After some debate on the way home, I’ve decided to split my final MSC-related post of this trip in to two. This one will focus solely on our final thoughts about this sailing, while my next will be more of a comparison of the MSC experience to that of some of the more typical cruise lines that sail from US ports.
Starting with disembarkation, it went pretty smoothly once again. On our Christmas sailing, I was pretty impressed with how easily we got off, but the Yacht Club experience was obviously better yet again. Instead of having to deal with crowds getting to either the buffet or MDR for one last breakfast, we packed up and headed down the hall to Top Sail to grab something off of the buffet in there. Talking to a couple of friends who were also in Yacht Club, The One Pool was open for breakfast as well, with the same hot foods I’d eaten the previous two days. We’d planned on going to Le Muse, but were pretty tired when we got up, and none of us were really hungry enough to justify the walk. I’m sure it was delicious!
After eating a little bit in Top Sail, we went over to the concierge desk to get one last butler escort off the ship. They called Jacques, who came over and escorted 5 of us off the ship:
The escort off was an interesting experience. He led us down the elevator, through Piazza del Doge and the casino, and then into a small passageway that was closed off. As we came out, we were right at the front of one of the debark lines, cutting directly in front of the passengers waiting to get off. That marked the first time I really felt uncomfortable with any of the YC benefits, as I’m not big into cutting in line.
After the walk off, we headed to baggage claim, where our bags were already off the belt and waiting. All in all, it might have been 20-30 minutes from the time we left the concierge on 15 until we were at our car in the parking garage. Very, very smooth.
Moving on to final thoughts on the sailing, the short version is that we had an absolute blast this past week. While we had fun in December and enjoyed everything MSC had to offer under the Bella experience, the differences between that and Yacht Club cannot be understated. From the little things, like the sliding door that opens and allows you in to Yacht Club when you slide your ship card:
(be sure to hit the play button)
To the bigger things, like the far more relaxing private pool area:
Yea, I'm totally sold on the "ship within a ship" concept. Our pool (The One Pool) is pretty quiet right now, with plenty of open seating. The main decks, on the other hand, are packed with chairs anywhere they'll fit, almost all of which are spoken for. #mscdivina #yachtclub #cruise #seaday #travel #vacation
The differences made the added cost totally worth it to us, and really are too much to list in a single post, so I recommend reading about them on MSC’s site. The service was better, the food was better, and all of the added perks and private areas made it a more relaxing cruise for all three of us. All of that should be expected, considering the gap in cost to move up to Yacht Club, but I felt it important to call it out, as we felt they nailed it. Here’s our full list of positives and negatives from this sailing:
- The lack of smoking, as called out last time, too. As non-smokers, this is a huge draw for us, especially in the casino.
- Our butler Jacques and his assistant were outstanding. They always had smiles on their faces, would stop to chat with us, and were always receptive to anything we needed. Far better cabin experience than last time.
- The private Yacht Club areas: I wasn’t sure what to expect here, as I generally don’t like sitting around in more subdued areas and was concerned I’d get bored pretty easily. That wasn’t the case at all, Frankly, I loved having Top Sail and The One Pool available whenever we wanted to use them. They were never crowded when we were in either, and we didn’t have to deal with people yelling or running around. Much more peaceful.
- Also a Yacht Club exclusive, not having to pay for drinks: This only applies in Yacht Club areas, but we never felt the need to buy as much as a soda in the main areas because we always had the option of grabbing something (Alcoholic or non) from Top Sail, the One Pool, or even our own mini-bar, since those drinks and snacks are included in the cost, too.
- The butler escort on and off the ship when in port was excellent. With the line to get off in St Thomas last time ridiculously long (and we waited at least a half hour *after* it started to go down), having that service this time and being able to get off with no wait was a very nice touch.
- Our cabin was nice, and a pretty good size for the three of us. We were in 15028, a shorter YC1 than most, but as mentioned before, what you lose in length, you gain in width. There are only 4 of these on our floor, and 4 on 16, and if we’d been in a normal YC1, it would have been much closer quarters (and we’d have had a much narrower balcony, as shown here). Check the deck plans for deck 15 and deck 16 to see where these wider ones are.
- Pizza delivery to the room at no added cost was cool, too. You call the concierge, they call down to La Cantina di Bacco and order what you want, and a little while later, one of the butlers delivers your pie. All pizza we’ve had on this ship is amazing. Best pizza at sea!
- All of the children we encountered in Yacht Club were very well behaved. Every age group was represented, and at no time were any of them loud, running around in places they shouldn’t have been (restaurants, Top Sail, etc) or out of control. A very stark difference compared to walking around the main buffet or pool areas.
- Le Muse: We’ve never eaten in a main dining room so often on a ship. I think we ate there for lunch almost every day and did so for every dinner, and one breakfast. The food was really good for the most part (best burger on the ship, too), and the service far exceeded that of the regular MDR. I don’t think any meal took longer than 1.5 hours, while the MDR on our last sailing could exceed 2-2.5 hours for the same 3-course meal due to how overworked the servers in Black Crab appeared to be. Service in Le Muse was outstanding, from the maitre d’, to our waiter and assistant waiter. It’s also a much smaller setting, and as such has a far more relaxing feel to it.
- The entertainment: Once again, MSC delivers. With the shows being mostly the same as last sailing, we only attended a few, focusing on the ones with acrobatics (The Mask, the Paris show, TI, and the Michael Jackson tribute). All were excellent once again.
- The entertainment team: Just as good, if not better than last time. Most of the team from December were still there last week, which we were happy to see, as they all look like they’re truly having fun, and work really well together. There are plenty of activities throughout the day, as well. Things like trivia, Scattergories, Taboo, Jenga, and even a few pool games that you’d see on the more American lines (belly flop contest, Mr sexy legs, etc). The entertainment team is a definite highlight of the Divina experience for us.
- On both cruises, one of the cleanest ships we’ve sailed on. They are always working to ensure the public areas remain clean, and it shows.
- The only Yacht Club area we were iffy on was the concierge desk. Most of the time they were helpful, but on occasion, appeared to be throwing attitude. As an example, on one of our pizza orders, she asked why we were ordering again so soon, having just ordered a pizza an hour earlier. Yea, that wasn’t us. Someone two doors down had ordered one, and for some reason she thought it was us and gave Bayley some attitude in the process.
- It would have been nice to have reserved seating in the shows for Yacht Club like some other lines do for suite guests. With the quality of the shows on the ship, getting good seats means getting there pretty early without any reserved seating.
- The soft-serve ice cream dispensers were an issue yet again. Only open from 2pm-5pm daily (but closed at least 30min early on two days), I’d hope they’d be well maintained. On both sailings, this wasn’t the case. Most times we stopped, it was all too soft to be edible, only two of four machines on each side were open, and they were totally messy. This is one area where there more contemporary lines do a much better job.
- Better internet speeds: On both sailings, speeds were better than what we saw on the Norwegian Escape last November, but uploading anything other than simple pictures or text was painfully slow. Because I’m constantly posting pictures and the occasional blog post (and sharing time with Bayley and Jen), I tend to buy as much time as we can, but I heard a guy at lunch complaining how slow it was for even basic email, to the point he was on his second $50 package. Do not underestimate how much time you need, because the packages appear to be more expensive on-board than they are if you buy them in advance or on the first day. On day 5, the login page showed the 24-hour package at $199, whereas I paid $120 for it by buying in advance. You can see Scott Sanfilippo’s screenshots from the same page on day 1 of his sailing here and here, showing the same prices I saw (and paid) online prior to sailing. Compare that to what the login page looked like on day 5, and ouch. No way.
Well, I think that about covers it for this trip. We really enjoyed our time in Yacht Club, and look forward to sailing in this level again when the MSC Seaside arrives in late 2017! Hope you’ve enjoyed reading these posts and found them helpful! If you missed any from this sailing, you can find them all here:
Or if you want to see how things compared to our Bella experience on the Divina, those are available here: