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Mrs. Squirrel

Review-MSC Divina Cruise 4-26-14

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Although I have been a long time member of CC, this is my first review. I have had good intentions of completing reviews in the past. However, like most of you, I have a life outside of cruise planning and taking. That life always smacks me right upside the head as soon as I get back, so my good intentions go right out the window.

 

I am determined to follow through with this review for two reasons:

 

1. There is so little info on CC about MSC and Divina. . .and frankly a lot of what is out there is just plain wrong. Along the way, I will try to point out inaccuracies I have read about her.

 

If you can view signatures, you will see that NCL is the line we have sailed the most, our current favorite, and the one I have 3 cruises booked on next year. The second purpose of this review will be:

2. To compare our MSC sailing to our NCL sailings.

 

This trip was only my 53 year young DH, Rich, and myself (Jayne-46). We had already completed our annual, family cruise on the NCL Sun when MSC offered employee prices on Divina for the spring. We decided to do an adults only cruise for our 13th Anniversary leaving our 10 year old DS, Alexander, home with Grandma. As it turned out, Divina was also my 13th cruise. With all the negative reviews I read beforehand, DH and I had little hope of anything other than an ‘unlucky 13’ cruise experience. For the price we paid, we figured as long as we made it to the ports and didn’t get food poisoning. . .it was all good!

 

Here we are at the Captain’s Cocktail Party on Divina.

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We broke a few of the cruise ‘rules’ on this trip. We flew in the morning of debarkation and we booked a flight out early on the day of debarkation. Even though I know better, it could not be helped. Rich lives and works in another city in Indianapolis. He has a work apartment and comes home on the weekends. He only had five days of vacation left when we booked Divina, therefore, we could not fly out on Friday. He arrives home on Friday nights around 5pm if the traffic is good. Since the Southwest/AirTran merger, non-stop flights into and out of Indy have doubled in price and the schedules have gotten weird. More on that later.

 

When Rich hit the door at 5pm, I had all the laundry done and ready to pack. Somehow, this very simple process morphed into an eight hour ordeal. We finally went to bed at 1:30am, then up again at 4:30am. Left the house at 6am for our 7:30am, non-stop flight on Southwest and arrived in Ft. Lauderdale about ½ hour early due to a strong tail wind. Luckily for us, SAS transportation was able to get us on a shared shuttle to the Port of Miami earlier than our 11am reservations. So far; so good. I still would not fly in the day of a cruise. It was too stressful. Anything can happen. Just don’t do it!

 

There are no happy airline travel photos to share with you. My husband dreads airport security like a root canal. I assume because of his looks, he gets picked out often to do the "full monty" of security measures. :eek: This plus lack of sleep caused one grumpy husband. My request to do a selfie with him on the airplane was met with one half-opened, glaring eye and a grunt. There will be no more pictures until we board the ship and Rich has had some food.

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We arrived at the POM about 11:15am. There were still prior passengers coming off the ship and securing transportation. We gave the porter our luggage right after a trio of folks who had him tag a case of water for transportation directly to their room. Huh?! I thought I read on CC that you could not bring pop, water or alcohol onboard Divina! The truth is, whether you can or cannot is a resounding. . .maybe! At embarkation and at all the port stops, we saw fellow cruisers get all of the above onboard right through the security screen and other fellow cruisers get like beverages taken away. Because we drink so much water in port, we love that NCL allows you to bring pop and water onboard without the guesswork. When we sail Divina again, I will definitely try to get a $4 case of water onboard since it is not much of a risk, moneywise, if they confiscate it.

 

We were told by one of the POM workers that the terminal was not open to board yet. While waiting outside, we chatted with a gentlemen who had just disembarked. He had a lot of complaints about his cruise. He said that MSC had disembarked about 200 employees off the ship at one of the ports the week prior and that all the crew members had an attitude about it and were looking unhappy all week. Some of his party complained of poor cabin service. He also stated that food and drink service was so slow that he had to throw a Ketchup packet at a bar waiter on deck to get a drink one day. At this point, I asked him if he was a member of Cruise Critic. He looked at me quizzically, then answered, “no,” without ever really getting the joke. I didn’t explain. I didn’t want a barrage of condiments on us before our embarkation photos!

Edited by Mrs. Squirrel

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We walked past others sitting outside of the terminal also waiting for it to open. Rich tried the doors. They were open. We entered and there were already many MSC cruisers inside with embarkation boarding cards, sitting in the air-conditioning, and enjoying the water, bottled water, and juice provided at the entrance. That was a nice touch by MSC. NCL does this too, but after you go through security and check-in. Who knows why we were told by POM that the terminal wasn’t open yet, but obviously we weren’t the only ones, as all those we passed started filling in behind us once we entered the building.

 

The terminal building is beautifully decorated with large metal sea life sculptures. Most of you could care less about that. You want to know about the embarkation process. It was quick and easy. We were given our boarding card and on the ship having lunch by 12:15pm. The only hiccup we had was the gentleman calling out the boarding card letters could not be heard through-out the terminal. He needed a microphone or a bullhorn. Minor issue. Embarkation still goes to MSC.

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This is the point in the embarkation intersection where a collision occurred between a lack of sleep and no food since 5:30am. Usually we head to the dining room for our first meal onboard. A leisurely meal, either alone or shared with other excited passengers, seems to say, “The cruise has started!” The Daily indicated that the Black Crab dining room was open from noon to 2:00pm for either full or express lunch. Well. . .Mr. Grumpy was having none of that. I knew that no fun nor photos would be had until he got some food. So off we went to the rear of deck 14 through the Manitou buffet to at least partake of those beautiful views I had read about on CC. All I can say is WOW! This bank of windows became a favorite viewing spot of ours throughout the voyage. MSC keeps all their windows cleaner than any other ship we’ve ever sailed. Let me show you. These photos were taken right up to and through the rear windows. Point for MSC.

 

Anyone recognize this ship?

DSC_0107_zps14d23112.jpg?t=1399585714

 

Downtown Miami

DSC_0109_zps4da4de29.jpg?t=1399499480

 

Miami to the Northeast

DSC_0108_zps0b5846ee.jpg?t=1399585719

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Thank you, we leave Saturday, please keep the review going!

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The buffet area has an American Indian design theme and naming. You can see this throughout with the southwest patterning on the chair pads, tables and cloth hangings. However, the screens and chair backs look distinctly Asian. Not sure why. The entire buffet is composed of two buffet areas called Calumet and the aforementioned Manitou. All the stations in the two buffet areas are not open all the time. The more cruisers expected, the more stations are opened. The buffet is open 20 out of 24 hours a day. All food we had there was very tasty. We especially liked the rear Med and Indian food. In between those areas was a kids' buffet section. Very cute.

 

I recognized the name Manitou right away. It doesn’t have an appealing memory when dining. If you’ve never seen that B movie, you may not understand. I saw it as a youngster at a drive-in. Terrifying! Especially when the spirit escapes the hump!

 

The Manitou (1978)

104 min - Horror - 15 April 1978 (Japan)

Ratings: 5.0/10 from 1,479 users

 

A psychic's girlfriend finds out that a lump on her back is a growing reincarnation of a 400 year-old demonic Native American spirit.

 

the-manitou-movie-poster-1020193488_zps5f135572.jpg?t=1399503294

 

I could not help thinking of that movie all week. When I got back from the cruise, I Googled both names. Calumet was a ceremonial Indian smoking pipe and Manitou was an Algonquian Indian life force. That really doesn't sound evil and all I can say is that Manitou revived Rich’s spirits, and as tired as he was, he was finally ready to go exploring. On with the vacation!

 

A Warm and Tasty Welcome

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More Photos of the Buffet areas

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This is Allister. He got a mighty good laugh of me trying to take pictures with the lens cap on my new camera and not being able to figure out why it wasn't working. :o You can see the Indian Portraits behind his station.

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More of the rear section of the Buffet. There was one of many drink stations to the left of this picture.

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I thought these were plastic food sculptures, but we later saw this one made fresh with baked bread and long wooden skewers.

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Thank you, we leave Saturday, please keep the review going!

 

Will do. Have a great time!

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The buffets had multiple drink and food stations that would serve the same things. When there were a lot of people eating, they seemed to congregate toward the front of the Calumet buffet. A short walk back toward the rear would often find the same food and drink with no or little lines. Not once in all the times we used the buffet did we have trouble finding table space. We shared a table once. The Europeans don't seem to have such a hang-up with this as we Americans can.

 

The buffet served coffee, hot and cold tea, flavored waters, and regular water. In addition, the mornings had pineapple, cranberry, grapefruit and orange juice. Next to the coffee was a large pot of hot milk. I discovered the joys of hot milk in my coffee during this cruise. :D They had regular half and half in both containers and single serves. Honey, both white and brown sugar, sugar substitute and just about every condiment known to man was available somewhere in the buffet.

 

Breakfast had a wide selection of breads including bagels and croissants. Cereals, Muesli, Whole and sliced fruit, Fried Eggs, Scrambled Eggs, two types of omelets daily, bacon, sausage, baked beans, hash browns, pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, pastries of all varieties, cream cheese, butter, margarine, and waffle toppings. This not an exhaustive list, just what I remember.

 

Lunches always had four different kinds of pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, sausages, french fries, pre-made sandwiches, make-your-own sandwiches, salad bar (pretty simple choices-don't think Golden Corral, mile long salad bar), whole and sliced fruit, and a variety of hot dishes including a pasta choice and fish, a selection of breads, two soups and desserts.

 

Dinner always had the comfort foods of lunch plus some of the same hot items available that night in the main dinning rooms. There were soups, a meat carving station that rotated daily, fish, assorted breads, salad bar and desserts.

 

This is by no means an exhaustive list, so feel free to ask questions. Because the buffet runs 20 hours, often when one dish was depleted, it might be changed out with the same or something else. This means you could visit the buffet several different times in the same evening and not have the same experience. I honestly will have to give the point to MSC on their buffet set-up, attractiveness and selection and taste with possibly the exception of NCL's Epic. I would rate Divina and Epic buffets about equal.

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After lunch, we explored a little, then stopped by the Reception Desk (Guest Services) to ask when cabins would be ready. MSC has a quiet policy on announcements. They make only what is necessary plus the Captain gives a nautical and weather announcement daily. We assumed we might have missed the announcement during lunch.

 

To our surprise, Reception said our cabins had been ready when we boarded! This is apparently why MSC wants you out of your cabin by 7am the morning of debarkation. You are free to roam the ship and even spend money on your key card in the morning, but this allows the cabin stewards to have the rooms ready for the new, boarding guests.

 

We had a B3 balcony cabin 13029 on the port side just before the indentations, down from the Bridge. Our view looking off our balcony was only lovely aqua blue water, just as I had expected with my research. The cabin was beautiful. It still had that new ship feel and smell. Very clean. The balcony was a standard size for a balcony on the new mega-ships. I personally miss the larger size balconies of mid to smaller ships. Here are some pictures.

 

First piece of luggage already there by 2pm. Spacious hallways, even when steward's cleaning carts are out.

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Thank you for taking the time to do this review. I am enjoying your writing and the photos. I live in South Florida and as you mentioned the Divina reviews are not as common as others. Would love to jump on some of MSC deals but since vacation time is at a premium, I need to get a good feel of what I'll be commiting to. Thanks again and looking forward to reading the rest of your review.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums mobile app

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DSC_0145_zps99239f7a.jpg?t=1399593554

 

The bathroom had about the same square footage as other ships we've been on.

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There is a retractable clothesline, shampoo and shower gel in the shower stall.

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This is what makes the bathroom feel larger than it is. The doors are curved, plastic and push inward, stopped by those magnets at the top, when not in use. This gives more elbow room around the toilet area. Great design. Just be careful to get the doors fully closed or you will have water all over the floor!

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The cabin was very comfortable overall. We kept the air on full blast all week. The lights do not work without your keycard or another card deposited into a slot by the door. We used a grocery card. Don't take the card out until you are ready to leave or the lights will go out on you after a few minutes. With the curtains drawn on this balcony cabin, it was almost as dark as an inside cabin! The bed was comfy and to the firm, which we both prefer. It did not feel as much like two beds pushed together as I have noticed in other cabins. There was a top sheet between the bottom sheet and the duvet as well as washclothes, so it is not like Europe in those two respects.

 

There were two drawbacks to our cabin. One, it seemed to have less storage than we're use to. We normally travel with three in a balcony cabin, but in this cabin, there would have been no where to put our son's clothes if he had come. Two, the pillows were weird. :( I read it here on CC and Rich and I can confirm it ito be true. The inside of the pillows have little blocks or chunks of some type of foam. Besides this not being a very comfortable design, if you scratch or move your hand across the pillow while your ear is against it, the blocks magnify the sound. If you are picky about pillows, absolutely bring your own. We didn't try to ask for different ones, so can't say that this wouldn't be an option. We did have two robes in our cabin when we arrived. If they aren't there, I would ask for them. Balconies are suppose to have them.

 

There was a lot of ships information in the cabin including a very large cut-away map of Divina. When I say large, I mean National Geographic Magazine's pull-out maps large, lol! Not practical to carry around, that's for sure. :)

 

The balcony chairs do not recline, but they are very comfortable. We also liked the extra large foot rest. We could both use it at the same time when we placed it between us and faced the deck chairs toward each other. It also makes a great coffee table for coffee and/or breakfast in the morning. Overall, a very nice cabin, but I'd have to give this point to NCL for in-room coffee makers, better storage and better bedding including pillows.

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Thank you for taking the time to do this review. I am enjoying your writing and the photos. I live in South Florida and as you mentioned the Divina reviews are not as common as others. Would love to jump on some of MSC deals but since vacation time is at a premium, I need to get a good feel of what I'll be commiting to. Thanks again and looking forward to reading the rest of your review.

 

You are welcome. I know what you mean. I felt the same before I booked, and that is why I am doing this review.

 

I think it's time to quit for the night. More tomorrow. Hopefully, I don't dream about Manitou! :eek:

 

To everyone reading, I forgot to mention that I have posted all the Dailies for this cruise and all the Kids' Club Dailies in two separate threads already in case you just want that info and not our personal impressions of the cruise.

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This is the point in the embarkation intersection where a collision occurred between a lack of sleep and no food since 5:30am. Usually we head to the dining room for our first meal onboard. A leisurely meal, either alone or shared with other excited passengers, seems to say, “The cruise has started!” The Daily indicated that the Black Crab dining room was open from noon to 2:00pm for either full or express lunch. Well. . .Mr. Grumpy was having none of that. I knew that no fun nor photos would be had until he got some food. So off we went to the rear of deck 14 through the Manitou buffet to at least partake of those beautiful views I had read about on CC. All I can say is WOW! This bank of windows became a favorite viewing spot of ours throughout the voyage. MSC keeps all their windows cleaner than any other ship we’ve ever sailed. Let me show you. These photos were taken right up to and through the rear windows. Point for MSC.

 

Anyone recognize this ship?

DSC_0107_zps14d23112.jpg?t=1399585714

 

Downtown Miami

DSC_0109_zps4da4de29.jpg?t=1399499480

 

Miami to the Northeast

DSC_0108_zps0b5846ee.jpg?t=1399585719

 

Thanks for the review, great to re-live our week on Divina. We got off the day you got on. Enjoyed the week very much.

 

The ship behind the Divina was the Celebrity Reflection. We had sailed on its sister, the Silhouette, in November and it is a fantastic ship as well.

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Love your review! Thank you!

One of my kid will definitely be happy with the pastries selection.... I have shown her the picture, she almost cried... Oh! Dear! :rolleyes:

The other girl would like to know about proscuitto.... She expects to eat a lot of it since MSC is an italian cruiseline. Can you confirm we can find it at the buffet or MDR? Thanks!:)

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Awesome review! Can't wait to see the rest. This is certainly whetting our appetite for our cruise on Divina in November! :o

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Love your review! Thank you!

One of my kid will definitely be happy with the pastries selection.... I have shown her the picture, she almost cried... Oh! Dear! :rolleyes:

The other girl would like to know about proscuitto.... She expects to eat a lot of it since MSC is an italian cruiseline. Can you confirm we can find it at the buffet or MDR? Thanks!:)

 

Lol! There is also a coffee, pastry, and gelato shop on Deck 6 at the Piazza del Doge. This is for fee, but they were cheaper than specialty pastries at our local, rural grocery store. A second gelato shop is found on Deck 14 near the main pool in front of the entrance to the buffet, plus a Nutella crepe station. Plenty of choices for the sweet tooth!

 

I don't know specifically about proscuitto, but everyday at all meals they had thinly sliced meet and cheese offerings at the buffet. There was also the same in the Med section at the rear of the buffet when it was open. Surely one of those was proscuitto. If you don't see it out, just ask for it and see if they have it. I'm pretty sure it was one of the appetizer choices at the Eataly Steakhouse.

 

If your kiddos have an interest, make sure to check out the thread where i posted all the Kids' Club Daily activities. Have a great time!

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Thanks for the review, great to re-live our week on Divina. We got off the day you got on. Enjoyed the week very much.

 

The ship behind the Divina was the Celebrity Reflection. We had sailed on its sister, the Silhouette, in November and it is a fantastic ship as well.

 

That's good to know. I have only been on Celebrity Mercury. Just couldn't believe what a fantastic pic you could get through those windows!

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Awesome review! Can't wait to see the rest. This is certainly whetting our appetite for our cruise on Divina in November! :o

 

Thank you. I am sure you'll have a great time.

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After unpacking our suitcases, things get a little fuzzy in my memory. By this point, we are ‘drooling on ourselves’ tired which continued through the rest of embarkation day and night. We took a short nap until the muster drill.

 

I can’t recall what time muster occurred, but it was some time prior to departure, maybe around 4pm? Anyway, MSC has you bring your life jackets with you, but you assemble in an assigned lounge. Most people put their life jackets on before coming to the Muster station. I have no idea why, because they are bulky, hot and you’re packed like sardines. The announcements were made in about five languages that clearly said you did not have to wear them. Some people did it, I think, for fun pics. Others just looked very miserable throughout the presentation.

 

MSC’s Muster Drill is long, because they made the announcements and demonstration in the multiple languages. OK for us, because we were comfy and just rested during the other languages. The demo in English was standard fare until the announcer said, “Take the crotch strap and put it between your legs.” Our eyes bugged out and we laughed at that one. I’m not sure the announcer knows that ‘crotch’ is a crude word in English. I put this on my survey, so they know now. It became a running joke between us for the cruise. Yeah. . .we’re that immature!

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If you are a frequent cruiser out of POM, you will appreciate Divina’s late departure time for the difference in experience. We have sailed out of Miami so many times, that we no longer take pics. Sailing at dusk was really special, though. I have no pics of this, because I just soaked up the view and enjoyed it. Beautiful with all the high-rise condos and multi-million dollar homes lit up!

 

Prior to departure, while taking a few shots off the balcony, we saw this:

 

Police! Pull Over!

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Turned Around

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And Escorted Out!

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By this time, cruise ships east of our docking position had begun to depart already. Don't know what this group was thinking!:rolleyes:

Edited by Mrs. Squirrel

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Before departure, we did explore the ship some. However, the pictures I took have very few people in them. I will save the ships pics and group them together in a later part of the review. To whet your appetite, I will say that Divina is the most beautiful ship we have every sailed on! She is simply stunning, eye-candy!

 

There are a few additional points I wanted to make about Embarkation day before we get into the first evening. Hand luggage storage is available just off the Reception area on Deck 5 if you’d like to explore the ship without lugging your baggage around. NCL does this, too, so this point is a tie. Of course, we didn’t see this area until it was too late to need it, lol!

 

The Maitre d’ was available in the Black Crab restaurant to address any dinning assignment issues. We went to see if we had received our requested table for two (it was our anniversary, after all). He told us there were few tables for two on Divina and that they were mostly kept for those with disabilities. We then asked to make sure we weren’t at a table for four. We thought that might be awkward for the week with just one other couple we didn’t know. He agreed and checked our assignment. We had a table for eight. It worked out just fine. We had fun table mates, but we still prefer NCL’s free-style dining and getting to know our fellow cruisers through active participation in the CC roll calls and activities onboard. This point goes to NCL.

 

We also made a stop at the Aurea Spa to book our appointments on a package I had pre-paid. We were given a very nice tour of the area by one of the massage therapists. If you want an appointment for the spa, nail or beauty salon the first sea day/Gala night, I would suggest you go early after boarding. They were very busy making appointments. I will talk more about the spa later.

Edited by Mrs. Squirrel

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There was a Sailaway Party on Deck 14 at the Aqua Park (main pool area). We chose to enjoy sailaway from our balcony, because we were still such tired, party-poopers. I will say that all week, the main pool area was very busy and very lively with games, music, bingo, exercise classes and concerts playing on the big screen.

 

Also, several nights that week, the big outdoor screen at Aqua Park was used to play movies. The selections that week were Best Man Down, Grudge Match, Saving Mr. Banks, and 47 Ronin. There was seating facing the screens and popcorn available. I love movies. This was one thing I never got to do. Hard choices had to be made, as there was so much going on. We also relaxed more on this cruise than usual. When our son is with us, we’re more go, go, go. Whether you are looking for party fun or relaxation you can do both on Divina.

 

I did not take this photo, but I use it to show the area I'm talking about.

50b584b38d45d8f1505f20522697fae2_zps2cdf05e6.jpg?t=1399560518

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After sailaway, we freshened up for dinner. We were assigned second seating at 8:45pm in the Villa Rossa Dining Room at the rear of Deck 6. Villa Rossa is a single story dining room, while Black Crab is a two-story dining room mid-ship on Deck 5 and 6. Because of the Galley, you can’t get to Villa Rossa via Deck 5 or 6. We usually walked down Deck 7 and took the stairs down one floor. MSC does a good job with guidance signage for everything from the direction to Reception, exits at ports, directions toward lounges, etc. In addition, at all elevator banks there is a ship map that shows where you are to help you get around. It is a big ship and takes a bit to figure out how to get around.

 

We were seated at a table for eight. Our tablemates were all couples; one from North Carolina, a Russian couple now living in New York, and a German couple. We only made it to the dining room three out of the seven nights, but this had more to do with our relaxed schedule and nothing whatsoever to do with either service problems or food issues.

 

Our head and assistant waiters were both very efficient and friendly. We never waited long for anything. Water glasses were kept full. There is ice in the water pitchers, but it is often melted or stopped by the pour spout on the pitchers so if ice with your water is important, a simple request for a glass of ice solves the problem. Bread came around once, so you either get more than one piece then or just ask later and more was happily provided. Both soft drinks from the bar and unsweet iced tea were easily acquired. I mention these things, because I have read the above as complaints about Divina’s MDR service in other reviews.

 

We had no problems in the MDR and actually felt like there the staff to passenger ratio in Divina’s dining rooms was higher than we had seen in years. Cutting of the dining room staff is something I regret about cruising in the 21st century. Divina felt more like cruising in the 90’s. The table settings were attractive. The tables, themselves had cream colored tablecloths that were not heavily creased like the white ones on NCL. This sounds dumb, but when you use a tablecloth and it is all creased up from being folded, it takes a little away from the ambiance for me. That’s why I don’t use a tablecloth at home. Too lazy for the proper upkeep! The table tops were padded under the cloths and the chairs very comfortable. With good conversation, two hours could fly by and you’d hardly notice!

 

I will say that the ambient noise level in the dining room is high. It can make hearing your tablemate's conversation difficult, especially when extra attention is needed while conversing with someone with an accent. We found this same thing on NCL Epic, but not on NCL's smaller ships.

 

This pains me to say it. It truly does, because I love NCL, but I will have to give the Main Dining Room point to MSC for both service and food quality. :o I feel like I'm cheating!

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