Year Started: 1987
Ships in Fleet: 12
Summary: A pan-European mainstream cruise line that competes with Costa. New, massive ships with decent food and entertainment, Look for bargains in Caribbean.
Regions:Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Transatlantic
Good for: Foodies. Seniors. First-time Cruisers.
Regions:Caribbean, Mediterranean, Transatlantic
Good for: Value for Money. Group. Families.
Good for: Children`s Programs. Families. Foodies.
Good for: Foodies. Families. Group.
Regions:Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe, Transatlantic
Good for: Children`s Programs. Group. Families.
Good for: Foodies. Children`s Programs. Families.
Good for: Overall Service. Value for Money. Foodies.
Regions:Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe, South America, Transatlantic
Good for: Foodies. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Southern Caribbean, Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe, South America
Good for: Foodies. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Mediterranean, South America, Transatlantic
Good for: Foodies. First-time Cruisers. Families.
Regions:Caribbean, Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe, Transatlantic
Good for: Value for Money. Foodies. Group.
Regions:Africa, Mediterranean, Transatlantic
Good for: Foodies. Group. Families.
My wife and I scheduled a cruise in December of 2016. Our previous experience with cruises were quite different, in that they, unlike MSC, apparently did concern themselves with customer satisfaction.
It began with an absolute disaster of an embarkation process. Rather than assigning arrivals to group boarding, thus enabling them to remain seated and comfortable in the interim, MSC opted for the cutthroat approach; everyone gets in line and stays there. We arrived at 11:30 and did not actually make it onto the ship until after 5 PM. Additionally, we were told that the reason the boarding process was so long, was an extreme vetting routine performed by the Customs for all egressing passengers. That was a lie. We spoke to departing passengers who mentioned nothing of this at all but instead regaled us with tales of disoriented and uncoordinated egress routines from the line – which, as we discovered, is absolutely the truth.
When we finally did board, we eventually found our room despite the incorrect information on the provided maps. My guess is, the Divina was retrofitted, and they never bothered to update the paper maps. That fact speaks volumes forthis cruise line.
We reached the room to find out luggage had not yet made it. Odd, considering in less time on other lines, our bags were waiting for us and the room steward paraded the halls introducing himself and memorizing customer names. On the Divina, the bags were missing, no steward to be found. We finally did meet ours, though only saw her once. I didn’t bother to mention since it was days later, that upon our arrival the bathroom was dingy, and there were hairs in the sink.
We had not eaten since breakfast, so we sought something sate ourselves. The buffet (an accurate term if one is merely describing a function that presents copious quantities of food-like substances) was open, so we placed a few items onto plates and looked for a beverage station. The coffee bar was open (or so we thought), and my wife merely asked where one might get a beverage. The attendant rolled his eyes and appeared impatient that his reverie was disturbed. We were astounded and disgusted by this person’s lack of even the most basic of manners and discarded our food trays, having now lost our appetite. Rest assured, she nor I, are prima donnas, expecting the employees to act as servants to our every whim, but likewise, we don’t expect rude behavior as a response to a simple query when a simple direction would have sufficed. It is interesting to note that on a different occasion, my wife wanted a real coffee (the free stuff at the buffet is watery nonsense) and was willing to pay. She requested a cappuccino and with another disgusted look by the barista and a dismissive wave of the hand, he informed here the %u2018free coffee is over there.'
My wife is a smoker (vapor, to be fair) and after the stresses of the day thus far, needed a release. Following the false map once again led us to an area that at one time allowed smoking, but no longer did. Her inquiries to bartenders and wait staff alike again resulted in rude, curt, and abrupt responses, also with no direction, but merely resolution that %u2018this was not the area, go somewhere else.'
About that time, a garbled announcement started all passengers were required to obtain the life vest from their cabins and attend the safety meeting. We had experienced this previously on other lines, as a coordinated effort, broken out into small manageable groups, each that would be assigned a lifeboat. The address in these previous trips had been clear, short, and to the point. Not so with MSC. A large group formed in one of the wrap-around dining areas. Where we sat, we could neither see nor hear the briefing. We sat immobilized, unsure of what to do when some folks started to try on their life jackets. Most just sat there and waited. No one heard or understood what was being said, if anything, but we did waste 45 minutes doing it. At some point, people just started to filter out. The comforting thing was, we realized after the fact we could have merely checked in with our key card and walked away.
We decided to consider the cigar room, as I am an avid cigar enthusiast. I noticed several things about this so called “well appointed” cigar lounge; it was not a lounge, at least not until a certain time, it was remarkably warm (as was the entire ship – which makes for %u2018fun’ formal nights), and there lacked any smoke removal process within that small area. During my week-long detainment in this gulag of a ship, I noticed that by the time the bar opened (around 5:30) the smoke was so thick, most people could not breathe in there, and your clothes reeked of stale cigar smoke and sweat. Side note, Alex the bartender and his sole waitress were the singular high points of the entire trip
Our first dinner in the dining room. I was anticipating this, as previous cruises meant wonderful vistas (ocean through the windows), clean and appropriately defined tables, excellent food, and superior customer service. I still recall the head waiter’s name and his three kids from our first cruise; he left such a good impression. “Jeff” on this cruise left an impression as well, but not a positive one. The food was disgusting. Ossobuco that was 95% bone, 4% fat, and 1% edible. I had one and a half bites. Alfredo that was overcooked pasta and a teaspoon of some sauce that was not Alfredo. I have pictures. The table %u2018decoration’ was a single, decrepit, and fake orchid that was stained with the food particulate from previous guests. It epitomized our trip.
For an additional fee, they will feed you edible food; how comforting. We never saw the maître d; I guess he or she doesn’t visit second seating. Other in first seating saw him and told him of the same woes. They were given coupons for the Eataly restaurant and found it to be devoid of value and were glad they didn’t pay. Not only was most of the food inedible, the portion sizes were ridiculously small. Even the ladies at our table were asking for second appetizers, only to be met with consternation and disapproval from the waiter. Oh, no views either, and it was hot as hades in there.
As for “Jeff” the waiter. Our first night, we had no idea you only get water or bad coffee with dinner, so my wife asked for iced tea. The waiter rolled his eyes (a common theme) put his hand in my wife’s face, and said “you’ll just have to wait a minute” and walked away without taking our order. I leaped from my chair asking if there was a problem, as I didn’t appreciate his putting his hand in my wife’s face. He said there was no problem, and walked off. No matter what we or the other diners at our table asked for if it was out of the ordinary in Jeff’s mind, it was a clear problem.
At the coffee/gelato bar near the cigar room, I attempted to garner my cup of cappuccino, as noted previously, no one ever serviced the cigar lounge and the bar was closed all day. I was at first ignored by the barista, then pointed toward the waitress also just standing there at the counter, who reluctantly helped me by repeating what I had just ordered (as though the barista did not comprehend it – yes she also spoke English).
Our first night, the door which separates the balconies from the rooms (which I assume opens in the base of multi-room suites for families) was not secured and banged all night. I attempted to call the service desk, several times, with no response. The next morning, after getting no sleep because of it, I went to the desk, explained the problem, and they informed me someone would fix it. No apologies, no empathy, just a conditional response.
We met many others, in fact, everyone we spoke to across the internment agreed to the horrible conditions of this ship and the poor customer service. We honestly considered leaving the ship and flying home at the first port. Departure day came, much to our excitement, only to find we were forced to evacuate our rooms by 7 AM, but not allowed to leave the ship until after 10:30 AM. The only offer of advice during the entire trip from the staff was to “not evaluate the whole ship based upon single episodes (plural) of disappointment”. That indicates they are aware of the malaise on the part of the crew and the impact to customers, and yet, still do not care.
I sent a typed letter to several key individuals at MSC, including the CEO and to the parent company’s CEO Diego Aponte in Geneva. The lackadaisical response is one I should have anticipated, given the state of their employees. I clearly stated each of my concerns, and in every circumstance, I was offered false condolences followed by pathetic excuses. In fact, the Mr. Richard Sasso, chairman of MSC Cruises immediately negated my entire argument right from the start by stating that he receives many complimentary letters; an indication that I must be somehow responsible, or overly sensitive. Most of my comments were ignored and presented with some canned response that does not even remotely address my concerns, and the entire letter is dismissive – so much like their staff.
In the end, he offered me a $200 per person cruise credit, should I opt to try them again. As I explained, I would not take another cruise if they gave me one. I am less concerned with the wasted money (but I would have accepted a partial refund in principle) as I am with the wasted time. That was the most significant loss and not something that is replaceable.
I would avoid MSC altogether unless you thrive on constant disappointment.
The boat was beautiful and people where pleasant, but they could not help my husband or make this trip accessible to him with his disability. MSC should be ashamed of them self that they do not have a extra wide wheel chair available to the Poesia.
My husband is a very big man with very bad knees and can not walk very far, we have never had a problem when we travel. The airports all have accommodations for people of all sizes and so do most ports (Disabilities Act).
The problem started when we got to the port in Barcelona, they squeezed him into a wheel chair that was too small for him and tried to push him up to the ship (wheel chair broke). Once we got on board, they told me that was the largest wheel chair had available.- xl (did not look any bigger then a regular one). Now how is my husband supposed to be able to get on and off the ship without wheel chair assistance?
I inquired at the desk about helping me rent a extra wide wheel chair in Barcelona for the trip (weweren't leaving port until 11:00 and boarded at 2:00), no one could help me and didn't even try to find out for me. They just told me to wait until we get to the next port, why would I do that, I wanted to rent it in Barcelona and then return it in Barcelona, so I would have it for the entire cruise.
Needless to say he struggled, he could not get off the boat, except for one day, which was very difficult, with fear of trying to get back on the boat. He stayed in the rest of the cruise and when it came time to disembark on the last day, they told me there was nothing they could do for him, the wheel chairs are too small. They had to have a steward follow him with a dinning room chair so he could get off, he would walk a few feet and then have to sit.
This was the procedure until they got him off struggling, it was awful and demeaning to my husband. We travel frequently and have never been through this before, we cruised on the Divina in April 2015 and it was wonderful. We fell in love with MSC. They where able to accommodate my husband with a proper wheel chair, why doesn't the Poesia have the same wheel chair accommodations? We were very disappointed with this trip, will not be traveling this ship again.
We booked a cruise with the MSC Divina for a Caribbean cruise. When we booked we paid an extra $300 to guarantee a room that was handicapped accessible as my Dad is in a wheelchair. He is very self-sufficient if he has room to maneuver his wheelchair. We sent MSC the requested forms giving them the details about his electric wheelchair and the things he would need in his room. We did not hear back from the cruise line notifying us that there were any problems or issues with our requests. When we arrived the day of the sailing, we found that the room assigned was NOT handicapped accessible. My dad would not be able to go to the bathroom or take a shower by himself for the full week. They apologized but could not move us to another room as it was a sold out cruise. My Dad had to ask for assistance any time he needed to go to the bathroom or shower for a full week. He almost broke his foot trying to get a shower. There were times when assistance would be 20-30 minutes. When weasked for a refund on his room for the week, the request was flat out denied. Other than a meaningless, “I’m sorry”, they made no other accommodations. I will never cruise with MSC again and hope others will protest in the same way.
After 3 memorable experiences on MSC’s ships was not at all a surprise that I decided to comeback. This time I was cheating on my first MSC love “Preziosa” and choose, for a 9 day trip, her sister ship “Splendida”
MSC introduced the luxurious Yacht Club -- where passengers have their separate section of the ship, including a lounge, pool and restaurant -- on Fantasia, when it debuted in 2008. Since then, the Mediterranean line has added the Yacht Club to all of its new-builds, including Splendida, Divina and Preziosa. Even larger versions of this exclusive-access area will follow on the line's 2017 vessels, Seaside and Meraviglia. The Yacht Club aims to create “a ship within a ship”, dedicating the prestigious foredecks to guests who sign up for this unashamedly elitist experience. The fortunate few (up to 142 passengers) enjoy benefits including superior cabins, inclusive fares, a butler and concierge, access to exclusive dining and pool facilities and priority check-in and an air of calm - a tall order on a ship with hundreds of children on board.
Since the very first moment on board MSC Splendida I had the “back home” feeling; theship has the exact layout of the Preziosa with some theme-lines changed slightly, just perfect to give me the comfortable balance between NEW and FAMILIAR.
Splendida is big on bling, with an eye-popping golden Swarovski-crystal-inlaid staircase in the Yacht Club’s double-height foyer which pales into insignificance when compared with its larger sister in the main atrium.
We start our voyage in Lisbon, an ideal embarkation port if you don’t like big airports and long taxi rides to the port. In the Portuguese capital is pointless to book a transfer when the taxi is always waiting for customer and a trip to the port will cost no more than 35 Euros.
Even if was stated on our travel documents that the embarkation will start at 1.00PM, due to our early flight we arrived in port around 10.30AM. We decided to leave the luggage in the terminal and run for a coffee waiting for embarkation procedures to start. The staff in the terminal informed us that they will call the ship to let them know that we arrived already but, to be honest we didn’t expect to board the ship earlier than the official boarding time. Wrong assumption and great proof that MSC Yacht Club service is most of the time above any expectations: in less than 10 minutes the Assistant Head Butler Dani find us in the terminal and in less than another 10 minutes we were in our stateroom – 15016 which was %u2026. READY! I checked my watch and it was 11.15AM%u2026that’s a big WOW!!!
What else can prove that your Yacht Club experience begins at the curb. No lengthy embarkation lines for you. Instead, a butler checks you in and you're whisked immediately onto the ship. Your bags will also arrive when you do; everyone else must wait a few hours for their luggage. This front-of-the-line service doesn't stop on day one. Yacht Club members also disembark the ship first for excursions, for tenders and to leave the ship on the final day. If the idea of queues gives you the heebie-jeebies, this alone will make the Yacht Club worth it.
Our cabin, 15016, was a YC1 grade, which doesn’t compete with similar cabins on other cruise liners; is not very generous from the space available point of view. A living area gives the cabin the “luxury air”, the walk-in closet – quite small if you care about your appearance on board – is a big plus taking in the account the limited storage space in the room and the balcony is the size of a normal balcony cabin. Maybe the only feature which doesn’t match the “exclusive” marketed image of the Yacht Club is the bathroom: a very small space trying to accommodate a normal size bathtub. A big plus for the deco and colour scheme of the room which creates an elegant, home like feeling.
With no doubts the biggest asset of our journey in Splendida’s Yacht Club was our butler Edwin. This was the third time when we had the privilege to have him on board and I was more than happy and please to see that his standards hadn’t change at all. Originally from Honduras, Edwin has the perfect personality and knowledge for his position, recording with maximum care the likes and dislikes of guests and always add a sort of special touch for any requests that he received. Having Edwin for 9 days created a sense of calm. He quietly and discreetly thought ahead and ensured that every detail that makes the day go smoothly happened with maximum efficiency and minimum fuss. With his assistant butler Oleana, a charming girl from Ukraine, the kept our room in a perfect state, with everything being in the same place, the right one, all the time. Is interesting how during the entire voyage we didn’t need to ask for anything, and both Edwin and Oleana, were one step ahead us anticipating any type of requests, bringing a sense of security in our experience in an unnoticeable way.
The Yacht Club offers to the guests the “Top Sail Lounge” a perfect multifunctional laid space for any moments of the day: an attentive Continental breakfast service in the morning, a high tea in the afternoon, a pre-dinner drink ambiance in the evening and even a late snack for those looking for a quiet night-cup. A small army of butlers and assistant butlers were always around ready not only to take orders but to suggest our next delicious choice. Anna, a lovely Ukrainian young lady, was an elegant and charming presence in the Top Sail lounge, always ready not only to serve but to have a smooth pleasant conversation with all the guests. The atmosphere was complimented with live music sometimes in the afternoon and evening. I must say that my previous suggestion regarding the diversity of musical acts was implemented and three different musical styles were rotated in the lounge during our cruise. Maybe something more lively will be a good idea, especially in the evenings when the audience was up for some fun.
The perks for Yacht Club’s guests don’t end with a nice room and personalised service; even during the day when we were part of different shore excursion, the YC status gave us the chance to avoid long lines and wasting time in different areas waiting for the excursion to starts, like on Norwegian Cruise Line or Cunard. With our tickets, we received the time when we will meet our host in the lounge, relaxing with a cup of coffee, before the excursion starts. The host will escort you directly to the point where the guide will start the tour: no lines and waiting for the elevator, access to gangway or security checks. Smooth and very pleasurable!
Another big asset for the MSC Splendida’s team was the Assistant Head Butler – Dani. More than once I was sure that he must have some clones in his cabin because he was always anytime everywhere if you will need any assistance. I mentioned our early embarkation in Lisbon, but Dani surpassed himself in Malaga when he appeared from %u2026 nowhere and escorted us straight to the shuttle bus avoiding the long and unnecessary queue. More than that his way to anticipate needs and wishes was more than a skill, it was a talent! One day, before a long tour he overhead myself talking about having a typical Italian pizza room delivery later that day. And what a surprise, at my return in the cabin, a lovely MSC Splendida Special fresh made pizza was waiting with all the toppings that you can dream about. What an amazing little special touch! And the pizza was delicious too! I do hope that, on my next MSC cruise, I will have the privilege to have Dani as a Head Butler, he deserves it 150%.
“The One Pool”, the special sundeck dedicated to Yacht Club guests, is a well design area where you can enjoy the sun without facing the invasion of pools, overcrowded hot tubs and eternal fight for sunbeds in the rest of the ship. A full drink service and a basic lunch is offered there and the entire place is a very pleasant and, surprisingly, quiet for a big noisy ship, outdoor space. Again, another victory of MSC in the fight with the competitor with the same “ship within ship” product.
This unashamedly elitist experience vanished when I left the YC and I was wondering the rest of Splendida trying to enhance my experience on-board. No difference with the other cruise ship: a feeling of mass produced cruise, with “must have fun” dictated by a, maybe too energetic, animation team and a service which seems to be rushed and tributary to a general routine and “whatever” attitude. Maybe I exaggerate a little bit, but the difference between YC experience and the rest of the ship is more than obvious.
I discover a single “breath of fresh air” in the entire ship outside Yacht Club: Alex a bartender in the Aft Lounge. Originally from Romania, Alex didn’t stop to amaze us not only with his bartender and mixology knowledge but with his positive attitude, his high standard manners, his sense of humour and conversational abilities. Actually he was the only reason for which we were spending couple of hours every evening in quite a noisy and busy lounge filled up with low key entertainment. I was wondering couple of time why Alex was not a presence in the Yacht Club where his skills and talents will be well used and appreciated?
What I do like about Splendida lay-out is that the designer manages to create a lot of different spaces with different personalities, able to attract different sub-populations of guests: a cosy piano-bar, a quite trendy disco-club, a bright light “piazzeta” style area, an elegant wine bar or the large glitzy atrium. No matter how fussy you are for sure you will find on-board your favourite spot. And nothing is too big or too much.
An intrigue choice is the speciality restaurant; on Preziosa you can choose between an Italian and a trendy up-market Fusion restaurants, but here, on Splendida the only choice was a Tex-Mex! I was a little bit reluctant initially, but, after the first dinner there, the efficient service, delicious food and reasonable price made me to return before the end of the voyage.
Moving to things that need to be change if MSC wants to be a strong competitor on the very busy cruise market I think the biggest disappointment is from far the on-board entertainment. On one hand, some acts are on expected cruise ship standards: the duos in the Purple Jazz Bar, Irina - the pianist in the Top Sail Lounge or the excellent Swarovski trio are filling the space and time with decent performances. On the other hand, what I don’t understand is the “talent competition” level of the big theatre shows! On a ship under a flag bearing a history of fantastic Italian entertainment (San Remo, Rai Uno or Canal 5) the dancers and especially the singers made any attempts to watch the shows painful. The lack of interest or personality of the Cruise Director Franco was maybe the reason for the performance of noisy and amateurish animation team, in line more with a cheap holiday all-inclusive resort than a famous cruise line. All the team parties were full of screaming and jumping with the same line dance routine no matter the music! Fortunately, the cocktails in the Aft Lounge manage to ease the pain created by a very annoying animation team. Who told them that good entertainment means screaming in a microphone and rolling on the dance floor?
Don’t be surprised that I didn’t mention anything yet about the dining experience on board MSC Splendida. That was, I think, the only downside of our trip. L’Olivo, located at the back of the ship, is the restaurant dedicated to Yacht Club guests and is an elegant Mediterranean ambiance. Unfortunately, our experience on Preziosa was repeated this time on Splendida too: the quality of the dishes and variety of the menus seem to be results of a dramatic budget cuts. Nothing that will remind you of the fresh and simple Italian traditional cuisine. But as I eat to live and vice versa the over-processed and not at all inspired meal choices didn’t bother me at all. Most upsetting was the level of service. A Maitre D’ arrogant and with no manners, a complete absence of standards and consistency in service and a rush and “whatever” service style made me to avoid as much as possible (only 3 nights of 9 dining in the restaurant) the place. If MSC wants to impose the Yacht Club product on the luxury cruise market a lot of work must be done in the restaurant department, where the lack of efficient and professional middle management ruin the culinary experience on board placing the standards of the Yacht Club restaurant on the same level with P&O or Costa main dining room. And that’s not a compliment!
What I would like MSC to change? Couple of small but important things:
- A restaurant menu and service which match the level of service in the Yacht Club and expectations from an exclusive product
- A Concierge Service more focused in finding solutions than using NO as a general answer
- A real package to differentiate the different loyalty level of guests to the same standards as other cruise liners.
- An entertainment more modern and flexible without the air of a cheap holiday resort.
- The extension of the perks associated with the Yacht Club on the entire ship (beverage service for example)
I know that nobody is perfect but being a great believer in MSC quality and future, I am sure that the company will start moving in the right direction in the Restaurant and Concierge/Front Desk department to support the amazing efforts and results of the rest of Yacht Club team.
For me, MSC Yacht Club is for sure one of the choices when is time to book a new cruise. Is close to what exclusivity and luxury means when I am thinking about cruising. The almost perfect product, the amazing crew and the feeling that pampering is a lifestyle on board MSC ships make me hope that the company is on the right path.
That’s way I can’t wait for our next MSC Yacht Club experience: a week on Fantasia in December and a return on Splendida in January.
Thank you very much MSC Splendida, thank you amazing crew of Yacht Club team! See you soon
more&photos at leonardmiron.com
11/28 – 12/05/15
This was our 49th cruise and our 12th different cruise line, so it’s only natural we compare it against all the other cruise lines and ships we’ve been on. Because of this, I won’t spent much time talking about the ports we visited and I won’t do like I usually do with my reviews, which is to elaborate on each day of our itinerary in detail. Instead, I will only discuss our experiences with MSC and this particular ship.
First, I think it’s important to explain a little about MSC. The initials stand for Mediterranean Shipping Company and they are among the largest shipping companies in the world. Many years ago, they decided to get involved in the cruise industry and began to build passenger ships. It’s a very large company located in Italy and their cruises are very popular among Europeans, especially Italians and, as such, their staff consists of mainly Europeans. MSC did not really attract the American cruisers in Europe because of the different type of experience they provided. (After all, we Americans are a fickle bunch.) But even after all that, MSC decided itwas time to give the American market a chance to try their product from American soil. They brought the Divina here about two years ago sailing out of Miami. At first, it was not well received at all. Their style, service, menu, and other attributes were not what most Americans expected or even desired in a cruise. Reviews about most things associated with this different style of cruising were not very complimentary, to say the least. American passengers who were only use to the type of cruises being provided in the U.S. were complaining about pretty much everything because they were not use to the European product and their way of doing things. The Italian wait staff did not combine with the type of service that Americans were accustomed. The food leaned heavily towards European tastes, especially Italian, and was considered strange by American standards.
After a few months, the Divina departed American soil and returned to Europe for the Summer. However, they returned in the Fall for another attempt to attract new customers and, with some changes, begin to improve in the areas that most Americans wanted. Along with this, MSC begin to offer some very good pricing and things began to get better, according to the reviews. After spending the next Summer in Europe, the Divina came back and MSC announced it was making a big commitment and keeping her here year round.
During this particular cruise, we spoke to a few senior staff and were informed MSC was making an even bigger commitment to stay in the U.S. market. In 2017, they would be removing the Divina from Miami and bringing two brand new ships in its place for full-time sailings; one in Ft. Lauderdale and one in Miami. We were also told that changes would be forthcoming to further entice Americans, including the hiring of more staff from the Philippines, which most American have become accustomed to on many of the major cruise lines sailing from the U.S. Needless to say, it’ll be very interesting to see how all this plays out over the next few years and see how MSC will fare with the American cruising public.
Okay, back to our specific cruise.
We prepaid for parking at the Safe Cruise parking lot at 650 NW 8th Street in Miami. At $6.99 per day (times 8 days), the price is much better than paying $20 a day to park at the pier. We arrived about 1:15pm and within 10 minutes, we were on the shuttle to the pier. After letting off passengers for the Carnival Glory and the Carnival Victory, we arrived at our terminal around 1:40pm. We were given a yellow smiley face sticker to wear when we came back so they would recognize us and told where to meet the shuttle near the terminal for pick-up.
Unlike most cruise lines, MSC has four tiers of pricing structures; Bella (good deal), Fantastica (better deal plus free $200 value), Aurea (best deal plus free $600 value), and MSC Yacht Club (elite VIP club level with all-inclusive amenities). The first two are available for inside, oceanview, and balcony cabins, the Aurea is available for balcony and suites, and the Yacht Club is only available to deluxe suites. I won’t go into all the specific details about each of these tiers and what they include, as this information is available on the MSC website. When booking, one should discuss all the prices and amenities with their agent to determine what’s best for them based on their specific needs, lifestyle, and budget.
For this cruise, we decided to treat ourselves and purchased a Deluxe Suite in the Yacht Club (YC). Among the benefits of booking this type of stateroom is they have a special check-in area curbside where we brought our suitcases. These were tagged and immediately taken to our suite. The two of us were personally escorted into the terminal, where we bypassed the lines and went directly and quickly through security. We were taken to a special private area to do our check-in where there were no lines and the process went very quick and easy. We sat in a very comfortable waiting area where we completed the paperwork while sipping on very good champagne along with hors d'oeuvres. Following this very pleasant experience, we were then escorted to the ship, over to the private elevators for Yacht Club guests only, and taken up to the VIP Concierge desk. We were introduced to our butler, who introduced his assistant and the Matre’d for Le Muse, which is the private dining room for YC guests. He asked about our dining time and any special needs or requests we had. Following this, our butler escorted us to our suite. He was suppose to have everything unpacked and put away for us before we arrived in the suite, but we got there before the luggage did.
We’ve stayed in suites on other ships, including junior or mini-suites, which on some ships are about 50% larger than a regular balcony stateroom. We’ve also stayed in grand or full-size suites, which are about double the size of regular balcony staterooms. The first thing we noticed is that the “Deluxe” suite on the Divina is basically the same width as a regular balcony cabin, but is only slightly longer. The two nice features included is a small walk-in closet and a bathroom with a bathtub. Overall, the cabin was very nice, albeit a bit small for what I would normally refer to as a %u2018suite’ given it was just a little larger than a regular balcony cabin.
Another amenity with the YC is that all our beverages are included in the price. In our cabin, we had very nice bottle of champagne on ice waiting for us, along with a refrigerator full of complimentary beer, liquor, sodas, water (both spring water and sparkling water), and some snacks. A bowl of fresh fruit was on the table and replenished every day throughout our cruise.
The suite was nicely appointed with a very comfortable king-size bed and high quality Egyptian cotton sheets. They also offered us a menu of pillows from which to choose, making our sleeping experience very comfortable.
There was also a king-size sleeper sofa for those booking the suite for three or four people. This was larger than what we have found in most staterooms and it also made for a nice seating area.
While the suite itself was very nice, we couldn’t help but notice that the carpet was in desperate need of cleaning, as there were several very dirty areas. Quite frankly, we found this unacceptable and were surprised this was not attended to prior to us coming onboard, especially given the Yacht Club is marketed to a more discerning upscale clientele.
The one thing we would have really liked to see is a larger flat screen TV. The one in our suite was only about 20” and stuck in the corner of the cabin. It is relatively small when trying to view it from the bed, which is a good 12’ to 15’ away. Plus, it would really be nice to have a DVD player along with it because it’s rather expensive to see a movie (about $8) and there are not many channels from which to choose for those who enjoy watching TV before going to bed. We much prefer cabins with the TV located in the middle of the wall instead of in the corner as this makes it nicer when watching it in bed.
As I mentioned, the bathroom had a tub and while some would say this is a nice feature, most people I know, including us, would much prefer to have just a bigger shower, since it’s easier to get in and out, especially for seniors. The tub is rather tall and makes it a little difficult to step over the edge, especially during rough seas. Plus, because of the design of the tub, the area inside it is rather limited for standing. We did find it interesting that the entire wall inside the tub area was a huge mirror and the other side had a half-wall that was glass – there was no shower curtain or door. The towels were very thick and of excellent quality, and the bathroom toiletries were very good quality products.
The water pressure was much more than any ship we’ve been on and the hot water was instantly hot – no long waiting such as we’ve experienced on many cruises.
The overall YC area was really nice. We had a wonderful VIP concierge and butler that were available 24 hours a day for whatever we needed. There was also a delightful lounge that was very comfortable. It had a fully stocked bar with complimentary cocktails, draft beer, wine, and was open from 7:00am to 2:00am. We tried many great mixed drinks during our cruise. They also had a fantastic snack bar that was full of awesome food they changed out about once an hour. We met many great people from all over the world in this lounge. We learned that this particular sailing had about 85% foreigners, while the next cruise had about 85% Americans onboard. We met one really nice couple that we got together with on a regular basis. Funny thing was, we had absolutely nothing in common. They were a young couple from Paris, newly married, on their honeymoon, on their first cruise, their first trip to the U.S., and didn’t speak a lot of English. We are an older couple from Washington, DC, married for 43 years, on our 49th cruise, have visited Paris on 3 occasions, and don’t speak any French. We were completely the opposite, yet we got along great and had a wonderful time. Of the many subjects we covered, one of the things we eventually talked about was James Bond – seemed we all had that in common. While on this particular matter, the waiter happened to walk up and asked what we would like to drink. Given the subject at the time, I guess it was only natural that I ask for something I had never had, but always wanted to try, “Vodka martini. Shaken, not stirred.” Not only did it get a chuckle from the other three, but they all decided to follow my lead. Turns out, it’s not half bad.
Next to the concierge desk, there was a private elevator that went to Deck 18, which is where the private pool, bar, and grill for YC guests was open all day. While the pool was relatively small, it was never crowded. There were two hot tubs and more than enough lounge chairs for everyone. This private area never had many people and as with everything else in the YC, it was all complimentary and very comfortable.
The private dining room, Le Muse, is for YC guests and is located in the back of the ship on Deck 15. It was open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and was never crowded. The staff was absolutely wonderful. The menu was more limited than in the main dining room, but while it had some similar items, everything was prepared in the private kitchen by the chef for Le Muse only. Any special requests were immediately handled and even when someone wanted something that was not on the menu, they always accommodated their guests. Wine, champagne, and cocktails were complimentary during all meals at Le Muse.
There are a couple of specialty restaurants onboard the ship and usually the menu in Le Muse listed one item from one of the specialty restaurants each night. This provided us the opportunity to enjoy the specialty restaurants without having to go to them or pay for them. And speaking of the specialty restaurants, YC guests can order complimentary pizzas from the Eataly restaurant from 9:00pm to midnight to be delivered to their stateroom. For all other guests, there is a charge for this. We ordered a couple of pizzas one night for dinner and they were very good, albeit they did get the order wrong; we ordered Italian sausage and pepperoni, and they delivered them without the sausage. No big deal because even without the sausage, it was definitely much better than the pizza offered in the buffet area.
Another nice feature of the YC was that we were provided with an escort down to the disembarkation point when being tendered into port. This was really convenient because we did not have to get a number like everyone else and wait our turn. Instead, we were taken right to the tender and were immediately boarded to go into port.
Since we had just recently moved from Washington, DC to Cape Coral, Florida, many of our nice clothes we normally wear on a cruise had been packed away in boxes, leaving them very wrinkled. We didn’t take the time to have them pressed before we left, so we were glad to see the Divina had a deal on laundry for $30 for up to 20 pieces during the cruise. We did have to pay an express fee for a few items because we needed them for the 2nd night’s formal attire. We later sent a couple of bags with items for other nights and appreciated the service and the price.
Speaking of formal attire, I dressed in a sport coat, tie, and shirt for both of the two formal nights, yet I was among only about 30% of the guys that were actually wearing a tie. There were many gentlemen wearing a shirt with no tie, jacket with no tie, or golf shirt. Needless to say as with many of the cruise lines now days, formal is less than what was expected a few years ago.
I always want to keep in touch with my clients, so I was appreciative that the WiFi service was not as expensive as what I have found on most cruise lines. Personally, I would have thought this would be complimentary for YC guests given the high cost for the suites. It was $49.95 for 130 minutes, which comes out to be about $.38 per minute. (By contrast, the NCL Getaway charged me $75 for 110 minutes - $.68 per minute.)
We were really glad we did the Yacht Club because otherwise we would have had to endure the very crowded pool areas and especially the buffet everyday instead of enjoying the peace, quiet, and uncrowded private areas offered the Yacht Club guests. The regular buffet area was definitely not something we wanted to do on a regular basis. While the food was mediocre, in abundance with lots of choices, and okay for the normal palette, the layout of the buffet area was not good. There were places where only one person could walk through at a time, making it congested and frustrating when trying to maneuver from section to section, especially when carrying food. They do offer a make-your-own sandwich station from 11:30pm to 2:00am, which is nice for the late owls.
One thing I enjoy in the morning is a nice breakfast. I like to have two eggs over easy, along with some bacon and hash browns. I could get this in Le Muse or the main dining room, but I found it very unusual there was no omelet station in the buffet area where we could get eggs cooked to order. We could get previously made fried eggs, which were laying in a pan under a heat lamp, most were cooked medium hard, or omelets that were laying in another pan, most looking dried out after sitting under a heat lamp for a long time. However, there was nothing cooked to order. I have never seen that on any other ship we’ve ever been on and found it very strange. Hopefully, this is one thing MSC will change with their new more %u2018Americanized’ ships in the future.
Speaking of food, overall the food offered to Yacht Club guests in the snack bar on Deck 18 was only so-so and very limited, so we often ate breakfast and lunch in Le Muse and a few times in the buffet. While breakfast and lunch was usually good in Le Muse, dinner was much better. We ate dinner almost every night in Le Muse and it was mostly very good to excellent. The Italian espresso coffee in the YC areas was excellent! It was definitely much better than the coffee we got in the regular parts of the ship. Room service was always very quick and good. Plus, being in the YC area, we could have complimentary cocktails brought to our suite at any time. We only ate in the main dining room twice for lunch and once for breakfast. We found the food in there to be about the same as Carnival, NCL, and Royal Caribbean, so we can only assume dinner was equally comparable. Based on what we heard from many other cruisers on the ship who have a lot of cruises on many different cruise lines, their sentiments about the food in the main dining room was very similar to ours.
There were many wonderful areas of the ship for those wanting to dance, listen to music, or enjoy a quiet place to read a good book. There was also plenty of very good entertainment onboard. In the Yacht Club lounge, we were treated to some very nice piano music during cocktail hour. And while we normally don’t go to the shows in the main lounge because they are all pretty much the same and not very entertaining, most of the performances on this ship were excellent. A couple of them were just the usual singing and dancing, but several of the performances were themed, such as The Mask show and the Michael Jackson tribute show, and the performers were some of the best we’ve seen on a cruise. They have a nice Sports Bar with several TV’s around, but when we went in there on Sunday to see what football games were being shown, they only had one playing even though there were at least 6 games happening at the time. We found that to be very disappointing, especially given that the one game they were showing was also the only game showing on the TV in our suite. They do have a two-lane bowling alley, but one lane was broken during the entire cruise and the other one was only working sporadically, irritating those who were trying to play. We went back to our stateroom to watch the game, but now here’s the really strange thing; for that game, as well as the game on Thursday night, we could hear the crowd noise, the noise on the field, and the referee, but there was no announcers in the sound portion during the entire game. We enjoyed watching the game without all the usual talking by the announcers, but it was definitely strange to say the least, especially given that the sound for the game was fine in the sports bar.
The Divina is a beautiful ship with many great features. However, because of the design of the ship, there are some areas that get clogged when going to or coming from dinner or shows; some of this is caused by doorways that are just too narrow for a major artery. So while the ship is beautiful, I had to question some of the rather strange design features given the number of passengers.
While there are a few things for kids to do, from basketball, soccer, video games, etc, the ship is very similar to many Carnival and NCL ships (other than the new ones) in that they do not have an abundance of amenities such as on the larger RCCL ships or the newer NCL ships. Again, I hope this will be an improvement made on the newer ships if they want to attract more families.
Overall, I would rate the MSC experience in the U.S. to be very comparable to NCL in many ways and to Carnival in some ways. While the ship itself is beautiful, the layout could be better. Size-wise, we couldn’t help but compare the Divina, which is 139,000 gross tons to the RCCL Voyager-class ships, which is similar at 137,000 gross tons. We found it very interesting that even though the Voyager-class ships are the same size, they have lot more open public areas, the flow is much better, and they have many more amenities than the Divina.
As a couple, if we wanted to do an inexpensive cruise, we would definitely consider the MSC Divina. But we would be ready for an average cruise at a good price. However, while we definitely recommend the Yacht Club and would love to do it again on one of the newer ships in a couple of years, one would have to ask themselves if it is worth the additional price for that upgrade. A deluxe suite in the Yacht Club, which is only slightly bigger than a regular balcony cabin, costs about 2-1/2 times more than the regular balcony stateroom. The additional amenities and features are wonderful, but it would be difficult to justify the higher price when compared to balcony cabins and suites on other cruise lines. If money is not the issue, then the Yacht Club is a great way to be pampered and have a more upscale experience on a beautiful ship.
Many cruise lines realize that providing amenities for families is a great marketing tool and most of the mainstream lines have included many of these features in their newer ships. The Divina is lacking is this area, so if you’re looking for activities to keep the kids busy, this one may not be for you. But if you’re looking for a nice inexpensive cruise on a beautiful ship, then this certainly may strike your fancy.
You’re welcome to contact us if you have any questions or need additional information. And when you’re ready to book your cruise (or land vacation), we’re here when you need us.
Pete & Nancy Peterson
Cruise & Land Specialists
Cruise Planners, Inc.
we went on the Easter with a group of 44 people we all have fun and have a good time. I been cruise 10 times and Divina have the best show at sea and is a very beautiful ship, with lot of thing to do if you are a active person you don't get bore, the food is good above average , the coffee bar better then Starbuck you have to try some frozen coffee they are so good, buy the voucher they are so cheap, other ship they don't have voucher, so you will save lot money. we all love Divina and would come back again. The show they have are so amazing one of the best ratting at sea.
My husband and I decided to take a trip to begin our New Year traveling and enjoying some quality time.
Unfortunately, We had a very unpleasant experience on this Cruise Line. As mentioned in the post before mine; I suggest you do some homework before booking this trip.
1. From day one we had horrible service at dinner. Never received our reserved table.
2. Day two we reversed a table for two and they sat us down at a table for 8.
3. Everytime we asked a question or wanted to speak to someone about a compliant no one will assist us or guide us to the right direction.
4. The Tours were horrible. The tour guide did not explain anything.
5. Only thing good was that the rooms were clean at all times.
This is a review of the MSC Divina.
My wife and I love to cruise. Even a bad cruise would be better for us that not going. I have 21cruises under my belt on Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Princess, NCL, Pride (not around any more), Commodore(not around anymore),and now MSC. There are not many places in the Caribbean that we have not been to.
BOOKING AND ONLINE CHECK IN
Booking was through MSC and went fine. The online checkin process was difficult and confusing. Ther are a lot on site problems and the site is low on information. Did not know if I had the right paperwork to get on the ship. I printed everything and let the port check in operson sort it out.
Basically flawless...just about walked right on the ship. Checked in at about 12:15.
This is my favorite ship as far as dÃ©cor goes. The layourt is a little difficult. We were not at capacity, and if we were, getting around would have been slow and crowded.
Pool deck was large and handled the crowd well. Three different pool areas and many hottubs. Pools kapt at theexact perfect temperature.
Outside theater was very nice, but mostly ran advertisements for ship services and products.
The official language of the ship is English....barely.
Room attendant was excellent.
The shows were well put together...the singers could actually sing! They did miss the mark on the Michael Jackson tribute show...The bar was just set too high by the legend.
There were some scheduled activities, but far short of other cruises. As we learned to expect,they were poorly organized, leaving people trying to participate but not knowing how.
We had a balcony roommid shipon the 8th deck. It was great...spacious and well arrainged...nicely decorated...comfy bed...good climate control...very good room stewart.
Average at best. Alot of duplication making it seem like variety,but not so.
We took a privately booked tripin Jamaica to a secluded beach. It was arrainged by a fellow member of Cruise Critic. It was a great day...perfect!
Cozume land Cayman we took ship tours...THE WORST PART OF THE TRIP. MSC may be big in cargo moping, but they have no clue when it comes to people. On and off the boat in port (all 4) was painful. Tendering was torture. Lines in hot sun and total confusion. Also, nothing was on time. The quality of the tours was also poor. It seemed that the point of the tours was to get you to a place where you were captive, and then expect you to spend more to have a good experience.
Beautiful ship...mostly very good shows...very good room...and a great price. I expected somuch more.
Scale of 1 to10............4
Just my opinion.
This was our first cruise on MSC and since it was our 30th Anniversary Cruise, we upgraded to the Yacht Club at $2,000 pp. The Yacht Club included all food and drinks in their Top Sail Lounge, One Pool Grill, and the Muse Restaurant, and a Butler who was to be available 24 hrs.
The Food was better than the buffet and service started out superb but declined a little each day. There was definitely a language barrier, but the Staff greeted us every morning with Good Morning and later Good Evening. Simple things were easy, but things as complicated as a "Happy 30th Anniversary" Cake (given to us as Happy 30th Birthday)required lengthy conversations with multiple staffers and often not resolved.
The biggest disappointment was the wet carpet the entire 7 days that filled our Stateroom with mildew and caused allergic reactions and illness for both of us. The Butler and maintenance staff kept saying they needed time to find leak and repair and would complete while we were off ship at our first port, but they never made the repairs during the first, second or third day in ports.
This cruisewould be perfect for older, less mobile people who enjoy staying in their rooms and not wanting to have some activities during the day. The same food was served daily except for The Muse that served a lot of fish. The Excursions were poorly run and busses had no a/c and the excursion details were highly exagerated.
I would cruise MSC again, BUT only if I had an inexpensive Groupon like couples we met on the beach (they paid $200 pp - we paid $2,000 pp) at Grand Turk (deviated from Great Stirrup Cay due to weather) The Divina is a beautiful new ship that was a pleasure to tour, but there were never any chairs for sitting out on the decks. Overall I rated it as 3 Stars, but should be 2.5.
We were on a cruise with MSC DIVINA from Rio De Janeiro - Miami.
This was the WORST experience ever!!!!
The buffet food was the same for 20 days, the staff in the reception was horrible!
And it felt like the ship was more suited for italian och portugese people.
BUT the worst was the disembarkation in Miami.
Due to a gasleak in the terminal we had to wait for hours. Imagine over 2000 people in the terminal. It was CHAOS!
We had an excursion too. But when we finally got outside the terminal, there was some MSC staff holding a MSC sign, telling us to take the bus on the other side. We then asked about our excursion. The lady told us it had been cancelled due to the gasleak. So the bus would take us to the airport right away instead.
We were told to get in touch with our Msc office back home to get our money back. So we did. We still had the original tickets of the excursion and told them all about the gasleak.
But the respond we got was horrible! They basically told us that we're lying aboutthis. That they have contacted MSC's office in Italy and they are telling us that there was no gasleak, that we just didnt turn up to the excursion. So we're not going to get our money back for the excursion which was CANCELLED!!
Ive never been so badly threated before!
Now they are just saying "Sorry we cant help you anymore".
How can a big company like MSC tell their customers that they are lying? When other people have written about the gasleak on different reviews sites on the Internet. Im speechless!
I've never in my entire life met a company as MSC before who lies and don't care about their customers as soon as they have disembarked their ships!
I will NEVER recommend MSC to ANYONE. This has been the worst experience ever!