MSC Divina – Eastern Caribbean

Sailing the Eastern Caribbean, Mediterranean Style

When she sets sail this May, MSC Divina will be the newest member of the MSC Cruises fleet. Photo courtesy of MSC Cruises.
When she sets sail this May, MSC Divina will be the newest member of the MSC Cruises fleet. Photo courtesy of MSC Cruises.

What better way to start 2015 off than by escaping the cold with another Live Voyage Report?

On February 7, 2015 we’re headed for the sunny shores of Miami, Florida, where we will embark MSC Cruises’ MSC Divina for a week of cruising Italian-style around the Eastern Caribbean.

The full itinerary, both here and onboard:

MSC Divina, Sailing the Eastern Caribbean, Mediterranean Style

DAYPORTARRIVEDEPART
Saturday, February 7, 2015Miami, FloridaEmbark MSC Divina19:00
Sunday, February 8At Sea
Monday, February 9At Sea
Tuesday, February 10Philipsburg, St. Maarten09:00 18:00
Wednesday, February 11San Juan, Puerto Rico08:0016:00
Thursday, February 12Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos10:0017:30
Friday, February 13At Sea
Saturday, February 14, 2015Miami, Florida07:00Disembark
MSC Lirica alongside at Civitavecchia. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders
MSC Lirica alongside at Civitavecchia. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

This voyage is a big deal for me. I’ve always wanted to sail with MSC; I can remember looking at brochures for their Caribbean cruises years ago when the smaller MSC Lirica was still operating its Florida-based itineraries. MSC Divina is the line’s second-newest ship, and the largest MSC ship to ever be homeported in Miami.

MSC Cruises is a division of the Mediterranean Shipping Company, which was founded in 1970. Italian in heritage but based in Geneva, Switzerland, MSC Cruises is one of Europe’s largest cruise operators – and they’ve been around longer than you think. The company was originally founded in 1987 as Lauro Lines, and the name MSC Cruises was officially adopted in 1995.

MSC Poesia in the fog off the coast of Spain. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders
MSC Poesia in the fog off the coast of Spain. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

Over the past decade, MSC has grown by leaps and bounds. In 2005, MSC only had two purpose-built newbuilds in service: MSC Lirica and MSC Opera. The remainder of its fleet was rounded out by a beautiful but eclectic collection of older ocean liners, like MSC Melody (the former StarShip Atlantic) and MSC Rhapsody (the former Cunard Princess).

If you fast-forward ten years, the change is remarkable: MSC now boasts a fleet of 12 modern cruise ships (with four more on-order) that sail the waters of the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Northern Europe, South America, South Africa, The Emirates & Oman, the Canary Islands & Morocco, along with special Grand Voyages.

On deck with MSC Divina. Photo courtesy of MSC Cruises.
On deck with MSC Divina. Photo courtesy of MSC Cruises.

At 139,072 tons, MSC Divina carries 3,052 guests and a crew of roughly 1400. She is 1,092 feet long and has a beam of 124.6 feet. She’s also, as far as megaships go, quite attractively designed: her bow is long and pointed, with fairings that sweep back attractively to a series of cascading decks that terminate with the navigation bridge, which is distinguished by its oversized wings. Above that, four additional decks are swept back, topped by the ship’s radar mast.

Like most other ships in her class, MSC Divina’s stern falls off rather abruptly, but even here, her designers have put a slight curvature on the stern that ends up softening its appearance.

Why does this matter, you ask? Because it’s all about attention to details – and few details have gone unnoticed aboard MSC Divina.

Balcony staterooms aboard MSC Divina are filled with rich colours and textures. Photo courtesy of MSC Cruises.
Balcony staterooms aboard MSC Divina are filled with rich colours and textures. Photo courtesy of MSC Cruises.

Designed by De Jorio Design International, MSC Divina’s design is what the company calls “Signature Italian.” De Jorio’s Italian designers have designed seven of MSC’s ships so far, and the look they have crafted is rich and distinctive; at once elegant and inviting and yet unlike anything else at sea.

MSC Divina's glittering atrium. The two sweeping staircases are inset with Swarovski crystals. Photo courtesy of MSC Cruises
MSC Divina’s glittering atrium. The two sweeping staircases are inset with Swarovski crystals. Photo courtesy of MSC Cruises

Take, for instance, MSC Divina’s two sweeping atrium staircases – both of which are clad in Swarovski crystals. Each step is inset with approximately $13,500 of the little things. MSC Divina also has an infinity swimming pool, a 10-pin bowling alley, richly decorated public rooms that reflect the line’s interior heritage, and even the MSC Yacht Club: MSC’s exclusive ship-within-a-ship accomodations concept that pairs luxurious suites with dedicated lounges and dining venues.

Impressive, yes – but it also sets the tone for the entire MSC experience.

The luxurious MSC Yacht Club: MSC's ship-within-a-ship concept that pairs luxury amenities like full-sized suites, dedicated lounge and concierge service and complimentary beverages with the fun of being on a big ship. Photo courtesy of MSC Cruises.
The luxurious MSC Yacht Club: MSC’s ship-within-a-ship concept that pairs luxury amenities like full-sized suites, dedicated lounge and concierge service and complimentary beverages with the fun of being on a big ship. Photo courtesy of MSC Cruises.

The reason I’ve always wanted to sail with MSC is because of their international appeal. Remember: this is a European-based company with Italian heritage and, as such, you’ll meet plenty of fellow guests from around the world. You’ll hear lots of different languages spoken, and see things like Daily Programs available in several sets of languages. To me, this is a huge plus – I don’t necessarily want a North American experience, even in the Caribbean.

MSC Yacht Club suites feature an entirely different (but no less attractive) colour palette. Photo courtesy of MSC Cruises.
MSC Yacht Club suites feature an entirely different (but no less attractive) colour palette. Photo courtesy of MSC Cruises.

What is particularly cool about MSC in the Caribbean is that they offer a genuine slice of European and Italian culture in a region that’s not particularly noteworthy for either. You can get true espresso onboard. That’s espresso, not expresso. Being Italian, I hear the company also knows how to do pasta – but remember! This is Italian pasta, not The Olive Garden. There’s a difference. You can even take Italian lessons, indulge in some refreshing limoncello, or just relax by the hugely-attractive pool area with a book and a cocktail and let the world slip by.

Our itinerary is a fun one, too, with calls on San Juan, Puerto Rico and Philipsburg, St. Maarten.

Most ships the size of MSC Divina lack tenders; specially-designed lifeboats that can also be used to shuttle guests to and from shore when the ship is at anchor. MSC Divina has six of these onboard, which means that we can spend our last full day onboard anchored off of the Bahamian paradise that is Great Stirrup Cay. Located in the Berry Islands, Great Stirrup Cay is actually Norwegian Cruise Line’s private island, but MSC worked out a deal to call there. The island has an interesting history, having served as a pirate hideout until the early 1800’s, and as a United States Air Force satellite tracking station.

So come along with us as we get our first taste of the Mediterranean way of life in the Caribbean with MSC Cruises!

MSC Divina at port in Miami, Florida. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
MSC Divina at port in Miami, Florida. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

MSC Divina, Sailing the Eastern Caribbean, Mediterranean Style

DAYPORTARRIVEDEPART
Saturday, February 7, 2015Miami, FloridaEmbark MSC Divina19:00
Sunday, February 8At Sea
Monday, February 9At Sea
Tuesday, February 10Philipsburg, St. Maarten09:00 18:00
Wednesday, February 11San Juan, Puerto Rico08:0016:00
Thursday, February 12Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos10:0017:30
Friday, February 13At Sea
Saturday, February 14, 2015Miami, Florida07:00Disembark
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One Comment

  • I really enjoyed reading your daily reports made during your cruise on the MSC Divina. My family and I are sailing her in a Yacht Club suite this summer and are so looking forward to the experiences we are sure to enjoy. We’ve sailed Disney a couple of times, but now that the kids are older (17 & 20), we are looking for a more upscale cruising experience and MSC’s price point for a 7-night western Caribbean cruise was undeniable. Your reviews have gotten me ready to embark today (Feb 1), but there are still 143 days until then (but who’s counting). Thanks again for your well written summary report.

    Reply

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