December 2014 - MSC Divina to Caribbean - Eastern
The value of this cruise line considering the newness and cleanliness of the ship, the choice of beverage packages, and general "pizazzze" is 2nd to none. The shows were a true treat. Where else can you get an opera performance at sea? And for the smaller children, the staff seemed very experienced. It was nice to see that the little ones were included in a special area before each show. It would seem that MSC is living up to it's promise to cater to families. But be prepared for different standards of behavior in the buffet area and pool area. The hot tubs were dominated by children and there weren't many on this pre-Christmas cruise.
Speaking of buffet, the area and food is, in a word, boring, but then we don't eat pork products. It was same old, same old every morning and lunch. We needed to do early dinner because of two grandchildren, and it was just too early and too long a service. Twice, the special dessert took extra long to get out ( the tiamisu and the baked Alaska). The kitchen simply does not have it's act together, the wait staff appears to be overwhelmed and middle management certainly could use some lessons in diplomacy. Rare steak, whether it is ordered "red" or "blue" by the waiter should not arrive cold and dark and tough! My final word on the kitchen is that even the fish was overdone and cold. So, yes, there are issues there.
The ship itself is quite lavish, but the ceilings seem low compared to other lines and I missed a full promenade deck. I also missed live music. There wasn't much going on in the way of good listening or dancing music. The infinity pool was intriguing but water was constantly slopping over into the table areas. Balconies tight but welcome and the spa exceptionally beautiful. Be prepared for some misunderstandings with the his and her saunas. The ladies had a gentleman on two occasions. And the staff, again, does not have the ability to handle this type of issue. Rooms beautifully clean, well thought out bathrooms. Lots of mirrors. Just enough storage for 7 days and two people. We were on a top deck and very comfortable. However in the main public areas around 4, 5 and 6, there was a shaking on this ship that was terrifying. On leaving St. Maarten, as the engines started, we were in the dining room and thought the chandelier would come down. Another day, the Christmas tree in the pain plaza was swaying. I've been on other large ships and did not experience this.
As my title says, for value ( as a last minute cruise), I can't complain. Be sure to pre-pay for your drink packages through your travel agent. Don't expect too much, just enjoy.