We’re currently sailing on MSC Cruises’ MSC Divina on a beautiful Caribbean sea day, enjoying the wonderful selection of Christmas music pumped in everywhere onboard as we share our first impressions of the MSC Divina, as she begins her year-round sailing from the USA, with you, our wonderful readers below.
The MSC Divina is beautiful, and she is immaculately maintained. Her whitewashed hull is free of any blemishes, and no rust is present at any nook or cranny. Upon stepping onboard, her classic Italian grace and design is immediately apparent.
Venues are varied with rooms ranging from the art deco-styled La Luna piano bar (pictured one deck above the casino in the header image) to the sports bar complete with a two lane bowling alley. Italian charm is found most everywhere, especially in the Piazza Del Doge, reminiscent of an outdoor courtyard in Venice with a gelateria – with amazing gelato – only steps away.
Leading up to Christmas, it’s great to see the ship entirely decked out with garland, ribbon, ornaments and trees everywhere. Plus, a new photo exhibit – La Dolce Vita 1950-1960 – is spread ship-wide with great black and white photos exhibiting “the sweet life” of “stars and celebrities in the Italian fifties.” It’s a nice touch.
It’s great to see four elevator banks onboard when the common three has given way to only two on some newer ships, but some individual elevators are curiously tucked aside. The flow of the ship is a little peculiar at times too with temporary signage required to help alleviate bottlenecks in the evenings.
Our balcony stateroom is nice and spacious, and as I am traveling as a third with my parents for this cruise, the convertible sofa bed is expansive as well. However, some of the extra volume in the room comes at the cost of reduced storage space, and unnecessarily bulky hangers in the closet cut down on that further.
Entertainment is a highlight onboard with great live music throughout the ship and lavish production shows staged in the evenings. The dueling pianos found at the Golden Jazz Bar make for an amusing romp, and the classical sounds in the atrium fit perfectly with the setting.
In service of appealing to a variety of international languages and nationalities onboard, the production shows are unlike any I’ve ever seen before. Prerecorded instrumental music and pantomime are common with astounding acrobatic acts inserted in between along with occasional sung duets from expert vocal talent.
Wonderland was MSC Cruises’ take on the classic Lewis Carroll tale that more often than not was a redux of Tim Burton’s recent Alice in Wonderland, to the point that the likenesses of Mad Hatter, the Queen of Hearts, and Tweedledum and Tweedledee were near carbon copies from the live-action Disney movie.
Nonetheless, the production was impressive if not entirely original. Even the title “Wonderland” song was a lyrically rewritten rendition of “Whole New World” from Disney’s Aladdin, curiously enough. The occasional singing was great, and the dancing and acrobatics were indeed sights to behold, all delivered by an impressively massive cast.
The food onboard is really quite good. The pizza from the buffet is tasty, and many of the dishes in the main dining room are standouts. The only shortcoming, and it’s a big one, is that the service in delivering said cuisine is decidedly sub par.
For a ship that needs to cater to many languages, communication with the servers is surprisingly often very difficult. Plus, some of the higher level staff exhibit poor attitudes with guests, and dishes arrive table-side at a noticeably slower pace.
Believing in the importance of second chances and communicating problems when they arise, we personally spoke with the friendly guest relations manager onboard who genuinely took these concerns to heart. Restaurant service is indeed a top priority for the cruise line to be attended to as the main dining rooms are apparently understaffed.
We look forward to sharing more from onboard the MSC Divina. Stay tuned!
HEADER IMAGE SOURCE: JASON LEPPERT