The MSC Divina was named in honor of movie legend Sophia Loren, who is MSC Cruises' official godmother. Isn't it appropriate to name a cruise ship after a really divine diva?
The 3,502-passenger (double occupancy) ship is one of four ships in the Fantasia class and is filled with elegant decor, interesting artwork, lovely accommodations, diverse dining venues, and fun activities for all ages. She is one of a dozen new ships launched by MSC in the past decade.
MSC Divina Itineraries and Overview
The MSC Divina is the cruise line's first ship to be based year-round in North America. Miami is the home port for the MSC Divina, and the ship primarily sails seven-day cruises round trip from Miami to either the western or eastern Caribbean.
When onboard the MSC Divina for a three-night sailing, I spoke with the cruise director to determine if the company made any changes to accommodate a primarily North American market. He confirmed that since the ship is based in the USA, the company did make subtle changes to the onboard activities, dining, and daily schedule to adapt to the desires and routines of North American cruise travelers.
For example, dinner is being served earlier, and evening events are scheduled at an earlier time than for MSC ships sailing in Europe. North Americans eat more breakfast and lighter lunches than Italians, so the purchasing department adjusted the quantities of some food items.
The MSC Divina staff also planned more onboard activities for the morning to accommodate early-rising cruisers, and the ship has more social gathering opportunities for groups with common interests such as veterans or solo travelers. The onboard sporting activities include basketball and golf, so the ship has added more equipment for those games.
Although MSC ships have five official languages, the MSC Divina has English as the primary language at shows and amongst the staff. The cruise director and his team examine the manifest for each sailing in order to determine how many languages to use for announcements.
Next, let's take a tour of the dining, cabins and suites, indoor and outdoor common areas, and the MSC Divina Yacht Club. Click on each section's title to read more and see photos of the ship.
Although the MSC Divina has been adapted for the North American market, cruise travelers will be happy to know that she is still Italian. The menus are Mediterranean, but also include some American favorites. The dinner menus change daily.
The ship has eight main dining venues:
- The Black Crab and Villa Rossa - Main dining rooms
- Galaxy - Mediterranean fusion dining and brunch in nightclub/disco
- Eataly - Italian steakhouse modeled after Manhattan restaurant from the same company. Marketplace allows guests to buy dried pastas, olive oils, aged balsamics, and other tantalizing ingredients to make their own Italian dishes at home.
- Ristorante Italia - elegant specialty restaurant serving only 30 guests per evening with a menu that changes each day
- Le Muse - Private dining for MSC Yacht Club guests
- Calumet and Manitou - casual buffet dining and pizzeria open 20 hours per day
In addition to these main dining venues, MSC Cruises has partnered with some well-known companies to provide some tastes of the Mediterranean to its Caribbean cruises.
Coffee lovers can seek out the Caffe Italia, which serves Italian favorites like espresso and cappuccino as well as specialty coffees from the Segafredo Zanetti gourmet brand.
Nutella continues to grow in popularity, and the MSC Divina even has a Nutella Corner by the pool. Does a Nutella-filled crepe make your mouth water? Buy one and receive a specialty gift.
I would have been very disappointed if an Italian ship didn't have gelato, so I was delighted to find a Venchi Gelateria next to the main pool. Venchi has been making gelato since 1878, and this gelati stand also sells refreshing sorbets along with different flavors every day.
Those who can't ever get enough pizza love the pizzas made at the La Cantina di Bacco wine bar on deck 7. These specialty pizzas are made using Eataly ingredients and can be customized with your favorite toppings. The wine bar also features Eataly's wine menu.
Like most large cruise ships, the MSC Divina has grouped its 1,751 cabins and suites into many categories. The ship has 8 basic types of accommodations spread over 17 categories. Of these accommodations, 45 are wheelchair-accessible cabins and suites.
The most interesting accommodation is the Sophia Loren suite in the MSC Yacht Club. Ms. Loren designed this suite, and it is filled with rich reds and glorious photos of some of her most memorable roles.
The ship has 1,125 balcony staterooms, making this the largest type. These range in size from 182-317 square feet, with a balcony of 34-124 square feet.
The least expensive and smallest cabins are the 405 interior staterooms, which range in size from 138-169 square feet. Many of these cabins have pull-down Pullman beds, so they can accommodate 4 guests or a family.
The MSC Divina interiors are elegant and contemporary. Movie star and celebrity buffs love the 84 black-and-white photos spread throughout the public areas. These photos are part of a fascinating exhibition of stars and celebrities of the 1950's. The photos were taken in Italy, so they also show the charm and beauty of Italy during that decade. Young and old guests on the ship enjoy seeing the clothing of the era and remembering how gorgeous the women (and men) were.
Bars and Lounges
Pantheon Theater Entertainment
The entertainment in the 1600-seat Pantheon Theater is impressive. On our cruise, the production staff included 12 dancers, 12 guest artists, and 2 opera singers. They wore an eclectic and interesting mix of costumes. One show is an Italian night, and the songs were changed a little to add some that were more familiar to North Americans. A seven-night cruise includes seven nightly shows and a children's matinee. The shows include a classical opera, a tribute to Frank Sinatra, a pirates show that features many acrobats, a tribute to Michael Jackson, and some guest artists who are flown in for one or two shows.
No drink service is allowed in the theater. Guests won't even find any small tables or cup holders like seen on most ships. The owners felt like having drinks served would disrupt the shows and the overall theater experience. Since not serving drinks costs the cruise line money, MSC top management must take their production shows in the Pantheon very seriously.
Aurea Spa and Gym
The 18,000+ square foot MSC Aurea Spa includes a sauna, steam room, Thalassotherapy pool, gym, beauty salon, and barbershop. The barbershop even has a vintage barber's chair, and the Shu Uemura Art of Hair cabin in the beauty shop gives guests the opportunity to indulge in four rituals developed by this Japanese beauty expert.
Other Indoor Activities
The MSC Divina also includes wine tastings, mixology classes, culinary demonstrations, dance classes, and Italian language classes on its Caribbean itineraries. Those who enjoy science appreciate the astronomy lectures.
The non-smoking casino features slots, blackjack, poker, roulette, and craps.
Families (and guests of all ages) can enjoy the two forms of high tech entertainment--the Formula 1 race car simulator and the 4D theater. The theater has several different programs, some of which are harrowing, even for adults (like me).
This large cruise ship has four swimming pools and twelve whirlpools. The infinity-style Garden Pool is aft on deck 15. Its quiet Zen area is relaxing, with nice lounge chairs and lots of sun. This pool is used for Aqua Cycling classes led by the fitness staff.
Between the Aqua Park and the spa is Le Sirene, an outdoor pool with a sliding glass roof that can be closed to keep out the rain or cold weather. It has three whirlpools and some lounge chairs.
Active guests appreciate the MSC Sports Arena on deck 16, which features basketball, volleyball, tennis, and soccer.
Sun lovers willing to pay a surcharge can make their way to the Top 18 Exclusive Solarium. This adults-only sanctuary features premium deck space, comfortable clam shell lounges, a pool, bar, and complimentary snacks. Those who love a quiet place to read, nap, sun, or have an express spa treatment on deck will find it is worth the extra fee.
All of the Fantasia class MSC ships feature a "ship-within-a-ship" area called the MSC Yacht Club. This private club area is forward on decks 15, 16, and 18.
The MSC Divina Yacht Club has 69 suites. Guests staying in the Yacht Club suites have 24-hour butler service and exclusive access to the Concierge, Top Sail Lounge, Le Muse Restaurant, and The One outdoor deck and pool on deck 18.
The MSC Yacht Club amenities are similar to those on the MSC Splendida. This detailed article on the MSC Splendida Yacht Club provides more information on this special place to sleep, relax, socialize, and dine.
With its Mediterranean heritage and Italian ownership, MSC ships are a little different than those expressly built for North American travelers. However, since the MSC Divina ship is sailing year-round from Miami and based in the Caribbean, the company adapted the ship's schedule, activities, and dining options to make it more familiar and appealing to this clientele.
The MSC Divina is gorgeous, with lovely common areas and accommodations and interesting entertainment. It provides a good option for those sailing the Caribbean but want a little taste of Italy on their cruise vacation.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary cruise accommodation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our Ethics Policy.