Making Its Move
With MSC Divina about to relocate to its new Caribbean home, it’s time to revisit this spectacular ship.
By Lynn & Cele Seldon
A taste of the Mediterranean is coming to the Caribbean this winter … and it’s the MSC Divina that’s on the menu. After being christened last year by Italian starlet Sophia Loren on the coast of France, varied sailings featuring unique Mediterranean ports, and a transatlantic crossing, the MSC Divina will be based in Miami year-round starting in November.
Accommodating 3,502 passengers (double occupancy), the ship features many Mediterranean accents. Ship architect Vittorio de Jorio, of De Jorio Design International, is based in Genoa, Italy, and the ship was built by STX Europe in Saint-Nazaire, France. Due to these seaworthy Mediterranean influences, MSC Divina is definitely different from ships frequently built for North American cruise lines and their traditionally North American–leaning passenger lists.
Each of the decks is named for a god of Ancient Greece, like Saturno for Deck 5. MSC Cruises’ Mediterranean passengers are generally quite social, so the ship actually has more bars and lounges (18) than total public decks (13). A Swarovski spiral staircase in the three-deck atrium starting on Deck 5 provides the focal point for the ship, with each of the steps containing 45 to 50 genuine European Swarovski crystals.
Throughout the day and evening, Piazza Del Doge on Zeus (Deck 6) provides a taste of the Mediterranean, in that it was designed as a floating Venetian “piazzetta” (courtyard), with a bandstand, marble fretwork, a stone floor, carved windows, and pretty pinnacles. For a fee, there’s full coffee service, pastries, and gelato, which all serve to help make Piazza Del Doge a European-style gathering point. The bustling space is straddled by La Boutique, with men’s and women’s clothing and accessories, and Il Gioiello jewelry shop.
Deck 6 also features many other public spaces, including boutique shops like L’Angolo dell’Oggetto (with watches and sunglasses often worn by Italians), La Caramella (sweets and more), and The Mini Mall duty-free shop.
Also on Deck 6, the Casino Veneziano and Pantheon Theatre provide gaming and entertainment, respectively, with Monte Carlo–like casino games and several Mediterranean-flavored shows on the evening schedule.
Sacramento Tex Mex on Deck 7 offers reasonably priced Mexican fare, plus juicy burgers and steaks, which will likely prove popular in the Caribbean for an alternative lunch or dinner. Adjacent La Cantina de Bacco is a popular wine- and tapas-tasting bar with varying fees. It also serves up the ship’s specialty pizza, with creative pies representing various regions of Italy providing even more Med flavor.
The bustling Caffé Italia sells mostly caffeinated hot and cold beverages. It’s sandwiched by European-style La Profumeria perfume shop and the MSC Logo Shop.
Black Crab is the ship’s larger two-level dining room, with sparkling chandeliers and Murano glass appliqués, an elegant black and white marble floor, and a black European granite staircase. Villa Rosa is the more intimate aft dining room.
Of course, MSC Cruises is known for creative Italian- and Mediterranean-leaning cuisine. Fresh and dried pastas, risottos, and Italian and other European wines, cheeses, and desserts will all bring a southern Europe accent to the Caribbean.
Almost half of Deck 14 is taken up by two separately named buffet restaurants (Manitou and Calumet) that join to make for a single casual dining destination for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, complete with tasty pasta, pizza, salad, and antipasto stations.
The passenger decks are mostly concentrated on decks 8 to 13, with about one-third of the entire ship’s staterooms featuring balconies and the rest offering a nice balance between oceanview, interior, suites, and the popular MSC Yacht Club Suites. All of the relatively spacious staterooms have a traditional layout and use mirrors to create an illusion of even more space.
With most of the staterooms, spaces, and amenities on Decks 15, 16, and 18 forward, the MSC Yacht Club provides a unique self-contained private club at the front of the ship, with upgraded butler-serviced staterooms, the Top Sail Lounge, the One Bar, Le Muse specialty restaurant, a library featuring personal favorites of Sophia Loren, a swimming pool, hot tubs, private decks, and private elevator service to the Aurea Spa. Fans of Loren and the Med life should ask about booking MSC Yacht Club stateroom 16007, The Sophia Loren Royal Suite, which the Italian star helped design. It features rich red furnishings, specialty designed lamps, pretty heather and red carpet, pictures of the actress, and a replica of her dressing table.
Midship, the outdoor Aqua Park features a pool, two hot tubs, and two bars. Next, the indoor sliding glass-roofed Le Sirene offers three more hot tubs, lounge chairs and tables, a bar, and the Pool Shop. There’s also a Nutella stand offering tasty crepes. All the way forward, the Aurea Spa offers massages; body treatments; facials; a fitness center; a thermal area, with Turkish bath, sauna, whirlpool, and relaxation area; a fun barber shop, with vintage barber chair (an MSC first); and a Shu Uemera Art of Hair cabin to the beauty salon, with several Japanese hair rituals.
The aft section of Deck 15 features the infinity Garden Pool and Zen Area, with teak deck chairs, a soothing blue and purple mosaic motif, De Jorio Design sculptures, and The Garden Bar. Next are the children’s areas, including Smurf-themed I Puffi, Graffiti’s Disco, and Teens Toboga (a multi-deck waterslide) for varying ages.
Deck 16 also features MSC’s first Galaxy, a panoramic specialty restaurant, bar, and adjacent disco. Billed as a 1950s-style Italian nightclub, Galaxy restaurant offers a taste of modern Mediterranean fusion cuisine during three-course dinners and daily brunch.
Kids and kids-at-heart sailing in the Caribbean will find several diversions on Deck 16, including Fantasia-class additions like the 4D Cinema, a Formula 1 simulator, Virtual World arcade, the MSC Sports Arena (think basketball and what North American passengers might know as soccer).
Finally, way up on Deck 18, there’s another sunbathing area. By the time MSC Divina reaches the Caribbean, this area will be transformed into a new MSC Cruises concept called Top 18 Exclusive Solarium, and fee-based adults-only sanctuary of serenity featuring chilled towels, personal lounge beds, private massage chairs, spa treatments, a tiki bar, and more.
Aqua Cycling by Hydrorider aboard MSC Divina
For more information on the ship and her new itineraries, visit msccruisesusa.com