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Hlitner

Some thoughts re Divina Yacht Club

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We just returned from an 11 day Divina cruise which was almost exactly a year after our first Divina YC cruise.  Here are a few thoughts about the cruise, some changes, etc.  Cruising in the YC is all about service and MSC continues to meet our service expectations on the Divina.  To choose a single word to describe the hard working YC Staff (Butlers, stewards, bar tenders, waiters, etc) it would be OUTSTANDING.  The YC facilities have maintained their excellence (with one exception) and we really enjoyed the cruise.  Le Muse (the YC restaurant) was somewhat improved (from the previous year's cruise) with a fantastic Maitre'd (Alin) who wowed us with his near nightly preparations of small pasta dishes (an extra at dinner) which he personally cooked in the restaurant.  MSC has really improved the quality of meats in the YC and the risottos continued to amaze as did some of the fish preparations.  In fact, a relatively simple grilled grouper (served over mashed beetroot) was absolutely perfect and would have been acceptable in even the best land restaurants.  Was Le Muse perfect?  No, but we thought it was vastly improved over a year ago.  In fact, we did not even avail ourselves of a free meal in one of the alternative restaurants since we could not justify missing a dinner in Le Muse.  One minor complaint about Le Muse would be the breakfast waffles which might double as hockey pucks.  For some reason the waffles continue to be rubbery.  Since they are freshly made and served hot our only conclusion is that the underlying batter is at fault.

 

DW and I have been blessed to have cruised on 16 different lines (of all classes) over more then 40 years.  We continue to think that the YC remains one of the bargains in cruising.  Yes, it is a lot more expensive then most of the non-YC options but the service, dedicated restaurant, private lounge and pool deck, and quiet spaciousness makes it well worth the investment.

 

Our major problem with the Divina's YC remains the One pool deck which is the YC's private sun deck, outdoor buffet and pool.  We do think that there should be cushions for the sun beds.  The outdoor buffet has really been degraded by the elimination of the previous cooking card which would prepare omelets to order and fresh pastas (to order) for lunch.  We were told that this large cart was removed for safety/health issues.  What remains is a small buffet with very limited offerings.  Senior staff assured us this would all be corrected when the Divina has its next major drydock...when there are plans to upgrade the buffet facility.    Another related issue (for me) is that the room service breakfast menu is relatively limited and one cannot order a full breakfast in their cabin.  At the high level that is called the YC....one should be able to order a full hot breakfast for service in their cabins.  And there is also the silly MSC policy where YC passengers can order room service pizza (only during the normal operating hours of the pizza facility located at the ship's wine bar).  But if a YC wants to go to the pizza place and order a pizza they would have to pay for the same pizza that would be delivered free to their cabin.  None of the staff can explain this ridiculous policy other then to say it is "cruise line policy."

 

The YC passengers are provided a reserved area for the nightly shows in the main theater.  That dedicated area is located on deck 7 and is a center section of the balcony.  Although we appreciated the idea of a reserved section we thought the seating location left much to be desired (often obstructed by bars and/or glass) so we simply sat in far better located seating on deck 6.  We always went to the 7pm shows which were never very crowded and then would go to Le Muse for dinner after the show.  We also enjoyed our first visit to Ocean Cay and its dedicated YC area (I mentioned this in another post).

 

Hank

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Thanks for the update.  We will be on Divina at the end of February.  Was sorry to hear your report of the missing cart up on the pool deck.  We loved the omelet station in the morning and the fresh pasta at lunch...oh well, I guess we'll work off some of those breakfast calories to and from Le Muse 😉.

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Hank, thank you for your interesting post. My entire cruising experience consists of three (four next month) Divina YC cruises, chosen solely because of a group event (annual Jazz Fest at Sea). How does Divina YC stack up against your other cruises? I'm learning from Cruise Critic posts that the time of year (school vacation, etc.) and region (Mediterranean, Caribbean, European) make a huge difference in the experience on the same ship. Also, would you care to comment on the YC experience at Ocean Cay . . . is it worth leaving the luxurious enclave on the ship for long (and dealing with essentially no restroom)? Do most of the YC staff go ashore leaving the ship YC understaffed?

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Interesting we just got off seaside and there chairs on pool deck had very nice thick cushions. Hopefully this will be fleet wide soon. We really loved YC experience.

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9 hours ago, George C said:

Interesting we just got off seaside and there chairs on pool deck had very nice thick cushions. Hopefully this will be fleet wide soon. We really loved YC experience.

It appears Divinia still has the orange prison towels yet the new ships have the nice new blue towels.

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14 hours ago, George C said:

Interesting we just got off seaside and there chairs on pool deck had very nice thick cushions. Hopefully this will be fleet wide soon. We really loved YC experience.

Preziosa YC doesn't have cushions either, only the orange cushions mentioned re Divina.....We discussed this with the YC Director onboard, and he claimed it was 'impossible' to get the padded cushions which the new ships since Meraviglia have. That is simply not credible but, sadly, remains the official MSC position!

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I hope the improvements to food quality in the YC is fleet wide as we cruise Preziosa in a few weeks.
Thanks Hank for your update

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A couple of follow-up comments.  On the Divina we did have the very nice blue YC towels.   In fact, they even provided those nice towels on Ocean Cay at the YC beach.   As I mentioned there were NO cushions for the sun beds....not orange or otherwise.  One simply laid directly on the plastic sun beds.  And for those not familiar with the Divina there is no shade at the YC's pool except when you can somehow find a shadow.

 

I should have made clear that while they no longer make fresh pasta at lunch (at the One) they always had 1 or 2 pasta dishes (not made to order) on the buffet.  Regarding the food quality in Le Muse, there was no doubt that the beef was vastly improved over a year ago.  Our Chef/cooks also were terrific in that all our fish and beef dishes were perfectly cooked.  We also noted improvement in the sauces with most dishes.  A year ago it seemed like everything was drowned in a brown gravy...but now the Chef does a good job creating flavorful sauces such as a cherry based brown sauce used on our rack of lamb.  DW ordered the lobster (on lobster night) and received a huge lobster tail that looked to be perfectly cooked.  However, she thought it had almost no flavor (which is why I tend to avoid lobster tails on ships).  I should have mentioned what has disappeared from the menu in the past year.  Although we had veal chops on two menus, there were no veal scaloppini dishes (the veal marsala was one of our favorite dished a year ago).  There was also no Prime Rib on our cruise although we certainly had plenty of beef (tenderloin, filet mignon).  

 

Another strange thing that continues from last year is that the drink menu in Top Sail does not make any mention of French Champagne as an included drink.  It only speaks to Prosecco.  However, there is the usual included NF French Champagne if one specifically makes the request.  Otherwise you will get prosecco (which is pretty good, but does not compare to real Champagne).

 

Our next MSC cruise will be on the Seaside, so happy to hear that they have nice cushions on the sun beds.  I do not understand why MSC has many inconsistencies between various ships, but it is what it is.  

 

Hank

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23 minutes ago, Hlitner said:

Another strange thing that continues from last year is that the drink menu in Top Sail does not make any mention of French Champagne as an included drink.  It only speaks to Prosecco.  However, there is the usual included NF French Champagne if one specifically makes the request.  Otherwise you will get prosecco (which is pretty good, but does not compare to real Champagne).

 

 

I'm glad to hear that the NF is still included but I'm still disappointed that the YC manager told me that it wasn't included when we cruised on the Meraviglia last February!

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5 minutes ago, sverigecruiser said:

 

I'm glad to hear that the NF is still included but I'm still disappointed that the YC manager told me that it wasn't included when we cruised on the Meraviglia last February!

Another example of the MSC inconsistencies.  

 

Hank

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I agree with Hank that it’s the service that makes the YC different. On our recent (November 5 to 25, 2019) cruise, I felt that being in YC 3 weeks made it even better than what we experienced before. 
 

it took only a few days for the butlers, as a whole team, to figure out our habits and tend to meet our « needs »  from their own volition.  For example, being an early riser, I wandered into the TSL around 6AM and be greeted by name, then a latte would arrive... and a second one at the right moment.  And then the champagne just in time for breakfast. 
 

on another occasion, the head butler caught up to me to carry DW’s latte from the TSL to the cabin.  Now, I’m 48 and in great shape, so I don’t need help to carry a cup of latte, but that just shows the level of service in YC. 

 

Other example. Upon returning to MSC Divina in San Juan.  That was the first US port of call on our TA cruise. It was mayhem at the terminal, due to the US friendly attentions.  A YC butler was running around eagerly, rounding up YC guests and shoving us to a convenient door of the terminal, near the front of the ship.  At least an hour of queueing saved.  Small attention, but really appreciated. 
 

A last on one?  Mr. Pradeep telling DW he knows her tastes of cocktails 🍸 and taking it upon himself to get one that was spot-on, along with slices of fruit. 
 

We enjoyed 20 days of this, and really look forward to going back.

 

And yes, the food at Le Muse is quite good. I must say that I also found it to be as good on our 2 previous YC experiences. 

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3 hours ago, mickey89 said:

I hope the improvements to food quality in the YC is fleet wide as we cruise Preziosa in a few weeks.
Thanks Hank for your update

We cruised Prez, for a couple of weeks, back in February and the YC restaurant was excellent...we felt it was an improvement even on Meraviglia. You can order Fillet Mignon any night(s) you choose, without pre-ordering. 

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12 hours ago, hamrag said:

We cruised Prez, for a couple of weeks, back in February and the YC restaurant was excellent...we felt it was an improvement even on Meraviglia. You can order Fillet Mignon any night(s) you choose, without pre-ordering. 

We also were on Preziosa last February ( 2019 ), the food in La Palmeraie left a lot to be desired. The fillet steak was of poor quality and the sauce or should I say gravy again was very disappointing.  That's why I hope it has improved 

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Mickey89 we cruised just before you on Preziosa and the food wasn't good, we then did Splendida in April where it was a little improvement. We have done Meraviglia Oct 28th and the food has improved quite a bit although I would say still not perfect. The new head of F&B from Celebrity is making changes, but knowing how far in advance food orders and menus are thought out it will take time.

We are on Bellissima in Feb so hoping for a vast improvement by then. Food is subjective though and my taste may not be yours

Liz

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Really disappointing to hear about the elimination of the serving cart on Divina pool deck.  

 

We really enjoyed the made to order breakfast and wonderful lunch time pastas.  This really degrades what had been a wonderful part of the Divina experience.

 

I hope they don't wait until dry dock to figure out an alternative.  (They have until early March!!!)

 

 

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On 12/21/2019 at 10:53 AM, mickey89 said:

We also were on Preziosa last February ( 2019 ), the food in La Palmeraie left a lot to be desired. The fillet steak was of poor quality and the sauce or should I say gravy again was very disappointing.  That's why I hope it has improved 

Interesting, our experience in the same restaurant was quite different.....perhaps you were the back end of Feb, we embarked Barbados 5 Feb for 2 weeks. Sometimes the service was spotty, but the food excellent! The restaurant manager was amongst the best we have had on 45 cruises across 15 cruiselines, and he was on top of all that was happening. 

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On 12/21/2019 at 10:27 AM, TrinaLC said:

Really disappointing to hear about the elimination of the serving cart on Divina pool deck.  

 

We really enjoyed the made to order breakfast and wonderful lunch time pastas.  This really degrades what had been a wonderful part of the Divina experience.

 

I hope they don't wait until dry dock to figure out an alternative.  (They have until early March!!!)

 

 

I would not be optimistic of anything changing until the drydock.  Our conversation on the subject was with the YC Manager and he was very aware of the disappointment expressed by some passengers.  Since the cart is gone there were not a lot of other options.  One day, at lunch, they did bring over a portable induction burner (they are actually pretty large) and managed to cram it into a small space behind the buffet.  They used it to make a pasta dish, but the cook was working in a very tight space with hardly any space to put his ingredients.  Apparently that attempt did not pass muster and it was only tried that one time  All is not lost because they still do have a daily luncheon pasta (sometimes two) but they are now prepared elsewhere and brought to the buffet.  Hence, none of that customization we all like.   For what its worth, we still loved the YC and this was just a minor issue.  The improvements in Le Muse (quality) more then made up for losing that cart at The One!

 

Hank

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2 hours ago, hamrag said:

Interesting, our experience in the same restaurant was quite different.....perhaps you were the back end of Feb, we embarked Barbados 5 Feb for 2 weeks. Sometimes the service was spotty, but the food excellent! The restaurant manager was amongst the best we have had on 45 cruises across 15 cruiselines, and he was on top of all that was happening. 

 

Strange, emma gran sailed first two week and we the last two week of the same February as you and both of us left with the same impression.  I suppose we all have a different palate.

 

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4 minutes ago, mickey89 said:

 

Strange, emma gran sailed first two week and we the last two week of the same February as you and both of us left with the same impression.  I suppose we all have a different palate.

 

Fair enough! To be clear, for us the standard in the 3 YC restaurants we have sailed sits mid-way between MDR and specialty restaurants. From my reading, I believe the expectations of some is that YC replicates specialty....it does not. For us, the YC experience overall is excellent and includes the top sail lounge and the sundeck area (buffet excepted, we rate that poor).

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22 minutes ago, hamrag said:

............... I believe the expectations of some is that YC replicates specialty....it does not. For us, the YC experience overall is excellent and includes the top sail lounge and the sundeck area (buffet excepted, we rate that poor).

 

Would agree if the price point is right.  

We recently cancelled a 14 nt. Seaside YC cruise in favour of a 21nt Celebrity Reflection cruise (hump balcony) with enough  obc to eat in Murano every night and still saved money.  I believe that MSC YC is getting too expensive.

Edited by mickey89

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4 hours ago, mickey89 said:

 

Would agree if the price point is right.  

We recently cancelled a 14 nt. Seaside YC cruise in favour of a 21nt Celebrity Reflection cruise (hump balcony) with enough  obc to eat in Murano every night and still saved money.  I believe that MSC YC is getting too expensive.

I agree that is mostly the case, certainly at full price....we look for Voyager deals i.e. additional 5/10/15% discount and also go with a YIN on the new ships with which you still receive the full YC experience! 😉

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Thank you for your post. I won't be on the Divina in the YC until March 2021 but like most Cruise Critic members I'm starting my research early. The YC seems great as it is so I'm excited for the changes after dry dock.

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