Good return to cruising, first time on MSC

MSC Divina Cruise Review to Caribbean - Bahamas

Cruises: 7+ cruises
Review: 1
Helpful Votes: 7

Overall rating:

4.3 out of 5
MSC Divina

3 Night Bahamas (Port Canaveral Roundtrip)

Sail date: October 14, 2021

Ship: MSC Divina

Cabin type: Balcony

Cabin number: 12243

Traveled as: Couple

Reviewed: 2 months ago

Review summary

MSC is one of those cruise lines that tends to be polarizing - people generally either really love it or really hate it. I can kind of see why. The Euro-flavor isn't for everyone. Our experience was neither of those. It was ok and not terrible - but it wasn't overly amazing like our sailings on Cunard have been. The cruise line appeals to families and the average American cruiser. I know that MSC have been working since 2012 to get into the North American market. Having said that, we think we'd prefer sailing MSC in Europe with a full-on European experience and were a little disappointed at the lengths to which they've tried to Americanize the cruise experience, as we were hoping for more of a European flavor cruise. The Mediterranean menu is there - and we appreciated that. For us, MSC will be a cruise line that we'll consider when we want a quikkie weekender short cruise at a budget-y price point. I felt that it was a little nicer (food/ship) than Carnival - but to be fair, I haven't been on Carnival in 7 years, so they may have gotten better since then. We generally choose traditional lines like HAL, Cunard, and Celebrity - less family oriented, more mature clientele. We were very happy to be back sailing since Covid, and this was an opportunity for a dry-run cruise in preparation for a much longer sailing we have booked in December.

Embarkation

5 out of 5
Smooth and speedy - minimal wait, went right on the ship!

Ship experiences

Food and Dining

4 out of 5
We requested a table for 2 in the MDR and originally were assigned at a big table with strangers. So much for social distancing! (it freaked me out a little in post-covid times) The Maître 'd re-sat us at a table for 2 in a lesser location, but we had a stellar wait-staff, so it wasn't all bad. Dinners were very, very good! We like Mediterranean and European food and portions, so no problem there. I could see portion sizes being a problem for a typical American who expects huge portions. We did not indulge in specialty dining because we liked the MDR dinner food just fine. I had a lasagna bolognaise that melted in my mouth - best lasagna EVER! Breakfast in the MDR was a shit-show. We were sat at a table wedged between other tables less than a foot away. Again - what happened to social distancing??? It was so loud that I couldn't hear the waiter. There was no cream/half & half for the coffee. (I was not about to hit up the coffee bar every morning for breakfast coffee) The only options for your coffee are milk or that non-dairy, pre-sweetened coffeemate stuff. (yuck!) When I asked for cream, I got coffeemate, and it rendered my coffee undrinkable. We had a better time in the buffet for breakfast, even though the food temperatures varied at times, and there was no cream for my coffee. My husband really liked the breakfast pizza. (I think it's weird, but glad that he enjoyed it. The regular pizza was very good!) We did not have lunch in the MDR because of the short itinerary - we grabbed snacks from the buffet when we got hungry in the afternoons.

Onboard Activities

4 out of 5
I really enjoyed the adult-only Garden Pool in the aft of the ship. I was concerned about how they enforce the adults-only because the first day there was a couple in the pool with their baby in a swim diaper. I didn't see kids in the adult area apart from that. The pool had a lot of sand accumulating on the bottom, so I'm not sure how often they clean or vacuum it. (minus 1 star) One thing I really liked was that there were lifeguards present at all the swimming venues. I feel like that makes it safer in case of an emergency. Most of the group activities were outside on the Lido in the Aqua Park area. We didn't go to any of them, but we did enjoy the music on our balcony. It was quiet enough that we weren't disturbed and could enjoy the music at a low volume.

Entertainment

4 out of 5
We enjoyed the show each night in the theatre. I liked the concept of the Tina Turner show, but the lead lady singer didn't have the right voice to carry it. The second night was the Autumn in Paris show. It was better than the Tina Turner show, but I feel like the European cultural nuances might be lost on an American audience. The costuming was very, very good, and we enjoyed the can-can bit at the end. The third night, they had a wonderful Latino duo in the atrium, who was followed by a perky fellow from South Africa singing Beatles tunes. Turned the whole atrium into a sing-along, which was fun. The third evening show in the theatre was called Extreme. We enjoyed the acrobatics and variety, but the show was about 30 minutes long, compared to the 45 and hour long productions previously in the sailing. Overall, the performers in the lounge areas were really good, while the theatre shows were mostly ok. The dancers were super perky, and the acrobats were super-entertaining. The entertainment did it's job of amusing us.

Children's Programs

We don't have kids and prefer to sail on itineraries with as few children as possible. There weren't very many kids on the ship, probably because of the timing and Covid protocols. MSC offers a ton of great programs for kids and would probably be a good budget cruise line for a family.

Service and Staff

5 out of 5
It was easy to see that the crew were super stoked to be back to work and sailing again. They work really hard to give us a good cruise vacation, and it was really obvious that they take pride in their work. Our stateroom was Immaculately clean the entire sailing. We had service twice a day. Missed having towel animals, though - I know that's a bit more time consuming for the stateroom staff. Our waiter at dinner made up for the lack of towel animals with fancy napkin folding each night after the meal. I really enjoyed that! The staff in the buffet were amazing at clearing empty plates and cups - they had really good timing and scooped up the dishes quickly. Super-friendly, too! We had a really good waiter team for dinner in the MDR, but when we tried breakfast in the MDR, the service was not as good. Hard to hear, slow service - not a good experience. I think it boils down to when you go for food and where you are sitting, as to the level of service you receive.

Ship Quality

5 out of 5
The ship was immaculately clean, as I would expect for post-covid cruising. The layout of the ship was a little funky - some decks were hard to navigate, and I hated having to walk through the casino to get to the theatre. The deck where our stateroom was located felt like a maze, and it was hard to find elevators because the exit doors were narrow.

Cabin / Stateroom

5 out of 5
We had one of those irregularly shaped balconies (on purpose). What was great about our cabin is that we had a combination of sunny and shaded areas to enjoy outdoor space, along with a bit extra space than a regular balcony. When it rained, we were shielded by the overhang from deck 14 above. Only complaint is that there was minimal balcony furniture - no table for drinks or eating snacks outside - two chairs and an ottoman. Book a starboard cabin if you want to enjoy the view of Ocean Cay and the lighthouse show from your balcony. Our port-side cabin overlooked the archipelago of small sandbars that lead up the the bigger island when we were at Ocean Cay. The bathroom is well-designed. The doors on the shower swing inward to give you the feeling of more space. The shape of the shower was good for fluffy cruisers like myself. Plenty of storage to the side of the sink and underneath. The wardrobe in the cabin had plenty of hang-em-up space, along with 6 drawers for foldy things. The side tables on the bed were kinda small, and I had to put the phone under the bed because it took up the entire space on top of the sidetable. There are no USB plugs in the cabins on the Divina, and the only set of plugs is by the desk (although there is a plug in the bathroom for plug-in shavers). There were 2 American plugs and 2 Euro plugs. The TV had minimal watchable channels, and the info channel for our onboard account balance did not work. When there were announcements from the cruise director, we could barely hear them, even on the balcony. It would have been nice to have all the announcements piped in to the bridge cam or ship info channels so we could hear what was being shared.

Ship tip

MSC Divina is a nicely decorated ship. I wouldn't want to sail on it at full capacity, as the public areas had a tendency to allow people to congregate and feel crowded.

Ports of call

Port Canaveral, Florida

4 out of 5
Port Canaveral is an easy drive from where we live in Florida. The terminal staff were friendly and efficient. We didn't have to wait to get on the ship after checking in, and I really appreciated that.

Nassau, Bahamas

3 out of 5
The last time I was in Nassau was 7 years ago, and I remembered it as being a parking lot for cruise ships. It's still about the same, but with lots of construction going on to accommodate even more and bigger ships. The port area was a little crowded because there were 2 other ships in port. The city felt a little run-down, and many of the shops were closed or under construction. There wasn't a whole lot to do, apart from walking the "gauntlet of commerce" and looking for geocaches. We didn't book an excursion because none of them were overly appealing.

OCEAN CAY MSC MARINE RESERVE, BAHAMAS

5 out of 5
I really, really enjoyed the private island. It will be even better in 5-10 years as the palm trees mature and get leafier. There wasn't a whole lot of shade to be had, so it felt really hot. There was a charge for umbrella rental and other beach accessories. The food options on the island are a bit limited - unless you splash the cash for the Yacht Club and go enjoy the fancy food at the private YC area. (Sailing in a YC room would have tripled the fare - but you get what you pay for, I suppose.) The buffet had hot dogs, hamburgers (including veggie burgers), ribs, and a grilled fish - with a few sides. Very limited food options. There were food trucks around the beach areas that had similar - burgers/dogs. The one food truck had octopus salad for an up-charge. It was tasty, but minimalist and not worth the $10 I had to spend for it. There are bars peppered around the beaches. The drinks package works on the island, as does the wifi. We enjoyed looking in the tidal rock pools by the lighthouse, along with finding critters by the big lagoon beach. We are not the kind of people who enjoy sitting and marinating on the beach all day, but we did have a lovely walk around the island. Once we were tired of walking, we went back to the ship and enjoyed a mostly empty adult swimming pool. We did not do an Ocean Cay excursion, but we did watch the parade of wave-runners on their excursion from the aft of the ship.

Disembarkation

3 out of 5
I didn't like that they basically forced everyone off the ship by 9:30am. It made for a really early morning and a rushed breakfast. It was eerily quick to get off the ship. We waited a really long time for the parking lot shuttle, but that had nothing to do with the cruise or the terminal. There was a shaded waiting area, but nowhere to sit.
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