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MSC Divina: A Cruise Ship Where Family, Friends, & Couples Reconnect
Try an At-Sea Cruise
There are lots of good reasons to book a cruise. You may want a vacation where you see a lot of places... but unpack only once. Or you love the feeling of being at sea. Or you love pay-once all-inclusive pricing.
Cruises Let You Relax
But there's another thing about cruises that helps explain their popularity. And that reason is: because cruises don't involve running from place to place or finding restaurants, they give you time to just relax with your travel companion. (And this explains the cruises' huge popularity with honeymoon couples.)
An At-Sea Cruise Is the Most Relaxing of All
There's a kind of cruise that gives passengers even more time to just be together. And that's a cruise with more-than-usual "at sea" days.
What's an At-Sea Day?
"At sea" days are days during your cruise when you don't stop at a port. Most cruises have at least one "at sea" day. But some have more.
I checked out a seven-day cruise that stopped at only three ports. This cruise was in the Caribbean and aboard the MSC Divina. This cruise sailed from Miami and back. The ports were San Juan in Puerto Rico; the Dutch island of St. Maarten; Nassau in the Bahamas.
I've taken many cruises, including to the Caribbean. This one had so much at-sea time, I thought that being on the ship for long stretches might get boring. But my MSC Divina cruise was a pleasant surprise.
• All the things you can do on a cruise ship at no upcharge
Reconnecting with a Loved One
I loved it--and so did my guest, my sister Lillian. Our MSC cruise let us reconnect as sisters and as playmates.
In fact, two other journalists in my small media group brought siblings along as guests. We all discovered that at-sea cruises are an effective way to reconnect with a loved one...or enjoy pure relaxation with a good friend or a romantic partner.
Bottom Line About My At-Sea Cruise
Most cruises are jam-packed with port stops. I've done these different-port-every-day cruises. You end up feeling "I'm here in this port one day...I have to get out and see it." And you get exhausted walking all over the town. I've heard fellow passengers say "I'm going to need a vacation from this vacation."
But on an at-sea cruise, there are few ports. You don't feel the pressure to leave the ship and run around. You have enough time to relax and enjoy the ship. In fact, this was the most relaxing cruise that I’ve taken.Continue to 2 of 13 below.
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The MSC Divina Is Named for a Diva: Sophia Loren
What's In a Name? The MSC Divina Is Named for a Diva
MSC Divina was named for legendary Italian actress Sophia Loren, She is the ship's official godmother. Loren christened her in 2012.
In fact, the diva designed the Sophia Loren Suite, which is located within the ship's private MSC Yacht Club.
So What Is Sophia Loren's Ship Like?
Like its namesake, MSC Divina is voluptuous and profoundly Italian. She (all ships are referred to in the feminine!) is one of 13 ships in the MSC Cruises fleet.
This is a megaship capable of carrying over 3500 passengers in 1751 cabins and suites. My impression: MSC Divina feels as busy and bubbly as an appealing Vegas hotel.
• From TripSavvy's Cruises Expert, more MSC Divina facts and figures
Who's MSC Cruises?
MSC Cruises is the largest privately owned cruise company in the world, and it's the leading cruise line in Mediterranean, South Africa, and Brazil. The company has reached out to North Americans with a year-round cruise schedule from Miami to the Caribbean. I became a fan.
MSC Cruises is owned and operated by the Aponte family. They are from Sorrento, Italy, and now base MSC Cruises in Switzerland. Passengers sense the European feeling of the Apontes' ships.
What Does It Cost
MSC is a midscale cruise line, with very affordable and appealing fares. Many of the passengers I talked to on MSC Divina told me they'd gotten a great deal, whether direct from the company or from a travel agent. Some of them had waited till a couple of weeks before the cruise to snag a last-minute bargain. (If you do this, your selection of cabin styles will be limited.)
• MSC Cruises' discounts and offers (click on "Cruise Deals")
Pricing on MSC Divina, as on most cruise ships, is all-inclusive at the basic level. You get your cabin and certain dining venues for one base price. Most passengers choose another type of fare with packages for liquor and enhanced dining, and sometimes spa treatments and port excursions.
• MSC Cruises tells you what's included in your fare
• A handy guide for savvy travelers: how all-inclusive is all-inclusive pricing?Continue to 3 of 13 below.
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MSC Divina: Italian Style for North American Taste
A Glittery European Ship Made for Americans
MSC Divina's crew has worked hard is to adapt the ship to the lifestyle and desires of North American cruise travelers. What do North Americans want?
• English is the primary language aboard, from the staff to the entertainment
• Dinner and evening events are scheduled earlier
Service Is European (We Mean: Not Huggers)
There's one distinct difference between MSC and an American cruise line. The staff is used to European cruise passengers who prefer less personal interaction with them.
What to do if you prefer more one-on-one attention? Just let the crew and servers know you're American, and they'll warm up
Divine Decor on MSC Divina Cruise Ship
The MSC Divina is elegant in a sparkling contemporary fashion. Some highlights:
• The atrium's Swarovski crystal staircase is one of the ship's top photo ops, for selfies and group pics
• Onboard, you’ll also view lots of Italian artwork: sculptures, masks, paintings and creative touches (like a giant red lipstick tube positioned near a ladies room)
• To remind you that you're on a glamorous Italian ship, the ship is studded with vintage black-and-white of seductive Italian movie stars and celebrities from the 1950s
• Take MSC Divina's virtual tourContinue to 4 of 13 below.
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The Cabin Experience on MSC Divina
Many Cabin Choices on MSC Divina. But They're All Nice
On MSC Divina, your luxury level is up to you. With over 1750 staterooms, the ship offers over a dozen stateroom categories with different pricing and inclusions, such as spa treatments.
I toured all the categories of staterooms and found no must-avoids. Even the no0balcony cabins, with just a porthole window, were pretty and comfy.
At the Top of the Charts
MSC Divina's highest -level cabin category is the MSC Yacht Club. This is an elite VIP Club Level suites with all-inclusive amenities and located in private and exclusive foredecks of the ship.
What MSC Divina Cabins Are Like
My stateroom was in the Fantastica Experience level. Within that category, you can choose interior, ocean-view and balcony accommodations. Our stateroom had a balcony with two chairs and a small table, two twin beds, a sitting area with a sofa and coffee table, a full-length mirror and desk mirror
Cabin amenities included:
• Spacious closet with robes, slippers, and tote bag
• Flatscreen TV
• Minibar and fridge
• Shower with a fold-in glass door (some Fantastica cabins have tubs)
What We Loved (and Didn't) About Our Cabin
Our least favorite thing about the cabin was the skimpy bathroom amenities: just shower dispensers for shampoo and body wash, plus bar soap.
Our most favorite thing about our cabin was the balcony. My sister would have been happy to just relax out there for most of the trip.
• From the TripSavy Cruises Expert, more info and photos of MSC Divina's cabinsContinue to 5 of 13 below.
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MSC Yacht Club: The Place to Sail Like a VIP Aboard MSC Divina
MSC Yacht Club: Behind the Ship's Velvet Rope
MSC Yacht Club (located on three decks) is an all-inclusive service with a feel of a private club while enjoying access to recreation and entertainment on board.
Its features and amenities include:
• 24-hour butler service, which starts the minute you arrive at the port
• Staterooms designed by De Jorio Design International with extra amenities like Egyptian cotton sheets, memory foam mattresses, choice of pillows and complimentary mini bar
• Priority access (no waiting) to get back on board the ship after port visit
• 24-hour concierge reception area for check-in and help with excursions and other needs
• Private after-hours shopping at onboard boutiques and jewelry showings in your suite
• A spa treatment and massage room and a private elevator to the main spa
Exclusive Dining & Lounging Experiences for MSC Yacht Club Passengers
• One Pool Deck, the club’s private pool, with whirlpool, sun deck...and bar and buffet. The pool is very quiet and I found it very sedate compared to the games and entertainment that go on at the main pool
• Le Muse restaurant, the only part of the Club that is not actually located in the MSC Yacht Club. It’s on the other end of the ship
• Top Sail Lounge (seen in photo) is above the bridge, so its views can be stunning. Top Sail offers Continental breakfast, afternoon tea, and buffet snacks throughout the day.
The VIP Day Club
Yacht Club passengers have open access to Top 18, the ship's adults-only solarium. It has personal sun beds and sun pods, a and amenities like water misters, SPF, and complimentary fruit skewers. Top 18's spa services include massages and reflexology.
• Top 18 has it own private pool, called The One Pool
• Non-Yacht Club passengers can buy daily or cruise-long passes to Top 18
Other Passengers Can Buy Day Passes to MSC Yacht Club
Guests in other cabin classes can buy one of 10 daily-available MSC Yacht Club day passes for $110 per person/per day as of 2016. The pass provides access to MSC Yacht Club venues including The One Pool, Le Muse, and Top Sail Lounge.
More about the MSC Yacht Club and TripSavvy's Cruise Expert's takeContinue to 6 of 13 below.
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Service and Wifi Aboard MSC Divina
Service Aboard MSC Divina
MSC Cruises is a European line, and European cruise passengers expect and possibly want less service. What this meant for us:
• Our stateroom attendant was pleasant but didn’t understand enough English to satisfy our requests (such as for more washcloths)
• A fellow passenger said he missed the traditional towel animals and nightly pillow chocolate
One Downside of Cruising: Poor Wifi Connections to "the Worldwide Wet"
The Internet connection even on luxury cruise ships is notoriously poor--and expensive besides.
We had a terrible connection in our cabin, but it was better in the lounges. Nevertheless, as poor as the connection was, it was better than I've experienced on other cruises.
Let's Be Realistic About Shipboard Wifi
My advice? Don't take a cruise if you need to be dependent on wifi. You won't be happy with it, and who wants to be stressed out on a vacation? Go for a landlubber hotel instead.Continue to 7 of 13 below.
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Mangia! Dining Aboard MSC Divina
Good Things to Eat Aboard MSC Divina
This is a European cruise line, and the food is very good and served with Italian flair. Food offerings are extremely varied, and you'll be able to dine on what you like, from East to West, from fancy to fast.
• Shipboard dining on MSC
• And see what TripSavvy's Cruises Expert says about the ship's restaurants
Several restaurants on board are covered by the all-inclusive fare.
• Two are buffets with numerous stations including very good pizza, American-style casual dishes, and fresh pasta hand-rolled onboard
• Two are dining rooms with dinner menus offering a variety of dishes. Their decor differs, but their menus are identical
• Room service goes around the clock...and pizza is the #1 order
Some Restaurants Are Not Included With Your Fare
Passengers can choose to pay a supplement to upgrade to the ship's a la carte restaurants.
• Two Eataly-brand restaurants: Eataly Steakhouse and the more formal Ristorante Italia
• Galaxy Disco Restaurant, serving brunch and dinner (with wine-pairing options)
• La Cantina di Bacco, an Italian wine bar, and pizzeria.
• The Sports Bar, for American-style finger food like wings and burgers, and games onscreen
Sweet Treats Aboard MSC Divina
The ship tempts with gelato galore, along with pastries, bonbons, and sweet or boozy coffee.
• Bar Pasticceria-Gelateria with desserts designed by French chocolatier and pastry chef Jean-Philippe Maury
• Caffe Italia, with hot, cold, and slushy coffee drinks
• A Nutella kiosk at the main pool for crepes and other goodiesContinue to 8 of 13 below.
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Cheers! Drinking Aboard MSC Divina
Bar-Hopping Aboard MSC Divina
MSC Divina offers numerous bars and lounges to get your drink on. Some standouts:
• Divina Bar in the ship's central atrium, with live classical musicians
• Cigar Lounge, the ship's only indoor spot for smokers, with extensive spirits
• Casino Veneziano's vast, buzzy bar
• Black & White Lounge, the ship's biggest, and home of many theme parties, dances, and special events
• Caffe Italia for coffee drinks
• Golden Jazz Bar (my favorite for atmosphere and music)
• La Cantina di Bacco, a pizzeria with a wine bar and beer selection
• La Luna Piano Bar, a cozy bar that reminded me of a spaceship bar a la Star Trek
• Sports Bar, with screens showing sports and two mini-bowling lanes (shown above). A staircase leads down to the casino
• Four poolside bars
Tip: You might want to buy the Standard All-Inclusive Beverage Package (or package of your choice), to use at the restaurants, buffets, and bars, because drinks get expensive.Continue to 9 of 13 below.
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Entertainment Aboard MSC Divina
Broadway-Style Shows Aboard MSC Divina
There's no lack of entertainment on the ship, with live shows, nightclubs, movies, and more.| Live theatrical shows like The Mask and the popular Michael Jackson Tribute are selected for the U.S. market.
• Shows are high-quality, featuring singers, dancers, and acrobats. The ship also presents opera singers for an opera performance
Be a Dancing Fool Aboard MSC Divina
The Galaxy Disco is top-notch and packed on most nights. Its excellent DJ plays an interesting mix of music to suit an international crowd.
And Kick Up Your Heels at Parties
Like most cruises, MSC Divina has themed parties. They were well-attended and a lot of fun. Guests can also expect activities like karaoke, trivia contests, scavenger hunts, and so on.
The ship's gambling hub, Casino Veneziano, has slot machines, poker, and live gaming tables for roulette, blackjack, and more.Continue to 10 of 13 below.
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Play in the Pools Aboard MSC Divina
Relax In and Around the Ship's Pools
MSC Divina has three main swimming pools:
• Aqua Park, the busiest, is a saltwater pool with two hot tubs
• Le Sirene is the covered, freshwater pool with a retractable dome, and three hot tubs
• The adults-only Garden Pool (shown above) has an infinity-edge and is filled with skin-soothing saltwater. Four “resounding sculptures” reproduce natural sounds such as wind, waterfalls, and birdsong
Tip: Pool areas can be extremely crowded. and lounge chairs scarce. Why so crowded? Some of MSC Divina's package prices are "kids sail free," and families hover around the pools. Pools and chairs become more available around 5:30 or 6 (family dinner time).Continue to 11 of 13 below.
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Aurea Spa on MS Divina
MSC Divina's Aurea Spa
MSC Aurea Spa is a Balinese spa with a full range of services. In addition to a complete spa treatment menu, Aurea has a Beauty Parlor (with a hair salon featuring Shu Uemura hair treatments and a nail salon) and a Spa Doctor for consultations and medi-spa treatments.
I checked out two spa treatments. The Relax Face Treatment involved a facial deep-cleansing and face massage. The Bali Massage is a de-stressing full-body massage with Asian aromatic oils.
Tip: Port days are the best days to get spa deals since most of the passengers are off the ship on shore excursions or port shopping. Some spa services are discounted on port days.
Spend Some Time at Aurea Spa
You can wait in a reception area for your appointment, or pay more and use the relaxation room (along with the steam room and sauna after your treatment).
MSC Aurea Spa has a juice and smoothie bar. “Enjoy the Color” wellness cocktails are based on the concept of five colors of nature.
Forget your gym or swim gear? The spa boutique sells fitness clothes, bathing suits, and various accessories.
• Find out more about Aurea SpaContinue to 12 of 13 below.
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Fitness and Fun Aboard MSC Divina
The Gym Scene
Passengers have free access to the gym. It offers Italian-designed Technogym cardio and strength training equipment plus free weights and exercise mats.
Yoga, Pilates and Zumba classes (plus Aqua Cycling in one of the pools) have a fee of $10 each class. However, free group fitness classes take on one of the decks. There’s also a Power Walking Track on an upper deck.
MSC Sports Arena, a multi-use court, hosts games and rounds of basketball, soccer, and basketball.
Fun and Games
Virtual World includes the Formula One Racing Simulator, and I could see that it is very realistic. It's for good drivers. Don’t try it after eating or if you get motion sickness.
The same can be said for the 10-seat 4D Cinema, with a choice of themed rides. I tried this one and it feels like an actual roller coaster.
There are also two arcades, one near the casino and the other by the Graffiti teen club.
Wine Blending at Sea
Passengers can book a class called The Winemaker Experience. It’s $45 per person, which includes a bottle of your custom-blended wine. You can also book a private group session.
The winemaker teaches you about the art of wine blending, then helps you blend your own wine by percentage, using beakers and droppers and four different varietals. Once you’re satisfied, your notes are taken and you can order a bottle to drink on the ship or take home, complete with a custom label with the name of your “winery.”
If just tasting wine is your thing, you can experience more traditional wine tastings in the ship's La Cantina di Bacco restaurant and wine bar.Continue to 13 of 13 below.
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Find Out More About MSC Divina
More about MSC Divina
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary services for review purposes. While it has not influenced this review, TripSavvy believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our Ethics Policy.