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.Β 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

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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.Β 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.

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

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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 πŸ™‚

Piazza del Doge

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

Carnival Vista – First Impressions

Anyone who’s been following our social media accounts has probably noticed that we spent the last week aboard Carnival’s newest ship, the Vista. This was our national conference for our travel business, hosted by our franchise’s parent company. An 8 day conference aboard a cruise ship? Yea, that’s my kind of conference :).

If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you may remember that our conference last year was aboard the Norwegian Escape, and that my primary post-cruise blog post was more of a pros/cons list (well, plus one food post. The yummy, yummy food). My plan here to to do something similar. With multiple sessions happening during sea days, it’s not really fair to do a full review of the cruise in my opinion, since we didn’t get to experience so many of the things we normally do. That’s not to say we didn’t have fun, so let’s get in to the list!

Note – To save space I’ll be linking to pics vs inserting them in the post

Pros

  • The Ship: She really is a beautiful ship, and continues the same beachy decor the Breeze has. There are some positive additions as well, including the large DreamScape in the atrium and the smaller one in the casino. I really do like the decor theme in this class of their ships.
  • The Cabins: Overall, nice. We had a standard balcony on deck 7 aft, and aside from a slightly hard mattress were comfortable all week. We had really good cabin service all week as well.
  • Matt the Cruise Director: While we didn’t get to enjoy all the entertainment staff had to offer, we saw Matt around the ship a lot, and he was always smiling and friendly, even in the face of our own stupidity (like when one of our suppliers sent a huge group of us down to the gangway in La Romana well before we were allowed to get off :)). Matt seems like one of the better CDs we’ve encountered on past sailings.
  • The Staff: Everyone was great this week. Granted, they knew there were several hundred travel agents on board, but everyone we encountered was very friendly, and always offering to help with anything you needed.
  • The MDR food: Really good all week. We ate there all but one night and I honestly don’t remember anything I had that was bad. People like to knock Carnival for their food, but the MDR food seemed better than what I remembered from the Breeze, and I liked that too
  • The SkyRide: Super fun, great concept. Jen and I did this on the first sea day and had an absolute blast. If it’s running, it provides an awesome view at sunset, too. Highly recommend doing this. Just note that you’ll see this in my cons list, too.
  • The Internet: I’m sure some will disagree with me, but we had both the mid-range and premium packages, and I felt that it was noticeably better than the Oasis’ Voom internet. Peak times were a little slow, but I didn’t encounter much in the way of downtime, and as Instagram shows, I was constantly posting ;). For satellite-based connectivity on a moving ship, they’ve done a solid job.
  • Lido food: Specifically Guy’s burgers and Blue Iguana’s burritos. Just as good as I remembered on the Breeze, and the lines seemed to move faster than they did on that trip. Mmmmmm
  • The DreamScape: They really are cool. I don’t envy the technical challenges ahead of them (it encountered technical issues a couple of times on our sailing), but it’s a great idea that really makes the atrium look cool.

Cons

  • The Ship: Yes, there is some bad here, too. Namely the main theater, which seems smaller than the Breeze. I assume Carnival was seeing a lot of empty seats in other ships in this class and as a result shrunk the theater, but the resulting design is just horrible. Really bad sight-lines throughout, rows in the back that sit lower than the row in front of them, and an odd center setup that’s totally flat (with non-permanent chairs) result in a place I really couldn’t stand to watch a show. The Divina showed us it is possible to build a large theater without things blocking your view, so what I saw in the Liquid Lounge was just mind boggling. Don’t even get me started on the useless cup tray permanently attached to every other armrest. Too slick to actually hold cups, yet totally uncomfortable for resting your arm on. Another ship design problem was the entrance to the Reflections dining room. Both sides are way too small, so the cattle-call queuing that happens prior to the MDR opening results in everyone standing even closer together. On the plus side, if you come in mid-ship, you can stare at the main DreamScape :).
  • The Pizza: Oh MSC Divina, you’ve ruined cruise ship pizza for me. I only ate this one night, tried 3 different varieties, and finished none. The pizza on Oasis was actually better than this in my opinion.
  • SkyRide: While super fun, it has a serious design flaw that results in it being unreliable later in the day. We were told that moisture/sea air end up making the inside of the track really slick as the day goes on, which can result in people getting stuck around the back of the track. Happened to me, so I got to see it first-hand. You basically end up unable to move forward on the uphill portions, as pedaling gets you nowhere (it can’t grip due to the moisture). In my case, I kept at it for a couple of minutes and finally hit a spot where it caught and propelled me forward, but we saw several cases where the operators had to go fish people off by either towing them from aother bike, or pushing them with one. The second to last sea day we were in line to do it again, and they closed it early due to this issue when we were next up. They took our names and told us we could jump the line the next day (the final sea day), but by the time we got done with sessions at 4pm, it was closed for the day for the same reason, with mechanics working on the bikes. Grrr…. As I said in one of my posts, do it early, or risk not getting to go.
  • The Casino: Small and smoky, to put it bluntly. Much like the Escape last year, this is a brand-new ship and the smell of smoke permeates every inch of the casino already. We didn’t gamble once as a result, and we were really missing the Divina’s smoke-free casino.
  • Temperature variances: They seemed to be having HVAC system issues all week, as it was really hot in parts of the buffet area (for example) while freezing in the theater (according to Jen :)). We did see people working on HVAC a couple of times, and heard that the buffet HVAC was down early on in the cruise.

I’m sure there are a few things I’ve missed here, but these are the big ones I wanted to call out, and frankly the cons really weren’t that big of a deal. We had an amazing week onboard, and the team at Carnival couldn’t have been better hosts. We’re admittedly Carnival fans, and this sailing only solidified our opinion of the brand. It truly was an amazing week on a beautiful new ship. One of these days we’re going to have to sail her again as normal passengers so we can experience everything the ship has to offer!

That’s all for now. After a short stop in St Petersburg to pick our daughter up and do some laundry, we’re off to Disney World for the week!