The MSC Divina is based in Port Miami sailing Caribbean year-round. These are my tips for travellers on how to make the most out of sailing with her.
Miami is the world’s busiest cruise port and home of Carnival and Royal Caribbean. On any one day, particularly on weekends, you can see seven or eight ships in port. It’s a very competitive market. It’s a big move for MSC cruises to move the MSC Divina there.
MSC cruises is the world’s fastest-growing cruise line. MSC actually stands for Mediterranean Shipping Company. Its background is in freight transportation and then the family who owns it decided to also get into cruising. They have 13 ships and are incredibly fast growing because they have a great product. They are very strong in Europe, South Africa and Latin America. They weren’t massively strong in the North American market, and so they decided to make some inroads in the biggest market in the world.
Here are my tips for travellers thinking about cruising on the MSC Divina and how you can make the most out of traveling with them.
#1: Value for money: It’s a very competitive market and so they are pricing initially to attract people to try the cruise line.
One of the things that also make it a very good value is that kids 11 and under sail for free no matter what time of the year it is. Children between the ages of 12 and 17 have special rates, too, all year round. It’s also worth signing up for their newsletter because there are always other promotions and deals going on.
#2: Product has been adapted for the North America market: It is a Mediterranean style cruise line with a strong Italian influence. There are six official languages on board MSC Cruise ships. However, they realized by bringing the ship into North America permanently that they needed to tailor it more to the North American consumer because it’s likely the ships will be mostly filled with these passengers. They have made a number of changes including:
- The dominant use of English except for emergency drills and messages.
- Recruited a Cruise Director to join the MSC Divina with many years of experience on developing programs that are liked and enjoyed by North American passengers.
- Evolved some of the dining options to make sure it’s got many of the staples well liked within the US.
- The staterooms have US plugs as standard, so you don’t have to bring adapters.
- The currency on board is Dollars and not Euros.
#3: If you do prefer a slightly more luxurious or more extravagant way of traveling don’t discount MSC Divina because on-board they have the Yacht Club: This is a ship within a ship with premium suites with butler service, concierge, a lounge serving breakfast and snacks during the day, a dedicated restaurant and pool deck.
#4: The tastes of Italy: MSC Divina has partnered with a number of famous Italian brands to bring a taste of Italy onto the ship to reinforce the differences versus other cruise lines.
- They have a partnership with Nutella. This is a chocolate spread that was created just after the Second World War as a way of making chocolate go further. Now it is a popular chocolate spread, and you can have crepes with Nutella in on board. They are fantastic.
- They also brought the Eately chain of restaurants and deli on board. Eately was created in Turin, and it’s a concept of slow food, great ingredients, great food, and very careful slow cooking. They have two restaurants on board, one has a steakhouse spin and the other serves a premium set menu.
- They also have an arrangement with Disaronno, which is a liqueur from the Sorrento part of Italy. It’s a recipe that dates back to the 1500s and used a lot in cocktails. There is a Disaronno bar near the infinity pool serving cocktails, including one which was created for the MSC Divina.
- Segafredo Coffee, which is a famous Italian coffee, is also now on-board. Cafe Italia mostly sells it but there are other various places around the ship where you can get a nice cappuccino, latte or espresso.
- The most popular partnership of all is with Venchi Gelato. This is more than just ice cream – it is a gourmet pleasure! It is absolutely delicious and freshly made.
#5: Entertainment: MSC Divina has a lot of entertainment. They have seven production shows per seven-night cruise, while most others will have two or three. The shows themselves evolve because there’s a core show around which they pull in different specialty acts constantly.
I’ve seen a couple of the shows like Wonderland, which is a very high energy show which is inspired by Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland and the Michael Jackson tribute show with a Michael Jackson lookalike and incredible dances inspired by his great music. It was a very emotional show and at the end everyone was on their feet and many had teary eyes.
#6: Italian food. Although there’s a wide range of food of all types including standards like hamburgers and hot dogs, there’s a strong Italian theme weaving through it and I would encourage you to embrace that.
- The Eately restaurant has great Italian food
- There is another restaurant, La Cantina di Bacco, which has the most phenomenal pizzas I have ever had. The pizza oven is right there in the restaurant and you can watch the chef making the pizzas.
- On the last night in the main restaurant is the Italian menu. A beautiful menu with loads of Italian dishes and tables decorated with the colors of the Italian flag. Towards the end of the meal the waiter comes with massive tiramisu desserts beautifully decorated with the Italian flag colors.
#7: Exercise options. The main reason I focus on exercise is not just because of the gym, which is huge, or because of the classes which they have out on deck but because they have aqua-spinning classes. In the infinity pool at the back of the ship they place spinning bikes in it and run classes twice a day. They’re completely sold out and lots of fun, even to watch!
#8: Budgeting: They have very good drinks packages with different options that can even include all your gelato. The advantage of the packages is you will know exactly how much you’re spending. Think about how much you’re going to consume, compare it to the package.
When it comes to excursions, I recommend before you get on board to take a look at the website or other materials that you’re provided, at the excursions to decide which ones you absolutely want to do. Take a look at your budget because obviously excursions can mount up too. Although your kids are traveling for free, excursions aren’t free.
If you need to balance the budget take a look at the different ports you’re visiting and work out if there’s some self-touring to do to help out. Make sure you research it well in advance before you go so you know what you’re going to do at every port
Those are my personal tips and take on sailing with the MSC Divina out of Miami around the Caribbean. It’s a beautiful ship with have lots of interesting features. Take a look at my video tour of the ship to see just how beautiful it is and all the dining, bars, facilities, shopping and entertainment options.
For all mt videos, articles, photographs and audio podcasts about the ship visit the Tips for Travellers MSC Divina page