Tuesday, October 18, 2016

MSC Divina October 2016

For Pictures of our trip, click here.

Yes, you read the title right. Last week, we were on the MSC Divina for the third time this year. We were telling our friends, David and Kim about it and they wanted to give it a try so we all got on the MSC Divina on October 8, 2016. Our Captain is Pier Paolo Scala, the Hotel Director is Gianfranco Sampiero, and the cruise director is Darren McColl. We were upgraded from an interior cabin to a balcony cabin (13228) which is on the very back of the ship. The balcony is extremely small and impossible to sit on so I’m glad we didn’t actually pay for the balcony, otherwise the cabin is very nice. The interior cabin had more storage though with 4 closets instead of 3 so I think I actually like an interior cabin better. Our dining time is 8:30pm at table 608 in the Black Crab dining room. We like the Villa Rosa dining room better because the noise level in the Black Crab is horrendous. We had dinner with two couples form Port St. Lucie: Steve and Paula and Frank and Debbie.  Our itinerary was changed due to the hurricane and instead of going to Nassau on Sunday, we will be at sea. Then on Monday, we will arrive in Grand Turk. Tuesday we will arrive in St. Maarten at 2pm instead of 1:30pm, and on Wednesday we will be in San Juan from 9am – 2am.

10/8/16 Embarkation:

We didn’t get in the building until 10:30 and didn’t get on the ship until noon. Checking in went very smoothly and then we had to wait. We got on the ship and went straight to the kiosk to register our credit card. Then we ate lunch. It did not take long for David and Kim to get on the ship and meet us for lunch. After lunch we showed them our cabin and then went to look at their cabin. After that Don and I went to the pool area to enjoy a bucket of beer. In the evening we went to see the show Voices which was very good but lasted longer than 30 minutes. While we were waiting for the show to start, we saw Shomee from Hungary again and it was so nice to see him! We left the show about 8:40 to go to dinner but they didn’t even open the doors until 8:45. Dinner was okay but I was disappointed because I had asked for a table for 4 and we ended up at a table for 8 which made having a conversation nearly impossible due to the noise level in the dining room. After dinner we walked up to the Calumet buffet and Don and David had a little snack.

10/9/16 At Sea:

We had a nice breakfast at the Calumet buffet and then went for a walk and eventually had a chocochino coffee at the specialty coffee café. At 11am, I went to the cruise critic meet up but found out that there was a mix up and that the officers weren’t available until the 4pm meeting so after talking we agreed to come back. We had lunch with David and Kim and went to look at the sports bar to see what changes were made. Then we had a little nap before taking a little nap. In the evening we went to the La Luna Bar and listened to the music by the band Unforgettable that we like. Then we saw the show Mask and I was afraid I would be bored since this is the third time we saw the show but some of the acts in the show were different and I really enjoyed that. The best part was that our dining assignment was changed for us, thanks to the deputy purser, Guglielmo, who is my “friend” from the previous cruises. The first night in the middle dining room, the noise level was so loud, my husband could not hear any of the conversation and was miserable at a table of 8 people. We have a new table in the quieter dining room (Villa Rosa Table 966) with just the four of us and it was so lovely! I think the food even tasted better because we all were happier.

10/10/16 Grand Turk:

We arrived around 7am but didn’t get off the ship until after 8. We had to wait until the Carnival Splendor tied up to the dock before we could get off. The weather was beautiful so we went swimming. The water was really rough and choppy.  We sat in the free lounge chairs with umbrellas and was surprised when some guys were charging $25 for the 2 chairs and an umbrella in the row right in front of us. After that, I made sure I told everyone who was looking at them, that our chairs under the green Cruise Center umbrellas were free. When we got back, we had a big lunch and then took a nap. In the evening we went to the show Simply Italian which featured Italian songs.

10/11/16 St. Maarten:

In the morning we had a party for Black Card members (top level of their loyalty club) and it was great seeing many of the crew members again! We met a nice couple, Don and Sherry, and ended up giving them a look at our cabin and they brought us to their cabin. We have what is called a Juliet balcony (basically, standing room only). They have a cabin on one of the side angles and their balcony was enormous! At 2pm we met David and Kim in the lobby and then walked around St. Maarten. We went to see our friend, Suzette, who works at the restaurant on the beach. In the evening we went to the show, Witches in Paris, and then had a very nice dinner.

10/12/16 San Juan:

We got off the ship at 9am and went to the Castillo San Cristobel. It was wonderful seeing it with Kim and David! Then we walked towards the other Castillo but stopped at this outdoor patio café where we had Mayorcas with cheese. Then we walked to the other fort and had beautiful views from there. As we walked to the Old San Juan Gate, we stopped for lunch at Rosa de Triana where Don and David had Cazuela de Bac which was a huge soup bowl with chick peas and cod stew  ($20.95 each). Kim had Tostones which were plantains with shrimp ($9.75). I just had French fries ($4) because I was hot and thirsty but not very hungry. After walking to the gate and around town, David and Kim headed to Walgreens and back to the ship. Don and I headed to Ecomania which is Don’s favorite thrift store. We got back on the ship around 3:30pm and went to the buffet to have some fruit. In the evening we went to the show The Show Must Go On which is a tribute to Queen and then went to dinner.

10/13/16 At Sea:

It is hard to imagine that we faced a major hurricane just a week ago!! Yesterday was a fabulous day at sea. After breakfast we relaxed until it was time to watch David and Kim in the ping pong tournament. The Captain also announced that he would be changing his route back to Miami because of Hurricane Nicole. After that we went to the Eataly Steakhouse for our complimentary dinner. We were able to have anything off the menu which was a nice change from the last time! Last time we had a special Voyageur’s Club menu where we basically had a small sampling of dishes. This time I had an appetizer of cold cuts that could have been a meal by itself. Don had an appetizer of different cheeses. Then I got a ribeye that was huge and Don had two lobster tails. Both were cooked perfectly! We also saw the Captain and he stopped to talk with us. A few minutes later, he sent us glasses of red wine. Then we shared a cannoli for dessert. It was the best meal I had in a long time and the prices were really reasonable so we would definitely recommend this restaurant to others! After lunch we relaxed on our balcony and had a bottle of champagne. Then we went to the Welcome Back Cocktail party and took a picture with the Captain. It was also great seeing the officers and senior staff! I took another picture with my friend Guglielmo, the deputy purser. After the party we went to the show Treasure Island which was a fabulous show. Before the show we enjoyed talking to Showmee Tamas from Hungary who is part of the entertainment staff. At dinner the Captain gave everyone a glass a champagne and then gave an apology to all of the guests for changing the itinerary and any problems that people had service wise due to the coming out of dry dock early and missing some crew members, all due to Hurricane Matthew.

10/14/16 At Sea:

We had another lovely day at sea. After breakfast we packed our suitcases. For a reward we went to get a Caramel Coffee Frost (frozen coffee) and sat with David and Kim. Then we all went to the Eataly Steakhouse for lunch which we all loved. We had the cold cuts, cheeses, ribeye and lobster tails again. After lunch we walked around and then watched David play in the ping pong tournament. In the afternoon we took a nap before we went to the Michael Jackson show. At the end of the show, they sang the Star Spangled Banner. Then the Captain came out and thanked everyone for sailing with MSC.

10/15/16 Debarkation:

We met in the Casino at 7am for priority debarkation and was allowed off the ship by 7:30. We were in our car and on our way by 8am. I really think they have improved their debarkation procedures and it is much better than the time we were on the ship in June. I will miss the crew and ship because we had an awesome time!

Things I Learned:
1.     I really like seeing crew members who remember us! It makes us feel special.
2.     I don’t like the Black Crab restaurant upper level because it is too noisy.
3.     If it is too noisy at dinner, it is impossible to have a pleasant conversation with 8 people.
4.     We really like the Villa Rosa dining room.
5.     We like the music by Unforgettable (a man and a woman who play music I recognize!)
6.     I think it helped make the dinner so much better when you can enjoy the conversation!
7.     Use the free Cruise Center chairs and umbrellas on the beach at Grand Turk. There are some people trying to charge $25 for the chairs and umbrellas. They also tell you that there aren’t any chairs left but there are plenty.
8.     I like going to St. Maarten in the morning better than the afternoon.
9.     They charge for room service on the ship depending on the type of cabin class you purchase.  
10.  We really enjoy the forts in San Juan every time we have been there.
11.  You can rent a car for the day in San Juan for about $60. If we shared with another couple and someone else would be willing to drive, this is something we would like to do.
12.  We loved the perks for Voyageurs Club Black Card members. They have changed the program where now we each get a complimentary meal for 2 in the specialty restaurants which includes anything off the full menu. Last time we were on this ship, we were given a small sampling of specific dishes which was a special menu for the Black Card members. This full meal is so much better!
13.  We really like Captain Scala and he is extremely professional but has a wonderful personality. Every time we saw him, he took time to speak.

14.  We like priority debarkation.

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