While I used to think cruising wasn’t for me, this year has changed that. After sailing on Fathom to the Dominican Republic, with Viking in Provence, and on the J&E Riggin in Maine, I’ve realized just how many different types of cruises there are and the advantages they offer. Which is why when it came to booking a trip for my birthday, a Caribbean cruise came to mind. I wanted to have a real vacation after a year of travel and figured this was the way to do it. After a bit of last minute research, I decided to go to Colombia and the Caribbean on the MSC Divina.
Since I had friends who had cruised on the Divina just a few months prior, I didn’t hesitate in booking a room. Currently, MSC only has one ship in America, though that will all change next January with the addition of the MSC Seaside. The Divina is a gorgeous ship built in 2011, with many modern amenities. All of the facilities were beautiful and clean, and there wasn’t the overly cheesy decor that you can often find on cruise ships. In fact, the main lobby is stunning, especially with the addition of two grandiose staircases embedded with Swarovski crystals. The outdoor areas are beautifully done as well, and there are two pools outside and one inside with a retractable roof.
What is interesting about the Divina is that since MSC is a European company, based in Italy, most of the clientele are European. So even though we were in the Caribbean, there were moments when I could have sworn I was in the Mediterranean. This definitely set it apart from most cruises in the Caribbean and any other cruise I have previously taken.
I was especially impressed with how big our room was. My only complaint was that it was an inside room, and that’s our fault since we booked so last minute. Having never stayed in a room without a window, I didn’t realize how disorienting it could be. I realize we weren’t in the room that much, but in the mornings I had such a hard time waking up and not knowing the time or the weather. We’d put on the television and look at the outdoor cameras, but it just wasn’t the same. Lesson learned for future cruises!
While the buffet and main restaurants served delicious food, our favorite on board was definitely the Eataly pizzeria. Here, we celebrated my birthday and the extra charge was well worth it, since we split a pizza that cost about seven dollars. A close second was the Sports Bar, which was no additional cost; the mozzarella sticks were my personal favorite. There were also two gelato bars on board, and we indulged in gelato and macaroons on my birthday, both also reasonably priced for a cruise. Still, we often stuck to the free soft served on the pool deck.
To save money, we purchased two drink packages ahead of time. They lasted until the end, although we did hold back a bit throughout the cruise to make them last. I’d suggest getting a drink package because it does cut down costs quite a bit.
As great as the ship was, to be honest, the whole reason we chose the Divina was actually because of the ports it cruised to on this sailing. Yes, everything else was a bonus, but for us the ports were the most important. Specifically the fact that it stopped in Cartagena, Colombia. Colombia has long been on my dream list of places to travel to, and even though this would just be a taste, at least I knew I’d get to experience at least a few hours in the country. It also stopped in Aruba and the Bahamas, places I’ve been and have loved, as well as two places I hadn’t previously explored, Curaçao and Turks and Caicos.
Cartagena was a place I had dreamed of visiting for years, and I was so excited to finally get there. We hopped in a cab and headed over to Old City, where we wandered the streets. Then, we made our way to Las Bovedas, former dungeons that are now shops. Here, we got stuck in the rain, but eventually found a taxi to take us to Getsamani, where we had the most amazing lunch at la Cocina de Pepina.
Having already been to Aruba once before, I was so excited to get back to the happy island. We even had a relatively long stay in port, leaving us time to shop, spend time on the beach, grab a barefoot dinner at sunset, and head to a bar for some local beers. Even though it rained on us, it was the perfect day.
Curaçao has been on my list of places to visit for some time now. The colorful buildings and culture have always interested me. Since we wanted to explore the island, we breezed through the port and headed into town. The famous floating bridge was closed at the time, so we took the ferry across, then we attempted to walk to the beach. It was hot out and farther than we thought, so we caught a taxi half way. We wound up at Playa Mambo beach, which had shopping, restaurants, bars, and the perfect beach to lounge at for the afternoon.
Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos
The cruise port at Grand Turk is a great place to spend some time, as there are lots of shops, a swimming pool, a wave pool, restaurants, and bars. You can get chairs for free, though we just used the tapestry I brought back from Goa. We spent some time on the beach and swam in the ocean, but we decided we wanted to explore the island. We took a cab into town and wound up at the museum and some shops. I thought this area was the prettiest on the island and was happy we ventured away from the port.
Nassau, The Bahamas
I have been to Nassau twice before, but never really had the chance to see it, so we took to the main streets and went into some of the shops. Then, we walked to nearby Junkanoo Beach. There were little beach shacks serving food and drinks and plenty of room to soak up the sun. We lounged around and eventually found ourselves enjoying the drink specials at the Tiki Bikini Hut. For ten dollars, we got four beers and a shot each; we left the beach feeling very satisfied.
Since it was a ten day cruise, we had plenty of time to enjoy everything the boat had to offer, as well as our time at the ports. Even though there were four sea days, and the last one was a rainy one, I have to admit, I really enjoyed having those extra days. It helped me unwind and relax, plus I never felt like I was rushing from port to port. Having to leave the ship in Miami wasn’t easy and all we wanted to do was hide away in the room and stay for the next sailing. You can get a better feel for how much fun we had in this video:
Would I cruise with MSC again? Absolutely. The service was outstanding and the boat was one of the most beautiful I have ever sailed on. I’d love to be on the Seaside next year and maybe visit the islands in the Eastern Caribbean, since I still haven’t been out that way. It would also be wonderful to take a cruise with them in the Mediterranean, since that’s where their roots are. We’ll have to see what the future holds!
Pin for later!
What’s your favorite cruise line and where do you hope to sail to next?