As a designer and a European, I always loved the Divina – the glamorous lady who appeared in MSC’s beautiful marketing material. This ship, I thought, didn’t just have a name, but a face, and behind the face was the inspiration of a living legend: Sophia Loren. It was time to meet the ship, and I received a special invitation for her Miami inaugural. It was to be my maiden cruise voyage.
While boarding the Divina, Italian accents could be heard from the greeting crew. The Miss Divina I knew had materialized from computer pixels to real live ladies, mingling with the crowd in their red hats, shoes and pretty dresses, happy to pose for snapshots with admiring passengers.
There were many Italian elements to the Divina: Italian food, an Italian themed milieu, and a large portion of Italians among the crew. But there were also a lot of small and subtle European influences. Oh how I’ve missed the color-coded restroom locks – no need to knock on the door, it is red and that means occupied. Also noticed was the ability of the ship’s crew to adjust to an American demographic, and American expectations. Many of the subtle cultural differences were charming, and it felt like I was sailing with a piece of Europe, but to some, a piece of Europe ends after a slice of Italian pizza or a bowl of Rigatoni. The menu however, was varied to accommodate all. The buffets on the 14th deck provided a wide variety of food, all through the day, and included all the typical American foods and more. Other options included the Eataly Steak House, the Villa Rossa Dining and the Black Crab restaurant, where all of the travel agents and other people in the industry had a private dinner on the upper level dining room each night. We were spoiled with a five course meal of excellent choices, and the service was prompt and attentive.
One of the important aspects of our stay on the Divina was the immediate crew – the cabin attendant caring for your cabin and you. Whenever we were out of our cabin, our new friend tidied up with utmost discretion, and it did indeed feel as if we had gained a new friend. He was personal yet polite and skillfully synchronized with our whereabouts.
As standard on large cruise ships, the Divina had a luxurious interior. There were times when we wished the passengers too, would match the glamor and add to the experience, as many already did. It wasn’t difficult however, to get a feel of the appropriate wardrobe according to event and location, and this was an opportunity to wear that glittery dress or fancy jewelry otherwise neglected in the back of your closet. This was the time to be fun and fancy at sea.
A time spent on the Divina is also a time to explore. While it was fun to freely roam and discover the ship’s special retreats and amenities on my own, one of the gems could be experienced through the available tour of the Yacht Club, where the Sophia Loren inspired suite was open for visits. The ship had many smaller lounge performances, but the big shows took place in the Pantheon Theater. We enjoyed a strangely disjointed and random pirate show, full of amazing acrobatics, and on one of the nights, ABBA took the stage and performed their many top-hits. Well, they sort of looked like ABBA, if you were seated at a distance.
Each night ended with a beautiful view of the ocean and the churning tail at the aft of the ship. We kept the balcony door open to stay connected with the ocean breeze and the starry sky. Thank you Miss Divina for making my maiden cruise voyage part of your inaugural.