As English-speaking-only Americans on a European ship (Italian,German,French,etc.), it was interesting to hear the multilingual announcements and conversations. Definitely a different experience! Our balcony stateroom was very nice, but the fixed dining plan (same time, table, and people) took some getting used to, and the quality of food was not consistently outstanding. A pleasant voyage indeed, but not head & shoulders above the other lines we've cruised so far (HAL, RCI, and Carnival).
3 out of 5
Food and Dining
4 out of 5
Surprisingly, the embarkation night in Main Dining was worst we've encountered so far in 5 cruises (talked with several cruisers next morning who have cruised with Divina before, and they all agreed that this meal was way off the mark. For example, the cocktail shrimp were mushy and almost bitter-tasting.)
Fortunately, things improved considerably for the rest of the cruise, although there was often at least one main entree that just didn't seem up to par. "Milk" at the buffet tasted like it was "dry milk + water" until the last two days when small cartons of real milk finally showed up. Buffet pizza was thin (real Italian style?) but good, unlike the European version of hamburgers/cheeseburger. Liked the abundance of ripe cantalope and other fruits. The big disappointment was that Gala Nights did not feature free lobster tails as enjoyed on other cruise lines.
3 out of 5
Hot tubs were only lukewarm (not in the standard range of 100F - 104F), and the jets usually didn't work. Pool staff either didn't know how to adjust temp or chose not to (liability, perhaps?).
4 out of 5
Our favorite music was that of Classical Duo (Natalia and Anna, pianist and violinist from St. Petersburg) and pianist Olena in the gorgeous Atrium.
Evening shows: mostly song and dance routines which were very well done, but often in skimpy revealing costumes on the ladies. The aerialist lady was awesome as were the gymnastics guys. We also enjoyed a couple of operatic evening performances (awesome Russian soprano and tenor) which were not nearly as well attended as the other shows, but which were clearly appreciated by those in attendance; hats off to MSC for including something for everyone!!
Service and Staff
5 out of 5
Our room steward (Eisenhower, aka "Ike") was always cheerful with a big smile. Our Main Dining servers, Alvin and Mac, were a joy each evening.
4 out of 5
The Swarovski crystal-staircased Atrium is stunning! As old movie buffs, we enjoyed the movie star photo currently in exhibition on Divina's dining decks. And the reflectivity in the ship (hallways, elevators, everywhere) is remarkable -- but beware, it's very easy to walk into what looks like a hallway only to bump into a wall-size mirror!
However, there did not appear to be any way to access the bow of the ship as on other lines, as access seemed to be limited to Yacht Club members.
Also, Divina's large porthole-style windows in the dining room and elsewhere are FISH-EYES which distort the ocean view unless you're within 10 ft: it's like looking through eyeglasses with the wrong prescription. (It's hard to understand what Divina's designers were hoping to achieve with such a stupid optical design; only ship we've ever encountered this on.)
Cabin / Stateroom
5 out of 5
Best we've yet had on a cruise! Roomy, nice "headrest" padding on the bed and huge mirror. Our balcony had a metal balistrade which obviously offered more privacy than the typical glass barriers, and had metalwork "shelves" on which to put drink glasses and stuff without fear of them blowing away.
There is no "open dining" in Main Dining, so you'll be seated with 2 or 3 other couples for the whole cruise: if you don't like their company, just ask to be switched to a different table. (We wound up having a huge table with just 1 other couple with whom we really clicked, making our evening dining all the more enjoyable!)
On 1st day, splurged on the $109pp Atlantis submarine excursion -- definitely our only chance to bottom out at 130 ft, and we saw lots of fish and a big Moray eel. Then took the cheap public bus ($2pp) up to Arashi Beach (road's end) and snorkeled a couple of miles back toward the ship.
On 2nd day, hired a driver to take us and another couple to 2 of the 3 caves in the windswept, barren National Park on the east side of Aruba.
Scenery: we found Aruba not as pretty as Curacao and Rio Ochos. (We love green and mountains.)
Very pretty. Took a van (about $5pp oneway, double the public bus fare but much less than taxi) to Pirate Bay, where we swam across the murky-watered channel to the rocky coastline where the water visibility magically cleared up and we found many huge parrotfish and puffers. (CAUTION: always watch for boat traffic when swimming across bays like this. In future I will bring a diver's flag to wave above us as we transit.)
Gorgeous scenery! We private-bussed ($20pp RT) to Dunn's River Falls ($25pp admission, credit cards accepted) and climbed up the Falls on our own twice (but sometimes tagged in with tour groups). Truly an amazing experience, made possible (according to a gardener) by the crews who scrape the algae off the rocks each morning before the tourists show up.
As on a previous cruise one month ago, we immediately walked to Eden Rock and snorkeled, but the water wasn't as clear as before and the current was stronger. (Dive shop lady said it can change every day, one never knows how it'll be.) Even so, we immediately spotted a 4-ft tarpon... Later in the day, we took a cheap public bus to 7-Mile Beach to enjoy the sand and some OK snorkeling just 20 yds off water's edge. (NOTE: public bus looks just like the large minivans that the private companies used, but is clearly marked Public Bus.)
We booked the Shipwreck Snorkeling excursion through MSC and were not disappointed. The ocean was many beautiful shades of aqua and turquoise. Ocean Cay itself, having just opened a few weeks ago, still needs to acquire experience in serving lunch (long lines instead of just letting people self-regulate themselves as is done onboard the ship's buffet.) The water clarity was poor, saw virtually no fish (except one nurse shark). The so-called snorkeling beach near the Lighthouse was closed due to 1) jellyfish invasion (official reason) and/or 2) many nurse sharks feeding on tiny baitfish (eyewitnessed by another couple we met).
3 out of 5
We had to be out of our stateroom by 8AM, MUCH earlier than any other cruise we've been on. Had very little time to enjoy one last breakfast. On the plus side, a company called Shore Operations, located just in front of the dock-to-airport transfer buses, was selling unsold seats on the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale Airport bus at a fraction of MSC's price (we paid $12.50pp vs. MSC's $45)
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