July 2014 - MSC Divina to South America
I am a Russian-American woman in my fifties married to an American man. We have two children--ages 18 and 21. We have been on three cruises in the past 3 years two of which have been on Carnival. We were on the Carnival Breeze in the Mediterranean in 2012 and the Carnival Legend in Northern Europe in 2013. This year, we sailed on the MSC Divina in Brazil and the Carrib. While we loved the first two cruises, MSC was a life changing experience mostly due to the people.
Comparison of the ships:
The only thing the Breeze has over the Divina was the food. Any person who travels on the Breeze and Divina can tell you that the food on the Divina was so obviously mediocre compared to the food Carnival offers. The Divina lacks the variety and quality Carnival offers. Also, at any given time on the Breeze you could find 24 hour pizza, hot chocolate, tea, coffee, multiple juice drinks, etc. On the Divina, it felt like half the time you passed the beverage station the only available drink was tea, terrible coffee, or water. When the juices were actually available, they were TERRIBLE. Additionally, the staff filled the juice dispensers with water whenever it wasn't filled with juice so if you went to get cup of juice, you'd get this disgusting juice flavored water. Dinner in the restaurant was always disappointing. The breakfast was good. Overall, the food is completely mediocre. My kids didn't seem to care. Also, I'd like to note that we were on a 19 day cruise and none of us gained any weight on this cruise unlike on our other cruises. So I guess bad food was a good thing!
Entertainment: I enjoyed the entertainment on the Divina far more than on any other ship. I am from Russia and lived in Italy for many years. I believe Carnival appeals more to Americans while MSC appeals more to Italians, Russians, and other Europeans. I hardly ever went to shows on Carnival but frequently attended shows on the Divina. Also, the Divina offered more latin dancing e.g. salsa, tango, etc. which I loved.
Embarkation/Disembarkation: Embarkation was easy on all three ships. Disembarkation, however was a NIGHTMARE on the Divina. There was a supposed "gas leak" in the port so the entire port was evacuated. It took us about 6 grueling hours to get off. Many people missed their flights. It was a disaster. I don't know if this is MSC's fault or the ports. Either way, MSC did not handle it well.
Ships themselves: Divina was the largest ship and by far the most beautiful. Next would be the Breeze and then the Legend.
Passengers: We saw the same kinds of people on the Breeze and Legend. The overwhelming majority of passengers were either British or American. Some other Europeans. The Divina was by far the most international. Because the ship departed from Rio, nearly 60% of passengers were Brazilian. The rest were a huge mix of Germans, Brits, Americans, French, Italians, Dutch etc. My two kids said that they felt like they were living in Brazil for a month. My daughter described it as the best experience of her life. They made friends from all over the world and have already made plans to visit them. If they had to guess, my kids would say that 40% of the "kids" spoke English. Most of the Brazilians did not but there were so many passengers on the ship that they were able to find a huge group of friends without a problem. (The ship had over 4000 passengers.)
What my kids have to say:
My kids went to the 18+ club which was EXTREMELY lenient in terms of who got in. They did not ID anyone who entered the club unlike on the Carnival Ships. My 21 year old son claims that it was harder to get into the Carnival Club than in a NYC nightclub. On any given day there ware at least 30 people in the club. On the nights before sea days there would be about 100 people in the club. Anyone aged 14 and above went to the 18+ nightclub. Even the director of the ages 15-17 club was at the 18+ club. There were also middle aged people dancing. On Carnival, my daughter was apart of the 15-17 club which we enjoyed however only to make friends and talk. She said few people actually danced. MY son described the 18+ club on the Carnival Ships as a joke. He said hardly anyone ever showed.
My kids described this cruise as being the "wildest." Overall, we all loved this cruise.