11/28 – 12/05/15
This was our 49th cruise and our 12th different cruise line, so it’s only natural we compare it against all the other cruise lines and ships we’ve been on. Because of this, I won’t spent much time talking about the ports we visited and I won’t do like I usually do with my reviews, which is to elaborate on each day of our itinerary in detail. Instead, I will only discuss our experiences with MSC and this particular ship.
First, I think it’s important to explain a little about MSC. The initials stand for Mediterranean Shipping Company and they are among the largest shipping companies in the world. Many years ago, they decided to get involved in the cruise industry and began to build passenger ships. It’s a very large company located in Italy and their cruises are very popular among Europeans, especially Italians and, as such, their staff consists of mainly Europeans. MSC did not really attract the American cruisers in Europe because of the different type of experience they provided. (After all, we Americans are a fickle bunch.) But even after all that, MSC decided itwas time to give the American market a chance to try their product from American soil. They brought the Divina here about two years ago sailing out of Miami. At first, it was not well received at all. Their style, service, menu, and other attributes were not what most Americans expected or even desired in a cruise. Reviews about most things associated with this different style of cruising were not very complimentary, to say the least. American passengers who were only use to the type of cruises being provided in the U.S. were complaining about pretty much everything because they were not use to the European product and their way of doing things. The Italian wait staff did not combine with the type of service that Americans were accustomed. The food leaned heavily towards European tastes, especially Italian, and was considered strange by American standards.
After a few months, the Divina departed American soil and returned to Europe for the Summer. However, they returned in the Fall for another attempt to attract new customers and, with some changes, begin to improve in the areas that most Americans wanted. Along with this, MSC begin to offer some very good pricing and things began to get better, according to the reviews. After spending the next Summer in Europe, the Divina came back and MSC announced it was making a big commitment and keeping her here year round.
During this particular cruise, we spoke to a few senior staff and were informed MSC was making an even bigger commitment to stay in the U.S. market. In 2017, they would be removing the Divina from Miami and bringing two brand new ships in its place for full-time sailings; one in Ft. Lauderdale and one in Miami. We were also told that changes would be forthcoming to further entice Americans, including the hiring of more staff from the Philippines, which most American have become accustomed to on many of the major cruise lines sailing from the U.S. Needless to say, it’ll be very interesting to see how all this plays out over the next few years and see how MSC will fare with the American cruising public.
Okay, back to our specific cruise.
We prepaid for parking at the Safe Cruise parking lot at 650 NW 8th Street in Miami. At $6.99 per day (times 8 days), the price is much better than paying $20 a day to park at the pier. We arrived about 1:15pm and within 10 minutes, we were on the shuttle to the pier. After letting off passengers for the Carnival Glory and the Carnival Victory, we arrived at our terminal around 1:40pm. We were given a yellow smiley face sticker to wear when we came back so they would recognize us and told where to meet the shuttle near the terminal for pick-up.
Unlike most cruise lines, MSC has four tiers of pricing structures; Bella (good deal), Fantastica (better deal plus free $200 value), Aurea (best deal plus free $600 value), and MSC Yacht Club (elite VIP club level with all-inclusive amenities). The first two are available for inside, oceanview, and balcony cabins, the Aurea is available for balcony and suites, and the Yacht Club is only available to deluxe suites. I won’t go into all the specific details about each of these tiers and what they include, as this information is available on the MSC website. When booking, one should discuss all the prices and amenities with their agent to determine what’s best for them based on their specific needs, lifestyle, and budget.
For this cruise, we decided to treat ourselves and purchased a Deluxe Suite in the Yacht Club (YC). Among the benefits of booking this type of stateroom is they have a special check-in area curbside where we brought our suitcases. These were tagged and immediately taken to our suite. The two of us were personally escorted into the terminal, where we bypassed the lines and went directly and quickly through security. We were taken to a special private area to do our check-in where there were no lines and the process went very quick and easy. We sat in a very comfortable waiting area where we completed the paperwork while sipping on very good champagne along with hors d'oeuvres. Following this very pleasant experience, we were then escorted to the ship, over to the private elevators for Yacht Club guests only, and taken up to the VIP Concierge desk. We were introduced to our butler, who introduced his assistant and the Matre’d for Le Muse, which is the private dining room for YC guests. He asked about our dining time and any special needs or requests we had. Following this, our butler escorted us to our suite. He was suppose to have everything unpacked and put away for us before we arrived in the suite, but we got there before the luggage did.
We’ve stayed in suites on other ships, including junior or mini-suites, which on some ships are about 50% larger than a regular balcony stateroom. We’ve also stayed in grand or full-size suites, which are about double the size of regular balcony staterooms. The first thing we noticed is that the “Deluxe” suite on the Divina is basically the same width as a regular balcony cabin, but is only slightly longer. The two nice features included is a small walk-in closet and a bathroom with a bathtub. Overall, the cabin was very nice, albeit a bit small for what I would normally refer to as a %u2018suite’ given it was just a little larger than a regular balcony cabin.
Another amenity with the YC is that all our beverages are included in the price. In our cabin, we had very nice bottle of champagne on ice waiting for us, along with a refrigerator full of complimentary beer, liquor, sodas, water (both spring water and sparkling water), and some snacks. A bowl of fresh fruit was on the table and replenished every day throughout our cruise.
The suite was nicely appointed with a very comfortable king-size bed and high quality Egyptian cotton sheets. They also offered us a menu of pillows from which to choose, making our sleeping experience very comfortable.
There was also a king-size sleeper sofa for those booking the suite for three or four people. This was larger than what we have found in most staterooms and it also made for a nice seating area.
While the suite itself was very nice, we couldn’t help but notice that the carpet was in desperate need of cleaning, as there were several very dirty areas. Quite frankly, we found this unacceptable and were surprised this was not attended to prior to us coming onboard, especially given the Yacht Club is marketed to a more discerning upscale clientele.
The one thing we would have really liked to see is a larger flat screen TV. The one in our suite was only about 20” and stuck in the corner of the cabin. It is relatively small when trying to view it from the bed, which is a good 12’ to 15’ away. Plus, it would really be nice to have a DVD player along with it because it’s rather expensive to see a movie (about $8) and there are not many channels from which to choose for those who enjoy watching TV before going to bed. We much prefer cabins with the TV located in the middle of the wall instead of in the corner as this makes it nicer when watching it in bed.
As I mentioned, the bathroom had a tub and while some would say this is a nice feature, most people I know, including us, would much prefer to have just a bigger shower, since it’s easier to get in and out, especially for seniors. The tub is rather tall and makes it a little difficult to step over the edge, especially during rough seas. Plus, because of the design of the tub, the area inside it is rather limited for standing. We did find it interesting that the entire wall inside the tub area was a huge mirror and the other side had a half-wall that was glass – there was no shower curtain or door. The towels were very thick and of excellent quality, and the bathroom toiletries were very good quality products.
The water pressure was much more than any ship we’ve been on and the hot water was instantly hot – no long waiting such as we’ve experienced on many cruises.
The overall YC area was really nice. We had a wonderful VIP concierge and butler that were available 24 hours a day for whatever we needed. There was also a delightful lounge that was very comfortable. It had a fully stocked bar with complimentary cocktails, draft beer, wine, and was open from 7:00am to 2:00am. We tried many great mixed drinks during our cruise. They also had a fantastic snack bar that was full of awesome food they changed out about once an hour. We met many great people from all over the world in this lounge. We learned that this particular sailing had about 85% foreigners, while the next cruise had about 85% Americans onboard. We met one really nice couple that we got together with on a regular basis. Funny thing was, we had absolutely nothing in common. They were a young couple from Paris, newly married, on their honeymoon, on their first cruise, their first trip to the U.S., and didn’t speak a lot of English. We are an older couple from Washington, DC, married for 43 years, on our 49th cruise, have visited Paris on 3 occasions, and don’t speak any French. We were completely the opposite, yet we got along great and had a wonderful time. Of the many subjects we covered, one of the things we eventually talked about was James Bond – seemed we all had that in common. While on this particular matter, the waiter happened to walk up and asked what we would like to drink. Given the subject at the time, I guess it was only natural that I ask for something I had never had, but always wanted to try, “Vodka martini. Shaken, not stirred.” Not only did it get a chuckle from the other three, but they all decided to follow my lead. Turns out, it’s not half bad.
Next to the concierge desk, there was a private elevator that went to Deck 18, which is where the private pool, bar, and grill for YC guests was open all day. While the pool was relatively small, it was never crowded. There were two hot tubs and more than enough lounge chairs for everyone. This private area never had many people and as with everything else in the YC, it was all complimentary and very comfortable.
The private dining room, Le Muse, is for YC guests and is located in the back of the ship on Deck 15. It was open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and was never crowded. The staff was absolutely wonderful. The menu was more limited than in the main dining room, but while it had some similar items, everything was prepared in the private kitchen by the chef for Le Muse only. Any special requests were immediately handled and even when someone wanted something that was not on the menu, they always accommodated their guests. Wine, champagne, and cocktails were complimentary during all meals at Le Muse.
There are a couple of specialty restaurants onboard the ship and usually the menu in Le Muse listed one item from one of the specialty restaurants each night. This provided us the opportunity to enjoy the specialty restaurants without having to go to them or pay for them. And speaking of the specialty restaurants, YC guests can order complimentary pizzas from the Eataly restaurant from 9:00pm to midnight to be delivered to their stateroom. For all other guests, there is a charge for this. We ordered a couple of pizzas one night for dinner and they were very good, albeit they did get the order wrong; we ordered Italian sausage and pepperoni, and they delivered them without the sausage. No big deal because even without the sausage, it was definitely much better than the pizza offered in the buffet area.
Another nice feature of the YC was that we were provided with an escort down to the disembarkation point when being tendered into port. This was really convenient because we did not have to get a number like everyone else and wait our turn. Instead, we were taken right to the tender and were immediately boarded to go into port.
Since we had just recently moved from Washington, DC to Cape Coral, Florida, many of our nice clothes we normally wear on a cruise had been packed away in boxes, leaving them very wrinkled. We didn’t take the time to have them pressed before we left, so we were glad to see the Divina had a deal on laundry for $30 for up to 20 pieces during the cruise. We did have to pay an express fee for a few items because we needed them for the 2nd night’s formal attire. We later sent a couple of bags with items for other nights and appreciated the service and the price.
Speaking of formal attire, I dressed in a sport coat, tie, and shirt for both of the two formal nights, yet I was among only about 30% of the guys that were actually wearing a tie. There were many gentlemen wearing a shirt with no tie, jacket with no tie, or golf shirt. Needless to say as with many of the cruise lines now days, formal is less than what was expected a few years ago.
I always want to keep in touch with my clients, so I was appreciative that the WiFi service was not as expensive as what I have found on most cruise lines. Personally, I would have thought this would be complimentary for YC guests given the high cost for the suites. It was $49.95 for 130 minutes, which comes out to be about $.38 per minute. (By contrast, the NCL Getaway charged me $75 for 110 minutes - $.68 per minute.)
We were really glad we did the Yacht Club because otherwise we would have had to endure the very crowded pool areas and especially the buffet everyday instead of enjoying the peace, quiet, and uncrowded private areas offered the Yacht Club guests. The regular buffet area was definitely not something we wanted to do on a regular basis. While the food was mediocre, in abundance with lots of choices, and okay for the normal palette, the layout of the buffet area was not good. There were places where only one person could walk through at a time, making it congested and frustrating when trying to maneuver from section to section, especially when carrying food. They do offer a make-your-own sandwich station from 11:30pm to 2:00am, which is nice for the late owls.
One thing I enjoy in the morning is a nice breakfast. I like to have two eggs over easy, along with some bacon and hash browns. I could get this in Le Muse or the main dining room, but I found it very unusual there was no omelet station in the buffet area where we could get eggs cooked to order. We could get previously made fried eggs, which were laying in a pan under a heat lamp, most were cooked medium hard, or omelets that were laying in another pan, most looking dried out after sitting under a heat lamp for a long time. However, there was nothing cooked to order. I have never seen that on any other ship we’ve ever been on and found it very strange. Hopefully, this is one thing MSC will change with their new more %u2018Americanized’ ships in the future.
Speaking of food, overall the food offered to Yacht Club guests in the snack bar on Deck 18 was only so-so and very limited, so we often ate breakfast and lunch in Le Muse and a few times in the buffet. While breakfast and lunch was usually good in Le Muse, dinner was much better. We ate dinner almost every night in Le Muse and it was mostly very good to excellent. The Italian espresso coffee in the YC areas was excellent! It was definitely much better than the coffee we got in the regular parts of the ship. Room service was always very quick and good. Plus, being in the YC area, we could have complimentary cocktails brought to our suite at any time. We only ate in the main dining room twice for lunch and once for breakfast. We found the food in there to be about the same as Carnival, NCL, and Royal Caribbean, so we can only assume dinner was equally comparable. Based on what we heard from many other cruisers on the ship who have a lot of cruises on many different cruise lines, their sentiments about the food in the main dining room was very similar to ours.
There were many wonderful areas of the ship for those wanting to dance, listen to music, or enjoy a quiet place to read a good book. There was also plenty of very good entertainment onboard. In the Yacht Club lounge, we were treated to some very nice piano music during cocktail hour. And while we normally don’t go to the shows in the main lounge because they are all pretty much the same and not very entertaining, most of the performances on this ship were excellent. A couple of them were just the usual singing and dancing, but several of the performances were themed, such as The Mask show and the Michael Jackson tribute show, and the performers were some of the best we’ve seen on a cruise. They have a nice Sports Bar with several TV’s around, but when we went in there on Sunday to see what football games were being shown, they only had one playing even though there were at least 6 games happening at the time. We found that to be very disappointing, especially given that the one game they were showing was also the only game showing on the TV in our suite. They do have a two-lane bowling alley, but one lane was broken during the entire cruise and the other one was only working sporadically, irritating those who were trying to play. We went back to our stateroom to watch the game, but now here’s the really strange thing; for that game, as well as the game on Thursday night, we could hear the crowd noise, the noise on the field, and the referee, but there was no announcers in the sound portion during the entire game. We enjoyed watching the game without all the usual talking by the announcers, but it was definitely strange to say the least, especially given that the sound for the game was fine in the sports bar.
The Divina is a beautiful ship with many great features. However, because of the design of the ship, there are some areas that get clogged when going to or coming from dinner or shows; some of this is caused by doorways that are just too narrow for a major artery. So while the ship is beautiful, I had to question some of the rather strange design features given the number of passengers.
While there are a few things for kids to do, from basketball, soccer, video games, etc, the ship is very similar to many Carnival and NCL ships (other than the new ones) in that they do not have an abundance of amenities such as on the larger RCCL ships or the newer NCL ships. Again, I hope this will be an improvement made on the newer ships if they want to attract more families.
Overall, I would rate the MSC experience in the U.S. to be very comparable to NCL in many ways and to Carnival in some ways. While the ship itself is beautiful, the layout could be better. Size-wise, we couldn’t help but compare the Divina, which is 139,000 gross tons to the RCCL Voyager-class ships, which is similar at 137,000 gross tons. We found it very interesting that even though the Voyager-class ships are the same size, they have lot more open public areas, the flow is much better, and they have many more amenities than the Divina.
As a couple, if we wanted to do an inexpensive cruise, we would definitely consider the MSC Divina. But we would be ready for an average cruise at a good price. However, while we definitely recommend the Yacht Club and would love to do it again on one of the newer ships in a couple of years, one would have to ask themselves if it is worth the additional price for that upgrade. A deluxe suite in the Yacht Club, which is only slightly bigger than a regular balcony cabin, costs about 2-1/2 times more than the regular balcony stateroom. The additional amenities and features are wonderful, but it would be difficult to justify the higher price when compared to balcony cabins and suites on other cruise lines. If money is not the issue, then the Yacht Club is a great way to be pampered and have a more upscale experience on a beautiful ship.
Many cruise lines realize that providing amenities for families is a great marketing tool and most of the mainstream lines have included many of these features in their newer ships. The Divina is lacking is this area, so if you’re looking for activities to keep the kids busy, this one may not be for you. But if you’re looking for a nice inexpensive cruise on a beautiful ship, then this certainly may strike your fancy.
You’re welcome to contact us if you have any questions or need additional information. And when you’re ready to book your cruise (or land vacation), we’re here when you need us.
Pete & Nancy Peterson
Cruise & Land Specialists
Cruise Planners, Inc.
we went on the Easter with a group of 44 people we all have fun and have a good time. I been cruise 10 times and Divina have the best show at sea and is a very beautiful ship, with lot of thing to do if you are a active person you don't get bore, the food is good above average , the coffee bar better then Starbuck you have to try some frozen coffee they are so good, buy the voucher they are so cheap, other ship they don't have voucher, so you will save lot money. we all love Divina and would come back again. The show they have are so amazing one of the best ratting at sea.
This is a review of the MSC Divina.
My wife and I love to cruise. Even a bad cruise would be better for us that not going. I have 21cruises under my belt on Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Princess, NCL, Pride (not around any more), Commodore(not around anymore),and now MSC. There are not many places in the Caribbean that we have not been to.
BOOKING AND ONLINE CHECK IN
Booking was through MSC and went fine. The online checkin process was difficult and confusing. Ther are a lot on site problems and the site is low on information. Did not know if I had the right paperwork to get on the ship. I printed everything and let the port check in operson sort it out.
Basically flawless...just about walked right on the ship. Checked in at about 12:15.
This is my favorite ship as far as dÃ©cor goes. The layourt is a little difficult. We were not at capacity, and if we were, getting around would have been slow and crowded.
Pool deck was large and handled the crowd well. Three different pool areas and many hottubs. Pools kapt at theexact perfect temperature.
Outside theater was very nice, but mostly ran advertisements for ship services and products.
The official language of the ship is English....barely.
Room attendant was excellent.
The shows were well put together...the singers could actually sing! They did miss the mark on the Michael Jackson tribute show...The bar was just set too high by the legend.
There were some scheduled activities, but far short of other cruises. As we learned to expect,they were poorly organized, leaving people trying to participate but not knowing how.
We had a balcony roommid shipon the 8th deck. It was great...spacious and well arrainged...nicely decorated...comfy bed...good climate control...very good room stewart.
Average at best. Alot of duplication making it seem like variety,but not so.
We took a privately booked tripin Jamaica to a secluded beach. It was arrainged by a fellow member of Cruise Critic. It was a great day...perfect!
Cozume land Cayman we took ship tours...THE WORST PART OF THE TRIP. MSC may be big in cargo moping, but they have no clue when it comes to people. On and off the boat in port (all 4) was painful. Tendering was torture. Lines in hot sun and total confusion. Also, nothing was on time. The quality of the tours was also poor. It seemed that the point of the tours was to get you to a place where you were captive, and then expect you to spend more to have a good experience.
Beautiful ship...mostly very good shows...very good room...and a great price. I expected somuch more.
Scale of 1 to10............4
Just my opinion.
This was our first cruise on MSC and since it was our 30th Anniversary Cruise, we upgraded to the Yacht Club at $2,000 pp. The Yacht Club included all food and drinks in their Top Sail Lounge, One Pool Grill, and the Muse Restaurant, and a Butler who was to be available 24 hrs.
The Food was better than the buffet and service started out superb but declined a little each day. There was definitely a language barrier, but the Staff greeted us every morning with Good Morning and later Good Evening. Simple things were easy, but things as complicated as a "Happy 30th Anniversary" Cake (given to us as Happy 30th Birthday)required lengthy conversations with multiple staffers and often not resolved.
The biggest disappointment was the wet carpet the entire 7 days that filled our Stateroom with mildew and caused allergic reactions and illness for both of us. The Butler and maintenance staff kept saying they needed time to find leak and repair and would complete while we were off ship at our first port, but they never made the repairs during the first, second or third day in ports.
This cruisewould be perfect for older, less mobile people who enjoy staying in their rooms and not wanting to have some activities during the day. The same food was served daily except for The Muse that served a lot of fish. The Excursions were poorly run and busses had no a/c and the excursion details were highly exagerated.
I would cruise MSC again, BUT only if I had an inexpensive Groupon like couples we met on the beach (they paid $200 pp - we paid $2,000 pp) at Grand Turk (deviated from Great Stirrup Cay due to weather) The Divina is a beautiful new ship that was a pleasure to tour, but there were never any chairs for sitting out on the decks. Overall I rated it as 3 Stars, but should be 2.5.
We were on a cruise with MSC DIVINA from Rio De Janeiro - Miami.
This was the WORST experience ever!!!!
The buffet food was the same for 20 days, the staff in the reception was horrible!
And it felt like the ship was more suited for italian och portugese people.
BUT the worst was the disembarkation in Miami.
Due to a gasleak in the terminal we had to wait for hours. Imagine over 2000 people in the terminal. It was CHAOS!
We had an excursion too. But when we finally got outside the terminal, there was some MSC staff holding a MSC sign, telling us to take the bus on the other side. We then asked about our excursion. The lady told us it had been cancelled due to the gasleak. So the bus would take us to the airport right away instead.
We were told to get in touch with our Msc office back home to get our money back. So we did. We still had the original tickets of the excursion and told them all about the gasleak.
But the respond we got was horrible! They basically told us that we're lying aboutthis. That they have contacted MSC's office in Italy and they are telling us that there was no gasleak, that we just didnt turn up to the excursion. So we're not going to get our money back for the excursion which was CANCELLED!!
Ive never been so badly threated before!
Now they are just saying "Sorry we cant help you anymore".
How can a big company like MSC tell their customers that they are lying? When other people have written about the gasleak on different reviews sites on the Internet. Im speechless!
I've never in my entire life met a company as MSC before who lies and don't care about their customers as soon as they have disembarked their ships!
I will NEVER recommend MSC to ANYONE. This has been the worst experience ever!
There's so much to say, and since we just got back this afternoon from the cruise, I wanted to write this review as quickly as possible so we do not leave anything out.
First of all, the embarkation was a complete disaster. Now, before I go farther, it deserves to be said that there was a gas leak in the terminal the morning we were to board, and as a result, the ship and the terminal had to be evacuated. That meant the still-remaining passengers from the week before had to leave the ship, then return, and then leave again. So, those individuals did not get completely disembarked until mid-afternoon (around 3:00 p.m.). The ship had to be turned around for the new passengers, so we didn't get on board (and we were towards the "front" of the line) until close to 4:30 p.m. For the record, we looked out at the line several times throughout the day, and there were still passengers coming aboard close to 7:30 or 8:00 p.m. I cannot imagine how horrible that would have been. Our main complaint, since MSC Cruises could not control a gasleak, was that they didn't give any information at all to those waiting in line. We heard NOTHING about what was happening, other than from other customers who were also waiting in line. We heard absolutely nothing from MSC during that time in line about what the process was which was unfolding in front of our eyes. Needless to say, it was a nightmare.
Note: A part of the embarkation process most definitely involves the delivery of the luggage to our rooms. By 1:00 a.m. the night of the sailing, our luggage still had not been delivered to our room. After calling twice and getting nowhere, my son and I went to the lost and found. Sitting there, with the MSC TAGS IN FULL VIEW was our luggage. I asked the customer service personnel why the luggage was just sitting there, and they had NO explanation. Again, the tags were in perfect view, right where they were supposed to be. It's as if someone was just lazy and didn't take the time to deliver the bags to our room. The customer service person said she would find out why this had happened, and that she'd call me back. I never heard another word from them again. Not. One. Word!
Our cabin (11247), and our sons' cabin (11241) were both fantastic. Ours was a balcony and theirs was a few doors down, and was an inside berth. The rooms were SPOTLESS, and our room steward was the best we've experienced in 13 cruises. He really did an awesome job, and was one of the few highlights (from MSC) of this cruise for us. He really, truly took good care of our rooms each day. The rooms are beautiful, and they're very nicely appointed. Without a doubt, they are the nicest rooms we've ever had on any cruise ship. Our balcony wasn't huge, but it was big enough certainly for my wife and I to enjoy (and typically our two sons would stand out there with us a while each day).
There is most certainly a language barrier, which is pretty difficult to get past, on this ship. I mean, it is a TRUE challenge to overcome. It was quite difficult for our dining staff to complete our order properly because they simply didn't understand English very well at all. Most evenings our meals were incorrect. It wasn't that they didn't try (because they did); but rather, it was because they just didn't know. Honestly, I blame the company for this, not the workers. They've obviously not been trained well. Anyhow, the food was decently good, and we really don't have any complaints about the quality or taste of the food in the Black Crab or in the 14th floor buffets. The pizza was really delicious in the buffet area, and we enjoyed the great selection of breads and cheeses. I'll rate the food quality pretty high, because again, it wasn't bad.
The excursion experiences we had are OUTRAGEOUSLY BAD! In fact, we're going to be trying our best to get our money refunded (which they will not do on board - even though they booked us on an excursion for which we DID NOT SIGN UP. Now, we have to use more time to try to get this resolved because to the staff on board, we're outta sight, and outta mind). It was virtually impossible to get someone to return our MANY messages seeking assistance. My wife stopped by the desk 4 times, and she called 3 additional times, before finally getting a return call with the news that they would not be able to help us on board -- even though it was their mistake. We viewed a video at the Excursion Desk, along with their staff member, and told him that was the excursion we wished to take. The following day, our tickets arrived and 3 were of one excursion, and one was for another. We arrived the next morning to the meeting point, and brought to the attention of those there that the excursions were not the same. They told us which group to get into, and the excursion we went on was a complete and total JOKE! We paid $72 for a ferry ride, shopping, a dirty public beach, and lunch in a cave. We were supposed to go on an excursion which including snorkeling in a cavern, not a Mexican buffet in a cave restaurant. Again, the language barrier reveals its ugly head!!! There's NO WAY IN THE WORLD we would have taken our 17 and 20 year old on an excursion like that!!! They were HUGELY disappointed, because we really had hyped up the trip to the cavern. Honestly, I'm still incredibly upset about this mistake on their part -- which they wouldn't even rectify. Stay tuned. I'll come back on here and update this if they actually own up to their mistake. We'll see!
The evening shows on board is the best we've ever experienced on any ship. Period! They are absolutely magnificent. Honestly, there are not enough ways for me to express how good those shows are. Our favorites were "Alice in Wonderland" and "Michael Jackson." We would have watched them over and over. Again, hands down, the best we've seen. Now, other parts of the entertainment need to be improved. For instance, many nights, we felt as though there was not really anything to do. We found ourselves missing the karaoke and the comedy shows which Carnival do so well. They had karaoke one evening, but since everyone else apparently felt the same way we did, the very large room was so full that there was no place to sit. Scores of individuals were just standing. It's our feeling that this is an area which definitely needs to be improved upon, if they are going to successfully attract Americans. We were glad we had the late dinner seating, because at least that gave us something to do until about 10:00. We hope they'll make some improvements in this area. We also missed afternoon gigs like the "Love and Marriage" show, etc. Those are lots of fun on Carnival.
I give them pretty high marks for their stores and snack venues. Prices are reasonable, and the quality is quite good. There's not a lot to be said here.
The Western Caribbean has its pros and cons, for sure. Grand Cayman is an absolutely beautiful place. We feel very safe there, and the beaches are awesome and very clean. The entire 7 Mile Beach area is great. The tender service from the ship (using their own lifeboats) was quite smooth. Cozumel was where the entire excursion fiasco took place, so there's not much to say here. We've never really found anything worthwhile to do there. Perhaps we will the next time. We had to go to Ocho Rios (rather than Falmouth) due to the storm (Bertha). In fact, our itinerary was changed around (days in 2 of the ports) because of the storm. Since we've been there before, we decided not to go back to Dunns River Falls. We do highly recommend it at some point, if you haven't been there. Anyhow, there's not much else to do in Ocho Rios, although the Margaritaville there is pretty nice. In fact, they found out it was my wife's birthday the day we were there, so they brought her a piece of the BEST key lime pie we've ever had. Great place. Stop in! Great Stirrup Key is beautiful! They have lots to offer families of all types, ages, etc. Our sons went on the wave runner tour, which they loved. My wife and I rented a very large raft. That didn't turn out that well, but that was our fault...haha. I'll save that story for another venue. Beware of the HUGE rocks in the beach area. It's very difficult to walk around in the shallow water on the beach because of the rocks. Water shoes would definitely be good to bring to this port. Lunch was great! They definitely need to improve one thing: Several people were passing out in line to return to the tenders because of the extraordinary heat. They need to provide water points along the way like some of the other lines do on their private islands. Even on the tenders there were people passing out. I highly recommend the water spots.
The disembarkation process was the fastest and best organized we've ever experienced. We would recommend the other lines observe the way MSC does this process, because it's almost flawless. We were off the ship in virtually no time at all. We grabbed a shared ride and headed to the airport (for $30 flat). We were at the airport in very quick fashion.
Again, our biggest complaints revolve around the excursion process; the language barrier; the "lost" luggage; and most certainly the lack of communication from the staff members when we needed help. MSC needs to improve on these areas. That's a fact! Like I said - this review is a mixed bag. There were some definite high points of this cruise vacation, and there were some areas they need to work very hard to improve. We hope they will! If they don't, they may not be successful marketing to those living in the US.
We had a terrible experience on the Divina, made much worse by the horrible attitude
My wife and I scheduled a cruise in December of 2016. Our previous experience with cruises were quite different, in that they, unlike MSC, apparently did concern themselves with customer satisfaction.
It began with an absolute disaster of an embarkation process. Rather than assigning arrivals to group boarding, thus enabling them to remain seated and comfortable in the interim, MSC opted for the cutthroat approach; everyone gets in line and stays there. We arrived at 11:30 and did not actually make it onto the ship until after 5 PM. Additionally, we were told that the reason the boarding process was so long, was an extreme vetting routine performed by the Customs for all egressing passengers. That was a lie. We spoke to departing passengers who mentioned nothing of this at all but instead regaled us with tales of disoriented and uncoordinated egress routines from the line – which, as we discovered, is absolutely the truth.
When we finally did board, we eventually found our room despite the incorrect information on the provided maps. My guess is, the Divina was retrofitted, and they never bothered to update the paper maps. That fact speaks volumes forthis cruise line.
We reached the room to find out luggage had not yet made it. Odd, considering in less time on other lines, our bags were waiting for us and the room steward paraded the halls introducing himself and memorizing customer names. On the Divina, the bags were missing, no steward to be found. We finally did meet ours, though only saw her once. I didn’t bother to mention since it was days later, that upon our arrival the bathroom was dingy, and there were hairs in the sink.
We had not eaten since breakfast, so we sought something sate ourselves. The buffet (an accurate term if one is merely describing a function that presents copious quantities of food-like substances) was open, so we placed a few items onto plates and looked for a beverage station. The coffee bar was open (or so we thought), and my wife merely asked where one might get a beverage. The attendant rolled his eyes and appeared impatient that his reverie was disturbed. We were astounded and disgusted by this person’s lack of even the most basic of manners and discarded our food trays, having now lost our appetite. Rest assured, she nor I, are prima donnas, expecting the employees to act as servants to our every whim, but likewise, we don’t expect rude behavior as a response to a simple query when a simple direction would have sufficed. It is interesting to note that on a different occasion, my wife wanted a real coffee (the free stuff at the buffet is watery nonsense) and was willing to pay. She requested a cappuccino and with another disgusted look by the barista and a dismissive wave of the hand, he informed here the %u2018free coffee is over there.'
My wife is a smoker (vapor, to be fair) and after the stresses of the day thus far, needed a release. Following the false map once again led us to an area that at one time allowed smoking, but no longer did. Her inquiries to bartenders and wait staff alike again resulted in rude, curt, and abrupt responses, also with no direction, but merely resolution that %u2018this was not the area, go somewhere else.'
About that time, a garbled announcement started all passengers were required to obtain the life vest from their cabins and attend the safety meeting. We had experienced this previously on other lines, as a coordinated effort, broken out into small manageable groups, each that would be assigned a lifeboat. The address in these previous trips had been clear, short, and to the point. Not so with MSC. A large group formed in one of the wrap-around dining areas. Where we sat, we could neither see nor hear the briefing. We sat immobilized, unsure of what to do when some folks started to try on their life jackets. Most just sat there and waited. No one heard or understood what was being said, if anything, but we did waste 45 minutes doing it. At some point, people just started to filter out. The comforting thing was, we realized after the fact we could have merely checked in with our key card and walked away.
We decided to consider the cigar room, as I am an avid cigar enthusiast. I noticed several things about this so called “well appointed” cigar lounge; it was not a lounge, at least not until a certain time, it was remarkably warm (as was the entire ship – which makes for %u2018fun’ formal nights), and there lacked any smoke removal process within that small area. During my week-long detainment in this gulag of a ship, I noticed that by the time the bar opened (around 5:30) the smoke was so thick, most people could not breathe in there, and your clothes reeked of stale cigar smoke and sweat. Side note, Alex the bartender and his sole waitress were the singular high points of the entire trip
Our first dinner in the dining room. I was anticipating this, as previous cruises meant wonderful vistas (ocean through the windows), clean and appropriately defined tables, excellent food, and superior customer service. I still recall the head waiter’s name and his three kids from our first cruise; he left such a good impression. “Jeff” on this cruise left an impression as well, but not a positive one. The food was disgusting. Ossobuco that was 95% bone, 4% fat, and 1% edible. I had one and a half bites. Alfredo that was overcooked pasta and a teaspoon of some sauce that was not Alfredo. I have pictures. The table %u2018decoration’ was a single, decrepit, and fake orchid that was stained with the food particulate from previous guests. It epitomized our trip.
For an additional fee, they will feed you edible food; how comforting. We never saw the maître d; I guess he or she doesn’t visit second seating. Other in first seating saw him and told him of the same woes. They were given coupons for the Eataly restaurant and found it to be devoid of value and were glad they didn’t pay. Not only was most of the food inedible, the portion sizes were ridiculously small. Even the ladies at our table were asking for second appetizers, only to be met with consternation and disapproval from the waiter. Oh, no views either, and it was hot as hades in there.
As for “Jeff” the waiter. Our first night, we had no idea you only get water or bad coffee with dinner, so my wife asked for iced tea. The waiter rolled his eyes (a common theme) put his hand in my wife’s face, and said “you’ll just have to wait a minute” and walked away without taking our order. I leaped from my chair asking if there was a problem, as I didn’t appreciate his putting his hand in my wife’s face. He said there was no problem, and walked off. No matter what we or the other diners at our table asked for if it was out of the ordinary in Jeff’s mind, it was a clear problem.
At the coffee/gelato bar near the cigar room, I attempted to garner my cup of cappuccino, as noted previously, no one ever serviced the cigar lounge and the bar was closed all day. I was at first ignored by the barista, then pointed toward the waitress also just standing there at the counter, who reluctantly helped me by repeating what I had just ordered (as though the barista did not comprehend it – yes she also spoke English).
Our first night, the door which separates the balconies from the rooms (which I assume opens in the base of multi-room suites for families) was not secured and banged all night. I attempted to call the service desk, several times, with no response. The next morning, after getting no sleep because of it, I went to the desk, explained the problem, and they informed me someone would fix it. No apologies, no empathy, just a conditional response.
We met many others, in fact, everyone we spoke to across the internment agreed to the horrible conditions of this ship and the poor customer service. We honestly considered leaving the ship and flying home at the first port. Departure day came, much to our excitement, only to find we were forced to evacuate our rooms by 7 AM, but not allowed to leave the ship until after 10:30 AM. The only offer of advice during the entire trip from the staff was to “not evaluate the whole ship based upon single episodes (plural) of disappointment”. That indicates they are aware of the malaise on the part of the crew and the impact to customers, and yet, still do not care.
I sent a typed letter to several key individuals at MSC, including the CEO and to the parent company’s CEO Diego Aponte in Geneva. The lackadaisical response is one I should have anticipated, given the state of their employees. I clearly stated each of my concerns, and in every circumstance, I was offered false condolences followed by pathetic excuses. In fact, the Mr. Richard Sasso, chairman of MSC Cruises immediately negated my entire argument right from the start by stating that he receives many complimentary letters; an indication that I must be somehow responsible, or overly sensitive. Most of my comments were ignored and presented with some canned response that does not even remotely address my concerns, and the entire letter is dismissive – so much like their staff.
In the end, he offered me a $200 per person cruise credit, should I opt to try them again. As I explained, I would not take another cruise if they gave me one. I am less concerned with the wasted money (but I would have accepted a partial refund in principle) as I am with the wasted time. That was the most significant loss and not something that is replaceable.
I would avoid MSC altogether unless you thrive on constant disappointment.
We booked a cruise with the MSC Divina for a Caribbean cruise. When we booked we paid an extra $300 to guarantee a room that was handicapped accessible as my Dad is in a wheelchair. He is very self-sufficient if he has room to maneuver his wheelchair. We sent MSC the requested forms giving them the details about his electric wheelchair and the things he would need in his room. We did not hear back from the cruise line notifying us that there were any problems or issues with our requests. When we arrived the day of the sailing, we found that the room assigned was NOT handicapped accessible. My dad would not be able to go to the bathroom or take a shower by himself for the full week. They apologized but could not move us to another room as it was a sold out cruise. My Dad had to ask for assistance any time he needed to go to the bathroom or shower for a full week. He almost broke his foot trying to get a shower. There were times when assistance would be 20-30 minutes. When weasked for a refund on his room for the week, the request was flat out denied. Other than a meaningless, “I’m sorry”, they made no other accommodations. I will never cruise with MSC again and hope others will protest in the same way.
We got an amazing value on Groupon. 10 days for less that $900/per person for a balcony room. This was THE only value. We had a horrible time just registering online and never got anything from MSC prior to the sailing. We had to have the luggage handler look us up on their manifest to tell us what room we were in.
We only ate in the buffett(14th deck) which was roomy but the food was the same, every night. Italian!! 14 kinds of pizza every day! The ship was loaded with Italians, French,