Monday, June 27, 2016

MSC Divina 2016

Last week we took a cruise aboard the MSC Divina which is a new cruise line and new ship for us.  The Captain was Francesco Veniero, the Hotel Director was Zbigniew (Ziggy) Lisowski, and the Cruise Director was Andre Schlemmer. This was our 45th cruise. Here is the link to the pictures I took.

Saturday 6/18/16 (Embarkation):
We drove to Miami and boarded the ship. Embarkation was very smooth and easy. As soon as we got there at noon, we went through priority boarding and walked right on to the ship. We were directed to Deck 5 where we had to go to a kiosk and register our credit card. I’m glad we did it right away because throughout the rest of the day, there were enormous lines and chaos near the kiosks and reception desk. We explored the ship and finally sat to enjoy a bucket of beer. The bars on the 14th deck were outside and they were so hot! We went back to the room and unpacked our suitcases and waited for the muster drill. Right before the drill, we found out that our safe didn’t work so I had to carry everything to the drill. After the drill, I called and they said they would send someone but no one came. We went back out and sat in a bar on the 16th floor and watched the rain come through which was pretty (especially since we were inside!). At 6:30pm we got ready for dinner and I called the reception desk again about the safe. They finally sent our cabin steward who came to fix it. We had dinner at 8:15 and sat with Addy (age 19) from Portland, OR and her grandmother Jackie from Vacaville, CA. The food was okay but my steak looked like a breakfast steak. After dinner we walked around before heading to bed.

Sunday 6/19/16 (At Sea):
We had breakfast in the dining room and I enjoyed the omelet and English muffin. We sat with a couple from Columbus, OH and a couple from Germany (he was an Aerlingus pilot). The service wasn’t that great though. Then we went to find the power walking track which was pretty nonexistent and filled with sunbathing chairs and crowds of people blocking the path. So, we found the outside deck on deck 5 that doesn’t go all the way around but we walked back and forth on this deck. It was shady and pretty empty of people. Then we went to the cooking demo which was unorganized and crowded. The host had trouble with the sound system and people were coming in 2 different directions which means they had to practically crawl over us in the front seats to get to the back seats. We won’t be going to another one of them. We ended up sitting on our balcony and relaxing. By then it was lunch time and we had lunch with some nice people. One couple was from Merritt Island and he was a former pilot in the military. After lunch we sat on our balcony some more and relaxed before taking a nap. After our nap we had a snack at the buffet. By then it was time to get ready to meet the Captain and go to the show. We had free cocktails at the Captain’s reception and Don had 3 martinis and I had a couple of glasses of Prosecco. The show Mask was phenomenal. There were separate acts within the show such as jump rope artists, hula hoop juggler, aerial act, gymnasts, and dancers. So far the show has been my favorite part. After the show we had a dinner with a family of 3 who had just moved from our home town to Florida so we had interesting conversations. We were going to have a drink before dinner but bars were so crowded we couldn’t find a seat so we went to bed.

Monday 6/20/16 (At Sea):
After breakfast we did our exercise walk on deck 7 back on forth. The only ones on this deck were crew members working so we had a great time walking for an hour. After that sat on the balcony and relaxed (reading and knitting). After lunch we relaxed on the balcony some more and drank the 2 complimentary bottles of Martini and Rossi Prosecco. Before dinner we went to the lounge and had a cocktail before dinner using our drink coupons. Don had a martini and I had a margarita. The show was Voices where they sang a lot of nice songs that I recognized. I’m amazed at the size of the show cast and all the pretty costumes. Then we went to dinner and the theme for tonight was 70s and 80s but we wore regular casual clothes to dinner. We had prime rib for dinner which was the best meal so far. The theme for tonight was 70s and 80s but I didn’t have any clothes to highlight that era (it wasn’t my favorite).

Tuesday 6/21/16 (St. Maarten):
Around 9:15am, we got off the ship in St. Maarten. I expected long lines and crowds to get off the ship but there weren’t any. We walked right off the ship! We took the water taxi ($7 round trip) to the beach. We like to sit in front of the restaurant Caribbean Blend and we stopped to say hi to Suzette who works there before renting chairs and an umbrella ($10) from Rudolph. We sat next to a really nice couple from Mexico City and their 8-month old baby. Two buckets of beer were each $10 and we gave a $1 tip. We were really surprised how deserted the beach was all day! Rudolph told us that there would be no ships on Wednesday, Thursday, or Sunday. We left the beach around 2pm and had a late lunch on the ship. After a short nap, we went to the show Witches of Paris which was a French variety show and was excellent! It was theme night again and the theme was white but I didn’t bring anything white with me.

Wednesday 6/22/16 San Juan:
We had a lovely day in San Juan. We got off the ship around 9am and went to Ecomania, the second hand shop (corner of Calle de San Justo and Calle Luna) but found out that it didn’t open until 11am so we went to the Fort San Cristobal and explored it. We had beautiful views from the top of the fort. Then we walked around town and found a sandwich shop where we tried a Mallorca and quesito (pastries). They were pretty good! Then we went to the shop but hubby didn’t find any treasures. After that we walked around town some more before returning to the ship for lunch. After lunch we took a short nap before going to the Black Card Party – a private party for the top tier cruise line membership – with 20 other people. We enjoyed the free drinks and meeting senior ship officers. They also gave us each a chocolate ship. After that we went to the bar and had another drink before the show which was very good. The theme for tonight is red, white, and green. We enjoyed dinner with Derrick and Jen again but my dessert (tiramisu) never arrived so we left around 9:45pm. I guess I really didn’t need dessert as much as I’ve been eating!

Thursday 6/23/16 At Sea:
We didn’t do much yet we felt busy all day. After breakfast and our exercise walk we had frozen coffee treats. Then we relaxed in our cabin until lunch. After lunch we walked around and then had cocktails with Dennis and Mary from NC until we went to the opera (a 1 hour condensed version of La Traviata). I’m not sure that I really enjoy opera but I enjoyed the costumes and the dancing. Then it was time for another cocktail and prepared for formal night. We went to the show Treasure Island which I enjoyed but we had to leave before it ended. We had a captain’s cocktail party and even got a picture taken with him. He was such a personable man and said he used to be a captain of a container ship in Charleston. For dinner we had lobster.

Friday 6/24/16 Nassau:
After breakfast we had a specialty frozen coffee and then did our exercise walk. After that we changed and then went to meet the hotel management. We enjoyed speaking to the guest relations manager, another man, and then the hotel director, Ziggy. After that we went to lunch but the feeding frenzy was so chaotic that we went back to the room with a cocktail and we packed one suitcase. We arrived in Nassau around noon and after most of the people got off the ship, we went to have lunch. After lunch we went for another cocktail. We relaxed on the balcony and Don took a nap. After going up for an afternoon snack, we came back and packed the second suitcase. We had a reservation at the specialty restaurant, Galaxy for 6pm and watched us pull out of the port. We had a complimentary $35 five course meal but I really didn’t like it. We had sea bass, roast duck teriyaki and mozzarella infused with milk and gelatin, risotto, turbot with tomato basil and truffles and Chantilly cream with garlic and then strawberry ice cream with meringue (reminded me of baked Alaska). ). After dinner we had another cocktail before the show and they announced that we were returning to Nassau for a medical emergency. Then we went to the show Michael Jackson and it was very good. After the show we changed and put our suitcases in the hall. Then went to La Luna bar for more cocktails. While we were there, the guy who played Michael Jackson formally proposed to one of the singers performing in the bar. It was very romantic. One of the entertainment team, Tyrone, sat with us and talked with us until we left. He has only been on this ship for two weeks and he was from South Africa.

Saturday 6/25/16 Disembarkation:

This was a disaster and a nightmare! There was absolutely no organization from the ship’s crew. People were going in all directions, cutting in lines, making new lines that ended up merging into one and it was total chaos. People were supposed to get off the ship according to their colored luggage tags but many were not following that order and just getting off whenever they wanted. When we got to the baggage claim, these people were blocking the ways because their luggage hadn’t even been taken off the ship yet. We were at breakfast at 6am because we had to be out of our rooms by 7am and meet in the casino at 7:30. Then they announced at 7:15 that we were supposed to meet 45 min. later than planned because we hadn’t even arrived at the port yet. We didn’t get off the ship until almost 10am and had to fight in the crowds for over an hour to get off the ship. This was the worse we have ever experienced in 45 cruises! The parking garage cost us $140.

Things I Learned:
1.     The balcony room is nice but I don’t think paying extra for it is worth it for us.
2.     The ship has a lot of chrome and mirrors and is very elegant.
3.     No shorts around the ship after 6pm.
4.     The breakfast buffet is better than the dining room.
5.     The lunch buffet is better than the dining room.
6.     The shows are worth going to each night.
7.     The Prime Rib in the dining room was excellent.
8.     Even with sun block and a beach umbrella, I still got sunburnt in St. Maarten.
9.     I love the beach at St. Maarten.
10.  Swimming is good exercise and I felt sore later.
11.  Next time I will find out the theme nights and make sure I bring clothes to wear for them.
12.  Getting on and off the ship is very smooth which surprised me since there are 4300 people on the ship!
13.  I am amazed that the dancers can do so many big shows night after night. They really have to practice and know a lot of different dances.
14.  I’m not a big fan of opera.
15.  The Captain used to be a captain of a container ship out of Charleston.
16.  I really enjoyed all of the shows every night with the costumes and the dancing.

Original photo by Pat Hensley

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