Cruising aboard MSC Divina

Never heard of MSC? This luxury cruise line is owned by Italy’s Aponte family who in 1970 launched the Mediterranean Shipping Company, the 2nd largest container carrier in the world. The famous shipping family then dove into passenger cruising in 1988/ Legend has it the Aponte daughter didn’t find transporting boxes glamorous enough and wanted a cruise ship line. MSC is now among the fastest growing cruise companies in the world, with a fleet of a dozen ships. The first thing we noted boarding Divina in her homeport of Miami is how the Ship is huge but with surprisingly sleek and clean lines. Towering up to 18 decks, 1,083’ in length, The Divina holds 4,300 passengers, plus crew. Entering on Divina’s 5th floor, the gleaming marble stone piazza leads to glittering Swarovski crystal staircases. Red velvet couches and sparkling chandeliers in the Silver and Divina Bar are so Italianate.

Divina was christened by Sophia Lauren in 2012, the glamorous actress was the ship’s inspiration. Italian sourced stone and marble along with artwork and drapery adorn the ship, sophisticated and elegant, occasionally gaudy with frescos, mosaics and incongruous sculptures. Throughout the ship are photos of celebs, paying homage to the golden age of movie stars.

Our 11th deck cabin was lovely, with flatscreen TV, couch and king bed, and a grand balcony – an MSC signature. Among the 1,751 cabins, 80% have ocean views and balconies. Enough pool chairs surround the four water feature pool areas – especially the central Aqua Park, plus a waterslide. Divina has lots of intriguing small spaces – the Library, Cigar Bar, Black & White Lounge, and Sport Bar.

LOVE CRUISING WITH MSC DIVINA

What we love about MSC Divina:

Galaxy Bar at night – dancing on the 15 Deck overlooking the ship’s Aqua Park

MSC Aurea Spa offers Bali And Zen inspiration treatments with a lovely Indonesian staff

Aurea Beauty Salon has surprisingly well-priced haircuts, styling and services by polite Serbians

Garden Pool Bar features a gorgeous Infinity Pool on the 14th stern deck and beautiful views

The Pantheon Theatre is a spectacular operatic setting

Piazza Del Doge features Italian marble and Swarovski Crystal, the 5th floor lobby is a perfect settings for formal night photos

THE F1 Simulator – The Captain won’t give you the helm, but you can drive a Formula 1 racecar through Monte Carlo- virtually for $9

MSC Yacht Club – MSC’s private club within the ship offers VIP Suites, Butler Service, a private pool, bar and restaurant for “Yacht Club Members Only” on deck 16 of the ship.

Divina Fitness Center is small, but with a bow view and the quality Exercise bikes/treads have TVs.

What we didn’t love about MSC Divina

The Food – we tired of the same-every-day buffet, the slow-to-serve basic food in the formal dining room, even the upcharge Eataly and Steakhouse (both with weird décor) served mediocre, poorly presented, food. We renamed MSC “mediocre sea cuisine”, or “mostly sad culinary.” Even the pizza was average, Italian MSC needs a culinary overhaul, maybe from Olive Garden, not joking.

MSC Crew – The Ship staff is not the smiling, gracious cruise team you expect. We found Azamara, Royal Caribbean, even Carnival to be far friendlier and hospitable. Few of MSC’s staff are Italian, despite being an Italian ship. Coaxing a smile from most waiters, butlers and staff requires cash.

Navigating Divina is confusing, since there is no central promenade (nod to Royal Caribbean) it’s tricky to walk port to starboard, or bow to stern on most decks.

MSC Divina Cruise Tips:

Villa Rosa is the prettier of the two formal dining rooms (nicer than the Black Crab) but hard to find.

Go to the Garden Pool Bar, Deck 14, as you depart ports for drink overlooking the infinity edge pool.

Get a Cabana Bed on the sunny adults-only Top 18 Deck.

Go ashore at Eastern & Western Caribbean Ports of Call, destinations like Old San Juan, St Marten, Aruba, St Thomas, private islands in the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos…

Spa Deals – Spa Treatments and Beauty Salon prices drop on Port days and as the week goes on…

Don’t go on Divina for the cuisine, we actually lost weight during our cruise, inspired to eat less, and dance more under the stars.

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