Sailing the Eastern Caribbean, Mediterranean Style
What better way to start 2015 off than with another Live Voyage Report Preview?
On February 7, 2015 we’re headed for the sunny shores of Miami, Florida, where we will embark MSC Cruises’ MSC Divina for a week of cruising Italian-style around the Eastern Caribbean.
The full itinerary, both here and onboard:
|February 7, 2015||Miami, Florida||Embark MSC Divina||19:00|
|February 8||At Sea|
|February 9||At Sea|
|February 10||Philipsburg, St. Maarten||09:00||18:00|
|February 11||San Juan, Puerto Rico||08:00||16:00|
|February 12||At Sea|
|February 13||Great Stirrup Cay||08:00||17:00|
|February 14||Miami, Florida||07:00||Disembark|
This voyage is a big deal for me. I’ve always wanted to sail with MSC; I can remember looking at brochures for their Caribbean cruises years ago when the smaller MSC Lirica was still operating their Florida-based itineraries. MSC Divina is the line’s second-newest ship, and the largest MSC ship to ever be homeported in Miami.
MSC Cruises is a division of the Mediterranean Shipping Company, which was founded in 1970. Italian in heritage but based in Geneva, Switzerland, MSC Cruises is one of Europe’s largest cruise operators – and they’ve been around longer than you think. The company was originally founded in 1987 as Lauro Lines, and the name MSC Cruises was officially adopted in 1995.
Over the past decade, MSC has grown by leaps and bounds. In 2005, MSC only had two purpose-built newbuilds in service: MSC Lirica and MSC Opera. The remainder of their fleet was rounded out by a beautiful but eclectic collection of older ocean liners, like MSC Melody (the former StarShip Atlantic) and MSC Rhapsody (the former Cunard Princess).
If you fast-forward ten years, the change is remarkable: MSC now boasts a fleet of 12 modern cruise ships (with four more on-order) that sail the waters of the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Northern Europe, South America, South Africa, The Emirates & Oman, the Canary Islands & Morocco, along with special Grand Voyages.
At 139,072 tons, MSC Divina carries 3,052 guests and a crew of roughly 1400. She is 1,092 feet long and has a beam of 124.6 feet. She’s also, as far as megaships go, quite attractively designed: her bow is long and pointed, with fairings that sweep back attractively to a series of cascading decks that terminate with the navigation bridge, which is distinguished by its oversized wings. Above that, four additional decks are swept back, topped by the ship’s radar mast.
Like most other ships in her class, MSC Divina’s stern falls off rather abruptly, but even here, her designers have put a slight curvature on the stern that ends up softening its appearance.
Why does this matter, you ask? Because it’s all about attention to details – and few details have gone unnoticed aboard MSC Divina.
Designed by De Jorio Design International, MSC Divina’s design is what the company calls “Signature Italian.” De Jorio’s Italian designers have designed seven of MSC’s ships so far, and the look they have crafted is rich and distinctive; at once elegant and inviting and yet unlike anything else at sea.
Take, for instance, MSC Divina’s two sweeping atrium staircases – both of which are clad in Swarovski crystals. Each step is inset with approximately $13,500 of the little things. MSC Divina also has an infinity swimming pool, a 10-pin bowling alley, richly decorated public rooms that reflect the line’s interior heritage, and even the MSC Yacht Club: MSC’s exclusive ship-within-a-ship accomodations concept that pairs luxurious suites with dedicated lounges and dining venues.
Impressive, yes – but it also sets the tone for the entire MSC experience.