LIVE Blog: MSC Divina Cruise of the Eastern Caribbean

The summer has flown by and we’re trying to squeeze in one last bit of family fun before our daughter heads back to college and another school year starts.  Therefore, we’re off to the Caribbean on a week-long cruise aboard the MSC Divina!  Along the way we’ll stop at St. Maarten, Puerto Rico, and Nassau, Bahamas, before arriving back home in Miami, Florida.  This post will contain live tweets and updates direct from the MSC Divina during our Caribbean cruise.

MSC Divina

MSC Divina, courtesy MSC Cruises

I’m looking forward to visiting new destinations such as Phillipsburg, St. Maarten where my daughters and I have booked a kayak/snorkel excurion.  My daughter said, “I like kayaking! I like snorkeling!” so it sounded like a winner.  However, I’m most excited about our stop in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  We have nothing officially planned here, but I can’t wait to spend the day walking through Old San Juan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site dating back to the 16th & 17th Century as well as the historic fortresses of El Morro and Castillo de San Cristobal.

MSC Divina

MSC Divina, photo by Ivan Sarfatti, courtesy MSC Cruises

However, I’m just as eager to see the MSC Divina itself.  The ship sounds absolutely stunning with Swarovski crystal staircases, glass elevators and European marble furnishes.  I’ve heard fantastic things about MSC Cruises’ entertainment options shown daily in the Pantheon Theater.  MSC Cruises is one of the world’s largest privately-owned cruise lines, and a market leader in Europe, South America and South Africa.  The MSC Divina is currently MSC Cruises’ only North American ship, but that will change soon as MSC Seaside joins the fleet sailing from Miami starting in December 2017.  In addition, MSC Cruises announced the MSC Meraviglia, that just launched in June of this year, will also be coming to America in 2019.  So get ready, because you’ll be hearing much more about MSC Cruises in the future!

Friday, August 4, 2017 Travel Day

OK, true confessions… we sent the kids on ahead of us.  They wanted a Walt Disney World vacation, but my wife and I weren’t thrilled with the idea of heat, humidity, and peak summer crowds.  Therefore, we compromised.  As our daughters are 19 & 16 already, they flew down to Orlando on Thursday to squeeze in a day at Walt Disney World before the cruise.

We’ve entered a different phase of life as my wife and I leisurely fly ourselves to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Saturday, August 5, 2017 Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Texted with the kids back and forth last night as they enjoyed a full day at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom until closing and then they hopped over to Disney’s Animal Kingdom until midnight.  Heh, heh, good!  Get the good and tired for our first couple of sea days on the MSC Divina.  They’ll be able to sleep in and recover from their Disney Park touring.  My wife and I had a great sleep at the Home2 Suites in Fort Lauderdale, woke up to a hearty breakfast, and are getting ready to head back to the airport to meet the kids who are on their way from Orlando.

We’ve arranged for a shuttle service to then transfer all of us to the Port of Miami to board the ship. First impressions of the ship is she’s stunning, and we’re loving our two connecting balcony staterooms as well. It’s wonderful to travel with the kids, but it’s also great to shut the door and have a little quite time.

Sunday, August 6, 2017 Day at Sea

Enjoying a day at sea en route to Philipsburg, St. Maarten.  This gave the girls a chance to rest and recover from their marathon day at Walt Disney World, and gave me more of a chance to learn more about the ship.

One of the highlights of our day was a pizza making demo in the onboard Eataly restaurant. This is an activity offered in the teen clubs, and we were able to have a private class of our own. The meter-long pizza was absolutely delictious! Although I needed a nap afterwards to digest it all.

During the afternoon/evening we played trivia, enjoyed the theatre show, and had dinner followed by gelato. It was formal night on the ship. Because we didn’t bring our finest outfits, we opted for dinner at the buffet (which was just fine for us).

Monday, August 7, 2017 Day at Sea

Second consecutive day at sea as we steam towards St. Maarten.  I got up early again to do the aqua cycling class (cancelled again, too windy), and then headed to the gym to run on the treadmill.

Been enjoying the relaxing sea days on the MSC Divina, my teenagers are catching up on sleep, and we’re all enjoying some of the family fun activities as well as eating too much.

We always have fun playing trivia together, and we even won a round of Brain Busters! Our prize was a photo package and dinner at one of the speciality restaurants. Winner, winner, Eataly dinner!

Took a quick dip in the pool before the evening show. I’ve found the Le Sirene covered pool is not too crowded around 5:00pm as the families with young kids get ready for dinner. Plus, the crew opens the roof to the pool allowing a nice breeze but still protected from the strong winds up top.

The shows have been fun and entertaining. Both of my teenage daughters are involved in theater in high school and college (both on stage, tech, and costuming). So they’re very curious to see the shows, costumes, lighting, etc. Last night was a fun tribute to the music of Queen that had us all singing along to Bohemian Rhapsody, We Are The Champions, and more. If only they sang Flash Gordon… ahhhh, ahhhhhhhhh!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017 Philipsburg, St. Maarten

After two sea days to start the cruise, I think we’re caught up on sleep and looking forward to exploring our first port-of-call.  As I type we are currently pulling into Philipsburg, St. Maarten, and I better get ready for breakfast before heading out on our first excursion.

We have a kayaking/snorkeling excursion booked.  We’ll kayak out to our spot and swim the day away in the Caribbean waters.  Can’t wait to see what we can see!

Kayaking and snorkeling were fantastic! We saw tons of fish, coral, and best of all was a large black spotted eagle ray with white polka dots effortlessly gliding underneath us. What a thrill.

Once we returned to the ship we enjoyed the “Witches of Paris” stage show – a variety show with singing, dancing, acrobatics, and elements of Moulin Rouge, followed by dinner and bed.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017 San Juan, Puerto Rico

Woke up to another sunny, hot day in the Caribbean, and drank my morning coffee as we sailed into port near old San Juan, Puerto Rico.  We’re all very excited to explore the historic sites of the US Territory.

We loved our brief visit to San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Everyone got off the ship, boarded the free tram around Old San Juan and headed up to Castillo San Felipe del Morro.  As it’s a National Historic Site run by the National Park Service, admission was only $5/adult – making it a very reasonably priced “do-it-yourself” excursion.

We all agreed that we want to come back and spend more time in Puerto Rico, perhaps for a full-fledged vacation someday.  There seems to be so much history, culture, and natural beauty to explore.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

The sun, humidity, and wind at El Morro wore us out, so after exploring the fort we headed back to the ship.  It was Italian night on the ship.  The evening performance had incredible soprano and tenor opera singers, and dinner was Festa Italia culminating in tiramisu with Limoncella.

Thursday, August 10, 2017 Day at Sea

Our third day at sea on this cruise, and we’re looking forward to some rest and relaxation.  Dana and Maggie are enjoying spa treatments, and Evie and I are checking out the F1 Racing simulator and virtual world.

I took the opportunity to try some new workout experiences. I’ve never done a spin class, so it seemed like a gret chance to give it a try.  It was a fantastic workout in a safe environment, and you cannot beat that view looking out to sea.

By far the best experience of our sea day was MSC Cruises’ wine blending experience led by Nick, a winemaker from California.  Dana and I each tasted four different wines, she went with reds and I went for whites, and Nick pointed out differences and subtleties in the flavors.  After tasting, we played alchemist, and blended our own concoction perfectly suited to our taste.  Nick had so much knowledge passion, enthusiasm, and humor, we spent 90 minutes at the experience and it absolutely flew by.  Plus we had a fantastic table of shipmates that became friends.

Friday, August 11, 2017 Nassau, Bahamas

Our final full day on the MSC Divina, and we’re currently sailing into the port of Nassau.  The resort complex of Atlantis on Paradise Island rises up out of the sea as I type this.  Maggie and Evie love snorkeling, so we decided to do one more snorkeling excursion on our final day.

We had the best time in Nassau!  To be honest, we’ve cruised to Nassau many times in the past, and have not been impressed with the port.  Sometimes we don’t even get off the ship in Nassau.  This time, aboard the MSC Divina, we decided to give Nassau another try.  We booked a simple snorkeling excursion, and absolutely loved it!

What a difference this snorkeling excursion made in our impression of Nassau.  My daughters even said it was their favorite excursion of the trip.  There were so many fish on the reef swimming all around us.  We learned you definitely need to get into the water to enjoy the Bahamas.  Oh, and have rum cake…

MSC Divina

Tortuga Rum Cake shop in Nassau, Bahamas while on MSC Divina cruise

Saturday, August 12, 2017 Miami, Florida

All vacations must come to an end, and we arrived back in Miami where we started a week ago.

I’ll certainly have more thoughts about our MSC Divina experience in the future, but overall we were impressed with our experience.  MSC Divina is an elegant ship with great accomodations, our food was excellent, and the shows were entertaining.  Depending on the itinerary, our famil would definitely book another MSC Cruise vacation, and I can’t wait to see MSC Seaside debuting later this year.

Thanks to everyone for following along with our MSC Divina end of summer adventure!

DISCLOSURE: Adventures by Daddy was was hosted by MSC Cruises in order to experience the MSC Divina and this Caribbean cruise.  However, all opinions expressed are those of the author.  For more family travel news, reviews, and trip reports, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on InstagramTwitter and “like” our Facebook page, too.

About Dave Parfitt

Married, father of two girls, and living in the heart of the Finger Lakes. I'm a runner with a PhD in neuroscience and a passion for travel.