May 2014 - MSC Divina to Caribbean - Western
Embarcation was easy and quick. We checked in later in the Afternoon so the lines were quite short. Staff was courteous and knowledgeable.
Our balcony cabin was smaller than expected. We later discovered there are two categories of balcony cabins. One is much larger and more expensive, of course. Make sure you know which one you are getting. The cabin was clean and our steward did a great job keeping it that way.
Food and service in the main dining room was fine. The cafeteria was another story. It is laid out so that passengers have to walk to many different parts of the cafeteria to find what they want for that meal. In an already crowded space, this causes great congestion as people balance plates, and drinks and try to weave their way through others doing the same thing. Then when one gets that plate and drink to the table, it's often necessary to go back to another part of the cafeteria to get a salad or desert, etc. In this cafeteria, too many food stations are not a good thing. The servers also have difficulty getting to the passengers, so the quality of service suffers.
Also disappointing was the optional steak house. It looks more like a 1950s diner than an upscale dining experience. This decor may appeal to Europeans, but it misses the mark for North American passengers. The steak I had was also prepared for European tastes.
This is an Italian cruise line. We were surprised at the number of European passengers on a Caribbean cruise. We heard that only 30% of the passengers had English as a first language. There were certainly plenty of other languages heard on board. This added to the attraction of the cruise. All of the staff spoke English and most of the entertainment games, such as trivia, were in English. The entertainment staff did a fine job keeping folks entertained, whatever their language, on sea days.
The entertainment on board was excellent. Large ships, such as the Divina., (3400 passengers) have larger show rooms and can put on more spectacular shows. The shows we saw were a blend of singing, dancing, and circus acts. We were amazed by the flexibility of the three Mongolian contortionists, the antics of the tumblers, and the strength of the strong men. And since this is an Italian line a couple of the shows were opera based, The show room was large enough to accomodate everyone comfortably. Those who arrived early for the show were entertained by antics of the Entertainment staff.
As late diners, we liked the fact that the show for the late dining group preceeded dinner. That scheduling allowed us to see the show and enjoy the late ner evening activities elsewhere on board. One of those activities was Movies Under the Stars. Big screen, small audiences, good movies.
Other recommended activities were the water slide and the Formula One race car simulator. Both were fast and exciting. The race car simulator is an added cost, but even if you don't pay to drive it, it's great fun simply to watch. Problem is finding it. It's on deck sixteen in the arcade area. Keep looking, it's worth it.
The common areas on board were very good. Check out the crystal staircase in the atrium while listening to a classical trio perform before dinner. The pool areas were as crowded as usual on cruise ships. There was a separate pool area for frequent passengers, MSC Yacht Club, and suite passengers.