Tuesday, September 20, 2016

MSC Divina September 2016

Last week we sailed out of Miami on the MSC Divina on September 10. This was the same ship we sailed on in June. Our captain was Captain Pier Paolo Scala, Hotel Director was Zbigniew (Ziggy) Lisowski, Cruise Director was Andre Schlemmer. Our cabin was 12238 and our cabin steward was Widodo. We had dinner at 8:30pm in the Villa Rosa dining room at table 866 with Dennis as our server. Our table mates were Ed and Veronica from Massachusetts.

Day 1: Embarkation

We got off the Carnival Glory and walked right over to the MSC Divina. Before checking in our bags, we got some stuff out to take to the car and then checked our bags. After dropping some stuff off at the car, we checked in and walked right on to the ship. First we had to go to the kiosk and register our credit card. Then we went to our cabin which was ready and really nice. There was a basket of fruit in there for us. Lunch on the buffet was good. There were coupon books with 18 vouchers for $84 but the bar waiter Al sold us 23 vouchers for $80. Then we walked around the ship and finally relaxed by the pool. Eventually we went and unpacked our bags right before the muster drill. We had to take our life jackets to the Black and White Lounge for the muster drill. After that we went back up to the buffet and had a hamburger while we watched the Glory and Splendor leave the port. We went to the Golden Hits show at 7:45 and then went to dinner. Our dinner mates are Ed and Veronica from Massachusetts and we have a lot in common with them and had a wonderful conversation during dinner.

Day 2: At Sea

We ate breakfast in the dining room and it was nice. Even though we asked for a table for 2, the couple from West Virginia insisted on having a conversation with us. After that we walked for 40 minutes. After breakfast I went to the arts and crafts session on making greeting cards. Then I went to the country line dance lesson which was a lot of fun! Don just watched on the side though. After that I went to the cruise critic meet and greet where the assistant cruise director, Darren was really interested in how we were enjoying the ship. Two guys said that their dinner took almost 3 hours the night before and was awful. They were the first ones seated and the last ones to leave. Then Darren called in some heads of the departments to listen to our comments. By then it was lunchtime so we went to the dining room again but the service was so awful that it took 2 hours to get our lunch. My ice cream was mostly melted by the time I got it. After lunch we went to Italian lessons. Next was another arts and crafts session on origami. The girl showed us how to make butterflies and a box. Another lady showed us how to make a swan. We got ready for dinner early (formal night) and went to a reception where there was free appletinis and prosecco. It was hard to get served a drink. Then people lined up to take a photo with the Captain but we went into the show to get a seat. The show was Mask and it was excellent. Dinner was surf and turf which I enjoyed. After dinner we went to the Black and White Lounge where I got to see Mateja, the German International host, whom we met in June when she first started.

Day 3: At Sea

After breakfast we walked an hour on Deck 7. Then I went to an arts and crafts session where we made paper flowers with crepe paper.  It was harder than it looked. Then we had frozen coffee drinks and relaxed. After lunch we went to the Pantheon theater to watch the movie Ride Along 2 but the sound quality was not so great in that big room that we ended up leaving in the middle of it. Then we sat by the pool and relaxed until it was time for me to go to another arts and crafts session to make bookmarks. Then we went to the sports bar for a few drinks and met this really nice couple Susan and Michael who are retired like us and like to cruise. After getting ready for dinner, we went to the La Luna bar for another drink and then saw the show The Voices which was nice. Dinner was nice and we really enjoy sitting with Ed and Veronica.

Day 4: St. Maarten

We had an awesome day in St. Maarten! We got off the boat and was on the beach by 10am. Once we got off the water taxi we headed to Caribbean Blend (our favorite place to eat) when someone (Dwight) stopped us giving us information about chair rentals. I mentioned that we were going to find Suzette at Caribbean Blend and he said that was his sister. The restaurant was closed for a month so his sister wasn’t there. He rented us 2 chairs and an umbrella for $15 and then called his sister to tell her we were there. She came to the beach a little later to see us and spent the day with us! We felt like we were with a movie star because all the locals knew her! We bought 2 buckets of beer ($10 per bucket of 5 Coronas) and swam in the water. About 3pm we headed back to the ship and ate a late lunch. Then we had a nice nap until 7pm when I had to register for the Zombie Knitpocalypse retreat online which means we had to miss the evening show before dinner but it was worth it.

Day 5: San Juan

We had a lovely day in San Juan. We got off the ship around 9:30am and walked around town. We stopped at El Meson and had a quesito (cream cheese pastry which we didn’t really care for) and a ham and cheese Mallorca (but we decided we liked the cheese Mallorca the best). Then we stopped at the Castillo San Cristobal and took some photos. As we walked around we found a supermarket called SuperMax and found Powerade (.75) and Gatorade ($1.25). We also stopped at Ecomania (thrift store) where we bought a decorative plate and a pair of earrings. It was so hot that we returned to the ship by noon. After lunch we sat at the pool and relaxed. Then we went to buy a frozen coffee before going to arts and crafts where we did t-shirt painting. Then we got ready for the Black Card party and dinner. The party was wonderful and it was so good to see Mateja (international host) and Guglielmo (asst. hotel director) again. I was able to get pictures taken with them which was really nice. After that we went to the show Simply Italian where they sang a lot of Italian songs and then sang the Star Spangled Banner. It was so deeply moving and I was glad to see lots of people stand up during our national anthem! When we got back to our cabin after dinner, there were a bag of goodies (nylong bags, visors, tshirts, and key chains with the MSC logo on them!) sent to us by Guglielmo!

Day 6: At Sea

We had a lovely day at sea. After breakfast we walked for an hour. Then we went to Arts and Crafts where we made picture frames out of construction paper. After that we went to the coffee shop where Don tried an Irish coffee but he hated it. Then we went to the Nassau Talk which really didn’t tell us anything new. We decided to try the Eataly Steakhouse for lunch which we thoroughly enjoyed! We had a 5 course meal and the food was fabulous. After lunch we walked around the ship before going to have an afternoon nap. Before dinner we had a Welcome Back Party where we took a picture with the Captain. It was great seeing Mateja and Guglielmo and their colleagues again. They were so nice and welcoming!

Day 7: Nassau

After breakfast we packed our suitcases and then we had a specialty coffee. We arrived in Nassau at 11:30 am and went into town to get a free Del Sol bag. I asked the shopping consultant, Filip, before we got off the ship if I could just get the bag with the coupon they gave us and he said yes. When we got to the store, they said he didn’t give us the right coupon. The ship clearly warned people not to go past Bay Street because it was too dangerous so we went back to the ship and had lunch there. After lunch we went to see the movie Star Wars – The Force Awakens in the Pantheon theater. It was so cold we wore long sleeves and had beach towels over our legs. After the movie, we sat by the pool and drank a bottle of Prosecco. After watching the ship pull out, we went to the show Starwalker featuring Michael Jackson songs. We put our suitcases out around 11:30pm.

Day 8: Disembarkation

Today we arrived back in Miami. We had to meet in the Casino at 7am for priority disembarkation. We were off the ship and in the baggage area by 7:18 but had to wait an hour for our bags to show up. Even though we were the first ones off, there was a mix up and other colored labeled bags showed up before ours ever did. We were finally on the road by 8:30.

Things I Learned:

1.     It really starts a cruise off nicely when embarkation is smooth and fast!
2.     We love the shows on the MSC Divina.
3.     I’m not very good at country line dancing.
4.     Lunch in the dining room is very slow so we ate at the Calumet Buffet for lunch every day.
5.     I really enjoy the arts and crafts sessions every day.
6.     We really like the beach at St. Maarten.
7.     Many people have a Facebook page and would rather be a “friend” there instead of giving you an email address.
8.     San Juan is really hot in September!
9.     Nassau is not our favorite port.
10.  Everything was too expensive in Nassau so we probably won’t get off the ship next time.
11.  We got our pictures with the Captain for free because we are Black Voyagers Club Card members.
12.  We loved this cruise and will definitely return to the MSC Divina and can’t wait to try their other ships! 

Original photo by Pat Hensley

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