Update: The MSC Divina now sails through the Eastern and Western Caribbean.
“I’ll be back to escort you to dinner at 7:00,” our impeccably dressed butler, Victor, told us. I generally make my way around the world escort-free and don’t even let people take my groceries out for me from Publix, but considering we’d gotten lost on the vast maze that was our new home for the week just going to lunch, we took him up on his offer.
We were staying in the MSC Yacht Club, a “ship within a ship,” on the MSC Divina where we were happily being quite spoiled. One whish of our magic key to this private section of the 3500-passenger ship took us to a quiet, elegant area of 69 suites, private concierge and 24-hour butler service.
We could lounge in our large stateroom and amply sized balcony enjoying complimentary items from our minibar, or walk down the hall to the Top Sail Lounge, reserved for MSC Yacht Club guests. Here we enjoyed 180-degree views from the front of the ship, complimentary drinks brought to us by elegantly attired waitstaff and a stream of food items throughout the day.
As MSC Yacht Club guests, we prepared to board the ship at a separate check-in and were personally escorted past the long lines of people waiting to get onboard on arrival day. We also dined in a separate restaurant, Le Muse, where we could be waited on three meals a deal at our own table should we choose.
This exclusive area also included two whirlpools, small swimming pool, plenty of lounge chairs and a separate bar where we could eat pasta, sandwiches and salads for lunch outdoors when the weather was nice.
While we had a few mediocre dishes at Le Muse — the beef dishes were especially missable — there are a few items always available that were quite delicious and we dined on salmon, Caesar salad and onion soup more than once. The service was very good and we especially enjoyed seeing sweet Marianna, ever at the ready with her pepper grinder and big smile.
Our ports were Bari, Italy; Katalon, Greece; Izmir,Turkey; Istanbul, Turkey and Dubrovnik, Croatia. We easily booked excursions at the private concierge desk in three of the stops and found them reasonably priced, informative and enjoyable. Although we could have done without the stop at the carpet place in Istanbul, from which it seems no cruise ship excursion can escape.
We loved our private area so much we spent most of our time onboard there, leaving only to stroll the length of the ship to our private restaurant. A few days we did enjoy the buffet for lunch, after returning too late from our excursions to make it to Le Muse. And after recovering somewhat from our brutal pre-cruise work schedules coupled with the time change that sent us scurrying to our bed right after dinner, we made it to the Parthenon Theater for some excellent entertainment.
The downside of these large cruise ships is that you are dealing with thousands of people onboard and places will inevitably get quite crowded and sometimes very noisy. And we’ve definitely spent time in line at a reception desk when we had an issue.
There were few Americans on board this Italian cruise line, but that will change next year. MSC Divina is crossing the pond to sail year round from PortMiami. While the itinerary is yet to be announced, I suggest you check out getting your own key to the MSC Yacht Club.
Fun Facts about the MS Divina
• The ship has 18 decks, 13 for guests, named after gods of ancient Greece.
• Her godmother is Sophia Loren, and Suite 16007 was created with her in mind, including a replica of a dressing table she uses in her own dressing room.
• The ship has 1,751 staterooms, a casino, seven restaurants, 18 bars and lounges, gym kids’ and teens’ areas and five swimming pools.