MSC Divina family holiday and cruise ship review - Cruise International

MSC Divina family holiday and cruise ship review

By Cruise International | 7 Aug 2015

The Ross family embark on their first cruise on MSC Divina – and are delighted with their holiday at sea

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Are these the same steps as in the Queen’s palace?” asks our daughter Liberty in awe as we climb the Swarovski-crystal staircase up to the Yacht Club on MSC Divina. As our butler guides us into an oasis of elegance, I start to wonder the same thing.

Tying in with the school holidays, the Mediterranean voyage on MSC Divina was perfect for us – round-trip from Rome,
 with ports of call including Cannes, Naples and Barcelona, and a day at sea. What also appealed was the idea of knowing that all our food and entertainment, including kids’ clubs, would be included – a definite bonus.

From the moment they saw the ship, the children – five-year-old Liberty and Miles, seven, were enchanted; we were impressed by its elegance and glamour. Inspired by Sophia Loren, godmother to all MSC ships, MSC Divina’s décor is distinctly Italian: bold and luxurious. Our suite was part of the ‘Yacht Club’, MSC’s ‘ship within a ship’. There are just 69 Yacht Club staterooms, with 24-hour butler service and room service, as well as a private restaurant, lounge and pool area.

Our suite was sumptuous, with large mirrors to effectively create a sense of space, clean lines with real dark wood, and decor
in warm, decadent colours. The bed had a super comfy memory foam mattress and a sofa converted into a double sleeping space for the children. The soft furnishings included luxurious Mascioni Egyptian cotton bed linen and a pillow menu with five options – heavenly at the end of a long day exploring. With the most amazing blackout curtains, it was the first time since having children that we had slept until 10am.

An Ocean View cabin

An Ocean View cabin

The marble bathroom had a bath and powerful shower, a perfect sanctuary to both refresh and relax. There was a dressing area with plenty of drawer space, as well as full- length hanging space – ideal for the attire needed for MSC Divina’s formal and ‘Meet the Captain’ evenings. There was also a dressing table with large mirror, spot lighting, drawer-mounted hair-dryer, mini-bar stocked up twice a day, a safe, flat-screen TV set and, to our son’s delight, a Nintendo Wii.

A private balcony accessed through a sliding door was the ideal place to enjoy our morning coffee as we entered each new port (and we were relieved to find that the children wouldn’t be able to open the door lock on their own). We lounged in super soft cotton robes and slippers, reading our newspapers. We even saw a pod of dolphin. A perfect moment; we were enchanted watching them whirl and jump in and out of the waves. This family cruise really was the antidote to our hectic lives back home.

There were three main private eating areas in the Yacht Club. We often ate snacks at the panoramic Top Sail Lounge, which had the most amazing picture windows with breathtaking sea views that helped create a calming atmosphere.

Daily breakfast within the One Pool Complex provided simple, good food; cereals, yogurts, fresh fruit, hot breakfasts and a full array of drinks. The experience was quiet and relaxed and very civilised. Each evening we dined in Le Muse, MSC Divina’s fine-dining restaurant. The service throughout was impeccable, the food refined and drinks plentiful; the fish menu comes highly recommended. Le Muse was child friendly and accommodating of fussiness. The daily menu included pasta, chicken and fries, if required.

There were numerous other eateries on the MSC Divina, such as the Eataly Steakhouse, Ristorante Italia and Galaxy Restaurant, allowing you to simply pop in for a snack or enjoy a sit down meal. However we were so enamoured with the Yacht Club, we mostly ate there for dinner. There were also temptations available in other venues throughout the ship such as ice creams and delicious pastries.

Le Piscine pool area

Le Piscine pool area

A cruise really is the perfect holiday for children. Our daughter was enchanted on meeting Doremi, the MSC mascot, and
she simply had to acquire a cuddly version from the MSC logo shop on the last night.
I also acquired a bottle of perfume from La Profumeria – a necessity, I told my husband.

There are activities and entertainments galore for children on MSC Divina. Mini Club for age 3-6 and Juniors Club for age 7-11. For older children there was a play centre, 4-D cinema, video games room, bowling sports bar, F1 simulator, as well as a fabulous water slide.

We were particularly impressed at the breadth of the activities, with the programme in the kids’ clubs running from 9am until 11pm. Fantastic fun was had as the children made their own pizzas and learnt high-energy dance moves, providing ample time for us to relax and unwind.

The children loved the experience of being at sea – both whooped and whistled when the ship blew its horn. Liberty was absolutely enchanted with the mascot Doremi, while Miles was fascinated by the ship. His end- of-holiday treat was buying a model of the ship so that he could count all the lifeboats. Both children were also impressed by the chocolates left on our pillows every night.

A highlight for our family was our evening visits to the Pantheon Theatre. The shows were marvellous, and included Italian Singers, a Michael Jackson tribute, as well as dance and acrobatic shows. We were absolutely wowed by the talent. The theatre was ideal for all ages and varied entertainment was put on throughout the ship, with live music in most lounges and bars.

MSC Cruises' delicious afternoon tea

As members of the Yacht Club we had direct lift access to the MSC Aurea Spa – a tranquil and relaxing space with complimentary unlimited access to the thermal area – sauna, steam room and relaxation room. There were numerous treatment rooms, offering massages and other body-pampering treatments at an additional cost. I had a Balinese massage. It was the most soothing massage I have ever had. And for my husband, the gymnasium was large and had a variety of cardiovascular machines and strengthening equipment, which he used several times during the week, always managing to secure a piece of equipment. There were also various exercise classes including pilates, cycling and stretching classes, at an additional cost, as well as a jogging track and football pitch.

Of course, a big part of cruising is leaving the ship and exploring. We were delighted to discover that MSC Divina offered a variety of excursions from every port and I was amazed at how well organised and easy these were. We also did some exploring of our own and most things of interest only ever seemed a 10-minute walk away.

Our highlights included paddling
on Cannes and Barcelona beaches and discovering the delights of Palma around the cobbled streets on a horse drawn carriage. In Naples we hopped on and off the city sightseeing bus, taking time out to indulge in real Italian gelato and, naturally, it being in the home of pizza, a Neapolitan margherita simply had to be sampled. Unsurprisingly, it was absolutely delicious.

Since we arrived home Miles has been asking: “Why haven’t we got a butler?” and “Why can’t we go to the theatre every night?” He’s not the only one. Luxurious, relaxing, and a fantastically easy way for us to visit idyllic Mediterranean destinations on one holiday, our first family cruise was simply amazing. We had the most incredible week and are now complete cruise converts. We can’t wait to experience one again.

GETTING THERE: A seven-night cruise on MSC Preziosa starts from £2,396 for a family of four (two children under 12) sharing a balcony stateroom, including return BA flights from Gatwick. A stay in the Yacht Club during the same week starts from £5,076 for a family of four, also including flights. For more information visit msccruises.co.uk or call 0203 426 3010.

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