As always, I have a lot of material to share with everyone.
My reviews are loaded with fun times, great pictures and as always an unbiased point of view.
I have been told that I have a critical eye for detail, and it will be all here for you to enjoy.
Again, I welcome all of my previous readers and new ones as well. Thank you kindly for being a part of this ^_^
Hello everyone, last you saw me I reviewed the Carnival Breeze, and had an amazing time! I can’t believe I waited so long to try out Carnival. But I guess I allowed the best of me to get jaded by negative reviews. Goes to show that only you are the one who will know if you will like a product or not. But anyway, we are all here to talk about MSC Divina and not Carnival, so let’s get into it.
As always I start the reviews with a little insight about myself, and how/why we booked the cruise. If you follow me, you’re aware that this year has been particularly rough on us. For those of you who are new readers, I will explain briefly. At the begging of this year my grandmother got diagnosed with cancer, it was at a very advanced stage and we had no intentions on making her last months on this earth uncomfortable for her. The decision was made to try to provide the best quality of life for her, and avoid chemotherapy since there was no realistic chance of improvement. My mother moved to our home country to take care of Grannie, during those months to do so. I was also able to see her in fairly good health while on a brief visit. My grandmother passed away a few months later. She was a fighter until her last breath. Words cannot describe the impact that her passing took on us. For me personally it was so devastating that I started loosing hair at an alarming rate, I am in the process of attempting to get that under control. Mom is back in the states and we are trying to resume to our normal lives again. Beyond that, there have also been additional family members diagnosed with a similar prognosis. Like I said, this year could easily be described as the worst year of our lives.
Let’s try to move away from the sadness, I just needed to set the base as to why this cruise was so important to us and why it meant so much. This cruise main meaning was to celebrate my grandmother’s life, and everything that she did for us. It would be one cruise that no matter in which ship we were in; it would stay in our lives for the rest of life. She had all along been the root of our existence.
When booking this particular cruise I was looking at price more than anything, aside from the previously mentioned money is not on my side year. I have started school again, and I had to reduce my hours at work by more than half. In addition to that mom has been out of work for over 6 months, so we needed to keep our eye on the expenses.
Another very important factor about this cruise was that my uncle would be coming along. While he grew up in small boats, he had yet to sail on a cruise! And we all know how much fun it is traveling with first timers. Well, technically I didn’t, this was my first time traveling with a first timer . I wanted a cruise that would flow perfectly, for all of us. I needed mom to be well rewarded for her incredibly hard and amazing work that she did for my grandmother. Mom was in need of a vacation more than ever. Those months had taken a huge toll on her and I could hear it in her voice. I also wanted my uncle’s first experience be one that he would seal in his heart forever, and also something good for him to keep from this year. That was a tough call to do, especially while on a budget. Then again we are very reasonable and easy to please. So any of the cruises I had been on previously would do that for us.
MSC Divina Cruise Details
Booking this cruise was a little tricky due to uncertainty with the exact days; I did research as always and there were a few options but nothing great. It was later on that I reached out through a social media site and a friend contacted me with a deal on MSC Divina that was beyond hard to believe. I always had MSC Divina on my sight; as a matter of fact, I had a cruise booked on her that I had to cancel earlier this year. I was extremely excited to see that kind of offer, and decided to make a move on it.
I won’t go into details, but we basically got 2 balconies for 4 people for 7 days, (initially it was 4 of us, but my cousin bailed out) for the same price as the 3 day Norwegian Sky cruise that started my addiction. The deal was incredible, by far the best deal that I have gotten on a cruise. My mom could not believe it. It was great news for her because we were even considering going with an interior cabin to stay within budget. So as far as price goes, we got a great deal on this cruise! I always try to review cruise ships with that in mind, it makes for a balanced review. Basically sums up to the price paid VS experienced received, which makes it fair for all cruise lines, no matter which price range they are in.
The cruise itinerary was by no means perfect; as a matter of fact the Carnival one that I was considering had a MUCH BETTER ONE. However, in the end MSC Divina had a way better price and I wanted to try a new cruise line. MSC Divina stopped in St. Maarten, San Juan and Great Stirrup Cay. I was thrilled about St. Maarten and San Juan, but Great Stirrup Cay is just very basic and plain in my opinion. Then again, it had been two years since I was there and I was curious to find out what changes they had done to the island.
Eastern Itinerary for MSC Divina
MSC Divina Cabins Selection
There is not much to say about the room selection, since this was a balcony guarantee reservation. Overall, we ended up getting 1 astounding room and one good room. I will go into details later on. One thing that I am not very keen about MSC Divina is that the ship has lots of sections on the outside. This blocks the view for a lot of rooms. Nothing that will ruin your cruise, but still not something I like. When I book rooms one of my main focus is not having any views blocks, after all, isn’t that the main point of a balcony?
Do your research before booking a balcony; make sure the walls and such does not obstruct the views.
MSC has by FAR! The WORST website that I have ever used out of all the cruise lines I’ve sailed. The website is simply put, inoperable! I was never able to log into my online reservations. I was told that it was because of the way I booked it, which by the way I booked directly with MSC, so can someone please explain that to me… I was however able to check-in through another link, but that was another nightmare as MSC kept telling wrong booking number, I had to switch browsers to make it work??? And after I was in I kept getting error messages each time I tried submitting. Our luggage tags had to be requested, because they never came in, etc…
Anyway, I won’t go more into details. The main point is that at this point that website is a joke. It mainly works as a sales portal. OH, I forgot, all the reservations have to go through their principal office in Italy. So even researching for prices could take you what seems like an eternity. The same goes for phone calls, you always experience very long wait times just for someone to answer.
The only thing that saved my life was because I was working with Dave Rowland, my cruise account manager at MSC. He was a sincere pleasure to work with and I could always get a quick answer with him. I am not sure that my experience would have been so pleasant had I not had him.
MSC Divina Budgeting
So, as I have already explained my budget on this cruise was a little bit tight so I had to keep that under control the entire cruise. Plus, when you are paying for four people is hardly an easy task, nonetheless it was done.
MSC Divina Specialty Restaurants
I am known for venturing out of the MDR experience and trying out all that each cruise line has to offer with their specialty dining venues. On this cruise, I had no intention on paying extra for food. We basically only ate at the free dining venues during the entire cruise.
MSC Divina has 3 specialty restaurants, Tex Mex, Galaxy and the Steakhouse. The prices of the venues seemed reasonable, but I could not consider them this time around. One thing to consider is that the steakhouse has an a la carte menu. There is also a sports bar with a menu of some snacks that you would find in US based sports bars, which is also A la Carte.
MSC Divina Mixed Drinks, Wine & Soft drinks
MSC Divina offers an incredible amount drink packages, by far the most that I have seen out of any cruise line. They offer the usual unlimited package that needs to be purchased by everyone in the cabin. But in addition to that they offer an extensive amount of options tailoring to everyone. The odds are that you will find a package that fits you the best with this cruise line. Not only, that, but the amount of drink lists aboard MSC Divina is just ridiculous! I have not previously seen so many drink lists on a ship.
Our personal favorite package was the “Allegrisimo Escape” this is a voucher package. For $72 pre-cruise, you get 15 drink vouchers to use on MSC Divina. The vouchers are good for pretty much 85% of drinks you usually find on cruises. If you want brand drinks, they will not work. Nonetheless, all in all with this package each drink comes out to $4.80, not a bad deal. However, it gets even better; if you look for the daily happy hours you can get 2 drinks for one voucher!
MSC Divina Wi-Fi
WIFI is something that I can no longer ignore; I need Internet access to ensure that there are no issues with my blog while on a cruise. Internet access on MSC Divina is by far the best I have used on a cruise ship. I will run through the details and explain why. This time around I purchased 1hr for $29.99. That comes to around $0.50 per minute, and goes along the lines of the cruise line prices. They had other packages as well. I will comment on them later as I come across the pictures.
MSC Divina Gratuities
Gratuities aboard MSC Divina will run you $12 per person per day. I usually tip more on drinks and food, as I know how much the crew works at making the cruise a perfect vacation for everyone. One thing to note is that MSC Divina does not charge gratuities on the packages you pre-purchase, they call it a discount! That is outrageous, please explain to me how taking money away from the staff is a discount from the company?!?! This infuriates me. I will comment on this more as the review evolves. I saw a few issues here and there with this issue. I know many will want to put me under fire here, but please note that this is nothing more than my opinion. And yes, I was told about the discount by MSC themselves. Someone argued that the passengers were making that up.
When I buy trip insurance for my cruises, I go to Insure My Trip and shop around for travel insurance. On MSC Divina I went for Atlas insurance, you really can’t say no to an insurance plan that covers 100k medical and costs you less than $15. Also includes bag loss and medical evacuation, that is just a simple no brainer. Bear in mind that the price changes with age, my mom’s is a little more expensive than mine. By the way, we almost had used the insurance this time