MSC Divina: The Ports!

Okay, it’s time to catch up on blog posts, and next on the list is a rundown on our port activity while sailing on the Divina this summer! Our previous three trips on the ship were all on the other itinerary, and while we’ve stopped at all of these before, it was a nice change of pace.

Ocho Rios, Jamaica

This was the first of our four stops, and prior to sailing we’d picked up day passes for Sandals Ochi Beach Resort. We’ve utilized day passes before and tend to enjoy the less crowded nature of them compared to the public beaches or beach excursions, and this trip did not disappoint. After arriving and checking in, we immediately headed for the beach. This location actually has two beaches, one on more calm water, then one a little further down the resort that’s sort of in the main outside area. In addition to the beach, there’s a pool area with a swim up bar, and a restaurant. That was the area we camped out at all day, and we found it pretty quiet the entire time we were there.

The last time we used a Sandals day pass was in late 2015 while on the Norwegian Escape, and it ended up being a bit of a bust. Not long after arriving at Sandals Nassau (ACTUAL NAME), the weather turned on us and it poured on the area. I think we stayed there for an hour, had maybe one drink and headed back to the ship. No fault of Sandals, obviously, just bad timing. This time, things were pretty awesome. Our day pass was all inclusive, so we enjoyed a number of drinks at our beach chairs, at the pool bar, and with lunch, and it was all excellent. While I did spend some time in the ocean just floating around, I’m pretty sure I spent more time hanging out in the pool enjoying the swim up bar. I have to say, I do enjoy the day passes at places like this. It’s definitely something to look at when you’re considering a beach day at one of your stops!

Floating through #Monday like 😎 #sandals #jamaica #mscdivina #cruise

A post shared by Wanderlist Vacations (@wanderlistvaca) on

Good times at #Sandals #OchiBeach today! Beautiful resort to spend a relaxing day at! #jamaica

A post shared by Wanderlist Vacations (@wanderlistvaca) on

Closing out today with a sampling of the fun had at #Sandals 😊☀️ #jamaica #ochibeach #beach #ocean

A post shared by Wanderlist Vacations (@wanderlistvaca) on

Until next time, #Jamaica! #mscdivina #cruise #ochorios #theta360

A post shared by Wanderlist Vacations (@wanderlistvaca) on

Georgetown, Grand Cayman

This is another stop we’ve been to a handful of times, and I’m pretty sure that we’ve gone to Stingray City each time whether it was the only thing we did, or as part of a larger tour. We actually went in to this stop with nothing scheduled, as the plan was to just get off the ship and look for a tour out to, you guessed it, Stingray City. We had Jen’s mom with us, as well as Bayley’s friend Wally (a member of the Divina’s entertainment team), and neither had been there before, so we thought that we be fun to head out to, and it didn’t disappoint (for the most part)!

After tendering over to port, Jen spotted a tour operator she felt good about using (Carson’s Stingray City Tours), so we walked over to the woman to inquire about their tours, and after a quick discussion decided to go for it. We hung out right there by the tender area for about another 20 minutes while they signed up a few others, then off to the bus it was. One warning here, like a lot of Caribbean tour companies, they’re all about filling up the bus. Every single jump seat or other flat place to sit was full, which I freely admit I’m not a huge fan of. After a bit of a ride, we finally arrived at the small pier where the boat picks you up. Now, one thing I should mention first is that for $35, we got a stop at Stingray City, a stop to snorkel, and time at 7 mile beach. We were pretty happy with the order they did it in, too.

The first stop was Stingray City. We got out there before it got busy, which was really nice. If you’ve ever visited Stingray City, it can get really packed with ships in town, and even though we were the only ones here that day, it did get a little crowded at the end. On arrival, they gave us some short instructions and let us jump in. Once in, there were plenty of stingrays swimming around to enjoy. The staff jumped in with food to entice the rays over and started the picture ritual. You obviously can take your own pictures, provided you have something waterproof, or you can buy theirs. We actually did both. At the time, the $40 for all of our pictures (all 5 of us included in that) seemed like a great deal, as we got some really good pictures from our guides last time, but after getting home and seeing the shots, I regret buying them. Not sure if it was a lens thing or transfer to CD thing, but the images came out pretty warped. Jen and Bayley had looked at them on his laptop on the ship and don’t remember seeing them like this, so I assumed something happened when they were burned to disk. They do give you an email address you can contact if you have issues, as they hold on to the originals for one month. I’d say I emailed them at least 10 times in that month, from multiple email addresses, and got zero response, so yea, if you use them, either look very closely at the pics before you buy them, or don’t buy them at all in my opinion. Thankfully we have all of my GoPro pictures and video to fall back on.

As I mentioned, we got there before it got busy, which gave us a lot of space to work in and a lot of stingrays to see. As it got closer to the end of our time there, some of the ship and other private excursions showed up, and it got a lot more crowded, so we were pretty happy they got us out there first before the crowds. After we finished up here, we hopped back on the boat and headed to the snorkeling spot a short distance away. While the water around the stingrays was pretty calm, this spot was a little rougher, but not too bad. They have snorkeling gear available for people to use at no extra cost, so they brought out the masks, snorkels and life vests (for anyone that wanted one) and handed them out. They do have fins, and mentioned it more than once, but I was the only one to take them up on it. Frankly, it just made swimming there so much easier. There were plenty of small colorful fish around here too, so even though it was a short stop (like 30-45min if I recall), it was worth the time to me.

Our last stop was 7 mile beach. For those who didn’t want to go to the beach, they’d drop you back at the ship, but for those who did, they’d give you some time here and come back to get you at a pre-agreed on time. For our bus, that was 3pm, but the 5 of us didn’t plan to stay that long. We hung out until around 1-1:30 just relaxing a little and then grabbed a taxi back to the port at a cost of like $5 each. Wally needed to be back for his next shift, and frankly the rest of us were tired. We did walk around the shops a bit before heading over the tenders, which was a mistake. Bayley and Wally went right for the tenders when we got to port and said they had no line, but by the time we got there it was a pretty lengthy line. Fortunately MSC had a number of lifeboats running, and I don’t think we waited out in the sun for more than 10-15 minutes. This was also another point I missed being in Yacht Club, as there were butlers out there escorting YC guests straight to the tender boats. Another awesome perk of Yacht Club!

Outside of the issue with the pictures, we were pretty happy with the tour, especially for the price. If I were planning ahead, however, I’d probably go back to the ones we used the last time we were there, as our guides were awesome, and the pictures they took came out great. I really need to go back and figure out who that tour was with 🙂

Got off the ship and took an impromptu tour out to #StingrayCity! Always a fun time 😊 #mscdivina #stingray

A post shared by Wanderlist Vacations (@wanderlistvaca) on

Good times were had by all at #stingraycity today 😊 #grandcayman #mscdivina #stingray

A post shared by Wanderlist Vacations (@wanderlistvaca) on

Surrounded by #stingrays 😊 #grandcayman #stingraycity #mscdivina

A post shared by Wanderlist Vacations (@wanderlistvaca) on

Earlier today, on #7milebeach. That's the #mscdivina off in the distance on the right. #grandcayman #cruise #beach

A post shared by Wanderlist Vacations (@wanderlistvaca) on

Cozumel

This was another planned beach day for us, and with another day pass. This time we were headed to Nachi Cocum Beach Club. We’ve been to a few places along this stretch of beach before (Playa Mia, Ocean Beach club, etc), but never from the dock MSC uses. What’s normally a 10 minute ride was easily double that. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but just be warned, they dock further away from all of those places, so plan your time accordingly.

The only other ship in port here was the Carnival Triumph, so Nachi wasn’t full at all. I think we were told they sell 150 passes per day, and today had sold 60 of those. The place was incredibly relaxing all day, and we pretty much spent our time lounging in the water having drinks brought to us. Being an all-inclusive, drinks and food are free, but if you want any water toys (lounger type things), you do have to pay a little more. We didn’t end up getting any, so I can’t say what those cost unfortunately. Something else I should note here, if you have kids with you, I’d probably recommend something like Playa Mia, or one of the others that has a water park with all the inflatable toys in it, as Nachi has none of that. Even though kids are allowed, this just felt more adult oriented, which was perfect for us. We hung out in the water drinking all day with some of the people from the Triumph, and had a blast. So far, Nachi is probably my favorite of the beach stops we’ve done in Cozumel, and I wouldn’t hesitate to visit them again! Outstanding service all day, and while the food was just okay, it was nice to have it included in the price. Our only complaint here was shoddy wifi, which was basically useless the entire time. Just something to keep in mind if you absolutely need to stay connected while you’re here.

Beautiful day at #NachiCocom 😊🏖 #mscdivina #beach #cozumel #mexico

A post shared by Wanderlist Vacations (@wanderlistvaca) on

Hello, beautiful 😊 #nachicocum #cozumel #mexico #mscdivina #beachday #shotoniphone

A post shared by Wanderlist Vacations (@wanderlistvaca) on

Toasting paradise 😊

A post shared by Wanderlist Vacations (@wanderlistvaca) on

Missing the relaxing waters of #nachicocom 😊 #mscdivina #cozumel #theta360 #tinyplanet

A post shared by Wanderlist Vacations (@wanderlistvaca) on

Nassau

The last few times we’ve stopped here, I’ve sworn I wasn’t getting off the ship, but every time, we’ve had a reason to go. Last time it was me needing shoes for Palo (on the Disney Dream), but this time I had absolutely no reason drawing me to shore, so I stuck to my guns and stayed on the ship with Bayley. Jen and her mom did get off so she could show her mom the straw market, but they weren’t gone long. It was really hot and humid, and if you’ve ever been there, walking the straw market in those conditions just isn’t fun. Our day in Nassau was basically a sea day for us, enjoying the (mostly empty) Divina, watching a pretty intense evacuation drill (see below, trust me, it’s worth it!), playing various games, and even getting in some time in the F1 simulator and on the water slide. Good stuff!

That pretty much covers our stops on this sailing. Next up, our debark and final thoughts on this trip aboard the MSC Divina!

Currently the only ship in port, but I think I see the Escape heading in. #mscdivina #cruise #nassau #bahamas

A post shared by Wanderlist Vacations (@wanderlistvaca) on

The #NorwegianEscape docked in #Nassau earlier this month 😊🛳 #theta360

A post shared by Wanderlist Vacations (@wanderlistvaca) on

MSC Divina: The Ship!

As we’ve mentioned in past posts, this was our fourth sailing on the Divina. Our first trip, back over Christmas of 2015, was our only other non-Yacht Club sailing, so while we did miss some of those amenities, it was nice to get back on in normal rooms and get a feel for the parts of the ship we may not have frequented in the Yacht Club sailings.

Let’s start with the rooms! We’d originally booked two insides for this sailing back in April, but upon logging in a couple months before departure, noticed we’d been upgraded to two balcony rooms. Awesome! The specific rooms assigned were cabin 10275, an aft balcony, and 9054, a port side forward cove balcony. We’d made the decision to put Jen and her mom in 10275 and Bayley and I in 9054, and I admit I was a bit jealous initially, as I fell in love with the views an aft balcony provides back when we sailed the Celebrity Summit to Bermuda. That jealousy subsided a bit after we got on the ship and checked out the rooms. It’s not that I didn’t like the room or balcony itself, it’s that an aft balcony tends to get little to no airflow, even at sea, and as a result, it’s really humid this time of year on that balcony. I did end up spending more time on mine than theirs as a result. Don’t get me wrong, we very much appreciate the upgrades, and 10275 is a beautiful room with an amazing balcony that’s nice and deep, and including chairs and loungers is a really nice touch. Additionally, both rooms had plenty of storage, and ours came with plenty of hangars! Jen usually brings extras, as most rooms tend to be a little light on them, but Bayley and I had no need for extras in 9054.

Enough talk, let’s take a virtual tour of both rooms with these 360 degree photos! Hit play on each one, and drag your way around to check out each room and balcony!

10275


9054


Moving on, the ship itself is still just as beautiful as the first time we sailed her. The layout and decor are a large part of what make the Divina one of our favorite ships. Frankly, after sailing a couple of other lines between our last Divina sailing and this one, we’ve come to appreciate the Divina’s theater that much more. It’s got some of the best sight-lines of any ship-board theater we’ve sat in, and the seats are pretty comfortable compared to others we’ve used. One thing they’ve added since our last visit is reserved seating for Yacht Club, a nice addition that some of the other lines also do for their suite guests. The location’s a bit questionable though, as they’ve blocked off the entire starboard side section in the upper deck. I’d have expected a lower level section near the front, but I’m sure there were reasons for the location.

One change from our sailing last year, dedicated theater seating for #YachtClub guests up in the balcony. #mscdivina #cruise

A post shared by Wanderlist Vacations (@wanderlistvaca) on

Take a look around the Divina’s theater!

On a related note, we were happy to see there have been changes to some of the shows. We do enjoy their entertainment, and while the overall show lineup was pretty close to what they had on previous sailings, there were some changes to the songs and visuals in The Mask, the pirate show, and the Michael Jackson show. All were still excellent! Additionally, they’ve added one musical show, a tribute to the band Queen. We were pretty excited about this one, but admittedly left this one underwhelmed. Bohemian Rhapsody just didn’t have the punch we expected, and one thing we heard more than one passenger say: “How can you do a Queen show without performing Fat Bottomed Girls?”. Outside of that, however, we still thoroughly enjoyed the shows. Keep in mind that with such a mix of passengers and languages, they work to make their shows appeal in more of a visual manner, with a reduced focus on spoken story telling, and in our opinion, they do a pretty solid job of it!

Bayley and I each also took a couple of turns in the F1 simulator, one of my personal favorite things about the ship considering I’m a big open wheel fan. In addition to the F1 simulator, they also have a 4D theater and mini bowling (in the sports bar on deck 7) for those wanting to do something a little different. Note that, as of the time this was written, the pricing for a single turn at each is:

  • F1 simulator: $9.90/pp
  • 4D theater: $8/pp for adults, $6/pp for kids 13 and under
  • Mini bowling: $8

Or you can buy a per-cabin pass for $85 that allows everyone in the cabin to use those three things as much as you want! Frankly, that doesn’t seem like a bad deal to me if you’ve got a cabin full of kids, or simply want to make use of these things yourself.

Free time brings more time in the #F1 simulator 😊🏎 #mscdivina #cruise #becauseracecar #racecarspelledbackwardsisracecar

A post shared by Wanderlist Vacations (@wanderlistvaca) on

What's a #cruise on the #mscdivina without a stint in the #F1 simulator? 😊🏎

A post shared by Wanderlist Vacations (@wanderlistvaca) on

One of the other things about the Divina that we love is still intact, the smoke-free casino. Of all of the ships we’ve sailed that have casinos, this is the only one that’s not covered in the smell of smoke, which is really nice for non-smokers. Here’s a 360 degree view of the casino, as seen from the awesome staircase in the center!

I think that about covers what I wanted to talk about this time around. I’ve gone over the ship a lot after our past Divina sailings, so I don’t want to repeat too much of that again, but if you want to check out those past posts, I’ve got them organized here:

Additionally, feel free to take a look around some of the other areas of the ship I took 360 shots in! She really is a beautiful ship!

The lobby, in all of its sparkly splendor 🙂

Piazza del Doge

The amazing view from the upper decks (shot in Nassau)