ONBOARD THE MSC DIVINA — With the introduction of the Divina, MSC Cruises continues its steady progress toward creating a cruise brand that Americans can embrace.
The MSC Divina, a 3,502-passenger ship, has checked all the boxes that apply to the large-ship category, from adults-only areas to kids’ facilities, specialty dining areas and varied entertainment.
Plus, there are a few features on MSC Divina that should help it stand out from the crowd.
Its infinity pool on Deck 15 aft is one of the first applications of that resort standby to show up at sea.
The ship’s Formula One auto-racing simulator generated buzz among passengers on a three-night preview cruise from Miami.
And the MSC Yacht Club gives the ship a toehold in the upper-premium segment.
The Yacht Club is MSC’s version of a special-access premium section, first rendered by Norwegian Cruise Line with its Haven area.
On the Divina, it includes 69 cabins and suites, each measuring 295 to 562 square feet; a 30-seat private restaurant, Le Muse; a 141-seat lounge; and a separate pool, pool bar and concierge desk.
The color scheme for the Yacht Club was brown, beige and rust, one of two palates that describe most areas on the ship. The other scheme is black, white, gray, silver and red, with a bias toward smooth, reflective surfaces. Both seem a little dark for a ship that will be doing year-round, seven-night Caribbean itineraries.
But Rick Sasso, president of MSC Cruises USA, said color schemes are “always a matter of taste. We tend to focus on the tones that blend everywhere, so you don’t have dramatic differences.”
More than colors, Sasso said he obsesses about service, which in the past has been panned by some American guests as underwhelming. The Italian staff on Divina is joined by the typical international crew complement hailing from Indonesia to South Africa.
There was general agreement among those onboard that MSC has made strides with the Divina. Kris Kerns, a CruiseOne agent from Palm Harbor, Fla., said she liked the food, and that the buffet restaurants Calumet and Manitou are notably spacious.
The Eataly on the Divina is a fraction of the size of the extravaganzas in New York and Chicago, but it nevertheless offers a selection of genuine Italian goods in a market nook and scrumptious dishes in the restaurant.
The “Pirates” evening show in the main theater was a fast-paced mix of acrobatics, juggling, contortion, tumbling, magic tricks, and gymnastics.
A collection of 84 giant black-and-white prints of the Italian celebrity scene of the 1950s, including such cinema notables as Brigitte Bardot and Marcello Mastroianni, decorates the ship and gives its Italian theme a nice boost.Follow Tom Stieghorst on Twitter @tstravelweekly.