MSC Divina: Day 1 Recap

Embarkation is a love/hate thing with me. I love that I’m getting on a ship, but I hate the wait and crowds associated with it. We consider it another sea day, so we like to board as early as possible. While I’ve read others state that boarding’s not so smooth with MSC, we found it to be one of the easiest we’ve had.

Ignoring the 2pm time on our boarding passes, we pulled in to the garage at the port at 11:30. From that point, we dropped our luggage with a porter, went through security, and were at the desk checking in by 11:50. Not too shabby. They gave us a boarding card with the number 6 on it, designating our boarding zone, and we headed over to some empty seats to sit. This is where it got amusing.

Shortly after noon they started boarding. One little issue, however; passengers here seemed to be far more pushy than any past boarding I recall. A large group of people were huddled up by the boarding entrance, similar to what you see at an airport gate, and just like those situations, most of them had later boarding numbers. They made multiple announcements to try and get people to move, and sent a guy over to try and force people to make a hole. It only partially worked. You can see the crowd on the left side of this shot.

Regardless, our number was finally called, and we headed up. As I was entering the line, some lady about ran us over with her suitcase as she pushed past, only to stop at the top of the escalator to let us all go so she could wait for someone who was way back in line. Seriously people, you’ll all get on, relax.

Once on board, we walked around a little, checking out the Divina’s beautiful lobby before heading to the buffet for some food. The eats on the buffet were hit or miss. The pizza is outstanding, and easily the best I’ve had on a ship. The burgers and hotdogs were barely warm, fairly bland, and for some reason the burgers had mayonnaise already on them. I look forward to giving the buffet another run when it’s in full swing on a sea day to see if that was a fluke. I definitely look forward to more pizza, too 🙂

After a bit more exploring, we headed back to our rooms to unpack. Jen and I have a balcony on 9 that’s rather small, and has me missing our balcony on the Escape:

Bayley had an interior on 12 that has a better layout and more storage than our room:

 Moving on, after an amusing 5pm muster drill that saw most people wearing their life vests when we were told we only had to carry them, we headed to dinner. We have early seating, which is earlier than we’re used to (5:45pm).

Being the first night, I’ll reserve overall judgement, but the service wasn’t the best, and the food was hit or miss. Bayley and I ordered fettuccine Alfredo as our main course, which was really good, but the portion we got was that of a side, not a meal. For dessert, toffee cheesecake and the cannoli. The cannoli was amazing, one of the best I’ve ever had. The cheesecake was just okay.

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With dinner over, we headed to the welcome aboard show. The singers were really good, but the song choice seemed to target an older demographic, and we all agreed it was a bit boring. Being that the acrobatics weren’t a part of this one, we’re looking forward to the shows that do include it.

One quick note, this is one of the most beautiful theaters we’ve seen on a ship. There don’t appear to be any obstructed views, and the seats are comfortable, save for the lack of legroom. The seats also appear to be staggered in a way that attempts to avoid your view being blocked by the person in front of you.

After a little stint in the (smoke free!) casino, we hit the 10:30 trivia, which was an absolute blast, before heading off to bed. The entertainment staff on the ship has been great so far, so we’re really looking forward to the sea day activities.

All in all, a good embark day. With two sea days ahead of us, we’re looking forward to exploring the ship, playing some more trivia, and relaxing :).

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MSC Divina: Day 2 Recap

I woke up around 8am with a pretty good headache, which turned in to a full blown migraine by the time I got dressed and headed up to the buffet, so I admit my patience just want there, but if this morning was any indication, the buffet is going to be a bit frustrating this cruise. While I came in really excited about the layout, the reality of it exposes poor design for a large ship.


As show in the picture above (click it to see the larger version), very little is repeated, so when I got up there just before 9, there was a line for the only waffle & pancake station that was a good 30 people deep. Wanting to get something in my stomach ASAP, I just grabbed some rolls and cereal, and did two laps around the entire buffet before finding a spot to sit. I noticed several others feeling just as frustrated. The other issue is that the isles around the buffet are really narrow, so there’s only one thin lane to pass those in line at any given station, which really slows things down.

After eating and resting a bit, my head was feeling better, so I met the family for the 10:45 trivia. They had just finished making Christmas cards, which both came out really well.

So far, I’m liking their trivia a lot. Not the same canned questions we’ve had on other lines, these general knowledge questions were pretty hard. We got killed, but again, had fun. Interestingly, those looking to win some sort of trinket to put on display back home (ala Carnival’s ship on a stick) might be disappointed. In the round of trivia we attended night one, the gave the winners a voucher for the specialty restaurants, but no symbolic trinket. I never did see what the winners of today’s trivia got. Not a bad prize for that first one, though!

Our trivia loss behind us, we headed to the Black Crab dining room for lunch. Again, the food was very it or miss. The contents of the loaded nachos were cold. While they were still good, that struck me as odd, as I thought “nachos” was Spanish for “chips piled high with warm goodness” (I’m kidding 🙂 ). My spaghetti and meatballs were really good (and warm!), but once again, my desserts were split. The sundae was pretty good, but the chocolate duo was not, and left a rather odd taste in my mouth.

  Jen’s experience also highlights something I failed to mention in the last post, that the language barrier on this ship seems to be a much bigger issue than past cruises we’ve done. She ordered fish and chips, and asked for the malt vinegar referenced on the menu. At first they thought she wanted olive oil, and after repeating that she wanted malt vinegar, they then brought over two other bottles that weren’t what she asked for either. Finally after her saying it was on the menu under this item, they figured it out, and 10min later finally brought some over. She did like the fish and chips once she got to eat it.

Our post-lunch activities included watching mega-Jenga, taking Italian lessons, and relaxing a bit before dinner. There was plenty going on outside, too, despite the high winds that had part of deck 15 closed. The pool in the Aqua Park was pretty busy.

 Tonight was gala night, the first of two formal nights, and while the service was much, much better, the food was once again hit or miss. There wasn’t anything on the appetizer or soup and salad portions off the menu that I liked, so the first thing I had was my entrée, the surf and turf. I’m not a seafood fan, so I just ate the filet (but I hear the prawns were delicious). They never asked how we wanted the steak cooked, and all three of us got varying degrees of pink. All in all it wasn’t a bad steak, definitely better than some other MDR steaks I’ve had. Dessert was a warm brownie with ice cream. I didn’t see any mention of nuts on the menu, but there were several in the brownie. Not bad, but the lemon tart my wife got looked really good too, so I was second guessing my decision.

During our post dinner stroll around the ship, we walked through the buffet and saw what other reviewers mentioned, that it appeared to be barely open during dinner hours. At 7:30, there were only a small handful of stations open at the front with a few basic selections like pizza, hamburgers, and a few other small items, which seemed odd. If you don’t want to eat at the MDR, just be aware that you’re going to be limited on free options. Didn’t see anything other than tea or water on the beverage stations, either.

After walking the ship a bit, it was time to head to the theater. Tonight’s show was a nod to an old Jim Carey movie; The Mask. This definitely redeemed last night’s mediocre welcome aboard show, and was a solid example of the reputation MSC has for outstanding entertainment. Dancing, acrobatics, musical numbers, this show had it all! If you’re sailing on this ship any time soon, do not miss this show!

Here we see Smurfette leading the kids in for the show, along with the whole cast of the show, and a shot of the captain with his senior staff.

As mentioned yesterday,  feel free to follow us on Twitter or Instagram to see pics of the ship and our stops along the way!