Why I won't sail on MSC again

MSC Divina Cruise Review to Caribbean - Southern

Cruises: 4-6 cruises
Reviews: 5
Helpful Votes: 126

Overall rating:

2.5 out of 5
MSC Divina

11 Night Southern Caribbean Repositioning (Port Canaveral To Miami)

Sail date: November 21, 2021

Ship: MSC Divina

Cabin type: Balcony

Cabin number: 9133

Traveled as: Couple

Reviewed: 5 months ago

Review summary

MSC did a very poor job accomodating our mobility needs. They refused to explain why I was moved away from my husband (our accounts were linked and they had no problem recognizing we were dining together). They have too many people who believe in procedure and policy and not enough in common sense. I understand that situations are different in the time of covid and that things such as excursions are out of the cruise line's control. However, there's no excuse for not informing a passenger that he has been arbitrarily moved to another deck. There's no excuse for ignoring the cruise line's own covid rules regarding masking. I only saw 1 instance where a crew member told a passenger he needed a mask. The rule was masks could come off if you were sitting while eating or drinking. People interpreted that to mean they could walk around without a mask if they had a drink in their hand. Social distancing in the MDR (and the buffet, I'm sorry to say, as much as I enjoyed the people and food there) did not exist. Some areas had seating that was closed off in order to maintain distance but people ignored it and I never saw crew say anything. I saw both crew and passengers wearing masks under their noses. The cruise director's English was very poor. She made daily announcements that could only be heard outside my cabin and when I realized she was mostly just reading from the daily planner I stopped paying attention. I think I only ever saw her once on the ship. Other cruises the cruise director was very visible. There was little to do on sea days. There were no comedy shows. Everything was pricey. If you buy internet be aware that once you register a device on the ship you cannot deregister it and sign on to the internet with another device. That bit of information would have been good to know. Cost us another $300 to get the husband his own internet access (our last MSC cruise we were able to share). The pastries and sandwiches at Piazza del Doge are free and is the only place you'll get a regualar size slice of cake. Several people at bars or coffee stations weren't fluent in English. I accidentally left my phone at home so I couldn't use the QR code to order from their menu. They don't provide paper menus nor was there a coffee menu behind the bar. I like to try new things but it was hard enough to order a mocha latte (my usual specialty coffee) that I didn't try anything else. My husband wanted to celebrate his birthday by having a couple cakes delivered to a bar. They would not do that. They could only deliver to the dining room or a cabin. The reason? Bar staff don't get the gratuity if dining room staff serve. We offered to tip the bar staff. We asked to have the cakes delivered to his cabin then we would walk them down ourselves. Nope, not allowed. The wait time in the MDR was so long after we were moved to a table that was distanced from others that we stopped going there. Food was lukewarm, at best, by the time we got it. Then they have the nerve to threaten to shut you out of the dining room if you're as much as 15 minutes late. In effect, we were voluntary prisoners while we waited for our food. By the time we got our main course, people on the other side of the room were leaving. Made it difficult to schedule shows, even if I'd wanted to go to one. We booked this cruise because we had some credit from our Seaside cruise 2 years ago when they changed 2 ports without telling anyone until embarkation day. I can now say I've been to South and Central America but I didn't see much of either. We will not book another MSC cruise, no matter how inexpensive it might be. The lack of respect for our disabilities was surprising. Having complained for good while here I do have to say there were times when we enjoyed ourselves. We met some fun people and hung out with them at times. Natasha (from S. Africa) was a lot fun at trivia, even if they didn't give out prizes all the time. Buffet staff were nearly all pleasant and helpful. But, unfortunately, they weren't enough to remove the bad taste we had even before we sailed. We almost canceled this cruise because of the cabin change. I wish I had. It was scarey being on a ship with so many people flouting the mask rules, even though we're fully vaccinated and boostered. There were several instances when I had to tell someone getting on the elevator to put on their mask.

Embarkation

4 out of 5
Used GoPort to get to the ship from Orlando. Took a lot longer than expected because the bus stopped at several hotels before getting on the road. I shouldn't have worried because there was no line at the MSC terminal. Someone checked our covid documents then we went to the counter and got checked in. We utilized MSC's offer of a wheelchair because we both have mobility issues. Those ramps are long and steep when you have bad knees like I do.

Ship experiences

Food and Dining

3 out of 5
MDR should be avoided until the pandemic is declared over. There is NO social distancing. A couple sat on a riser above us but was separated from us by a thin railing. We asked to be moved. The next time in the MDR we were on the other side of the dining room with empty tables around us. We paid a price for that. We waited nearly an hour for our main courses. Food was served first on the other side as it was brought out from the kitchen. We had steak one night that was so thin and tough it would have been ashamed to be in a cheesesteak sandwich. Because it was Elegant night (although the daily planner said Casual) the steak was free. Normally there's an upcharge. After that we ate mostly in the buffet. We loved it. Crew were friendly and available to assist us whenever we needed it. Even though only part of the the space was being utilized (only about 900 on board) there still was a good variety of food. Some I didn't care to try but many I enjoyed. I loved that so many crew in the buffet learned our names and took time to get to know us which gave us the chance to learn about them. Big shout out to Josel Bautista. She was our angel on a cruise that we couldn't wait to get off of.

Onboard Activities

1 out of 5
Really nothing to do except sunbath, swim, drink, play trivia some day, drink some more. Many people cruise to do just that but I've been on other cruises (including one on MSC) that had more activities during the day.

Entertainment

I'd been to shows on MSC Seaside. Not so entertaining that I wanted to see any again. Too repetitive. And no comedy show? What's up with that?

Children's Programs

No kids

Service and Staff

3 out of 5
Generally our interactions with crew was very good. Some need to learn that people walking with canes or on a scooter might need some consideration and not be ignored. We got yelled at because we weren't following policy coming back on board. The line zigzagged with no one in it. The corners were too sharp for my husband's scooter so I lifted one of the ropes so he could go directly to the xray machine. Then they gave him hell for wanting to drive the scooter through and walk back through the metal detector. A couple times we had to yell out from the pier to get someone's attention for help with getting the scooter back on board. I nearly got knocked over more than once by a fast-walking crew member.

Ship Quality

3 out of 5
It took me a few days to get the lay out of the ship in my head, even though there were maps. Some elevators didn't go to all decks so you would have to up or down then walk to another elevator. Some deckplans still showed the old Tex-Mex restaurant. Generally the ship was very clean. I saw people wiping something down every time I walked somewhere. However, there was mildew on the bottom of my shower curtain, gunk behind the hot water tap, and some black residue coming out of the shower head. None of this can be attributed to my great steward, Kenneth Chang, since this type of buildup should have been discovered during the ship's downtime.

Cabin / Stateroom

3 out of 5
I ended up in this room after MSC moved me out of an accessible cabin next to the one my husband had. No notice, no explanation. We tried for 2 months to get back to the cabin I had but all they would do is move us to connecting regular balcony cabins. I was able to get my husband moved back to his original accessible cabin because he would be using a scooter. I gave up wanting an accessible because it was just too hard to get them to help. So on Embarkation day I was on Deck 12, he was on 9. And the cabin I had been in next door? Sold to someone else. After meeting with the ship's Customer Service Manager we ended up together again on the other side of deck 9 - he in an accessible, me next door in a smaller cabin than I paid for. I had a sofa and a stand-up shower originally. Now I barely had a chair to sit on and a tub that was difficult for me to stand in. To this day no one can explain why I was moved and why they resold my cabin. Nor was I offered any compensation for the smaller cabin other than "a good meal" which we didn't accept because that doesn't really exist in the MDR or Specialty restaurants on this ship. The bathroom was a good size except for the narrow bathtub. The balcony was shaded most of the time, which I liked. Early in the morning I could hear crew cleaning deck 7 and the lifeboats. They were not quiet about it. I had to reposition a chair and the small table because the wind would rock them which made a thumping sound that quickly became annoying. Had to go out there a couple times to move things around.

Ship tip

If you have mobility issues, don't sail with MSC. There are no automatic doors. They make people walk all the forward to meet before excursions then walk them back to midship to exit. Why not meet midship? Some of us can't take a wheelchair or scooter on an excursion so we have to hobble as best as we can. Don't make us walk the length of the ship when it's not necessary.

Ports of call

Port Canaveral, Florida Did not visit port

Port area looked nice. We came on a bus from Orlando so didn't explore the port.

OCEAN CAY MSC MARINE RESERVE, BAHAMAS

2 out of 5
Still pretty much a refusbished sandpit. It looked better than I expected, however. The trees have had some time to recover from the hurricane that delayed opening 2 years ago. The beach nearest the ship was popular. The shops were pricey, so bring money. Staff on the island seemed bored and rarely even said hello to anyone. If you like laying on the beach and swimming then you'll like it here. That probably won't cost you anything.

Montego Bay, Jamaica Did not visit port

We found out after we boarded that we were going to Falmouth instead. Our accessible, vaccinated excursion was canceled. We were offered a non-accessible tour that could include unvaccinated children. Falmouth port was nice. Lots of shops, many not the typical ones you see everywhere, which was nice.

Oranjestad, Aruba

4 out of 5
No excursion. We walked off the ship and into town - that's how close we were. It was Black Friday and people were lined up outside stores, although many were closed because of the pandemic. Everyone we encountered was pleasant. Drivers were extremely polite, stopping for us before we'd even decided we need to cross the street.

Cartagena, Colombia

2 out of 5
Our coffee-tasting excursion was a joke. There was supposed to be little walking. My husband barely made it from the bus to the coffee shop. Another couple was also having problems. The tour leader, who had his own disability, was visibly impatient with us. The coffee experience was just a barista extolling the value of his coffee over their rival, Juan Valdez. When we did the tasting many like the Juan Valdez better. How embarrassing! The tour leader arranged for a van to pick up the 2 couples with walking problems to take us to the bus which would take us to where the group was walking to where there was shopping. The woman who came with didn't speak English. The bus was not were it had been. When we got to it we boarded and the driver just sat there. He also didn't speak English. We sat for over an hour at which time the group came back having already gone shopping. What a waste of a day in such a beautiful city. TIP: There's a small zoo at the port. It's free. Our excursion bus let us off on one side of it (it's a ways from the ship) and told us there was a shuttle on the other side. There's also a good gift shop as well as a Juan Valdez shop where I got some good coffee to bring home.

Colon, Panama

1 out of 5
Our excursion was canceled because there weren't enough people for the train to the Pacific. We were offered, again, a non-accessible, non-vacinnated excursion - a ferry through the canal taking 8 hours total. We declined. We went into the terminal where there is a fairly new duty free shop. Not a lot besides liquor. We thought we might walk over to the casino but there was construction outside the terminal and some shady characters hanging about. It didn't look safe to walk out so we got back on the ship.

Puerto Limon, Costa Rica

2 out of 5
We missed our excursion. My husband was having problems walking after the day in Cartegena. I'd gone to the theater (forward) to meet for the excursion. By the time I got there I was badly out of breath. Turned out I was having an asthma attack. I don't get them often so don't always recognize it when it happens. Anyway, I told the Excursions person in the theater that I was checking in - gave her my name and the excursion # - and that I was heading back mid-ship and would meet the group there when we could leave the ship. She told me to hold on and went to another Excursion person who told the first one that I had to stay in the theater. I heard that and said I don't have to stay, that I can pretty much go anywhere a passenger is allowed to go. Then she said she needed permission from a supervisor. I told her I didn't need permission. Then she told the first woman to go with me. By that point I was close to boiling over, both literally and figuratively. I left. On my way I passed the Excursions desk and stopped in. I asked if it was too late to cancel an excursion (I knew it would be but I had to ask for my husband). She said it was too late. I asked if there was medical issue could there be a refund? She said, of course, but I (or my husband) would have to go to Medical for a checkup by the doctor and get a certificate that said he could not go on the excursion. I said, so we have to pay for the doctor in order to get a refund for the excursion that he can't go on. (He was wearing one of those special boots that keep your foot from moving so it was obvious he had some kind of medical issue. And he was using a scooter to get around.) No supervisor was available to talk to. Someone would call me later in the day. No one ever called.

Miami, Florida Did not visit port

Got off the ship, got in an Uber, went to the airport.

Disembarkation

3 out of 5
Because the ship was only a quarter full groups were being let off the ship fairly quickly. We were in the 2nd to last group. We were off maybe an hour earlier than expected.
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