Tuesday, August 30, 2016
As we are Platinum level on NCL, MSC graciously status matched us to their equivalent Black level.
The boarding process went very smoothly. Once aboard, waiting for our room to be readied for us, we were anxious for our first meal aboard! On the Divina, the only place available was the buffet where on NCL we had a choice of the buffet or one of the main dining rooms to choose from. Needless to say, it was very crowed and difficult to navigate. We always enjoyed that NCL allowed us the choice to eat a beautifully prepared relaxing lunch after the hectic journey of boarding the ship.
At the Cruise Critic meet on the first sea day there were 6 Cruise Critic members and I think 4 ship representatives including the hotel director and the food and beverage director.
We were asked what we thought about the cruise so far, and asked to let them know if we had any concerns during our cruise. They asked us to let them know of three things we liked and one item that needed improvement. Funny thing, no one mentioned the things that they liked but went straight to discussing the negatives. Maybe later in the cruise they should have asked us after we had time to experience the Divina but we appreciated their sincere interest in our cruise experience. They served some sparkling wine, juice and some snacks. It was very nice, wish more cruisers had attended.
I told them my first impression of the ship was that it was beautiful, but I felt a little disappointed in how I felt when I walked into our cabin regarding the Black level treatment. On NCL you have treats in your cabin that let you know you are Platinum. Some notes, bottle of wine, chocolates and such. In our cabin there was nothing other than a nice, clean cabin. I liked the cabin on the Divina, it had plenty of storage and felt roomy. The shower had those crazy doors that swing in to make the bathroom feel bigger. The only thing I did not like about the cabin was the shower. I am a big guy, 6’3” and 290 pounds, the shower was small for me. My wife was disturbed by a strong musty/moldy smell in the shower. We mentioned this to the Hotel director and he went above and beyond to remedy the problem. Ours became the cleanest shower on record!
So for the rooms, inside cabin on the Divina vs Pearl, the Divina wins by a slight margin.
The buffet has a lot of repeat stations when it gets busy. As for the pizza, there was only one location for that. That was at the end nearest the main pool. The pizza was very good, I spoke to an Italian women and she gave her endorsement. There were unusual toppings as well as the standard toppings that you would expect. The buffet is huge. It is easy to lose your party if you are not careful. It gets very crowded and hard to get around, just be patient and it all works out for you. After hours such late at night or between meals, don’t expect much variety, At these times you will find pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, French fries, sandwiches, fruit, and little desserts. As I am listing that, it actually sounds pretty good, but it is exactly the same every day and at every time of the day! It bothered my wife more than myself; she likes fine dining at her fingertips at her schedule! That’s why she cruises’ she says, “to eat!”
In the main dining rooms on NCL they ask for your room key when being seated. They then acknowledge you by your name, I like that. After a while I would be greeted by my name before I even gave them my room key. That is different than on the Divina, on the first night you show them your room key and they take you to your assigned table. From then on you just walk in at your dinner time and go to your table.
I really liked the wait staff on NCL better, not that there was anything bad with the wait staff on the Divina. I think it has to do with the fact that there are so many different languages spoken by the guests that it is harder for the crew to interact with the guests. The captain told us that on our cruise there were 70 different languages being spoken by the passengers!
When it comes to dining, I really enjoy NCL better. I like the different specialty dining over the ones on MSC. I really love the Great Outdoors on the Pearl, several of NCL ships have that. I did enjoy the gelato and coffee on the Divina.
As for the food, the food was tasty on the Divina, the portions were small and that was good for me. I am trying to watch what I eat and that worked out well for me on this cruise.
Overall, I enjoyed the dining on the Pearl vs the Divina.