At Sea En-Route to Philipsburg, St. Maarten

Once again, we're sailing the Caribbean Sea en-route to Philipsburg, St. Maarten aboard the gorgeous MSC Divina. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Once again, we’re sailing the Caribbean Sea en-route to Philipsburg, St. Maarten aboard the gorgeous MSC Divina. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Monday, February 9, 2015

In the old days, doctors used to routinely prescribe a “long sea voyage” as the cure-all for a variety of ailments. It was thought that the ocean air had rejuvenating powers, and that being at sea was good for the patient’s overall well-being. While 19th century medicine was no picnic, doctors of the time were right about one thing: being at sea is definitely good for you. Here onboard MSC Cruises’ MSC Divina, thousands of very happy guests are, at this very moment, discovering just how relaxing two days in a row at sea can be.

A trip to MSC Divina's enclosed Le Sirene Covered Pool on Deck 14 proved to be a popular choice. I wish more ships would do the indoor pool/solarium thing. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

A trip to MSC Divina’s enclosed Le Sirene Covered Pool on Deck 14 proved to be a popular choice. I wish more ships would do the indoor pool/solarium thing. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

The vast majority of today’s activities took place outside on Deck 14, near the Aqua Park, MSC Divina’s exquisitely-designed pool deck midships. In fact, the Aqua Park is the one-stop-wonder when it comes to outdoor entertainment. Starting with the Morning Walk group at 9:00 a.m., a total of 13 separate activities are scheduled to take place here until the evening concludes with poolside karaoke at 10:30 p.m.

I’m not much of a pool deck guy, but by the time I did decide to take a break from working and go up and read a few chapters in my book topside, the rest of the guests onboard had figured out that Decks 14 and 15 were the places to be. But, no matter: I spent an enjoyable hour reading on my balcony, listening to the sea churn beneath our hull as we continued to make our way at 19 knots towards Philipsburg.

Deck 14's Aqua Park was packed today! This was the pool deck when it was still relatively calm...Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Deck 14’s Aqua Park was packed today! This was the pool deck when it was still relatively calm…Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

...during Poolside Bingo! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

…during Poolside Bingo! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Personally, today I discovered just how attentive MSC can be. Guest services called this afternoon to check up on my nut allergy, and to ensure that everything is being taken care of to ensure that I never ingest any of the little critters. That’s not so unusual, though it does tent to pop up more on luxury cruises.

Here’s the real winner, in my eyes: the Black Pearl Dining Room will be listed as “closed” when we’re in port – but it is still open for guests who have pre-registered dietary concerns when they booked their cruise. In fact, guests with noted dietary restrictions are actually encouraged to dine there instead of in the buffet. The word from the top: just open the doors and come on in!

Tile work in the Le Sirene Indoor Pool. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Tile work in the Le Sirene Indoor Pool. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

As an allergy sufferer, I can’t even begin to describe how endlessly impressed I am with that. To hold dedicated dining room service between Noon and 2pm on port days as an alternative to the buffet for those with dietary restrictions is huge. And I am one of the fortunate ones: I can usually manage my meals fairly well by making careful choices and asking questions. But if you were lactose or gluten-intolerant, having this could be a real stress-reliever.

One of the most common complaints about modern mainstream cruising – that I have, at least – is that the focus has become very insular on newer cruise ships. On other ships operated by other lines, guests are sheltered, even protected, from having to see the ocean. Public rooms have few windows, and activities are geared towards the Vegas set more than the seagoing crowd. That’s not the case with MSC – and I couldn’t be happier.

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Our Live Voyage Report aboard MSC Cruises’ MSC Divina continues tomorrow as we arrive in Philipsburg, St. Maarten for a day of cycling through town! Be sure to follow along on twitter by following @deckchairblog or the hashtag #LiveVoyageReport.

 

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