To have some sun and warmth for her birthday my sister decided to travel around the Caribbean on an MSC cruise and asked my mum to join her on the trip. As there were no direct flights from Brussels to Miami they flew via London and had a few days at the beach of Miami Beach before setting sail.
On embarkation day my mum and sister took a taxi from the hotel to the harbour right at check-out time. They arrived quite early at the cruise port but they could get checked in right away. Unfortunately boarding was delayed quite a bit as the debarkation didn’t run as smoothly as anticipated, however their experience wasn’t chaotic unlike Timothy’s MSC Mediterranean cruise.
The MSC Divina is a ship of the Fantasia Class, with its first cruise in 2012. It carries up to 3502 passengers and 1388 crew. My mum and sis where lucky in that they received an upgrade from their initially booked interior cabin to a balcony cabin on the 13th deck.
Their voyage started off with two sea days which they used to relax and explore the ship. They were really fond of the high quality food onboard, with the German chef making some excellent Apfelstrudel.
On the third day they made their first stop, Aruba a Dutch island in the Caribbean. They would be moored here for two days. On the first day they joined an island tour on which they visited a ‘rough’ beach where there was no sign of civilisation like water or electricity, they continued onwards to the Aloe Vera factory and ended with the Eagle Beach and lighthouse.
On the second day they visited the capital Oranjestad in the morning, doing a little shopping. In the afternoon they visited another two beaches, the first (and nicest) beach Arashi they only visited for 45 minutes, on Palma beach their second stop they had some more time to head into the water.
The firth day of the cruise brought them to Curaçao, another Dutch island in the Caribbean. The capital city of Willemstad is a picturesque, quaint and colourful city.
They used the ferry and the pontoon bridge to travel between both sides of the city. In the afternoon they joined a tour on a touristic train showing them the sights of Willemstad.
After a rainy sea day they moored in Jamaica on the seventh day of the cruise. As there were no tours of their liking they just visited the port before heading back on the ship after being harassed by a lot of locals trying to sell them tours and other items.
Day 8 was the last real stop on their itinerary, the Cayman Islands. As it was only a small island they used tenders (small boats) to shuttle passenger between the ship and the small port.
Here they once again took part in an island tour, it rained a bit but the cruise company provided everyone with plastic poncho’s to stay dry. The first stop on the tour was a local beer brewery where they had the chance to taste five different beers. After leaving the brewery tipsy they continued onwards to a rum shop where they could taste some rum, but they were disappointed they didn’t get to learn more about rum and how it was made.
After another relaxing sea day onboard they ended the trip with a visit to MSC’s private island, Ocean Cay.
Here they enjoyed the nice beaches and my sister got to try out a hammock. It was unclear whether their drinks package would be valid on the island or not as they heard contradictory information. At first their drinks on the island where charged but at the end of the cruise they were lifted from the bill. They liked their stay on the private island as is was a true piece of Caribbean getaway.
They sailed back to Miami to fly back home to cold and grey Belgium just in time for the holidays. Overall they had a good experience on MSC and my parents will be making a trip to the Norwegian fjords on them this year. However they felt the level of the excursions was quite low, mostly focusing on getting people to buy stuff and not so much seeing or learning new and interesting things.
Have you ever cruised on MSC and how does your experience compare? Let us know in the comments below!