This was the easiest and quickest embarkation I've ever experienced. We stayed at the Marriott near Miami International Airport and took their 11am shuttle to the port for $10 pp. The Divina was the 3rd ship the shuttle stopped at, and we were off the shuttle by 11:30am. Porters took out luggage, and we made our way inside. Once we got through security, we went right up to the check in counter as there were no lines. Check in was very quick, and we were standing on our balcony by 12pm.
They do not have you register any payment method until you get on the ship. This can me done with credit, debit or cash. Credit and Debit can be done at the self service kiosks which were scattered around the reception area, while Cash was handled at the desk. You are given 24 hours to register a payment method, though your card will work immediately for purchases. This means that if there is a line when you first board, you can just come back later. However, we didn't encounter any lines so registering our debit card was quick. It should be noted that unlike other cruise lines, MSC does not put a "hold" or an "authorization" on your debit card. Rather you choose an amount to pay ($100-$400) and you are charged the full amount immediately. Anything not spent is given back to you in cash before debarking on the final morning. Also, another nice thing is that your card isn't declined if you go over your limit. For example, I paid $400 with my debit card initially , and I was told that I could go $300 over before needing to pay more. Our account totaled around $700 for the 2 of us, so we went back to reception on the final night and paid the remaining $300 that we owed.
We had a balcony cabin on the 13th deck (13126). It is located directly under the buffet area, which did cause some noise late at night and early in the morning while they cleaned. The cabin was clean and well maintained for the whole week. Our cabin was cleaned twice daily. The bathroom was a little cramped, but the collapsible shower doors helped out with the lack of space. The cabin had a good size couch near the balcony doors and a stocked mini bar. The strange thing was that the mini bar was not replenished during the week. The balcony was furnished with 2 standard chairs (not loungers) and a table/ottoman.
Our assigned seating in the dining room was late seating in the black crab dining room. We were sat at a table for 8 with 3 other couples, however 1 of the other couples only came to dinner once. Service was a lot better than I expected. Our water glasses were kept full, and after the 2nd night, our head waiter knew that I drank a lot of iced tea and he brought it to me without asking. Our food came out hot, and it was cooked properly. (Including the pasta, which I read a lot of people had issues with.) Overall, the food in the main dining room was very good, but nothing that blew me away. Don't get me wrong, it was very good, but nothing that made me say "Wow, that was the best steak/pasta/fish I've ever had." Meals took about 90 minutes, and consisted of an appetizer, main course and dessert. If you ordered multiple appetizers, they were served in separate courses. Several of us at our table ordered multiple appetizers, entrees and desserts and it was never an issue.
The buffet was crowded at peak times, but this is typical of any cruise I've been on. The pizza is especially good. They had around 8 different varieties, and it was always hot and fresh. If you can't find any tables directly inside the buffet, head midship and go out the door toward the pool deck. There are several tables out there.
We didn't do any of the specialty restaurants except for the eataly pizza. The pizza was good, and the prices were reasonable, but I actually liked the pizza in the buffet better. Definitely try it if you like pizza.
The ship itself:
Like most other people have said, the Divina is a beautiful ship. It looks brand new, and everywhere you look someone was cleaning the carpet or polishing something.
There were a few things that I didn't like though. The promenade deck on this ship is where the lifeboats are located, which blocks the view around 75%. The lifeboats are not hanging above the deck, rather they are sitting on the deck. There was no seating, and no way to walk around the ship. If you're someone who enjoys sitting on the promenade deck and listening to the waves, you will be disappointed.
Another downside, is the lack of deck space in the pool area and above it. It was VERY difficult to find a chair on sea days. We went outside around 9am on sea days, and the chairs were already "reserved" with towels. If you want a chair, I suggest going out with your towel around 7am. Although they say they will remove towels after 30 minutes, I never saw them do that, and chairs remained vacant for 3 or 4 hours even though they had a towel or other belongings on them. This seems to be an issue on a lot of ships I've sailed on, but this was probably the worse.
Odds & Ends:
As soon as you board, you're basically harassed into buying a drink package. This will continue right through the first full sea day. We were told about the drink package 5 times during our first breakfast on board. A few of the staff members were downright pushy about them. It got to the point where I felt like I was at a sales presentation for a timeshare when all I wanted to do was get trough my breakfast in peace.
We didn't think it was worth it for us to buy an all inclusive package, but we wanted the drink vouchers. The vouchers allow you to "pre-pay" for 18 drinks at a discounted rate. One of the bartenders tried to get us to buy an all inclusive package, and he didn't want to talk about the vouchers until I asked about them directly. We did the math, and decided to get the vouchers. We went back to the same bar about 1 hour later, and we were told that they weren't offering the vouchers on our cruise. He immediately tried selling us on the drink package again, which became very annoying. We saw several people paying with vouchers during that first evening, so we went to another bar and were told that they are not selling them for our cruise. When I asked again, I was told that people had pre-purchased them before boarding, but they were no longer selling them due to the ship not being full. I don't know how true that is, but I didn't press the issue any further.
To sum everything up, we had a great time on the Divina. I would absolutely cruise with MSC again. There were some things that could be improved, but it wasn't anything that made me not want to sail with MSC or the Divina in the future.
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