FredCFL
Second Mate

Joined: 01/18/2013
4
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FredCFL's Past Cruises

MSC Divina

May 2016 - MSC Divina to Caribbean - Eastern

Great Value, Unique Offerings

Just returned from Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Divina and thought that I would give my input. I should mention that this was my first MSC cruise and the first cruise on a large ship (almost all our cruises have been on Holland America, which we thoroughly enjoyed). First of all, the ship is beautiful and well laid out. Only quirk was not being able to get to the Villa Rosa dining room on deck 6 from anywhere else on that deck without going to another deck. The ship is very well cleaned and maintained.

We had a balcony cabin that was roomy enough. The sliding rather than swing door to the balcony is a good feature. Storage is sufficient and lighting is good except that all lights go on when all that you want is to see in the closet which is inconvenient if someone else is in bed.

The food: The buffet food is very good, a lot of variety including ethnic specialties (not just Italian, but that is definitely there), and arranged so lines are not too long even on a rainy sea day. The food in the main dining rooms is also very good . Portions may be a little smaller than I have had on other ships, but multiple servings are available without problems and you don't have to walk away being uncomfortably over stuffed. We did not eat in any of the specialty restaurants except for the pizza at La Cantina del Bacco which was possibly the best pizza I have ever had and that includes New York City and Italy. We had the Margarita de Buffalo, and at $13.00 for a 12" pie it is a bargain. The same location gives you complimentary appetizers when you order drinks. By the way, drink prices are reasonable and a range of package deals are available. We opted for the 18 coupon book that comes to about $5/drink for any non-premium drink, including service charge.

Staff is friendly and accommodating. Cabin staff are not as present as we are used to but rooms are well attended to. Wait staff in bars and dining rooms are attentive and friendly, remembering your preferences. My only issue is that many do have a language problem which is especially an issue with those dealing directly like bartenders and reception desk.

Entertainment is excellent and varied, including an afternoon opera. There are a wide range of activities. Smoking is limited to a cigar lounge and one side of the pool area.

Overall, MSC is a good value and we would definitely go on it again.

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Westerdam

March 2014 - Westerdam to Caribbean - Eastern

Typical HAL Quality

This was our sixth cruise on Holland America (eight cruise overall), the first on the Westerdam; so we had expectations with regard to service, food, and accomodations.  We were not disappointed at all with the service or the food.  With regard to accomodations, our only complaint is the veranda was not deep enough to allow the partition between our veranda and our neighbors (who we were traveling with) to be opened and still allow our door to our cabin to open.  I should note that previous cruises were on decks 7 and 8 which have a deeper veranda to allow an overhang for our deck 5 cabin on this cruise.  We will just book higher decks from now on.  Cabin size, including bathroom, was excellent by cruise standards, with plenty of storage.

 

We cannot say enough about the service and food on HAL cruises.  Cabin attendees are thorough, accomdating, and friendly; they called us by name from the first day.  Waiters and servers in the dining room are equally as good, treating us like we were their only responsibility--yet doing the same for other passengers.  The entire crew exhibits the same friendliness, whether serving you or just passing you in the hall or other common areas.  The food was excellent, whether in the main dining room, the Lido buffet, or the only specialty restaurant that we dined at on this cruise (Canaletto).

All HAL ships follow similar formats with regard to cabins, common areas, layout, names, etc.  with differences in size and decor specifics.  This made it easy for navigating the ship, especially if you have cruised HAL before.  Being the last cruise for the Westerdam before heading to drydock for refurbishing, we did not know what the expect with regard to the condition of the ship.  We were pleasantly surprised that there was little sign of wear.

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Nieuw Amsterdam

March 2013 - Nieuw Amsterdam to Caribbean - Western

HAL Great until Customs Took Over

The food and service were great. Could not stop at Grand Cayman as port closed due to weather (not too bad as we have been there before). Only problem was disembarking at Fort Lauderdale due to Customs backlog. They only had two agents working for US citizens (non-US was backed up over 2 hours wait). Customs were holding passengers on the ship, letting only a few off at one time and we still had to wait on line for an hour for an agent. Not HAL's fault.

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Nieuw Amsterdam

March 2013 - Nieuw Amsterdam to Caribbean

HAL is Great

The cruise was terrific--service and food always top notch on Holland America--cannot say enough about the crew and the chefs. This was our second cruise on the Nieuw Amsterdam. This time we tried the rear-facing verandah cabin: a little more room, king size bed, 180-degree view. A little more vibration and motion but not excessive. Could not stop at Grand Cayman as the port was closed due to rough seas (need to take life boat/tenders from ship there) but we did not mind too much as we had been to Grand Cayman before and we got an additional day at sea to enjoy the ship. Wish we could say the same for customs upon disembarking at the end of the cruise. They only had two agents working at one time for the US passengers. Customs were only letting a small number of passengers off at a time and our 8:00 time slot quickly became 9:30; then a one hour wait in line (non-US had a two hour wait in line).

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FredCFL's Tips

Philipsburg, St. Maarten - Take the water ferry to downtown and spend the day along the beach, shopping, eating, bathing.
MSC Divina MSC Divina - Don't pass up the made-to-order pizza
Westerdam Westerdam - Room service and/or Lido for breakfast, Lido for lunch, dining room for dinner. Reserve a table near rear of dining room (at window if possible) for great views.
Nieuw Amsterdam Nieuw Amsterdam - Lido for breakfast and lunch; dining room for dinner (reserve a table in rear for great views while dining).

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uploaded a photo album from their MSC Divina cruise on 2016-05-21

added May 21, 2016 cruise on MSC Divina to their profile.

shared a quick tip for MSC Divina"Don't pass up the made-to-order pizza"

reviewed their Caribbean - Eastern cruise on MSC Divina and gave it 4 stars!

checked into May 21, 2016 cruise on MSC Divina roll call and is traveling with 1 other guest.

checked in for the roll call for May 21, 2016 cruise on MSC Divina!

received a helpful vote on their Westerdam cruise review - Typical HAL Quality

received a helpful vote on their Westerdam cruise review - Typical HAL Quality

received a helpful vote on their Westerdam cruise review - Typical HAL Quality

received a helpful vote on their Westerdam cruise review - Typical HAL Quality