MSC Cruise line, based in Italy, has one ship in the USA. The Divina homeports in Miami and sails the sky-blue waters of the Caribbean year-round. Launched in 2012, the Divina has 1751 cabins and holds up to 4345 guests. At 333.30 meters (1093.5 feet) long with a beam of 37.92 meters (124.41 feet), height of 66.80 meters (219.16 feet) and total surface area of 450,000 cubic meters, (588,577.77 cubic yards) the Divina is quite a large ship. It weighs 139,400 tons and travels at a max speed of 22.99 knots. It has 5 diesel generators, two propellers and stabilizers. Rooms include 392 inside, 122 ocean view, 1097 balcony, 28 Aurea suites and 69 MSC Yacht Club suites. It has a deck 13, but no deck 17 because in Italy it is 17 rather than 13 that they view as bad luck. (The top passenger deck is labeled as deck 18.)
The Divina is elegantly decorated without being overly ornate or tacky. The Swarovski Crystal staircase in the atrium highlights the elegance of this diva among ships, inspired by Sophia Loren. There’s quite a collection of statues about the ship (not necessarily to my taste, but a lot of art isn’t.) Mirrors, lights, sparkles, and silver colored detailing highlight many areas and there’s pictures of movie stars of the 1950’s in or from Italy scattered about the ship.
Every ship and cruiseline has their differences. Compared to other ships we’ve sailed on we have noticed a number of differences about the Divina. While most cruise lines sailing in the USA are based there, MSC is based in Italy and relatively new to the US market. They are working on making their ship more friendly to the north American market, with improvements in each cruise over the previous one.
MSC is very family friendly. In addition to having kid-friendly spaces and programs for different ages, children under 18 sail free or at reduced fares. They also pay only half the daily service charge, so only port taxes are full price for kids.
In Europe passengers and crew don’t interact much, where north American passengers prefer a friendly crew. Saying hello to passengers passing by in the hallways is all new to this European-trained crew, but most are doing a good job and some go above and beyond the call of duty to give passengers a great cruise.
Towel animals are hit and miss on this ship as some people get them and others don’t depending on whether or not their particular stateroom steward knows how to make them. I missed the bathrobes that normally hang in the room for passenger use, but another passenger said they do have them available on request. They did bring some right up with a call to housekeeping. The sample size bathroom products were absent, but instead the bathroom had dispensers with soap, shampoo, and body wash.
The dessert selections seem more limited on the regular dinner menu than on some ships, but the buffet always had a varied selection and they came up with some really special things on a couple of the theme or formal nights. The menus are in quite a few different languages, making life on board easier for people from a variety of countries. They catered to the varied languages of their passengers in other ways as well. Some of the onboard presentations were available in different locations done in different languages. The daily programs left in each passenger’s cabin would be in the language of their choice and give a schedule of the day’s events taking place for people who spoke in that language. Daily activities included things like dance lessons and jewelry making as well as lectures, trivia and other games. In addition to the main cruise director they also have an international cruise director for the non-English speaking crowd.
The ship seems quite stable as we mainly just felt a bit of sliding side to side in high winds and rough waters rather than pitching and rolling. There were a couple times it rocked a bit, but nothing major. The walls in our cabin made some creaky noises when underway though. Sometimes the pool water would slosh around, which made a great time to jump in and enjoy the wave-pool type effects.
Unlike most ships sailing the Caribbean that do the same itinerary over and over, or rotate between two or three itineraries, the Divina often has different destinations and lengths of journeys. Many passengers take advantage of this with back-to-back cruises. A variety of groups sometimes lease the ship, adjusting the schedule from the standard 7 days, so on the next cruise the ship adjusts to return to its Saturday start schedule, which creates the variety in cruises offered.
In the buffet there’s a station just for kids serving kid-friendly hot food, a nice touch I’ve not seen on other ships. We always found a table open at the buffet without any difficulty, often at the stern surrounded in a lovely wall of windows where passengers can sit and watch the wake. Their drink dispensers offered orange, pineapple, grapefruit and cranberry juice at breakfast and iced tea, lemonade, and flavored waters the rest of the day.
The MSC USA website could use some improvement in both speed and content. It also needs to be more user-friendly. We could not find any information on the dress codes until after we came onboard, when it is too late to pack the appropriate clothing, so I’ve included it here. The book in the cabin states the dining room dress code as follows:
MSC Divina Dining Room Dress Code
Breakfast and lunch – casual wear allowed
Dinner has 3 categories, and the daily program placed in staterooms each evening for the following day will state which category applies.
Formal: tux, dinner jacket or lounge suit for men, evening or cocktail dress for women
Informal: jacket and tie for men, cocktail dress for ladies (no jeans)
Casual: open neck shirt without jacket or keeping with the theme of the evening if indicated for men, skirts, dresses, slacks and sweaters or blouses for women
It does say no jeans, but I wore jeans and sandals to dinner several times and they didn’t kick me out. I don’t own a cocktail dress or evening gown and my husband doesn’t own a tux. On any cruise ship for the ladies on formal nights if you wear something sparkly it’s all good. Most all the ladies wear sparkly clothes on formal nights – dresses, skirts or pant suits.
They had two theme nights on our cruise, Italian night where people were asked to wear anything green, white, or red, and white night where passengers were requested to dress in white. Of course not knowing about these in advance, not everyone had packed the appropriate colors, but more wore them than not. Everyone on this ship had either early or late seating for dinner. It did not offer the option of coming to the main dining room anytime during the dinner hours, though the buffet was open for anyone who wished to dine at a different time.
The smoking policy differed a bit from other ships we’ve been on. We were quite happy about no smoking on stateroom balconies, but perplexed by the public smoking area right next to the children’s pool. They have a cigar lounge where people can smoke behind closed doors where it isn’t so likely to bother others. The casino is a bit confusing as it says it is 100% smoke free, yet management can designate a particular slot machine or table as a smoking area for a particular passenger if they should so choose. (Probably for a high roller whose money they want to stay in the casino, but how is that 100% smoke free?) I only saw anyone smoke in there once so it was much better than other ships where casino patrons smoke freely.