Back To Line

MSC Cruises: MSC Divina

  • MSC Cruises
  • MSC Cruises
  • MSC Cruises
  • MSC Cruises
  • MSC Cruises
  • MSC Cruises
  • MSC Cruises
  • MSC Cruises

MSC Divina Review

Insider Take

Onboard Experience

It is important to note that the experience on MSC Cruises varies a great deal between Europe, where the guest contingent is populated by Europeans, and in the Caribbean, where Americans make up the majority. See the MSC Cruises Overview for more details.

Interesting entertainment by European performers and genuine Italian food and wine set MSC ships apart from other ships in this price range. And while the announcements are always in five languages, when the ship is in the Caribbean they make English first. The majority of the crew is comfortable conversing in English as well as their mother tongue.

Passengers are greeted upon arrival and escorted to their cabins by white-gloved housekeeping staff. This service typifies the friendly but elegant atmosphere of the entire cruise. MSC's goal is to maintain a charmingly European atmosphere onboard the ship at all times regardless of whether they are sailing in Europe or the Caribbean. The focus during the Caribbean season is to incorporate American tastes into an onboard ambience that still remains charmingly European. Italian officers and a mix of Italian, Indian, Balinese and other international crew keep the European feel alive.

Divina is a large, mainstream cruise ship built to cater to the middle-class pan-European market. The focus is on swimming pools and sun tanning, with excellent cuisine and entertainment options at night. There are tons of children's activities onboard and a wide variety of dining options. There is plenty of shopping, dancing, sports and music activities day and night.

In Europe, these ships are mostly populated by Europeans speaking their native tongues, so Americans are well advised that this is not necessarily a typical cruise experience. English-speaking (only) guests in Europe will be relegated to the role of people watchers, more so than participants, solely because of the language barrier. If that concept doesn't bother you, you will find Divina a beautiful, state-of-the-art cruise ship. But if you are looking for guest interaction like meeting new people you should probably seek out a ship marketed to the American audience or wait until she comes to the Caribbean.

In the Caribbean (where she will be in 2013) Divina will offer bargain cruises. The only drawback is that the crew is used to the European mindset of slow service at meals and smoking anywhere they please.

While in America the rules for room service change. There is no charge for room service. The cuisine will shift a little more towards American taste, but probably not enough for some people.

Decor

Divina is a large cruise ship, almost on par with the Voyager-class for Royal Caribbean and bigger than anything in the Carnival, Costa, Princess or Celebrity fleets. However, considering her size she is not the most generous ship when it comes to public rooms. Her best asset is her abundant deck space which gets filled to capacity with excellent deck chairs that each have a built-in sun screen for the face. Internal public space is somewhat limited and can get crowded.

The pools are brimming with people, especially kids, on sunny days. The water slide will have a line snaking down two decks, and the water fountain effects in the L'Equitore indoor pool will keep children entertained for hours.

Indoors, Divina features a variety of public rooms, each with its own theme. There is no Royal Promenade or soaring atrium on the ship, surprising for a ship of this size, but rather each room transitions into the next and creates a constantly changing tableaux of options. Such a ship design, without a main thoroughfare, always creates bottlenecks, especially when the only way out of the dining room and is through the photographer's picture display area. Still, the ship has true class, there is nothing faux or Disney-like about her decor. There is beautiful artwork everywhere and rich warm colors in the fabrics and finishings.

Restaurants

MSC Cruises brags about its Italian cuisine by saying they feature a different region of Italy in their dining room menus every single night. While the menus do feature articles on a different region of Italy nightly, the notion that the cuisine is actually different on a nightly basis is not quite so obvious. Still, the Italian cuisine onboard is good to excellent as predicted, especially the cuts of red meat, pasta and risotto dishes. A different risotto dish is offered every night infused with anything from mango to portobello mushrooms.

One thing we noticed that came to us as a very pleasant surprise is that the food in all of the dining areas was always served hot, even the buffet area. This is especially nice for breakfast where one can scoop up freshly fried eggs over easy, or omelets still piping hot.

In Europe no beverages except coffee and juice with breakfast are served free of charge. You will be charged for iced tea which comes in a can for lunch and dinner and water for every meal is served from a bottle, large 2.50 Euro or small for .60 Euro. When the ship moves to the Caribbean, however, ice tea is offered with every meal free of charge, as well as ice water.

Hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken breasts and pizza are available in the poolside grill areas from 12:00 to 3:30 pm and then again from 5:30 to 9:00 p.m. The freshly made pizza in the Bora Bora buffet is hot and delicious, but it is Napolitano style with a thick crust and just a touch of tomato sauce. There are generally at least five and as many as seven varieties of the pizza available at all times.

There are two gelato stations on the ship, one in the Piazzata and the other by the pool. A small cup is 1.5 Euro and a large serving is 2.5 Euro. There are also delicious cakes, cheese cakes and special cookies available for a small price. You won't find mouthwatering desserts served in the buffet or after dinner in the dining room, except in the alternative restaurants, where there is a charge. In general, if you want to go to dessert heaven anywhere on the ship have an you will have to pay the price of admission.

A variety of club sandwiches, chicken Caesar salads, cheese and fruit platters, ice cream and dessert of the day are offered on the 24 hour room service menu. The food is good, and delivered within 20 minutes, however there is a fee charged for each of these items when the ship is in Europe. Room service becomes gratis once any MSC Cruises ship is in the Caribbean.

There are two dinner seatings in each of the two dining rooms, but the times vary depending on the ship's location. In the Caribbean, early seating begins at 6:00 and late seating is 8:15 p.m. In Europe, early seating begins at 7:30 p.m. and late seating begins at 10 o'clock. This is in keeping with the lifestyle of the Spanish, especially, and the Italians. Obviously, Americans will find this time to be far too late.

The two main seating restaurants are Villa Verde and La Reggia. Villa Verde is placed in the stern of the ship on decks five and six with commanding views through two-deck tall picture windows. Finding the restaurant entrance is a bit tricky, since it is at the bottom of a dead-end staircase, which means one must approach from deck six and walk down.

The alternative restaurants are where the cuisine really shines. L'Olivio is the Italian specialty restaurant where the entire menu is a la carte. Appetizers began at 3 to 7 Euro, including cioppino soup or tuna carpacchio. The lamb chops served on a bed of mango risotto are out of this world, and the Mediterranean lobster with a tail as long as the plate is wide is a joy to behold. The other alternative restaurant, Santa Fe Cafe, features food from the American southwest, including tacos, pork anchioto and fajitas. Once again, everything is à la carte. Expect to pay anywhere from five to 20 Euro in these restaurants, depending on how many courses you order.

The Bora Bora buffet is surprisingly good. One reason for this is the vast selection of foods required to satisfy the palates of so many different European cultures. Breakfast is a perfect example, one will find flaky croissants, fresh omelettes, juicy German sausages and English bacon. I have never experienced a buffet area where they managed to keep the food so warm, which is a significant but often under-appreciated accomplishment on any cruise ship.

Service

It is considered common knowledge that MSC Cruises experienced growing pains, especially in terms of onboard service, but if my recent cruise is any example we can say these rough spots have been completely eliminates. Especially impressive is the ability of the crewmembers to communicate with passengers in any given language. Operationally, the ship must provide service to every guest in his or her native language. Failing that, English is always the fallback language for every crewmember and passenger. This is quite an advantage for American passengers who will not have any difficulties communicating with most people on board. But do not expect to hear English spoken unless you happen to ask somebody a question.

Stateroom housekeeping services are always top-notch and problems are addressed in a timely manner. The Reception and Shore Excursion desks are adequately staffed, and there is rarely a line to ask a question or book a tour.

Entertainment

Musicians perform in the various lounges every evening and all of the entertainers on board are from Europe. The idea of MSC Cruises is to always present a European culture onboard the ship no matter where it is sailing - even in the Caribbean. Cuisine and decor are the areas where the European identity, which they consider to be their trademark, remain consistent.

The main show lounge, the Strand Theater, offers two shows every evening for early and late dinner seatings. The times will vary depending on dining times. The production show cast on our cruise numbered 14, including two professional singer duos. This is an unusual configuration since on most cruise ships one of the duos of singers would have been substituted for an male/female adagio dance team. While the vocalists were excellent in both pop and operatic traditions, the costumes and choreography of the chorus were run-of-the-mill, at best, as well as the staging.

More pleasing were the special entertainers brought on board, such as the Italian hand puppet master who created shadow puppets using nothing but his hands and performed staged vignettes to well known popular recordings.

There are all kinds of sports activities on board. The Europeans apparently love to laze in the sun. Outdoor activities include deck tennis, basketball, water slides, hot tubs, an outdoor movie screen, daytime aerobics and entertainment by the pool. There were also virtual golf and racquet ball. Demonstrations for Italian cooking and language lessons; trivia, mini-golf, ping-pong, shuffleboard tournaments; dance lessons and arts and crafts were offered on sea days.

MSC cruises offers a variety of theme cruises every year, ranging from doo-wop singing to sports (baseball or golf) and comedy. In general, these cruises feature entertainment, interactive get-togethers and shore excursions in keeping with the theme. American passengers should only book on theme cruises based in the Caribbean and specifically targeted to an English-speaking audience.

Overview

This brand new MSC mega-ship will be based in Miami in 2013. Great for Bargain cruises.

Best For People Who Want

A bargain cruise on a brand new cruise ship with many sports activities and varied cuisine.

Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer

Always prompt and attentive service, especially in the dining venues.

Public Rooms

The Divina offers ten different bars and lounges, each of them unique, and most situated on decks five, six and seven. There is a small atrium only three decks tall with the reception desk, shore excursions and other passenger services on the ground floor.

Deck five foreword features the beautiful Strand Theater, one of the most functionally perfect production showrooms I have ever seen at sea. The floor is perfectly designed without a single pole to block the view and raked over two decks so viewing from every row is perfect. The sound is acoustically balanced with special design treatments. Avoid the balcony seats on deck seven if possible, however. Glass railings block the view and the sound system, vastly diminishing the experience.

Shows that stress nonverbal entertainment such as jugglers, acrobats or musical productions featuring classic pop songs combined with Italian opera make it possible to entertain passengers from up to five different native languages. Although the sets and costumes could be better, the vocal performances are outstanding. Also on deck five is the bottom floor of L'Reggia restaurant, one of the two main dining rooms onboard.

Deck six contains one of the most beautiful public rooms on any ship, La Piazzeta. This small courtyard resembles a village square in Tuscany. There are ceramic tile benches surrounding a beautiful flowing fountain. A person can sit here and relax with a cafe mocha and gelato. You will also find the cigar lounge and the main bar in the atrium called L'Aperitivo nearby. The Royal Palms casino offers blackjack, poker, plenty of slot machines and of course roulette. You will not find craps tables which are an American pastime.

On deck seven, you will find the wine bar L'Enoteca for tasting vino by the glass along with food pairings from Italy, Spain and Germany. Also on deck seven you will find live music in the La Prua piano bar and the Purple Jazz Bar, featuring a fine jazz quartet. The Aft Lounge is another showroom in the stern with seating for hundreds of people and a large stage facility. The Sports Bar has the two-lane miniature bowling alley. Five frames of 10-pin bowling cost three Euro, but the ball is bocce-sized, the lane is about 2/3 the regulation length and the pins are smaller.

There is a variety of restaurants, including two excellent alternative dining venues, and a number of smaller bars hidden in nooks. One nice option is that espresso coffee drinks can be ordered from any bar on the ship.

There is plenty of shopping onboard, including fashion boutiques for men and women, jewelry stores, a liquor and tobacco store and a beautiful candy store with hundreds of different European brands of chocolate. There is a perfume store and a swim shop near the swimming pool. Of course, MSC logo items are available from shirts to shorts, sweatshirts and sandals. The ship has Internet access in every state room by a wired ethernet and there is also stem to stern WiFi access.

Cuisine

In Europe these ships appeal to the European market so you get the best of cuisine from all over the continent; pasta from Italy, French coque au vin, Spanish paella and German pork and potato salad. For breakfast you get beans with your bacon, as well as several cuts of sausage and cheese.

Freshly made pasta and risotto dishes are available for lunch and dinner as well as a specialty dish from a different region of Italy each night. Grilled chicken, steak, and fish are always available as an option for more traditional fare. The menu lists appetizers, soup, salads, pasta, main courses and garnishes, as well as vegetarian and healthy choice selections. The dessert menu includes cakes, pastries, ice cream and sorbet, along with after-dinner drinks. Second helpings are yours for the asking, and portion sizes are above average.

Breakfast begins with the Early Birds' Coffee and Danish at 6:00 am, the full breakfast buffet runs from 6:30 to 9:30 am. Fresh eggs made to order and omelettes are offered at a station located in the grill area, just outside of the buffet restaurant. Piping hot coffee is served in cups and saucers by wait staff at the drink stations. No oversized mugs are available, or large sized drink glasses either for that matter. Juice is offered in the morning, replaced by tea during the day. The dining rooms served breakfast open seating style, from 7:00 to 9:30 am, and open seating lunch from 12:00 to 2:00 pm. A continental breakfast is available through room service from 7:30 to 11:00 am. The buffet is closed in the evening, so the dining room, grill and pizza stations, or room service are your choices for an evening meal.

Entrees in the Le Bistrot Cafeteria during the lunch time of 12:00 to 2:30 pm ranged from the unusual octopus stew towards more American meal staples such as broiled fish and chicken. A carving station serving of either beef or poultry is available here everyday, along with the ever tempting huge selection of rolls, breads, and crispy breadsticks.

Hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken breasts and pizza are available in the poolside grill areas from 12:00 to 3:30 pm and then again from 5:30 to 9:00 p.m. The freshly made pizza is hot and delicious. The all-American favorite pepperoni is present, along with a few other not so ordinary varieties.

On "gala" nights in the buffet areas, passengers are treated to Crepes Flambe' and other delicious specialties artfully presented and served. On other nights, simpler snacks of sandwiches and sweets are served, usually by strolling waiters in the lounges and other public areas of the ship.

The Ice Cream and Vitamin bar, not complimentary, located on lido deck is open from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Afternoon tea from 4:00 to 5:00 pm consists of finger sandwiches, cakes, and cookies, and is usually served in the buffet area and out on the adjacent deck area.

A variety of club sandwiches, chicken Caesar salads, cheese and fruit platters, along with ice cream and dessert of the day is offered on the 24 hour room service menu. The food is good, and delivered within 20 minutes. But in Europe there will be a surcharge, even in the suites for certain items.

A coffee and tea station is available at the casual dining area after hours, but the best coffee onboard is at The Coffee Bar.

Drink prices tend to be fairly reasonable.

Tipping

In the Caribbean, a daily gratuity of $12 per passenger is automatically added to the onboard account. If you're under 18 and sharing with two adults, it's only $6.00 per day. The amount can be adjusted at the Reception desk.

A gratuity for bar staff is already included in the price of drinks. Spa and casino staff may be tipped in cash at the discretion of the passenger. In the Caribbean, they have come to expect a tip from the North American clientele. In Europe, tradition dictates that tips be presented to service personnel on the last night of the cruise. The cruise line suggests $3.50 to $5.00 per person per day for the Waiter and Stateroom attendant and $1.00 - $2.00 per day for the Maitre D'. Children under 12 pay half those amounts. Again, the gratuity for bar service personnel is included in the price of the drink.

Cabins

Divina has a total of 1637 cabins, 82% of them are outside cabins and 1256 with private balconies. There are 107 suites on board and 99 of them are in the Yacht Club category. The Yacht Club is a very special "ship within a ship" concept only offered on the Fantasia and Splendida cruise ships.

Yacht Club cabins come with access to a special concierge lounge, a private club located above the bridge and containing a bar and buffet area where food and drink are available on an unlimited, cost-free basis. The room has several waiters and private booths with tremendous views where guests can luxuriate in comfort and eat or drink to their heart's content. There is also a private sundeck with a pool and hot tubs just for Yacht Club, only accessible by private elevator.

A special concierge is on duty 24 hours a day in the Yacht Club. He is there to interface with your butler and to make sure all of your needs are met in a timely manner. Inside your state room, Yacht Club members receive unlimited room service with no service charges, access to a minibar containing beer, wine, spirits and snacks with no service charges, unlimited laundry service handled by your butler and room service delivery of Yacht Club menu items during meal times. In addition to free drinks in the Yacht Club, Yacht Club patrons are also is seated in a special area within the Villa Verde dining room where a special level of service is provided, including complimentary wine or any kind of beverage with dinner.

The Yacht Club suites are among the most beautiful at sea featuring separate living rooms from bedrooms with commanding views and a drop dead gorgeous color scheme.

Fitness/Spa

The gym, carefully hidden behind the MSC Aurea spa area, has a limited number of treadmills and Nordic machines as well as state-of-the-art progressive resistance apparatus. For a ship meant to accommodate 4000 passengers the number of individual aerobic machines is limited. One gets the impression that Europeans are not nearly as concerned with daily exercise as Americans.

The spa itself features 15 massage rooms and three thalassotherapy cabins. The massage team specializes in Balinese treatment options. Cruise charges in Europe are in Euro and will appear to be rather expensive for Americans. In the Caribbean, these prices will be translated to dollars and set at a more reasonable level.

Attire

Although this item is at the bottom of the page it is extremely important. Europeans cruisers are extremely casual in their dress. Even though the prescribed dress code on the ship for most nights on our seven night cruise was informal, which was defined as jacket and tie for a man, in fact, most people were wearing blue jeans and open toed shoes. There were T-shirts and untucked dress shirts with no necktie. Even on the most formal nights only 30% of men were even wearing suits and not a tuxedo was seen on the entire ship.

In fact, on almost any given night if one did not feel like changing out of their casual day clothes one could walk any place on the ship and not feel out of place. Of course, some of the ladies seemed to enjoy dressing up a little more than the men.

Bottom-line, if you enjoy extremely casual ships then you can't do any better than MSC cruises in Europe.

Fellow Passengers

In Europe these ships appeal to the part of the European market that still does not speak English - so in Europe expect to hear a lot of Italian, French, Spanish, German and everything else.

In the Caribbean there will be more Europeans than on other cruise lines, but English will be the predominant language.




Ship Overview

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

  • Service

  • Food

  • Décor

  • Value

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.

Read More
  • Service

  • Food

  • Décor

  • Value

Jul 4, 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.

Read More
  • Service

  • Food

  • Décor

  • Value

May 10, 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

Read More
  • Service

  • Food

  • Décor

  • Value

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!

Read More
  • Service

  • Food

  • Décor

  • Value

Apr 16, 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!

Read More

Cruise Forums

Have a cruising question? Ask our Fodorite community.

Cruise News

Read our latest news about cruises.

Store

Shop our travel guides on European, Caribbean, and Alaskan cruises.

Back To Top