Due to the line’s goal of appealing to a wide and international clientele, the MSC Divina from MSC Cruises can best be described as pleasingly eclectic. In point of fact, MSC Cruises catered to 186 different nationalities in 2012 alone. In the past, only 10% or so of guests on any given MSC cruise were North Americans, and now with the MSC Divina making rounds from Miami year-round, that number is expected to shift higher.
Balancing what appeals to a changing crowd is no small task, and MSC Cruises is doing an admirable job at seeking out that North American sweet spot for the first time in the line’s history.
Given our mixed experience in the main dining room, we honestly did not know what to expect at the Eataly Steakhouse (as pictured in the header above) – one of MSC Divina’s brand new specialty restaurants, brought onboard specifically to introduce a taste of Italy to America – and boy, were we pleasantly surprised.
For starters, the service here is excellent. Unlike in the main dining rooms, where a high density of tables and additional congestion from decorative dividers hinder service, plenty of access is available to servers in order to attend to your table freely.
While little about the minimal decor, including translucent plastic chairs, speaks of elegance, the food itself is phenomenal, as are the wines. The Eataly brand embraces the “slow food” philosophy of featuring artisanal ingredients and simple cooking, so the environment, although austere, is likely meant to mirror that concept.
Three selections of great sliced bread – white, olive and walnut – come in a little patisserie bag and go nicely with the table oil and vinegar. My beef carpaccio appetizer was the tastiest I’ve ever enjoyed. Al dente cheese and seafood pastas similarly burst with flavor, and desserts are sweet temptations worthy of saving room for.
The absolute highlight, however, was the amazing beef tenderloin entree – 8.5 ounces of melt-in-your-mouth steak. Served in a warm skillet and salted to perfection, this piece of meat was the best I’ve had anywhere on land or at sea. Although fantastic on its own, a number of sauces are available to accompany it like a great chimichurri variety.
Different from other specialty restaurants at sea is the a la carte pricing, which initially appears to be a possibly costlier model over the course of the meal. Instead, it can actually amount to a savings if you decide to choose only some dishes. Otherwise, a full meal will total up to about $50-60.
Entertainment – Take 2
Just two evenings ago, the MSC Divina featured a “white night” deck party where guests are invited to wear white clothing and dance the night away. Kicked off by a performance from one of the pair of singers onboard and six of the ship’s dancers, the party was a hit and energized the crowd even through the rain. We won’t even speak of the unfunny comedian from last night.
Tonight we were just treated to a great performance of operatic singing and ballet dancing with Tribute. The MSC Divina entertainment most shines when the company sticks to classical roots as it did this evening. While it would be nice to see more in the way of set pieces, beyond simply four columns and illuminated steps, the excellent stage talent and costuming easily retain the audience’s attention.
Even though live music does not accompany the main production shows, it does permeate the ship with a number of excellent acts. As previously mentioned, the dueling pianos are great as are the classical sounds in the atrium. Also, the jazz guitar and keys in Piazza Del Doge and the light guitars and singing in La Luna Piano Bar are tops.
Stay tuned as we continue our live coverage from onboard the MSC Divina…
HEADER IMAGE SOURCE: JASON LEPPERT