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MSC Cruises: MSC Divina

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MSC Divina Review

Named MSC Divina in honor of screen legend and godmother of the MSC Cruises fleet Sophia Loren, the third vessel in the Fantasia-class was christened in 2012 by Ms. Loren herself. The ship’s unique style combines the glamour of the past with all the comforts of the 21st century.

MSC Cruises’ newest ships are also their largest and include the MSC Yachts Club—luxury suites with their own private library, lounge, swimming pool, restaurant, and sundeck. The spa’s well-being center has a thermal cave and therapy pool for relaxation. The children’s play area includes a swimming pool with waterslide. To test your driving skills, there are Formula 1 simulators. Unusual for a cruise ship, there is also a squash court. The extensive use of various colored marbles adds a luxurious quality to the traditionally styled public lounges and a hint of Italian style as well as art deco and art nouveau touches.

MSC Cruises has always been sensitive to environmental issues, and Fantasia-class ships are on the cutting edge ecologically. They are equipped with the most innovative technological systems to guarantee savings in energy and protection of the environment, such as the water-processing systems. MSC Divina has more cabins and a higher double-occupancy rate and a stunning infinity pool at the back of the ship.

More widely known as one of the world's largest cargo shipping companies, MSC has operated cruises with an eclectic fleet since the late 1980s. When the line introduced two graceful, medium-size ships in 2003 and 2004, it ushered in an era of new shipbuilding that has seen the fleet grow faster than any other European cruise line. This line is growing into a major player in both Europe and the Caribbean.

MSC blankets the Mediterranean nearly year-round with a dizzying selection of cruise itineraries that allow a lot of time in ports of call and include few if any sea days. In summer months, several ships sail off to northern Europe to ply the Baltic. Itineraries planned for repositioning sailings visit some intriguing, off-the-beaten-track ports of call that other cruise lines bypass.

No glitz, no clutter—just elegant simplicity—is the standard of MSC's seaworthy interior decor. Extensive use of marble, brass, and wood reflects the best of Italian styling and design; clean lines and bold colors set their modern sophisticated tone.

MSC adopts some activities that appeal to American passengers without abandoning those preferred by Europeans; however, regardless of the itinerary, be prepared for an Italian-influenced experience. Also expect to hear announcements in several languages.

What You Should Know

Pros

  • The buffet is huge, with several serving areas and plenty of seating
  • Extra-charge ice-cream parlors serve excellent gelato
  • The ship’s atrium is designed as a gorgeous Italian piazza

Cons

  • The Yacht Club sundeck can sometimes be uncomfortably windy
  • Although there is an outdoor big-screen cinema, it’s most often used for cruise line–related messages
  • Currency on board is the euro
Ship Stats
  • Crew Members 1,332
  • Entered Service 2012
  • Gross Tons 140,000
  • Length 1,093 feet
  • Number of Cabins 1,739
  • Passenger Capacity 3,502
  • Width 124 feet

By John_CR

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Feb 6, 2017

Eastern Caribbean

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 5PM. 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 form the line which, as we discovered, is absolutely the truth. Apparently, those boarding after us were told the same lie, so we rectified it by informing as many as we could of 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 for this cruise line. (editor's note: the Divina is a fairly new ship and has not been retrofitted) We finally 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. (editor's note: it is rare for luggage to be delivered immediately upon passenger boarding on mass market cruise lines), 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. Remarkable attention to detail is another trait lacking across the board with MSC. We had not eaten since breakfast that morning, so we sought something to tide us until dinner. 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 for 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 free 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 this 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 particular life boat. 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. (editor's note: from personal experience I can attest that the emergency drills on MSC Divina are not conducted to the rigor they ought to be) We finally acquired some food (we had late seating for dinner and could not wait), we decided to look into 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 fun 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. Apparently, they left port with a single half bottle of Macallan scotch on board, with no means or stock to refresh it. Well planned, MSC. Alex took it upon himself to scour the other bars on the ship and find me the remnants of other areas to restock his bar for me. As I said, he's a winner. 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 waite'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 literally had one and a half bites. Alfredo that was overcooked pasta and a teaspoon of some sauce that was not alfredo. I lived in Italy for a time, I know what it's supposed to taste like. I have pictures. The table 'decoration' was a single, fake orchid that was stained with the food particulate from previous guests and falling apart. The sad nature of our table decoration conveyed what our experience in dining would be the entire trip. Lackluster, miniscule, and disappointing. For an additional fee, they will feed you edible food; how comforting. We never saw the maître d; I guess he 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 leapt 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 own 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 on this ship and the poor customer service. We honestly considered leaving the ship and flying home at the first port. One man was provided free cruises (2) for MSC including air travel from a casino in Las Vegas. He intends to throw away the other, he was so disappointed. 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. It truly flows downhill, and the employees act as the management team. 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.

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Jul 3, 2016

Bahamas

We have been on seven cruise lines, we wanted to try a different line we saw the advertisement for MSC cruise line for seven days. Our first dinner was not good, we picked sirloin steak it was so small we thought it was a pork chop. The next night we got prime rib, and it was so small we thought it was a small steak. The third night we got clams and mussels the shell was an inch and the clam was ½ inch and onlygave one each. This went on for

the whole cruise, the food was terrible and the service was even worse. We would order eggs after we were finished we would get toast. We had lobster with no dipping butter. What we would order never came and would go to the next coarse. All eight hot tubs were full of kids and they were snorkeling, one hot tub had nine children in it. The pool bars were very small they were run with only three bartenders (1 man) would make drinks for the people (2nd man) would make smoothie for the kids, (3rd man) made drinks for the waitress. Fights broke out every day and yelling at the one bartender. About 300 people waiting for (1) man to fix drinks. The food court was like a feeding frenzy. The children were piling their plates up and then spilling it all over the food court and the hallway plus the elevators. The shows were awful except one show was over the top GREAT. The other shows were operas and ballet not Broadway style. The ship was always late leaving the dock because they would wait for the rude people to come aboard. The other cruise lines blow there horns 3 times and then leave. When you had tours, the tour guide off the ship held a small number and you had to run to find him; a lot of people lost their tour had to go back on the ship. The club had 10 year olds sitting at the bar at 1:00 in the morning; my husband and I stayed just to watch what was going on. The dance floor was all teens, and we saw older young men buying drinks for these 15 year olds. It was one big teen dance with no regulations of crew members to stop children from entering the club. The bowling alley looked like a teen dance could not even get in the door, children running everywhere. There were 30 children walking with the ships babysitting service and we saw only two crew members with all these children. The early debarkation was CRAZY they had a line of people getting off the ship from the theater thru the casino up the hallway seems like 200 hundred people were overcrowding the deck. We were the last to get off the ship at 11:00 because they had so many people getting off at once, we were delayed for hours. In closing I will say it was the cleanest cruise line we have every been on. The employees were cleaning non stop, the walls and rugs and disinfecting the whole ship everywhere. We guess because all of the children spilling food and drinks everywhere. This ship was too big too many people and not enough staff, no supervision or standards of children from the management. Our first dinner was not good, we picked sirloin steak it was so small we thought it was a pork chop. The next night we got prime rib, and it was so small we thought it was a small steak. The third night we got clams and mussels the shell was an inch and the clam was ½ inch and only gave one each. This went on for the whole cruise, the food was terrible and the service was even worse. We would order eggs after we were finished we would get toast. We had lobster with no dipping butter. What we would order never came and would go to the next coarse. Nice size cabin and the bathroom was big The shows were awful except one show was over the top GREAT. The other shows were operas and ballet not Broadway style Pay for the excursions off ship they are half price and most of them are cab companies (safe) they will wait for you to finish tour.

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May 9, 2016

Bahamas St Martin San Juan

I have been on several cruises and this was the worst I have ever had. Service was not on their top ten list or even top 100 list. Food was awful. Would never take another cruise with them again. Staff was at times rude unless you were traveling in the Yacht Club area. Not at all up to any other lines food. We were looking forward to some good Italian food but it was not to be found with this cruise line. Balcony room was nice.

Balcony area was on the small side Stateroom service was very poor. Most days it was mid afternoon before serviced. One night we had to look for steward to make up sofa bed for granddaughter at 10:30 P.M. Well below other cruise line standards. Evening shows were good. Pool deck activities were lacking Wish I had taken another cruise line. Sorry I wasted money with MSC

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Apr 26, 2016

sadly disappointed

We went to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary and needless to say there were only 4 good things about this cruise. Embarkation took less than 30 minutes, weather was awesome, debarkation took less than 30 minutes, and it was good to get away. With the exception of our room steward, who was amazing and friendly everything else was terrible. We ate in the dining room 3 times (breakfast, lunch, dinner - 3 different days) and everything was cold!

So we went to the buffet, again cold. Didn't matter if we were one of the 1st in line, middle or end, food was still cold. We basically ate salads, fruit, cereal the entire crew until be got on land in ports. Value was way more than what we have paid on cruise lines. Decor was OK. Nothing to rave about. I think this is the 1st ship we have ever been on where there was not 1 deck you could walk around the entire ship (unless we didn't find it). This was our 1st cruise on an MSC line and we will not be back!

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Apr 15, 2016

Bermuda

We have cruised many times on Carnival and Royal Caribbean. We decided to try something new, and MSC looked like pretty ships so we gave the MSC Divina a try. This cruise was the absolute worst we have ever been on. We will NEVER choose MSC again. The employees, by large, were not friendly or helpful. They would walk by in groups of 2 or 3 only speaking to each other and not even acknowledging guests. The Maitre D' was rude with us and

many other guests around us while dealing with dinner seating problems. The service staff in the dining room was terrible. The waiter never introduced himself, and we still aren't sure which one he was. Our dinner order was incomplete, my dinner was cold, and no one even came by to refill drinks ar check on our meals. I ordered fettuccine Alfredo that was not even as good as Olive Garden's (as an Italian ship that is pathetic). After that travesty we often had meals in the main buffet, with one again cold food, and disgraceful options. My husband pre-ordered internet minutes for work. The service was awful. He continually got dropped from the internet, and then their program would continue to dock him minutes, so we ended up having to spend more money just to get a little work done. Out of the 200 minutes used total, he only could connect for about 40 minutes. The first 2 very long days at sea were cold and windy. Obviously MSC cannot be blamed for the weather, however, there were hardly any activities. We are used to Carnival and RC ships that always have something fun going on, and several items at the same time. It's usually fun in the a.m. after breakfast before afternoon sun, but on this cruise ship there were no such activities. Their activities director should most definitely be ashamed of himself. We also pre-ordered a picture package. That was also a mess, no one would answer our questions as far as which sizes and which pictures were included. The staff just kept repeating "Oh, we'll deal with that on the last day." Well, the last day came and all of the pictures we wanted were conveniently not included. We had to submit an order to reprint the photos in a smaller size. We were told to come back after 9pm. I set an alert on my phone and waited in line, then the same man that told me after 9pm said "no, I told you 9:30". No sir, you did not. I had to wait another 30 minutes to pick them up. All in all a pretty miserable week for $2,000. NEVER again!

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