Sailing the Eastern Caribbean with MSC Cruises
This Saturday we’re beginning another exciting Live Voyage Report – this time from the warm, sun-kissed expanse of the Eastern Caribbean. It’s a region we’ve been to many times before – but we’ve never experienced The Mediterranean Way of Life there.
MSC Cruises’ MSC Divina will be our home for the next seven days as we embark this gorgeous ship at the Port of Miami.
You may have heard of MSC Cruises before; but then again, perhaps you haven’t. The cruising arm of the Mediterranean Shipping Company S.A., MSC Cruises began life as Lauro Lines. In 1995, the company changed their name to MSC and a decade later they had embarked on an ambitious newbuild programme. In fact, it’s hard to believe that, just ten years ago, the MSC fleet was radically different than it is now. There were no megaships, and the few modern cruise ships they had (most notably MSC Lirica and MSC Opera) were supplemented by older, ex-transatlantic ocean liners pressed into cruising service.
MSC Cruises today couldn’t be more different. The line currently has a fleet of 13 modern cruise ships that range in size from the intimate MSC Sinfonia to the massive MSC Divina and her Fantasia-class sisters, MSC Fantasia, MSC Splendida and MSC Preziosa.
Originally, MSC Divina was to be called MSC Fantastica, but her name was changed in mid-2010 to honour actress and MSC spokeswoman Sophia Loren. On May 27, 2012, the 1,092-foot long vessel set out on her maiden voyage in the Mediterranean. Capable of carrying 3,959 guests and a crew of 1,325, she was repositioned to Miami in the fall of 2013 to begin operations in the Caribbean. This made her the newest and largest ship that MSC had ever sent to the North American market.
Our Eastern Caribbean itinerary aboard the MSC Divina is a fun one. After two days spent sailing the Caribbean Sea following departure from Miami, we’ll arrive in Philipsburg, St. Maarten – one of my favorite Eastern Caribbean islands thanks to its unique Dutch and French heritage. I’ll even be doing something different here than I typically have on past visits by taking part in a cycling tour of historic Philipsburg and its surroundings. It’s an interesting excursion put on by MSC, and I’ll be keen to experience it.
The very next day, we’re docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico – a beautiful city that is part of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, itself an unincorporated territory of the United States. There’s so much h