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Not too long ago, I had a pretty jaded view of cruising and cruisers in general.
I thought that cruising was for people too cheap to splurge for a “real vacation” and that I surely wouldn’t like being stuck on some random ship for a week or more.
I thought that all cruise food would be akin to eating in a high school cafeteria. I thought that, due to the fact cruises have you captive on the boat for days, I would be nickeled and dimed from morning until night.
I thought the ship would be crowded and get dirty as a result. I thought my kids would be annoyed that we couldn’t sit on the beach all day. But, most of all, I thought we wouldn’t like it.
I was wrong. Dead wrong.
My thoughts have definitely changed after spending 11 nights and 12 days on the MSC Divina in January of 2018. Our cruise left from Miami and visited an array of beautiful islands, but there was much more to our trip than our stops at port.
The ship was fun, beautiful, and bright – and quite frankly everything I thought it wouldn’t be. While I typically thought of cruising as a mode of transportation in the past, I now see that time on the ship can be pretty darn enjoyable, too.
This entire trip was rather enlightening for me – a budget traveler who loves luxury and all-inclusive resorts. I feel so strongly about our time on the ship (and had so much fun) that I wanted to break the entire thing down into an epic review. If you have any questions at all about MSC Cruises or the MSC Divina, I want to answer them. So here goes.
The first day of our cruise was probably the worst, mostly because we’re basically first-time cruisers who had no idea what was going on. We also flew from Indianapolis to Miami, stayed overnight in a hotel, and carried a ton of luggage around that entire time. We were a little frazzled by the time we arrived, so we stressed out easily.
It did take an hour or so to get from the cruise terminal onto the ship. We stood in line and waited for our turn to submit our cruise tickets and get our “cruise card” – the key to our room and everything else on the ship.
This was easily my least favorite part of the cruise. But since it takes a while to get 4,000 people on a ship, it’s understandable. It took us an hour from the sidewalk to being on the ship, and that’s not too bad.
We hung around for a while and were able to get in our room around 3:00 p.m. Our room was great, by the way, but we’ll go over that in more detail later.
At 4:45 p.m. on embarkation day, we did the drill where you go to your safe spot on the ship and learn how to put your life jacket on. I have read a lot of reviews about how bad this is on the MSC Divina since they do the drill in four different languages, but I thought it was really seamless. It took maybe 15 minutes from beginning to end, and it was done. From that moment forward, our cruise was a dream come true!
Our Cabin on the MSC Divina
We had a balcony cabin on the MSC Divina – room 9015 to be exact. Our room was perfect for the four of us, with myself and my husband on a queen bed and our kids (ages 6 and 8) sharing a fold-out couch.
At first, I was a little worried that our kids would sleep on a fold-out, mostly because the couch took up the whole room when extended. Fortunately, our amazing cabin steward Christian folded up the bed every morning and folded it back up at night. I had no idea he would do this, so it was a big relief!
Our room was super clean and it was stocked daily with toilet paper. They cleaned and refreshed our room several times per day, and we never went without fresh towels for showers or the pool. You’re supposed to get a fresh pool towel every day on the MSC Divina, but I know there were days when our towels were traded out 2-3 times. For future reference, they also have a towel area by the outdoor pool during the day where you can trade in for a fresh towel whenever you want.
Our bathroom was also nice. The shower doors fold in to make more room, and that really helped us save space. I also like the fact that, no matter the hour, we had super hot water in the shower.
Pools on the MSC Divina
I wanted to go over the pools on the MSC Divina in-depth, mostly because there are so many of them. We have been on one cruise before a few years ago, and that ship only had one pool and maybe 2 hot tubs. The MSC Divina has three pools and probably 6 or 7 hot tubs which were never full.
First off, there’s a really nice outdoor pool area in the center of the ship. The pool itself is HUGE for a cruise pool, and there are several hot tubs adjacent to it and on the deck above. There’s also a huge TV and stage in this pool area where movies are shown at night and aerobics classes are held during the day.
My favorite thing about the outdoor pool deck was the fact there were so many shaded tables around. We could always find an empty table to sit at, and this provided the perfect place to relax while the kids swam.
The MSC Divina also has a really nice indoor pool area. It has a retractable roof that they open when it’s really sunny, but it stayed closed for most of our trip. This was another nice pool area, and it had the most hot tubs – I think 3 or 4. Surprisingly, the hot tubs were also hot – not luke warm.
There was another adults-only pool in the back of the ship near the garden bar. We never swam in it, but it looked great and provided more of an adult atmosphere.
Dining on MSC Divina
The dining on the MSC Divina really stood out for me. We eat fairly simply and don’t eat meat, but we were impressed with the ship’s offerings. We were assigned the 6:00 p.m. dining time in the Villa Rosa dining room, and we had a few really great meals there. I loved the dining room because it was so fancy and elegant. It was also a great alternative when we got sick of the buffet.
But really, the buffet was fine. We ate there for dinner most nights. They had a revolving array of food that changed all the time, including a carving station, a Mediterranean section, fresh cheeses, fresh fruit, a salad station, a kids area with foods like pasta and chicken nuggets, and even ethnic food. You could also get hamburgers, cheeseburgers, and fries all the time.
Oh, and the pizza! The pizza was amazing. Even if you’re vegan, they had cheese-less pizza you would love. We never really got too tired of the buffet.
The only downside to the buffet is the fact that it can be chaotic. It can also be hard to find a seat if you go at a peak time – like at 8:00 a.m. on a port day.
A lot of people in the Cruise Critic reviews have complained about how their food gets cold while they look for a table. My advice is this: Find a table, sit your hat or sunglasses down, then get your food. It makes life much easier. I saw a lot of people walking around with food looking for a table, and it just annoyed me. It makes no sense, so stop.
In every case, we eventually found a table, searching for 5 minutes at most. Honestly, it wasn’t that big of a deal. Just find a table before you get your food and you’ll be fine.
We also ate at the Eataly Italian restaurant on the ship once. This is a meal you pay for that is not free. It was good! I also found it relatively reasonable in terms of pricing, as was everything else on the ship. It was a nice change for once to have a sit-down meal. We all got pasta, and you get a free glass of champagne when you dine. It’s hard to beat that.
Last but not least, the ship has a little sports bar with some basic appetizers and mains you can order during certain hours. We had the spinach and artichoke dip with chips, but they also had wings, mozzarella sticks, and sandwiches. It was really good, and it was nice that this was included in the cruise price as well.
Over all, I thought the food was really good. There were a few things I tried that I didn’t like, but the great thing is that you could always just go back and eat more. We even made a few late night trips to the buffet for pizza and dessert, and that was a nice treat!
Bars on the MSC Divina
I didn’t get any good pictures of the bars on the MSC Divina, but let’s suffice it to say they were everywhere. Bars we went to that I can think of include (but aren’t limited to):
- A gorgeous piano bar in the center of the ship
- A fun “jazz” bar with a really good band every night (FYI, we never heard any jazz)
- A few outdoor pool bars
- The bar by the indoor pool
- The sports bar where, of course, they have a bunch of TVs playing sports
- The Garden Bar in the adults-only section
There were other bars, too. We drank a lot of beer but also had some mixed drinks.
Speaking of drinks, the ship had special theme nights with featured drinks, one of which was the Aperol Spritz. Since we drink these all the time in Italy, we had to have some of those. We also had limoncello, and I had some generic Chambord (raspberry liquor) which can be found all over the ship.
I thought pricing of the drinks was really reasonable. Beers were typically between $5 and $5.50, and mixed drinks were usually $7-$8. This is less than I pay for drinks at bars in my area, so I was happy about that.
The bartenders were always friendly and quick to help. No matter where we got drinks, we never waited more than a a few minutes. I read a lot of reviews saying the bars had slow service and the bartenders on the MSC Divina aren’t friendly, but this is simply untrue. I spent 12 days on the ship, so I should know.
Entertainment on the MSC Divina
Let me just be honest here – we didn’t go to any shows on the ship. I know this is terrible! We heard people rant and rave about how great the shows are, but we just never made it.
Well, that’s a lie. We caught the tail end of some acrobatic show that looked really fun, but that was it. I also snuck in when it was empty to take a picture. BAHAHAHA!
I know people enjoyed the shows, but we enjoyed the fact we could have free reign over the bars and the pools while most of the people were in the shows. So, we never went.
Entertainment on the ship was great otherwise. The people who work on the MSC Divina are always trying to make sure you have fun. They had really good bands singing different types of music in various bars most of the time, but especially in the evenings. The pool decks were always lively with music or contests. Basically, a good time was had by all throughout the ship.
If you’re a gambler, the MSC Divina also has a pretty decent-sized casino. It had a bunch of slots and some fun table games like Roulette and Blackjack. We went once, made a deposit, and never went back. (Unfortunately for Greg, and fortunately for our bank account, there is no craps table.) I hate losing money and gambling isn’t really my thing, but I’ll admit it was fun.
Kid’s Club on the MSC Divina
If you have kids, the MSC Divina is an incredible place to spend a family vacation! This was easily one of the best parts of our trip, and for more reasons than one.
The crazy thing is, we’re not usually big on sending our children to kid’s clubs. We have stayed at a lot of all-inclusive resorts with supervised clubs, and we usually only use them for an hour here or there to give mom and dad a break.
The kid’s club on the MSC Divina is a huge step above any other club we have ever experienced.
I kid you not, my kids would have gone to the club every day all day if we let them. We let them visit the club a lot, but we had to tell them “no” other times just so we could spend time with them!
The kid’s club on the ship is much more than just a babysitter. They did dozens of fun activities with the kids, including arts and crafts, language lessons, dance parties, and talent shows. I think my kids came home with some kind of prize almost every day from the club. They won little stuffed animals, coloring kits, and more. These prizes were just one of the little touches we loved, mostly because they made the trip really special for our girls.
On port days, you could leave your kids in the club all day while you went ashore. We only did this at one port, Curacao, and only because there was a special party that day they couldn’t stand to miss. On ship days, the club was open 9:00 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., and 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. For a fee, you could also sign up for late night hours, but we never did.
My kids enjoyed going to the morning and the afternoon sessions, but I think they had the most fun at night because they had lots of “parties” and took a group trip to the buffet for dinner.
The kid’s club is one of the main reasons we are booking another cruise on the MSC Divina over Christmas in late 2018. My kids cried the last night on the ship – like bawled uncontrollably – because they had so much fun and didn’t want to leave. I promised we would go back, so we are.
Service on the MSC Divina
I read a lot of reviews of the MSC Divina before our cruise because, well, I’m a travel writer and that’s what we do. After reading some of the negative comments about the workers on the ship and the service received, I am shocked at the bad information people have put out there.
The people who work on this ship are kind, hard-working, and helpful. They greet you when they see you, and they go out of their way to make sure you have what you need. I think every single day someone bent over backwards to help us, whether that meant carrying drinks across the dining room or giving my kids a special treat of some kind.
Honestly, I was blown away by the service and professionalism of everyone on board. I cannot think of a single instance over a 12-day cruise where a single person was rude or unhelpful.
If you experience bad service or rude workers on the MSC Divina, please be assured that you are the problem. I’m not saying this to hurt your feelings or make you feel bad, but it needs to be said.
The people on this ship work long hours and have some of the best attitudes I have ever seen. The only way you could possibly feel negatively toward them is if you are having some sort of internal crisis. Please people, be nice and the world becomes a better place!
Tips for Saving on the MSC Divina
Okay, so I’ve basically covered every aspect of the ship I can think of. Now on to the best part. Even though the MSC Divina is a super awesome ship, it is not expensive. In fact, MSC Cruises in general are some of the most affordable out there, partially because of their low prices but also because kids under 11 cruise free on a lot of itineraries.
With that being said, here are some of my best tips for saving money when you book your cruise and once you’re on the ship:
- Sign up for the MSC Cruises newsletter. Step one: Sign up to receive special offers from MSC Cruises. You’ll be notified when they have sales or special offers for drink packages and wifi. That kind of stuff. Currently, I am waiting to see if any cool offers come along before I book our winter break cruise.
- Don’t splurge on your cabin. We had a balcony cabin on this cruise. It was nice, but I saw a lot of interior cabins in passing and they looked great, too. If your budget is stretched to go on this cruise, booking a lower class cabin is a great way to save. With so much to do on the ship, you’re rarely in your room anyway.
- Buy a drink package if you drink a lot. If you’re a big drinker who doesn’t want to pay for each individual drink, definitely check out the drink packages on the MSC Divina. I think it was around $400 per adult for our 11-night cruise. That’s not super cheap, but it could be a big money-saver if you’re someone who likes to drink a lot on the ship.
- Prepay for laundry service if you need it. Because our cruise was so long, I prepaid $50 to have the ship staff wash 40 pieces of our laundry. This was a lot cheaper than paying for individual pieces of laundry to be washed once you left on your trip. I will definitely do this again. Packing for a 12-day cruise is really hard when you don’t have a lot of extra clothes. Having laundry at our disposal was a game-changer, and it also helped us pack less.
- Sign up for a travel credit card. There are several travel credit cards that can help you get your cruise on the MSC Divina for free or almost free. Make sure to check out our list of the best travel rewards cards for some ideas.
- Book spa services 4-5 days into your cruise. The MSC Divina starts offering sales on spa treatments a few days into your sailing. If you’re flexible on your spa appointment times and don’t mind waiting, you can potentially save up to 50 percent. I saw one treatment that started at $150 go down to $79 by the end of our cruise.
- Join the MSC Cruises loyalty program. MSC Cruises has a loyalty program called Voyager’s Club that awards you with special perks. Once you have gone on at least one cruise with MSC Cruises, you also get 5 percent off most future cruises. Definitely sign up so you can earn points for all your future cruises with the cruise line.
Our Cruise Stops on the MSC Divina
Although our cruise stops on the MSC Divina don’t really have anything to do with the ship, I still wanted to talk about where we went and the parts I enjoyed. Our itinerary on this ship was a little different due to some changes after the hurricane season of 2017, but I loved almost every stop. Here’s a rundown of our cruise stops and how we spent our time.
I’m not going to lie – I hate St. Thomas. It’s beautiful, sure, but it’s too expensive.
I say this as someone who has been to almost every Caribbean island, including St. Thomas more than once. Even the more expensive islands like Aruba and Grand Cayman don’t hold a candle to St. Thomas in terms of outrageous costs.
When I woke up in St. Thomas on my birthday, I had a beautiful surprise waiting outside on my cabin balcony – a rainbow! That’s about where the fun ended until we got back on the ship.
We took a taxi to Magens Bay which cost $8 per person. Yes, $32 one-way for the four of us – so $64 round-trip for a 15 minute ride. The worst part is, we were in a shared, open air taxi with 16 other people. Seriously! We were crammed in like sardines both ways, and for way too much money.
Quite frankly, Magens Bay was crowded and overrated. It was $14 to rent a single chair. The beach was so crowded there was barely a space for chairs anyway, so oh well. I’ve had back surgery, so I mainly just stood there seething the entire time. But hey, at least my kids had fun!
To salvage what was left of my birthday, we stayed at the beach for just over an hour and went back to the ship. After that, my birthday was superb. MSC Cruises must keep track of birthdays somehow because they sent me a card and even had a cake for me at dinner. That was such a nice touch!
The lesson here: Stay on the boat in St. Thomas. It will be great because you’ll have all the pools and space on the ship to yourself.
Antigua is an island I had never been to before this trip. Now that I’ve sat on a gorgeous beach in Antigua drinking beer for a day, I am hooked. I was immediately impressed by the fact that a one-way taxi ride to Dickenson Bay was only $12 for the four of us. The taxi driver even set up a time to pick us up and bring us back to the ship for the same price.
Dickenson Bay is a gorgeous beach right next to the Sandals Resort in Antigua. You can rent chairs for $5 or little cabanas for $20. There are a few places for lunch. I think we spent $40 for the four of us, so not bad.
I loooooooooooooooooooove Antigua.
We went to the Hilton Barbados during our time on this island. The taxi ride was only $20 per way, and a nice guy named “Gooseman” set up a pickup time to take us back to the ship. It was all rather convenient after we got through the cruise port chaos.
The Hilton Barbados is absolutely divine. All the rooms had an ocean view, they have a club lounge for elite guests, and the beach is to-die-for. The beach is also huge. We got there late in the morning and still found beachfront chairs and an umbrella. They also had a beach attendant setting up chairs wherever you want.
I will be coming back to this hotel one day, as I really enjoyed our time there and I love Barbados anyway.
I had never been to Grenada before, so I was really shocked when our boat approached this gorgeous, crazy-green, mountainous paradise. Grenada is truly beautiful, and I couldn’t believe what I saw.
We spent the day at the Mount Cinnamon Resort, which has an ideal spot on Grand Anse Beach. The views here are unbelievable, the water is clear and warm, and you will love it.
The hotel itself is also spectacular, with amazing views from every room and accommodations that are as big as three-bedrooms. This hotel is one my husband and I want to come back to alone without kids. I can’t think of a more romantic place to spend time together.
My kids wanted to go to the kid’s club for a special event on the day we stopped in Curacao. We took advantage of that fact and parked our butts on a party beach. Mambo Beach is only 15 minutes from the cruise port, but it’s a great place to drink beer and swim with rocks sheltering you from the waves. I am not going to lie; this is not a cultural experience by any means. It was affordable though. Getting into the beach is only $3.50 per person and you get a chair. Beers were about $5, less if you bought a bucket at a time (which we did). Good times.
I already loved Aruba, but I am even more in love now. We were able to snag a room at the Holiday Inn Aruba for our day on the island, and this resort is amazing! The Holiday Inn occupies the best stretch of Palm Beach, and that really says a lot. The rooms are big, the property is clean, there are pools everywhere, and the beach…….the beach is out of this world. I will likely book this hotel for a family vacation in the future. Just saying!
MSC Divina Review: Final Thoughts
If you are thinking of booking a cruise on the MSC Divina (or any other MSC ship), I would definitely recommend it. This was easily one of the best family vacations we’ve had over the last few years.
Cruising is so much fun, and the MSC Divina takes that fun up a notch. The food was good, the ship was immaculate, and I can’t say enough good things about our experience.
I’m even more excited now for our Mediterranean cruise on the MSC Sinfonia this summer, and I can’t wait to cruise on the MSC Divina again next year.
If you have any questions about the cruise, please post them below and I’ll do my best to answer!
MSC Divina Review
Amenities & Features
Ports & Excursions
MSC Divina Review
If you are thinking of booking a cruise on the MSC Divina, I would definitely recommend it. This was easily one of the best family vacations we’ve had over the last few years.
MSC Divina takes crusing up a notch. The food was fantastic, the ship was immaculate, there was tons to do, and I can’t say enough good things about the crew or our experience.