It’s already been two months since Mrs Man vs World and I departed from Miami, Florida, on board the MSC Divina. It was a frankly stunning cruise ship that took us through the Caribbean, stopping in at Ocho Rios in Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Conzumel Island in Mexico, and Nassau in the Bahamas.
Along the way, we pigged out in the ship’s 22-hour buffet, drank numerous cocktails in its abundant bars, gambled in its casino (well, only when they gave us free credit to do so 😉) and missed just one performance at the theatre (and enjoyed another show so much that we went twice).
It was our first cruise, and it certainly won’t be our last. Though we both felt like we needed to lose a bit of weight afterwards; the main buffet restaurant onboard the MSC Divina has the second-best pizza I’ve ever had (#1 is in Naples), so we ate A LOT of it.
The entertainment on board was mostly pretty amazing, from the vast array of live music every night to crew-led activities like karaoke (so much fun) and dance lessons (untested by yours truly). The white party was heaps of fun, too.
Of our destinations, I think the Bahamas was the best; we took a boat taxi to the beach, where we had an amazing swim in exactly the sort of crystal-clear water you see on all the postcards.
We only had one formal dinner aboard the MSC Divina and hated every second of it, because the people at our table (who you’re forced to sit with, by the way) were rude and unsociable, the service was slow, and personally I found it a bit of a hassle to adhere to the dress code (I’m on a three-week vacation with a carry-on suitcase; there isn’t any room to pack a suit!).
Meanwhile, with more than 4,300 passengers on board, sometimes I felt the MSC Divina was a bit crowded for my liking. Trying to get a table in the buffet restaurant for breakfast was a constant nightmare with so many people, same with trying to find a beach chair on the upper deck.
With that many people, there was definitely NOT enough swimming pools (only three). That’s probably our biggest disappointment, along with the amount of time you had to wait for drinks at the bars sometimes while the staff struggled to keep up with the demand for cocktails. I was thirsty, damnit!
Cruising on a budget
We had a middle cabin on board the MSC Divina without a window, which was perfectly fine; we were hardly ever in our room, so the money we saved by getting a budget cabin could be spent on copious amounts of alcohol (and it most definitely was).
We also saved money by never booking any of the excursions on board. Instead, we’d get off the ship at each stop and booked tours on land only when we felt like it. In Ocho Rios we didn’t feel the need to do anything besides walk around town, eat jerk chicken at a local restaurant, and imbibe some Red Stripes; Conzumel is a good shopping town, so there was no need to do an excursion; we were talked into doing an island tour in Grand Cayman by a local taxi driver, which was cheap and fun; and we made our own way to the beach in Nassau via a water taxi, which was well worth going it alone.
We bought a book of MSC drink coupons and used them only on cocktails, rather than beer (which was affordable anyway) and soda. There was free juice and lemonade in the buffet.
Like I said, this was our first cruise, but it’s unlikely to be our last. We enjoyed our trip aboard the MSC Divina and can’t recommend it enough. The entertainment staff and room cleaners in particular were very nice and friendly, and we formed a weird obsession with the cruise director’s quirky morning TV show (I even tweeted him and he read it out on the show).
However, next time I’d like to sail on a small cruise ship with less people on board; it just got a bit full-on for me sometimes, especially on sea days when we weren’t in port. But that might be more a reflection of the fact that I’m an impatient asshole. Either way, I look forward to cruising again.