Three things I thought I’d never like:
- A cruise
- A Caribbean cruise
- Sitting around on a cruise ship, doing nothing for 11 days
One thing I was right to not like:
- Travel agents
My grandparents raised me, and they’re getting up there in years, so when my grandma approached me with “We want to go on a cruise, and we want you to go with us……because we don’t have a lot of time left, Rachel”, it wasn’t exactly something I could turn down.
They had gone on a cruise with MSC previously and were pretty sold on it – the MSC line has a “Yacht Club” experience where you pay more, but you have better amenities and such, and it’s well worth it. I think it’s one of the main reasons I actually enjoyed the cruise so much!
Unfortunately, they are used to using travel agents, so we booked it through their agent, Nicollas Figueiredo…and I truly wish we hadn’t. Our booking experience, especially for the price we were paying, was so excruciatingly horrible that it set a horrible expectation for what the cruise would be like. Luckily, that expectation was wrong, but what a terrible way to start a trip. He was completely rude and unprofessional, disappeared for days without leaving an alternative contact, and booked things without actually discussing pricing with us first or explaining the changes in our reservations. Going into the cruise, I had already sworn off MSC solely because of Mr. Figueiredo.
Luckily for MSC, their on-ship staff and experience were so wonderful, they managed to drown out the negative noise experienced with Mr. Figueiredo.
MSC Divina Day 1 – Boarding in Miami
After a decent red-eye flight from San Diego, we got to Miami and took an Uber to the cruise terminal. We pulled up to the Yacht Club entrance where they took our bags and escorted us through the entry process and up to our room. Luckily we were early for boarding so it was very smooth and quick. We later had to disembark to run to CVS for something, and we ended up boarding with everyone else and it was PACKED! We were able to skirt around most people since we already had our cards, so it wasn’t terrible for us, but it was madness for everyone else boarding then!
Our room was lovely. We had fresh fruit and sparkling wine waiting to welcome us, and we settled in to unpack. We found my grandparents’ room and stopped by for a quick hello before settling in for a nap…which was shortened by the ship announcement that we had to grab our life vests and meet at the area designated for us for a safety drill. This pretty much meant heading down to our area, putting our life vests on, making sure we knew how to fasten them, and then heading back up.
Back in the room, we showered and got ready for dinner. With the Yacht Club, select wines, beer, and liquor are included…and we had a mini fridge, so we started out by taking advantage of that.
Dinner at Le Muse
Le Muse is the designated sit-down Yacht Club restaurant, and the first night was suggested casual dress (each day we would get a little booklet that told us of the day’s events and suggested attire). We met my grandparents who were already seated at what would be our table for the trip, and they introduced me to their friends (our waitstaff). Guisseppe was the Maitre d, and was happy to help my grandmother with her motorized scooter to and from our table every day/night. Gabrielle was our main waiter, and Noel was the one who made sure my drinks and bread dish were constantly full…and he did a fantastic job of it!
Having a nice sit-down restaurant was so worth the money, rather than fighting over food and seats at the buffet. The menu was vast – we’d order about 4-5 different courses, but each were small portions…and always a dessert (or two…). Since it was an Italian ship, they had delicious dessert wines (limoncelo is always my favorite!) and plenty of espresso and cafe.
After dinner, we walked around with our wine and explored the ship briefly. We were supposed to set sail earlier than we ended up, but apparently there was a large group from Europe whose flight was delayed so the ship was waiting for them.
We sat out at the front of the ship on the private Yacht Club pool area as we headed out for our first stop – Jamaica – and then headed off for bed, still tired from a long day of travel.
Back at our room, our butler, Jacque, had already re-made our bed and cleaned up the room for us while we were gone – and restocked what we had used from the mini fridge. We changed into our pj’s and sat out on the patio, enjoying the sound of the ocean and some more wine.
The next day would be spent at sea, and I had no idea how I would pass the time. There was pool, there were activities – but I’m an introvert, and not a huge fan of group activities. But, I was on this boat for 12 days, so I had to make the best of it (so I thought…). Really, it turned out to be perfectly relaxing and wonderful, and at no time was I bored.
Read on for day 2 at sea, headed to Jamaica!