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Cruise Review: Divina Western Itinerary, Dec 2-9. 2017


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My apologies for the delay, but I’m finally getting around to posting my review of the MSC Divina sailing December 2-9, 2017.

 

I also apologize for the length of the review, I tend to get wordy.

 

We flew to Miami the night before and stayed at the Hampton Inn Brickell, great hotel, clean, modern, large rooms, good free breakfast,close to restaurants and nightlife, and there’s a Publix and a Walgreens within walking distance for last-minute cruise items.

 

Some shots of Port of Miami and the skyline before sailaway:

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We sailed in the yacht club, and were lucky enough to grab one of the Royal Suites. It wasn’t the Sophia Loren one, but the one on the starboard side of the ship: 16008.

 

 

We arrived at the terminal a little after 11am, and went to the Yacht Club white tent all the way at the end of the terminal for check-in.Coincidentally, another couple checking in at the same time and going through the whole process with us was someone I had met on our roll call, which made it fun once we figured it out!

 

 

Check in was easy. I can see how Yacht Club check in could really speed the process along, though when we arrived there were hardly any people in line for regular check-in anyway. We were brought to a separate room to check in, and were given a welcome glass of champagne and a cool towel to refresh before we boarded the ship. The butlers brought us straight to the Yacht Club, where we met the concierge, got a tour of the top sail lounge, and met with the guy in charge of Le Muse to get our dining time preferences. Then we were brought to our cabin for a tour.

 

 

The room was huge, a living room with pull-out sofa, two chairs, TV, bar set up, and storage in cabinets. The bedroom had a make-up table with storage, as well as the two nightstands. Note: the only outlets in the bedroom (2 US, 2 European) were by the makeup table, across the room from the bed, so if you’re someone who prefers to keep their phone charging next to them on the nightstand at night, bring a really long extension cord, which is luckily what we had done. I had a 12 foot extension cord and an eight foot charging cord, and that was plenty. The walk in closet had plenty of storage as well, though the bathroom itself could have used some more shelf space.

 

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The balcony is gigantic, wraps around to the front of the ship.It looks really narrow in all the photos I’ve seen, but it’s pretty sizeable once you’re there in person. They have a railing to keep you from getting intothe narrow part under the windscreen in the front which is a little annoying,but it didn’t detract from our enjoyment of using it all week long!

 

 

 

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After touring our room and changing into swimsuits, we immediately went up to the The One Pool area and met the bartender, who got to know us quickly J We also ate lunch in Le Muse and got to knowour waiters for the week right away.

 

One of the most amazing things about being in the yachtclub, just minutes after we had arrived, I would see a butler in the hallway,one who I had not met before, and yet they greeted me by name!

 

The only negative experience with the whole check-in process was delivery of our luggage. I think somewhere in MSC’s literature it says you get priority luggage delivery, and we did see other luggage being brought to staterooms pretty quickly, but ours didn’t arrive until after 7pm, after I had asked multiple times about it, and finally had to beg my butler go hunt for it. We had no contraband in our luggage, so there was no security reason to hold it back. Our butler only said he had to go actively search for it, and there was no reason it should have taken almost 8 hours for us to get our bags. Luckily, we had packed bathing suits etc in our carry-on, so it didn’t take away time from us enjoying the ship, it just meant waiting that much longer to unpack and feel settled.

 

 

For the first night in Le Muse, the butler walks you down to the restaurant, which is a nice touch. He brings you down to deck 7, to the back of the ship, then back up to 15. This is a good way to see a lot of the offerings on the ship, but a much faster way to get there (as long as they don’thave areas cordoned off for painting or maintenance) is to walk out of the yacht club on deck 15, through the upper deck of the indoor pool, and straight back on Deck 15, there’s a door right next to the DiSaronno smoker’s bar that brings you in the lobby area in front of LeMuse. It’s a nice walk for freshair, and no dealing with the elevators! The bartenders at the smokers’ bar also would greet us every night and offer us drinks, it was fun!

 

We thoroughly enjoyed the food in LeMuse. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner were all great. People complain a lot about the food on MSC, and we just didn’t see why in LeMuse. We also ate lunch in the buffet on one of the sea days, and also found the food there to be hot, and good. The pizza at the buffet was excellent! I still think Princess has the best pizza at sea, but MSC is a VERY close second. And everyone that says to go to the very back of the buffet to find seating is correct. The buffet goes on forever, and ever, and all the way at the back, there are seats, and a great view!

 

We had reservations at the Eataly Steakhouse and the Eataly Italian Restaurant during the week. The food at the steakhouse was AMAZING. I’m Italian, and I’ve never had better prosciutto in my life than I did at the steakhouse. All the food was first-rate. The service, however, was lacking, and the décor is just not what you would expect from a steakhouse. I’m fine with the more modern décor, but the clear acrylic chairs look cheap and aren’tcomfortable to sit on.

 

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Our experience at the Italian restaurant was not good. We arrived there and the host looked shocked to see us standing there and asked us “Do you have a reservation” in a tone that conveyed he felt we shouldn’t even be there. I should note, there were two people at a single table when we arrived, it wasn’t like they were over capacity or anything. And, for the record, yes we did have a reservation. We were seated and then just left there, for several minutes, no water offered, nothing. No one ever came by again, and the chairs were even more uncomfortable than in the steakhouse, so we just got up and left, not that there was anyone there to notice, and went to LeMuse and had a wonderful meal. For once I was glad that MSC’s web site was acting screwy before the cruise and wouldn’t let me pre-pay for my meal there!

 

We also ate at Eataly Pizza (and being in the YC, also had their pizza delivered to the room for free!). The pizza was great, but there was only one poor server who was clearly overloaded with too much to do, but that wasn’t his fault, they should have scheduled more people to work there with him!

 

 

Eataly Room Service Pizza:

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The Yacht Club venues were top-notch. The One Pool was NEVER crowded, even on a sea day you had no problem getting a lounger. The pool wasmostly warm, and the hot tubs were sufficiently hot. An area on the port side of the ship was reserved for smokers, and the smell never drifted out of that area. There are also bathrooms up there which were kept clean all week.

 

This is a side-by-side comparison of the open deck at 9:15am on the second sea day, non YC vs. YC:

 

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On the starboard side was the The One Bar, which offered breakfast, including an omelet station, every morning, and lunch, with made-to-order burgers and other offerings. The bartenders got to know your preferences quickly, and would pretty much start making my preferred drink as soon as they saw me coming. One note, while there is premium alcohol available, unless you tell them otherwise, they’ll use the cheaper stuff in your drinks.So specify “piña colada with Malibu rum” if you want it, otherwise, it will be the stuff from the well.

 

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The top sail lounge was a favorite. Never crowded, food always available, good drinks, amazing view, and live music! I had one issue with the top sail lounge, though: they don’t offer iced tea. I sometimes like to take a pause from all the booze and drink iced tea. They offer iced tea directly above the top sail lounge at The One Bar, but when I ordered it in the Top Sail, the butler said “I’m afraid that’s not possible.” I literally laughed because I thought he was joking, but he wasn’t. The next day, the head of all the bars was at our Cruise Critic meet & greet (more on that in a moment) and I mentioned it to him. From that point on, there was a special pitcher of iced tea brought down from The One Bar and stored behind the bar in the Top Sail Lounge just for me. It was just so strange, because in every other respect, the staff will go out of their way in the yacht club to do stuff for you! They’ll get something from the other end of the ship, but getting iced tea was beyond their capacity for some reason.

 

As an example of them going above and beyond, I asked mybutler if they had captain morgan rum available in the little bottles for the mini bar, since I had read that you can have the contents of it tailored to your tastes. Unfortunately they didn’t. I said that was too bad, because I like Captain Morgan and not the stuff that’s in there, we primarily drink Captain & Diets and Gin & Tonic (they already had gin and tonic in thefridge). From that point on, there was always at least a six-pack of both tonic and diet coke, both in the fridge and on top of the bar set up in our room, and every night, our butler would go fill large glasses with Captain Morgan and I think Tanqueray (or maybe Bombay) and bring those to our room so we could mix our drinks with our preferred liquor. We never asked him to do this, he just did it. It was amazing.

 

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We went to see two of the shows, and enjoyed both, especially the Michael Jackson show. There’s a reserved area in the balcony for yacht club guests, though the theater was never completely packed if you wanted a seat elsewhere.

 

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The Cruise Critic meet & greet was the morning of the first sea day. The only hiccup was at least one of the people on the roll call didn’t get their invite until AFTER it had taken place. But the Captain was there, as were the cruise director, event manager, head of bars (who hooked me up with the iced tea), hotel manager, head chef, etc. They all went around to each group of people seated and really engaged with us to get our feedback, and then gave some remarks and had a huge sheet cake for us.

 

Later in the cruise, the captain (who I think I only said to him “hello, you have a very nice ship” before hehad to move on) walked by me later in the week, stopped and said “oh hi, you’re from the cruise critic group, are you still enjoying the ship?”

 

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To sum things up, we loved this cruise, and I think we’ve been spoiled and could only do a yacht club-like experience again. The ship was great, staff was amazing, and food was good. The whole Eataly experience was a big letdown, especially because we love Eataly on land. But it’s a small complaint in the grand scheme of things.

 

 

Oh one last thing, I don’t know if this was just up in the yacht club or all over the ship, but as we were pulling out our last port to head back to Miami, the volume was turned up on the loudspeakers and they played Andrea Bocelli’s “time to say goodbye.” For some reason, that just wrapped up the vacation perfectly. I couldn’t have asked for a better week at sea.

 

I posted the daily newsletter in a separate thread if you’re interested in those, and would be happy to answer any questions.

 

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The photos showed up fine yesterday and now I'm getting the third-party hosting thing.

 

I just tried using imgur and that doesn't seem to be working either. I'll keep trying but if someone knows how to fix this let me know.

 

Sorry everyone!

Edited by eastoftheboston
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Thanks for the review! As someone who sailed on Divina twice this past year in YC, I would add that we had a similar experience both times. For example, once our butler realized I enjoyed port after dinner in the YC lounge, the next night a full bottle was in our cabin. Another time the sommelier, who we had gotten to know, had a bottle of wine that we enjoyed with dinner sent to our cabin. So glad you enjoyed too!

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we were on divina early November , in the Yach club.

I would agree with all aspects of the review.

But we had no issue getting iced tea.

I would also point out that a few dollar tip each day equaled better service. But that's reality and I am ok with that!!

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