I booked this cruise with Divina while I was on my first MSC cruise on Meraviglia in February. She got a lot of rave reviews so I decided to try it out myself. This review is my opinion; however, keep in mind to each his own. I also have some comparisons between Meraviglia and Divina. After several cruises, I have finally realized that two ships from the same cruiseline can be a totally different experience. Night and day.
I flew from Toronto, Canada to Orlando, Florida the day prior to my cruise and stayed at the Hampton Inn and Suites (Gateway Village) by the airport. I booked the hotel and transfers separately through “GoPort”. GoPort has great prices and service. This is the second time I booked at this clean hotel with great service and lots of restaurants within walking distance and includes breakfast! Unfortunately, GoPort only services in Orlando so I had to find a separate transfer in Miami where the ship returned (see below for more details).
Embarkation day was smooth and seamless. I was on the ship within 15 minutes! I only had to show proof of vaccination with my boarding pass and passport. They took a photo of me and voila! I was on my way up the gangway!
Room: Balcony on deck 12 (12188), Fantastica experience. I had a room originally booked on deck 8 (8112-Bella experience) which was above the lifeboats and the Jazz bar so I called to change my room. They allowed me to change for an additional $80 USD. I ended up with a much smaller room with no chair, couch, or bathtub. It was a bit of a disappointment but at least I was higher up and had a better view. I could hear a lot of chair scraping on my balcony. Not sure where it was coming from because I had staterooms above and below me. Bed and linens were comfortable. Shower had a glass enclosure but no foot rest to help with leg shaving. Yes, it’s a thing lol! My room steward Mayra did an excellent job keeping my room clean.
Food: All food in the buffet, main dining room (The Black Crab), room service, and the specialty dining experience (Chefs Table in Butchers Cut Steakhouse for $99 USD) was exceptional. This includes the thin crust pizza and, yes, the chicken wings as well. All the food was much better than Meraviglia.
Service: The service was great except that table service for drinks was extremely slow in the lounges and bars. Could this be because the cruiseline was trying to save money? I find it hard to believe otherwise. My package did include the easy plus drink package. They were happy to serve you if you could flag them down. The servers were very pleasant. However, they did run out of a lot of alcohol by the end of the cruise inuding all white wine, Baileys, and Crown Royal. I never had this issue on Meraviglia. Francisco at the Divina bar was great!
Entertainment: I found that the entertainment in the theatre was much better on this cruise than Meraviglia. There was a diverse range of daily activities from, dance lessons, Spanish lessons, trivia, belly flop contest, cornhole competitions and more! There was different genres of music all over the ship.
Excursions: The excursions were just ok. I did the semi submersible submarine excursion and saw a sunken German container ship from WW2, shared taxi to Panamal Canal and surrounding areas booked off the ship for $20 (I got my monies worth on this excursion), Sea and See tour in Aruba, Chiva Party Bus in Cartenga (a lot of fun but be prepared to be harassed by vendors), Scenic drive and Caribbean show in Puerto Limon (not worth the money).
The ship is absolutely beautiful! Divina is compartmentalized while Meraviglia was a more open concept. They both have a Swarovski staircase in the atrium. Absolutely stunning!
Disembarkation: I was not impressed with disembarkation. They gave me a number and told me to meet in the theatre for my number to be called. I went to the theatre but you couldn’t hear the announcements in there. All of a sudden everyone started to leave so I followed the masses off of the ship into the luggage area where I found one of two pieces and spent the next hour looking through thousands of pieces of luggage for my other piece where I finally found it in the wrong section! This was stressful as I didn’t want to miss my flight. There was a representative that was helping me look for my luggage (I wish I got her name. She was so calm and helpful) and put me through the priority lane so I wouldn’t miss my flight. When I finally got off the ship, I found a transfer (shared van) for $10 to Miami International Airport and made it in time. 11am on the nose!
Perks: When I booked this cruise while on Meraviglia, I received a free balcony upgrade (with no solo suppmement), free wifi for 2 devices, $100 USD on board credit, and easy plus drink package.
In a nutshell, I enjoyed myself but would not be booking another cruise on this particular ship. I am considering booking a 20 day Italy/Caribbean repositioning cruise in October 2023 on MSC Seashore but they don’t have any perks for Canadians at this time. I’ll keep my eyes open.
Private Island: Ocean Cay was beautiful. The first beach has free umbrellas. There is a tram to take you around the island which includes the food area. The food here was also excellent! They also have a couple of food trucks but you have to pay extra for the one that serves lobster rolls. If you have a drink package, it extends to the island and I don’t think the wifi works
All in all, I did have a wonderful time and would recommend this ship.
I hope this review helped. Message me if you have any questions. Until next time friends! Bon voyage!