beautiful ship with friendly staff that are more than willing to assist you and hear in the background other languages, then this ship is for you.
It is a sophisticated ship with style and beauty and the perfect balance of being a big ship while still keeping the overall style of a traditional ship to give you a true cruise ship experience.
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