Our Mediterranean Experience in the Caribbean

MSC Cruises' MSC Divina docked in Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos on Thursday, February 12, 2015. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

MSC Cruises’ MSC Divina docked in Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos on Thursday, February 12, 2015. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Recently, I spent a week aboard MSC Cruises’ MSC Divina in the Eastern Caribbean. Truthfully, I went not to see Philipsburg and San Juan and Grand Turk, but to experience both MSC cruising and MSC Divina herself. Chances are good that you’ve heard of the rapidly-expanding European cruise line – but chances are equally good that you’ve heard some not-so-great things about them.

Initially, MSC Divina was plagued by comments about uneven service, language barriers, and products that didn’t quite cater to the needs of North Americans. That, however, was nearly two years ago – and in that time, MSC has made some remarkable strides in the Caribbean. I don’t like to say any one voyage was my favorite – but this was one of the most enjoyable and surprising mainstream cruises I’ve ever been on.

Sun sets tonight on MSC Divina's Infinity Pool located on Deck 15 aft. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Sun sets tonight on MSC Divina’s Infinity Pool located on Deck 15 aft. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Our full Live Voyage Report:

MSC Divina is superbly designed, and looks like no other vessel afloat. Colourful and trendy, there’s sure to be a public room that appeals to you. Staterooms, even in non-Yacht Club categories, are larger than you might expect, and beautifully appointed.

Staterooms aboard MSC Divina are attractive and well-appointed. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Staterooms aboard MSC Divina are attractive and well-appointed. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Your fellow guests are an intoxicating mixture of singles, couples, families and retirees from around the world. There’s a large European presence, as you might expect, but also a significant portion of people who hail from South America, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Canadians and Americans make up roughly half of the sailings out of Miami, and many French Canadians from Quebec make the journey down thanks to MSC’s policy of offering printed materials in French as well as English, German, Spanish and Portuguese.

Unlike MSC’s other ships, English is the primary spoken language aboard MSC Divina. It’s a policy that has done well for the line in the Caribbean, and they will be keeping the English-language focus there when MSC Divina sails for the Mediterranean this summer.

Tonight, we dined in Galaxy, MSC Divina's Mediterranean-fusion restaurant located on Deck 16. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Public rooms aboard MSC Divina are bright and offer plenty of connection to the sea. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

One of the things I appreciated most about our Eastern Caribbean voyage were the uncommon experiences that MSC filled our days with. I’d even place the onboard production shows in this category, for the simple reason that they were so diverse, from Michael Jackson tributes to full-blown Italian operas. The only thing that united them, however, was their high quality: I’ve never seen so many standing ovations given to entertainment on a weeklong Caribbean cruise.

If I had to pick, my favorite onboard activity was the wine blending classes held by MSC Divina’s onboard resident wine expert, Dina. You could do classes on blending red or white wine that were offered multiple times per week at a cost of $40 per person, which included your very own bottle of wine, blended to your exact specifications. Even if you don’t know anything about wine, it’s a heck of a lot of fun, and Dina made the experience engaging and personable.

Playing mad scientist with some Malbec... Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

You can even take part in your own wine-blending class aboard MSC Divina. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Even the act of ordering an extra-cost Eataly Pizza – made with real Italian ingredients – was a form of entertainment in and of itself, as guests gathered to watch the pizza dough being flipped high above the Executive Chef’s head. When the pizza was fully baked, it almost looked too good to eat. I say, ‘almost’ because the pizza aboard MSC Divina was the best I’ve eaten outside Italy. No joke.

Executive Chef Attilio Ascione demonstrates...Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Executive Chef Attilio Ascione demonstrates how to make…Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

...a sumptuous, freshly-made Eataly Italian pizza using Italian ingredients. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

…a sumptuous, freshly-made Eataly Italian pizza using Italian ingredients. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

I think it’s most important to highlight a question that you’re surely all asking yourselves by now: should I sail with MSC?

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Stay tuned – we’ll be previewing our next Live Voyage Reports later this week – and we have some very exciting adventures coming up around the world!

 

 

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