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MSC Divina in Port

MSC Divina
"So Divine"

by Linda Coffman

March 2014 Christened by Italy's legendary Sophia Loren in 2012, MSC Divina is a Fantasia-class ship and at 139,072 tons and with 14 passenger decks, she carries 3,502 passenger based on double occupancy, or 4,363 at full capacity. With their "children sail free" policy for kids age 11 and under and a fare of only $99 each for kids age 11 to 17, there are often many multi-generational families  onboard and the capacity exceeds the double occupancy figure. However, the layout is so well designed that MSC Divina never felt crowded during our cruise. Our first impression is that MSC Divina is an Italian beauty with an abundance of gleaming marble and brass. In a way, you could say the décor is a bit retro, but my husband Mel’s description—“upscale warmth”—sums up the overall feeling. MSC Cruises describes it as the “Med Way of Life” and we couldn't agree more.

Positioned in the fall of 2013 to sail year-round from the Port of Miami, you can typically expect to find about 70% of passengers on board from North America and 30% from the rest of the world. On our sailing the international passenger mix was a bit higher at about 40% and it added to the enjoyment of the cruise as we met many travelers from Norway, Germany, the British Isles, Japan, and of course Italy.

Accommodations
With 182 sq ft inside and a spacious balcony, MSC Divina’s Balcony Stateroom 12107 (pictured here at left) was our very comfortable home on board. Cheerful artwork and soothing deep neutral fabric tones set off dark warm wood paneling and creamy wall coverings. Triple closet doors concealed more than adequate hanging and storage space with a bank of drawers, shelves, and personal safe behind one door. A dressing table/desk contained two more drawers, one with a built-in hairdryer, and housed the mini-bar refrigerator below. In addition, a flat-screen interactive television was mounted in the corner and a shelf above was available for our belongings. Nightstands on either side of the bed each had two small drawers for incidentals.

Although the bathroom wasn’t large, it felt bigger than most standard cruise ship baths due to the layout of the corner shower with a rounded side and glass doors instead of a shower curtain. Cabinets beneath the vanity augmented wall mounted shelves for toiletries. For Mel, its most important component was good water pressure and consistent temperature—no blast of cold water when other passengers turned the water on in their showers.

While there are more than a dozen accommodations categories to choose from on MSC Divina, they are laid out in four basic configurations: Suites, Balcony Staterooms, Oceanview, and Interior Staterooms. There are also 45 wheelchair accessible accommodations in a variety of categories.

As in her Fantasia-class sister ships, MSC Divina was designed on the ship-in-a-ship concept, wherein the Yacht Club suites are top drawer on the top of the ship. From the moment they arrive at the pier until the end of their cruise, guests occupying the 69 suites in MSC Divina’s Yacht Club receive unparalleled service and amenities. Met pierside with their luggage upon arrival at the Port in Miami, they are whisked  on board to begin their cruise by checking in at their own concierge desk on Deck 15, bypassing the busy check-in lines in the terminal. That’s only the beginning of the exclusive pampering they experience. Accessible only by key card, the Yacht Club is a private enclave of posh accommodations and privilege.

Yacht Club Suite 16023

Once in the Yacht Club occupants find 234-283 square foot suites with 61 square foot balconies that have generous storage, walk-in closets, luxurious linens, and marble bathrooms with tubs. The plushest are the Royal and Sophia Loren Suites at 390 square feet with 170 square foot balconies—Ms. Loren designed the suite named for her with her own signature touches and black and white photos from her legendary career adorn the walls. Three Executive & Family Suites that measure 462-547 square feet are forward-facing with panoramic windows, but no balconies.

There’s no reason for Yacht Club guests to stand in line at the ship’s Reception Dedk in the Atrium on Deck 5 as all their needs are taken care of in the Yacht Club. Private butlers are available around the clock to handle most requests and the concierge can take care of specialty dining reeservations and arrange their spa appointments and shore excursions. Butlers each serve eight suites and their assistants handle the daily cleaning. Yacht Club guests are escorted to the head of the lines to leave the ship when it's time to go ashore.

The One Swimming Pool

In addition to the private reception area with/concierge desk and small library, amenities include The One swimming pool with sun deck, two hot tubs, lounge chairs, umbrella tables, showers, a fully stocked bar, and a grill. The forward-facing Top Sail lounge with floor-to-ceiling windows offers expansive sea views, a continental breakfast, lunch snacks, and a full service bar that serves as an evening cocktail lounge with a pianist. There is even a small area in the open deck near the pool dedicated to smokers. Like the rest of the ship, Yacht Club accommodations and balconies are non-smoking. All beverages in the Yacht Club venues, including cocktails, beer, wine, soft drinks, and mini-bar contents are complimentary. Aft, with a view over MSC Divina’s wake is Le Muse, the Yacht Club’s dedicated open seating restaurant where breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner are served.

Like those on her Fantasia-class sister ships, MSC Divina’s Yacht Club is all-inclusive and very exclusive. At the end of the cruise, the service doesn’t stop—in a final personalized touch, Yacht Club guests are escorted ashore by their butlers who handle their tote bags and other hand luggage. Naturally, Yacht Club guests have access to all the other facilities and entertainments on MSC Divina, but their luxurious ship-within-a-ship cruise is simply a cut above.

Dining
Food is a very personal subject and one that’s hotly debated by cruise passengers. This was good… That wasn’t... It's all a matter of taste. I like Italian food, especially authentic Italian food. Unfortunately, many Americans haven’t had the opportunity to visit Italy and their exposure to “Italian” cuisine has been limited to Pizza Hut and Olive Garden where pasta is drowned in heavy sauces and garlic is the only identifiable spice—usually on crusty bread. The Italian food on MSC Divina was much lighter—particularly the spaghetti and other pasta dishes. Some people love it and some don’t. I particularly enjoyed the rissoto and, for dessert, tiramasu that was to die for. On "lobster night" I again passed on the crustacean in favor of the delightful pasta followed by a steak entree.

pizza
Pizza!

Pizza! It’s become a staple on cruises and nowhere at sea will you find more authentic pizza than aboard MSC Divina and her fleetmates. Not only is it freshly prepared and complimentary in the Calumet Buffet restaurant, but pies can be ordered with your favorite toppings in Pizza Eataly and can even be delivered to your stateroom—each of those options for a nominal charge.

Dining doesn’t stop with pizza. Of course the Calumet and Manitou Buffet restaurants are popular choices for breakfast, lunch, and even laid back dinners after a day in port. With open seating for breakfast and lunch and set seatings for dinners, the Black Crab and Villa Rossa are MSC Divina’s main restaurants with wide varieties of menu options, including the wonderful pasta. While large, each restaurant is elegantly designed in such a manner that dining seems intimate. The food and service are exceedingly good.

Specialty restaurants on board MSC Divina are unique dining selections for a special occasion or just as a treat. Eataly Restaurant is where Mel and I enjoyed Caesar salad, a tenderloin steak, and a specially prepared pasta dish. The steak was perfectly cooked—juicy, tender, and flavorful, it was one of the best we’ve ever been served on a cruise. Eataly specializes in healthy, high-quality foods and the menu with à la carte pricing offers sixteen selections, from cold meats and fish to Piedmontese beef from “La Granda.” Adjacent to the main Eataly Restaurant is Ristorante Italia, a more cozy dining section with a set menu and set pricing that includes sparkling wine with dinner.

Eataly Restaurant, So Divine

To take a taste of Italy home with you, the Eataly Shop is stocked with such ingredients such as Gragnano Pasta, RIO extra-virgin olive oil, and Slow Food meat sauces. To brush up on your Italian cooking, there are also cookbooks to create authentic dishes.

The Galaxy Restaurant is the second specialty dining venue with an à la carte menu of Mediterranean fusion cuisine and a trio of three, five, or seven course Gourmet Dinners paired with wine selections to complement each course.

On a casual note, sports enthusiasts don’t have to leave the big screens in the Sports Bar to grab a bite. While cheering on their favorite team they can order American-style chicken wings, onion rings, chicken nuggets and other finger food for a nominal charge. Complimentary snacks are also abundant on board MSC Divina. In addition to the buffet restaurants, self-serve ice cream cones are available every afternoon beside the Aqua Park pool and croissants are found every morning at the Divina Bar and Café Italia.

At the heart of MSC Divina is one of the most popular spots for a specialty coffee, pastry, or gelato—Piazza del Doge, where the atmosphere evokes the  “Med Way of Life”quiet and relaxing during the day and lively with music and dancing every evening.

Naturally there is room service around the clock for continental breakfast and sandwiches, salads, soups, fruit, cheeses, and desserts complimentary throughout the day and into the late evening. A $3.50 delivery charge applies for orders from 11:00pm to 6:00am.

More in Part Two: Entertainment, Activities, and Itineraries

Images © CruiseDiva.com


Cruise Diva's "Live" Blogs from MSC Divina:

At Home Aboard MSC Divina
MSC Divina at Sea
“Top 18” Aboard MSC Divina
MSC Divina: Delicious Dining 
MSC Divina: Divine Entertainment
MSC Divina Visits Ports of Call 
MSC Divina’s Yacht Club 
MSC Divina Visits Great Stirrup Cay

MSC Cruises Cruise Reviews


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