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About Jessieasanders

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  1. You could be certainly be right! And we may be back on MSC for a full 7 day cruise. But I missed the small things that NCL does ... the welcome you get every time you step on to the ship that includes a cool cloth and a frozen popsicle. The towel animals left in your room during turn down. A smile on everyone's faces. That is the type of service I was referring to. But yes, I am sure you are correct that more time on the ship would have lent to the bartenders getting to know us better. The server we had on MSC was brand new ... he made very silly errors that I don't think another 4 days would have helped 🙂 They made us chuckle for 2 nights, but by night 3 we decided to spend our dinner braving the buffet 🙂 Our room stewart was great. He fulfilled the one request we had ... leaving us additional beach towels so we could ensure we had dry ones the next day. Otherwise we had very little interaction with him ... which was fine. And yes, in some ways I did miss a balcony, but I also didn't miss the balcony as much as I thought I would. Overall we had a fantastic trip! And like I mentioned, the price we paid was also great. AND their island is FANTASTIC. So there's a good chance we will be back.
  2. We set up for the day on Sunset Beach. There were plenty of chairs, and didn't have anyone right next to us on either side. The loungers were about 2 rows deep in some areas ... but pretty well spread out. The only down fall to this beach is that the water does have about 5 or so feet of rocks when entering. Not pleasant when you don't have water shoes. Otherwise it is wonderful!
  3. All in all ... Will we sail MSC again? Mmmmm, maybe. If the price is right, and the itinerary includes Ocean Cay, then yes. Sailing MSC is like sailing without any of the frills of sailing NCL. We feel like we didn't get the same service as we normally did on NCL. The ship wasn't as nice as the other ships we've been on, however the seating and the number of pools options were better on MSC. The food was pretty similar to the main dining rooms on NCL ... glorified banquet food. We've always been happy with the entertainment on NCL ... MSC's entertainment is hit or miss and you certainly don't get the variety and number of options you find on NCL. However, with all that said, MSC's island is absolutely amazing and it would tempt me to book with them again.
  4. Day 3: MSC's private island, Ocean Cay This was certainly the highlight of our trip. This island is absolutely beautiful! Having been to NCL's private island, I was expecting something similar ... a crowded beach, but a beautiful day none the less. However MSC's private island is pretty darn amazing if you are like me and just want to relax with some sand under your toes and blue water in front of you. The island gives you plenty of seating options. There are numerous beaches to choose from. We decided on a beach a bit away from the boat in the hopes it wouldn't get overly crowded. But even when we went exploring other beaches during what seemed like the busy hours, none of them looked crowded. The beach we sat on did have some large shells/rocks in the sand that made it a bit harder to navigate than some of the other beaches. And entering/exiting the water was a challenge because neither of us were wearing water shoes, but that didn't deter us from frollicking in the water a number of times. Food and drink could be found grabbed all over the island. The drink options were limited to the basics, and the food options were even more limited to burgers and pasta salads, but I thought the fact that I didn't have to fight lines in the buffets was a fare trade off. There were also plenty of restrooms and showers that we a handful of times as we strolled around the island. Take a ways: - Even while it is still under construction, the island is still beautiful. I imagine that it will be even more so a few years from now. - So many different beach choices! But if you plan on going somewhere other than the lagoon, be prepared for some rocks. You may want to bring water shoes. During the height of the day, the bars did seem to get overwhelmed. It did not appear that they had an established system for taking orders. While there were servers, some of the bartenders were happy to take your order if you caught their attention ... while other times you were told that you need to go to the server to place an order.
  5. Day 2: Freeport. Because our ship was delayed leaving Miami the night before, the crew decided to play it safe and cancel all the excursions booked in Freeport the next day. We didn’t have any excursions booked anyhow, so this didn’t really interrupt any plans we had of hanging out on the boat. Breakfast choices are slim on the Divina unless you are an early riser and can make it to the dining room before they close. We took our time getting up, so we ended up in the buffet for breakfast. I think we were there with the entire ship as it was a zoo. We could hardly find a table. We quickly agreed that this would be our last breakfast in the buffet. We got off the boat and explored the straw market where a spent a few dollars supporting the locals, and my husband had a beer before heading back onto the ship. The rest of the day we spent sitting out on one of the decks that overlook the pool. We read, people watched, drank some, and enjoyed relaxing. Dinner was spent again in the dining hall. It was once again nothing to write home about, but filled our bellies. After dinner we took the advice of our table mates and went and watched the show in the theatre. I had read many reviews on the entertainment on MCL, so I wasn’t expecting much. It was a 30 min show that had some singing, dancing, and acrobatics. Some pieces of the show were pretty decent, other pieces were very similar to watching the first round of America’s Got Talent. My husband and I agree that it wasn’t bad enough for us to walk out, but we would not have paid for the show either. Unlike some NCL performance we have seen where we would have certainly paid to see off the ship. After the show we checked out some live music in one of the bars as we waited for the comedy show to start. Having just seen the quality of entertainment we weren’t expecting much with the comedy show. However we were pleasantly surprised. It was an improv show, and they were really pretty funny. They kept us laughing for the full 30 mins, and we wished it had been longer. We finished the evening with a late night snack in the sports bar, and then made our way to bed. Take a ways: Entertainment is hit or miss on the ship. I thought the improv show was great. The other show in the main theatre was just ok, and I was happy that it was only 30 mins long. Some live musicians we caught in the bars were good, others were just like watching mediocre karaoke.
  6. Embarkation Day! We arrived at the terminal around 11am. There were already 2 very long lines formed to get to the check in counter. It took us about an hour to get thru the line. The sweet women that gave us our cruise card also gave us a fast pass onto the boat as a thank you for my husband being in the Air Force. Unfortunately the cruise before ours was slow getting off, so they were not ready to have people board until right around 1ish. During our wait we watched many disgruntled travelers unhappy with what seemed to be little direction or information on when and how they were going to board. Once on board we found our way to the lunch buffet. Being one of the first on board, the buffet wasn’t crowded yet. We ate some pizza and salad (which turned out to be our go-to lunches for the week) and then tried exploring the ship. I’ve read a lot of reviews on the Divina and how pretty the ship is. To me, it was just ok. Some areas of the ship appeared to need some attention. Rips in carpet, not the cleanest pools, and rust on tiles where some of the things we noticed. Not huge things, but things we did not see on the Norwegian ships we were on. Our room was available shortly after we got on board so we headed up to check out our digs for the next few days. We were pleasantly surprised by how spacious our inside cabin was. And I was happy to see that the pillows looked new, and the bed appeared to be pretty comfy. We spent the rest of the afternoon on the pool deck once again soaking up the sun and 80 degree day. Dinner was in the main dining hall, and we had an early seating. At our table for 8 we only had ourselves and one other couple. Our waiter explained that he was new and was still learning. He made quite a few errors during our meals over the next few days, but always had a smile on his face and appeared to be trying to do his best. My husband and I agreed that the dinner on the Divina is about the same quality you would find in the main dining halls on the Norwegian. It seemed to be banquet food type quality. After dinner we checked out a handful of the bars. We were on a mission to find “our bar”. We would have a drink or two, then move on to the next. After a few hours of this, we were ready for bed. Embarkation Day takeaways: -Embarking was not very organized. There was certainly a lack of communication. - I’m unsure of the age of the ship vs the age of the Norwegian ships we’ve been on. But the Norwegian ships were better maintained. I never noted any rips in carpet, or pool sides that needed to be scrubbed on the Norwegian. We also found the Divina a little less intuitive to navigate. Sometimes we found ourselves having to walk down long halls of cabins in order to get to a location, and we don’t ever remember having to do that on a Norwegian ship. - The pool areas on the Divina were great. Albeit less clean than what we had experience on Norwegian, there were many pools to choose from. And there seemed to always be a hot tub open, or not overflowing with people like Norwegian’s often were. We never had issue finding loungers either … which can be difficult on Norwegian ships.
  7. Just got off the MSC Divina, and thought I’d give back to the Cruise Critic community (that I often turn to for advice and reviews while we prepare for a cruise) by leaving a review of our trip. Little background … this was our 3rd cruise. We have only sailed on Norwegian before, both trips were 7 nights, and we’ve only had balcony state rooms before this trip. This trip was a last minute buy. We were enticed by the price, and willing to test the waters with a cruise company that was not our tried and true Norwegian. And because we were trying to do a cruise on the cheap … I booked an inside room. So a lot of first for us! We are a 40-50 some year old couple that are pretty laid back travelers. We flew into Miami on a red eye, arriving at 6am the day before the cruise. I had reserved a room at a hotel near the terminal. In the attempts to save money, I found a hotel that had a pool, and figured we would spend the day next to the pool napping while we waited for checkin at 3pm. Sadly the pool was closed, and the hotel was in a really big need of repair and updates. Thankfully it was clean, and they checked us right in without charging us any additional fees. We took a nap for a few hours and headed out to find some sun. We took an Uber down to South Beach. Rented a few loungers, and spent the day soaking up the warm sun. I think the loungers cost of about $20 each, but were well worth it in our opinion. We then took an Uber over to some local breweries I found on Yelp that were nearby in an area of Miami called Wynwood. First brewery as a place called J Wakefield Brewery. My husband and I both enjoyed a flight of beer each. If you like sours, this place is for you! I believe they had 6 on tap, and the ones I tried were all delicious! After our beers on their patio we decided to go on the search for some food. We found ourselves outside a taco place called the Taco Stand. They had a line out the door, so we knew it had to be good. We were not disappointed! We each had their Mexican corn, and a few tacos. We also shared their chips and guacamole. This meal was by far the best meal we had on the trip. 5 days later my husband is still talking about how good the tacos were 😊 After we had full bellies we walked around the block to the second brewery of the night … a cool place called The Concrete Brewery. Atmosphere was really nice, beer was good but we’ve each had better. With The Taco stand still fresh on our mind we had to go back to end the night with their hot churros before grabbing out Uber back to our no tell motel. Precruise take a ways: Red eye in gave us a FULL day in Miami before getting on the ship, which was really nice. However if we plan on spending a full day, I won’t try to save money by getting a cheap hotel in Miami, I will just bite the bullet and pay for a hotel in Miami Beach. After looking at our Uber costs, and costs to rent the beach loungers, I think we only saved about $50 vs having just gotten a hotel on the beach. Live and learn. However we did find the really cute Wynwood area that we both agreed we will be sure to visit again when we are in Miami for our next cruise.
  8. We are going on our first MSC mid Feb. 3 nights out of Miami. Any tips for us? I can’t find any firm answers on dress codes. We’ve always cruised Norwegian, so we are used to things being pretty laid back. What was your experience with the dress code? With such a short cruise, we want to enjoy the ship as much as possible. What time did you show up at Port of Miami? What time were rooms available? Any recommendations for Freeport? We’ve never been. We will be perfectly happy to find a bar near the water, or a beach to lay on. Either one is right up our alley! thanks for any info you can give!
  9. My husband and I have been on a few cruises, but have always done balconies with Norwegian. I just booked a cheap deal with MSC for an inside cabin on the Davina on a 3 night cruise. Short little trip for me and the hubby. question is ... how does one tell if it is night or day inside? LOL 🙂. I’m now thinking I should try to upgrade to at least a portal cabin so I can see if it is 7 am or 4pm. 🙂 any times for this newbie MSC cruiser?
  10. Service on the ship: We had great service from everyone we came in contact with. Our room steward found extra blankets for our girls and found a mattress topper for the couch so it was a bit more comfortable for my daughter. He gave us extra towels, and was very quick to exchange any wet towel we had. The wait staff were all very attentive and accommodated all the request our teens had with swapping out sides for the entrees and adding extra appetizers as the meal. The bar staff at the district was fabulous. My husband found a chair at the bar and got to know each of the guys behind the bar pretty quickly. I did witness a few altercations between staff and guests... but found that each time the guest was being rude from the start. Unfortunately it seems that some guests act very entitled once they walk on the ship and they lose all manners when speaking to employees. We ended up tipping some of our favorites at the end of the cruise and filled out the hero cards for them as well.
  11. We were just looking for 2 regular loungers together. I recognized that we were going at busy times (cold sea days), but it was still disappointing to have to wait for a lounger to open up. I did use one of the heated loungers once .. and found it relaxing. But after that first night, I didn’t attempt to find a heated lounger because we had such trouble finding two regular loungers next to one another. I do want to say that this really didn’t ruin our spa experience, we still enjoyed the pool ... it just didn’t add to the positive side when we decide if we will do the spa passes again.
  12. Excursions: We bought all our excursions through NCL. Bought the the bus pass to Cocoa Beach for our Florida stop. I was hoping that it would drop us closer to the peer, but it drops you at the shopping area that includes Ron Jons. We rented chairs and a boogie board and spent a few hours down in the sand. The weather wasn’t fantastic, but we enjoyed ourselves none the less. Next time we will probably just take a taxi down to the peer area. The next day we made it to GSC! We had an early tender time because we had bought the swimming with sting ray excursion, so tendering was a breeze and felt very organized. We rented a clam shell as soon as we got on the island because I had gotten a little too much sun in Florida and needed the shade. We were happy that we snagged a clam shell when we did because when we got back from our excursion we overheard an employee telling someone that there were no more clamshells available. Our 2 teen girls found loungers right next to our clamshell. We all had lunch from the taco stand where the line was super short. The tacos were pretty good too! We did the swimming with the stingrays while at GSC. Took a short boat ride to the area that had a small dock and an area fenced off in the after for the sting rays. We spent about an hour in the water. The sting ray ‘handlers’ were fantastic! They seemed to really enjoy their jobs, and loved the animals. The one handler was able to identify the sting rays in the water and told a us their history and names. He was beyond fantastic and earned his tip. We each held a stingray and they took pictures for free download from their website. We also were given the opportunity to feed the stingrays. This was a fantastic excursion that I would highly recommend. Our final excursion was to Blue Lagoon while we were in Nassau. Mixed reviews on this one. We met outside the ship at the designated time and then stood in line for over an hour before being led to a boat. The line turned into a mob trying to get on the boats. It was very unorganized. When we were finally let on a boat we quickly realized that there were no available seats so we had to stand for the ride. Just didn’t seem all that safe, but we did finally get to Blue Lagoon. The location is absolutely beautiful! We had to go searching for loungers but eventually found some. We also had upgraded our excursion to include the Segway tour of the island. This was a lot of fun, and showed us pieces of the island that otherwise we would have not seen. The island itself was fantastic. But when we were ready to leave, it took another hour of waiting in line for a boat. Not sure we would do Blue Lagoon again purely for the fact that we had spent over 2 hours waiting in lines.
  13. Food: We did not have a good package, so much of our dining was in the MDRs. Our kiddos had some meals in the buffet ... but I find that area annoying having to search for seats ... so we typically stick with the MDRs. Had good food each time. My husband was a little disappointed that the MDR menus did not have any upgrades which they had on the Getaway a few years ago. On the Getaway he added lobster to his MDR meal a few times for an extra charge. No options like that this time around. My daughter was sad that we only saw the lava cake on the dessert menu one night. But she made up for it by eating her weight in ice cream from the buffet 🙂 We did enjoy one dinner at Cagneys. It was delicious! It was nice to have breakfast at 5 o’clock Somewhere during the warm sea day. You can’t beat that view.
  14. Entertainment: My husband participated in a few different games in the Atrium ... which is always good for a few laughs. We also enjoyed Howl at The Moon a few different times, and even dragged our 2 teen girls who ended up enjoying the show as well. We went to the magician’s show ... and were pleasantly surprised by his show because we saw him on Worlds Best and weren’t impressed. But his show on the ship was pretty darn good, and he was funny. Much funnier than the comedians we saw on the ship. Unfortunatly the comedians weren’t all that great. I wondered if it was due to the fact that we went to the early shows and there were a lot of young kids at those shows so the comedians had to keep it very G rated. The highlight of the entertainment was Choir of Man. That was a fantastic show! If you want to ‘participate’ in the show sit on the aisle seats close to the stage. I’m hoping when they go on tour they come to a city near me because we will go to see them again.
  15. During warm days, we spent time outside. We didn’t have too much trouble finding loungers in Spice 2 O. And when we didn’t want to be in the sun, we spent time on the coaches on the Waterfront. Much of our evening time was spent in The District. My husband loves beer, so this was right up his alley. I love live music, and JR the piano player did not disappoint.
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