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Beauty is only skin deep - Divina Review of November 23 cruise.

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Beauty is only skin deep

 

There's no denying that the Divina is a beautiful ship, but MSC needs to offer more than a just pretty face if they hope to make it on this side of the pond. I realize they are fairly new to this market and that they have a few kinks to work out. We hope that they take their passengers comments and reviews seriously, because they really need to make some quick adjustments if they want to survive in this market.

 

 

All in all, we did enjoy our cruise and hoped that the “Mediterranean Lifestyle” that MSC promotes would really set it apart. However, our experience was not really that different from the other mainstream cruise lines we've sailed on. The most noticeable differences were the large number of passengers of different nationalities and the absence of urinals in the mens restrooms.

 

 

So, let's begin with the positives. Embarkation was fast and efficient. We got through the terminal and on the ship in about 45 minutes. Most of the staff we encountered were cheerful, friendly and helpful, especially customer relations. The room steward did a fairly good job of keeping the cabin neat, but fell a little short when it came to providing clean glasses. The shower had split doors that opened into the shower, so it created some additional space in the bathroom. There were very few announcements. They had live music all over the ship, with the exception of the theater. The shows were actually pretty good. They were decent productions, with above average talent and nice sets.

 

 

I think for most people, that dining is one of the most anticipated experiences on a cruise, and in this arena, MSC really faltered. As far as the buffet goes, the choices were plentiful, the cold food was cold, the hot food was hot and the service was actually pretty decent. The breakfast in the buffet was typical, however there wasn't an omelet station. At lunch and dinner it would get very busy, so we went there during off hours and avoided the crowds. FYI: only wine and beer is served in the buffet, if you want a mixed drink, you'll have to go to a bar to get one. The staff won't bring one to you.

 

 

The main dining room experience left a great deal to be desired and the service was short of abysmal. We had the second seating and the first seating always ran late. As a result, there were crowds of people in the hall and on the stairways waiting to get into the dining room. When the doors finally opened, there was a stampede of people rushing into the dining room all at once. It was not a pleasant experience and as the cruise proceeded, there were fewer and fewer people coming to dinner.

 

 

While most of the dining room waitstaff were quite pleasant, the service was incredibly slow and disorganized. They are way understaffed and although they really tried their best, they just never got it together. As a result, we spent a minimum of 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 hours for dinner service and 1-2 hours for lunch. Unlike most other cruise lines, the waitstaff never really learned the diners preferences. Also, they never cleared any extra glasses from the table, nor removed any empty ones. This happened at both lunch and dinner. For instance, at lunch one day there were 6 people at the table, but there were 18 glasses. Maybe it's an European thing?

 

 

I realize that the subject of food is quite subjective and while we never went hungry, the quality of the food was somewhere between just fair and decent. We never ate anything worth writing home about. And unfortunately, if you like beef, you're probably going to be sorely disappointed. I don't know if something got lost in the translation, but one night they offered what the menu called “beef fillet”, but what was served was 2 thin slices of beef with gravy. One night, the lamb we were served was so overcooked that we couldn't eat it. And, no one else at the table could eat theirs either. The lobster was also way overcooked and was dry and chewy. Seriously, it took two waiters to remove the meat from the shell. I'll admit it, I did eat the lobster, because even tough lobster is better than no lobster.

 

 

Now onto lunch in the main dining room. I ordered what the menu described was a Reuben sandwich, but what I was served was a slice of Pastrami on toasted white bread with cheddar cheese, no sauerkraut or thousand island dressing. And, this was not an isolated incident as we saw the expressions of others that were served “Reuben” sandwiches. My guess is they called it a Reuben because that was the name of the guy who made the sandwiches. Lunch service was also very inconsistent. One day the service was efficient and friendly and the next day it was incredibly slow and downright rude. For instance, one day at lunch, after waiting for more than 20 minutes for our food arrive, we politely asked our server when our order might be ready and his reply was “if we wanted fast food we should have gone to the buffet”. Unbelievable! Oh well.

 

 

I didn't review the Eataly Italian restaurant or Steakhouse because we didn't eat there. Why? When we went to check them out, the steakhouse was very brightly lit and looked like a school cafeteria or fast food restaurant with rows of small square tables and plastic chairs. The Italian restaurant was slightly more sophisticated having round tables with white table cloths, but yet again more plastic chairs. Not exactly the kind of ambiance one would expect of “upscale” dining and we certainly weren't enticed to dine there. Apparently, no one else was either. Every time we passed by them they were empty.

 

 

OK. Now that I'm through with our dining experiences let's move onto the few other observations. First off, there is no adults only pool. There is an adults only sunning deck available, for a charge. They have very few English language TV channels and zero music channels. Children are allowed everywhere, and I mean everywhere, in all of the bars and lounges and at all hours. Maybe it's just me, but I find it difficult to relax in a lounge and enjoy the music being played by an ensemble while several children are running, screaming and bouncing on the banquette next to me. Also, the way that the ship is designed the traffic flow goes through almost all of the bars and lounges. Consequently, people were constantly walking through and passing right in front of the stages during performances.

 

 

Disembarkation was utter chaos. We chose self disembarkation, and at first, it seemed like MSC had it well planned. We received colored and numbered tags to attach to our luggage and instructions giving the time and place to exit the ship. That's where any semblance of organization ceased. When we arrived at our designated area the crew was directing people to go and wait inside the lounge. After waiting for about 45 minutes in a packed, standing room only lounge, for some unknown reason, an announcement was made that disembarkation would commence on the opposite side of the lounge. So, the people that arrived first, and were closest to the exit and presumably at the front of the line were now at the back of the line. As you can well imagine, there were many people that were not pleased and tempers were flaring. It was getting downright ugly. Thankfully, the crew did the smart thing and stepped aside to let the people that were closest to the exit off the ship first.

 

 

In closing, MSC has a nice product, but having a pretty ship won't be enough to keep attracting customers. As I said before, we did enjoy our cruise with MSC and in spite of the the numerous problems in the dining room the rest of the cruise was enjoyable and most of the crew were very pleasant and professional. However, I don't think we'll be sailing with MSC again anytime soon. We'll wait and see if they improve. I hope that they do.

Edited by footzz

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The Divina may or may not be in our future...we are looking at it for Spring 2015. Many, many people have complained about the MDR. I think that is interesting....we sailed on the Orchestra in the Caribbean when MSC first tried coming across the pond. Our MDR experience was one of the best we have ever had. Just an observation. Thanks for your review!

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Sorry you thought the cruise wasn't up to your standards.I have cruised over 30 times and on every standard cruise line except Princess.When there is a sea day the buffet is always crowded.Looking for a table isn't the easiest thing,especially since most cruise lines have eliminated the trays.It is just the way it is.

We always make the best of it,as vacation time is gold to us.Never sweat the little things,If you didn't like the Ruben you could have ordered something else.Did they have a sandwich bar on the buffet?The ship doesn't have an Omlet station due to fact that they were old that the area that was originally designated for one was unsafe,so a new area has o be found.

We were on the third sailing of the Sunshine out of Barcelona last year and their were still many problems to be solved.It takes time and feed back from cruisers to get things in order.No matter what they do they will never please everyone.

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Sorry you thought the cruise wasn't up to your standards.I have cruised over 30 times and on every standard cruise line except Princess.When there is a sea day the buffet is always crowded.Looking for a table isn't the easiest thing,especially since most cruise lines have eliminated the trays.It is just the way it is.

We always make the best of it,as vacation time is gold to us.Never sweat the little things,If you didn't like the Ruben you could have ordered something else.Did they have a sandwich bar on the buffet?The ship doesn't have an Omlet station due to fact that they were old that the area that was originally designated for one was unsafe,so a new area has o be found.

We were on the third sailing of the Sunshine out of Barcelona last year and their were still many problems to be solved.It takes time and feed back from cruisers to get things in order.No matter what they do they will never please everyone.

 

I don't believe I ever said that the cruise wasn't up to our standards. I was merely pointing out our experiences on this particular cruise.

 

Yes, I did order something else at lunch, and they do have a sandwich bar available in the buffet during off hours. I really don't understand what that has to do with what they were serving for lunch in the main dining room.

 

I never really wondered why there was no omelet station, I just observed that there wasn't one.

 

And, no matter what a reviewer posts, an honest review will never please everyone.

 

FYI: For all the flamers out there, I wear asbestos underwear.

Edited by footzz

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Very nice report....My wife and I will be watching them as we thought it would be good to go on the "Diva" again next fall and see if things had changed to make small problem areas better....it looks like they have not done much yet.....your MDR experience seemed worse than ours but the waiters had 18 days to get used to our habits...ie bread choices, wine, etc but on the 7 days they will have to learn fast....and the part about the children....MSC has the policy that "kids sail free"....that could turn out to be a big problem to people who like to cruise with the kids "tucked away at night"....we had maybe only 20 children on the repo and we did see some of them in the bars at night running around...."our thought...where are the parents"....it could be a real problem with hundreds on the ship....apparently the 7 day Divina cruise before us to Istanbul and back to Venice had over 500 kids on it and it was a "zoo" according to some people who stayed on to the repo cruise ...something to think about though...I also thought the aft infinity pool areas was adults only???

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I don't think you have to wear asbestos underwear.

Your report is more than complimentary as you call beautiful a ship with such a lack of amenities (promenade deck, observation deck, proper spa, observation lounge open for only 5% of passengers, limited upper deck space, sun deck for fee, no separate pools area for adults, space ratio per person...). As you see, I don't mention all the "service" things.

 

Food is not as subjective as it may seem.

A simple way to make it less subjective is to post menus.

More information leaves less space for subjectivity.

"Plentiful", "typical" buffet?

What is typical?

I have posted buffet menu (from a mass market ship we recently cruised) on Costa board to compare with what Costa frequents consider a "typical" cruise ship buffet.

Reaction? Something like "it cannot be true", "different planet"..

The Divina buffet was awful on the Mediterranean cruises. It's interesting to see the improvements made for the Caribbean season.

 

Thank you for the report.

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"All in all, we did enjoy our cruise and hoped that the “Mediterranean Lifestyle” that MSC promotes would really set it apart"

 

They may well be promoting it but how can it be the same when they are changing the ship to suit the North American market without the Mediterranean foods and systems etc. Divina in the next two years will just become another Americanised cruise ship but with an Italian name sadly.

 

What MSC need to do is be "Honest" something that appears to escape them.

 

footzz ... Nice review and much of what you say seems to be common in almost all of the reviews posted so far either here on the main boards or on the reviews page.

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I don't think we were on the same ship. Having sailed with MSC twice before - in 2006 on the Lirica, and 2010 on the Poesia, we decided to try MSC again and see how much they had "americanized" their cruise experience. I have to agree with you regarding the design of the ship and the flow of people. Also the fact that there was no back deck on the lido deck kept the flow in the buffet more in the front and the back somewhat empty at times -

 

The entertainment was exceptional, the crew very friendly and helpful, the ship absolutely beautiful. The way to avoid the "stampede" for late seating dinner is to be "fashionably late" - and btw, this happens on all ships that have only fixed seating dining.

 

We too were disappointed that there was no adults only pool and deck area - there was another solarium that didn't require payment, however it was difficult to find.

 

The food however, was, in our opinion, very good. We already knew not to try the beef -but I had rack of lamb and it was very good - we had wonderful pasta (not fond of the marinara sauce though) - and our meals in the main dining room were always good- the service was leisurely and we enjoy that. Twice we were seated at lunch in the dining room with others who didn't speak English and we had fun using sign language and each others meager understanding of the others' language.

 

We were the group off after the self disembark - and it went very smoothly, we were off the ship by 8:15am and in our car by 8:30am. All in all an enjoyable cruise. It was, by far, the largest ship we had ever sailed on and we won't do that again. This is not a ship, IMO, for those with mobility issues. We did find our way around and found some favorite spots for relaxing and reading that were quiet. All in all a good cruise.

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The indoor pool with the sliding roof was designated Adults only on the repo cruise so i have no idea why it would have suddenly changed! possibly more a case of parents ignoring as usual the rules. The problem is having someone there all the time to enforce them.

 

The sunbed area you say was hard to find is behind the Basketball court and has hot tubs.

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We too were on the Nov. 23rd cruise. Yes the ship is beautiful but felt a bit crowded. The entertainment was wonderful. Food preferences are such a personal thing but for the most part I felt the food was fine. Service in the MDR was a problem and I think it is because they just don't have a sufficient number of waiters. We were off the ship and in our car by 9:00 so no problem with that.

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We too were on the Nov. 23rd cruise. Yes the ship is beautiful but felt a bit crowded. The entertainment was wonderful. Food preferences are such a personal thing but for the most part I felt the food was fine. Service in the MDR was a problem and I think it is because they just don't have a sufficient number of waiters. We were off the ship and in our car by 9:00 so no problem with that.

 

Glad to read that things were good except for service in dining room. Dining onboard is a big part of our cruise experience so we're hoping it improves.

 

Thank you

Barbara

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The indoor pool with the sliding roof was designated Adults only on the repo cruise so i have no idea why it would have suddenly changed! possibly more a case of parents ignoring as usual the rules. The problem is having someone there all the time to enforce them.

 

The sunbed area you say was hard to find is behind the Basketball court and has hot tubs.

 

The indoor pool with the sliding roof was certainly NOT adult only - this is where all the kids hung out and the noise level was deafening with the roof open and closed. We avoided this area at all costs. It was not a case of parents just ignoring the rules - and they did that too in many other ways.

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The indoor pool with the sliding roof was certainly NOT adult only - this is where all the kids hung out and the noise level was deafening with the roof open and closed. We avoided this area at all costs. It was not a case of parents just ignoring the rules - and they did that too in many other ways.

 

I'm hoping there will be less children on the 12/10 departure due to the holidays and 11 day trip....If not, we may choose to pay for Solarium 18 or find a quiet spot somewhere.

 

Was a good mom and think I'm a good grandma, but want this cruise to be for me and DH.

Barbara

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I'm hoping there will be less children on the 12/10 departure due to the holidays and 11 day trip....If not, we may choose to pay for Solarium 18 or find a quiet spot somewhere.

 

Was a good mom and think I'm a good grandma, but want this cruise to be for me and DH.

Barbara

 

I think you have a good chance of being children free.

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MK ... As we approached Miami a day or two out the staff were busy hanging signs around the Outside pool deck as they had done on the Poesia repo last year, the signs were giving water temperature of the hot tubs, maximum number of people allowed in the Outside pool and the area around the outside of the pool that was for small kids.

 

I have looked back through our photographs and do not see any signs on the Inside/covered pool.

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I think you have a good chance of being children free.

 

I agree. Last week, I saw maybe 10 all week.

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Some aspects of a cruise, especially food, are subjective so reviews will vary. For various reasons, not the least of which are financial status and cruising experience, some people's standards of what is acceptable or not are also quite different. This, too, will cause a variance of opinion of the very same product or service on a cruise.

 

But there are limits to subjectivity. It seems that some people's standards are so flexible that they are willing to gloss over abusive service that only someone with a pain threshold just marginally below that of a masochist (or perhaps a submissive) would find acceptable. The Divina seems to be testing those limits. However, anyone who reads the very credible and well documented* recount of this OP's Divina experience should, at least, be forewarned that most people including Europeans (north and south) will find the food and service seriously wanting.

 

Though he describes numerous shortcomings I was particularly taken aback by the OP's account of his dining room waiter's remonstration, to wit, “if we wanted fast food we should have gone to the buffet.” Unbelievable, in deed, and grounds for immediate termination. I have signed on for a 3 night cruise on the Poesia later this month and have expectations sufficiently low to avoid disappointment or angst, however, if a waiter ever treats me as described by the OP, he and I will immediately be confronting dining room management in an office or, if necessary, in public.

 

footnote *: You need not worry about wearing asbestos underwear. The description of your experience aboard the Divina is itself flame retardant.

Edited by pmacher61

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MK ... As we approached Miami a day or two out the staff were busy hanging signs around the Outside pool deck as they had done on the Poesia repo last year, the signs were giving water temperature of the hot tubs, maximum number of people allowed in the Outside pool and the area around the outside of the pool that was for small kids.

 

I have looked back through our photographs and do not see any signs on the Inside/covered pool.

 

LOL....tooo funny....do you think they only provide signs like this to ward off sue -happy Americans?? Best put a sign on the (hot) coffee cups too LOL:rolleyes:

 

I will say that my first Poesia experience with a ship over 1/2 European was interesting - we might have sued folks for sore eyeballs due to speedos

 

and I can never forget the happy Italian family playing with their bambinos in the little play area - Dad, Mom and grandparents - all 4 with a lit cigarette hanging from their mouths haha...in the kids area...yes, Daddy (Papa?) swung his laughing daughter around and never dropped the cigarette hahaha:eek::eek::eek:

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I find it odd that they are not needed on European cruises or Transatlantics but were put on the Divina both this year and Poesia last November!

 

Clearly they have a reason for it!

 

PM ... I hope you like the Poesia, the Musica class are far better than the Fantasia class in our opinion.

Edited by sidari

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Some aspects of a cruise, especially food, are subjective so reviews will vary. For various reasons, not the least of which are financial status and cruising experience, some people's standards of what is acceptable or not are also quite different. This, too, will cause a variance of opinion of the very same product or service on a cruise.

 

But there are limits to subjectivity. It seems that some people's standards are so flexible that they are willing to gloss over abusive service that only someone with a pain threshold just marginally below that of a masochist (or perhaps a submissive) would find acceptable. The Divina seems to be testing those limits. However, anyone who reads the very credible and well documented* recount of this OP's Divina experience should, at least, be forewarned that most people including Europeans (north and south) will find the food and service seriously wanting.

 

Though he describes numerous shortcomings I was particularly taken aback by the OP's account of his dining room waiter's remonstration, to wit, “if we wanted fast food we should have gone to the buffet.” Unbelievable, in deed, and grounds for immediate termination. I have signed on for a 3 night cruise on the Poesia later this month and have expectations sufficiently low to avoid disappointment or angst, however, if a waiter ever treats me as described by the OP, he and I will immediately be confronting dining room management in an office or, if necessary, in public.

 

footnote *: You need not worry about wearing asbestos underwear. The description of your experience aboard the Divina is itself flame retardant.

 

I don't think anyone is glossing over the dining room service but this problem can be fixed. It would be a shame if MSC didn't do something about it since it is such a lovely ship.

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One simple way to cure the problem is stop the assistant waiters doing a disappearing act getting drink orders for people and employ people to actually do that job,then the Waiters will not be running around doing everything else themselves as they currently do.

 

We began with the two and a half hour dinners, changed tables and were down to around one hour and thirty minutes thanks to our great waiter Steven from India ... :D

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You were fortunate to get out in one and a half hours. We were moved from late seating to early but it was still a very long meal. It seemed like some waiters had way too many tables and others had just a few. I would have liked anytime dining to be available.

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I had resisted reading this review as MSC were setting up the Divina to be a cruise line within a cruise line for the U.S. market and not anything I would ever want to try. However, I am most encouraged that MSC has not changed too much.

 

Yes meals are slow. The are the centre piece of Italian civilization. Seven courses over two hours plus (I find three and a half hours somewhat a stretch - were you finishing at one in the morning?).

 

I have commented before that it is not that MSC food is not good but that it has that reputation simply because the translations into English are poor to appalling. People are dissapointed that what comes does not match their expectations from the description. MSC's food would have a better reputation if guests were given no choice or, better, guests showed some humility and took the advice of their spirited waiters in their menu choices instead of arrogantly telling us how certain dishes they think they know should be. "Thousand island dressing"'! That would be a sacking offence.

 

No urinals - joy! I also commented on this before. MSC does not get enough appreciation and recognition for this. Also for not having unhygienic hand dryers, only far preferable paper towels. These things are deadly important.

 

Three glasses per person is normal: red and white wine plus water. I can't imagine what else you would expect.

 

Why queue to get into dinner? Are you one of those? Stay at the bar until the way is clear.

 

To hear yet more complaints about beef and lobster make my eyes roll. There is not an awful lot of either in Medditterranean cuisine. There are however two thousand other dishes served on board which are native of the different regions of Italy - how were they?

 

Children are another aspect of Mediterranean culture - they believe that children should take part in the social lives of the parents and always be together as a family when out. When you choose a 'kids go free' cruise line, you should expect some.

 

Apart from matters of security, which they take very seriously indeed, MSC do not police their rules. For dress codes, adults only etc., they rely on self-policing. They do not treat adults like children. They don't even treat children like children. This may be different to other lines.

 

Signs appear and disappear to comply with local regulations at the time. MSC are particularly adept at this and again this is nothing to complain about.

 

As for disembarkation, you don't have to kettle yourself into some lounge prior. You still have the freedom of the ship - use it. Those instructions are for the uptight who need to be told what to do or else blow a fuse. One of the pool bars would have been my venue of choice until the crowds subsided. "We have to stay on the ship as long as possible", because we are still on holiday and it maximises value.

 

So overall, I trust that many observations of the OP are accurate it is just that we would draw diametrically different conclusions from them. The Divina in the U.S. doesn't sound half as bad as I had expected.

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MSC's food would have a better reputation if guests were given no choice or, better, guests showed some humility and took the advice of their spirited waiters in their menu choices instead of arrogantly telling us how certain dishes they think they know should be...

So overall, I trust that many observations of the OP are accurate it is just that we would draw diametrically different conclusions from them. The Divina in the U.S. doesn't sound half as bad as I had expected.

 

cart-before-the-horse.jpg

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