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Warm Winter for MSC Divina in the Caribbean

Warm Winter for MSC Divina in the Caribbean

For the first time, MSC Cruises will have a ship based in Miami for both winter and summer seasons. The MSC Divina is offering seven-night cruises in the Caribbean on different itineraries – and 16 Irish travel agents are currently onboard checking out new facilities and visiting Dubrovnik and Venice prior to the ship’s transatlantic repositioning.

Irish agents are briefed on the MSC Divina in the Black & White lounge

Irish agents get briefed on the MSC Divina in the Black & White lounge

Following their successful introduction onboard the new MSC Preziosa, MSC Divina now has two new Eataly restaurants and, for spinning enthusiasts, innovative Aqua Cycling by Hydrorider facilities, the latest fitness craze across the USA. Prices for a seven-night Caribbean cruise start from €389 per person cruise-only, while an 11-night cruise starts from €439 per person cruise-only. A 14-night cruise from €879pp (cruise only) departs from Miami on 10th December 2013 and ports of call include Miami, Falmouth, Georgetown, Cozumel in Mexico, Great Stirrup Cay, Miami, Philipsburg, Road Town Virgin Islands, and Great Stirrup cay before sailing back to Miami.

From 23rd November MSC Divina will offer seven, 10, 11 and 14-night Caribbean cruises out of Miami

From 23rd November MSC Divina will offer seven, 10, 11 and 14-night Caribbean cruises out of Miami

The new Eataly dining venues are the upscale Ristorante Italia and regional steakhouse, Manzo, fashioned after the famed restaurant in Eataly’s Manhattan location. A boutique Eataly marketplace is also available for guests to purchase authentic Italian products, including olive oils, dried pastas, artisanal sweets and aged balsamics. ITTN enjoyed a perfectly al dente pasta and a beautifully cooked 300gm steak in Eataly.

Rebecca Kelly, MSC Cruises, and Suzanne Fox, Newbridge Travel, dine in Eataly

Rebecca Kelly, MSC Cruises, and Suzanne Fox, Newbridge Travel, dine in Eataly

The menus have also been tweeked to suit American tastes and new US and Caribbean crew members have joined the onboard team.

Glass lifts and ‘bling’ staircases in the reception area

Glass lifts and ‘bling’ staircases in the reception area

Outlining the MSC Divina’s facilities to the fam trip agents, Rebecca Kelly, Business Development Manager – Ireland, also highlighted the Top 18 exclusive solarium, the ship’s 22 bars, the newly designed buffet with 11 ‘corners’ offering a wide variety of food types, and the new gluten-free menu.

Outdoor Aqua Park with pool and jacussis. The adjoining Le Sirene covered pool has a sliding roof.

Outdoor Aqua Park with pool and jacussis. The adjoining Le Sirene covered pool has a sliding roof

The agents are particularly impressed by the Allegrissimo all-inclusive drinks package that they can prebook online for the clients and that are priced at just €23 per adult per day and €12.00 per child – and thus offering substantial savings even if clients take soft drinks only.

Golden, one of the MSC Divina’s 22 bars

Golden, one of the MSC Divina’s 22 bars

The dining options onboard are many and varied. ITTN was impressed by the variety offered in the Buffet, and those sampled were very good, and dined in the Black Crab restaurant where the menus, food and service were excellent.

Smoking is currently permitted in the Casino, but will not be once the MSC Divina is based in Miami

Smoking is currently permitted in the Casino, but will not be once the MSC Divina is based in Miami

The MSC Aurea Spa offers an exceptional wide range of treatments, Balinese, Thai and Shiatsu massages, facial treatments, manicure, pedicure, hairdresser, fitness studio, and yoga. ITTN can highly recommend the manicure, pedicure, the Bali massage – and particularly the 60-minute Black Volcano facial for men!

ITTN’s hands (and feet) and get a relaxing make-over from new crew member Danellé Van (‘Skywalker’) Schalkwyk from Durban, South Africa

ITTN’s hands (and feet) get a relaxing make-over from new crew member Danellé Van (‘Skywalker’) Schalkwyk from Durban, South Africa

Arsi Ni Wayan (left) greets ITTN at the MSC Aurea Spa before giving an expert Bali massage and Black Volcano facial

Arsi Ni Wayan (left) greets ITTN at the MSC Aurea Spa before giving an expert Bali massage and Black Volcano facial

The MSC Divina is a Fantasia-class ship with a passenger capacity of 4,363 in 1,751 cabins and has 18 decks, including 14 for guests. Most of the cabins (1,097) have balconies and there are 28 Aurea suites. Interconnecting balcony cabins are available, or two adjoining cabins can be linked by opening the door between their balconies. ITTN’s balcony cabin was   roomy, well designed with attention to detail, and the most important item, the bed, was very comfortable.

Your Yacht Club butler awaits at Istanbul check-in

Your Yacht Club butler awaits at Istanbul check-in

The Yacht Club is a ship-within-a-ship that provides 69 suites and a quieter setting along with butler service, its own restaurant and swimming pool, and afternoon tea in a lounge that provides great views over the brow of the ship.

Yacht Club butler Harrison serves Royal Scottish tea for Lorenzo Diamantini and Rebecca Kelly, MSC Cruises UK & Ireland

Yacht Club butler Harrison serves Royal Scottish tea for Lorenzo Diamantini and Rebecca Kelly, MSC Cruises UK & Ireland

Croatian coastline as MSC Divina sails into Dubrovnik

Croatian coastline as MSC Divina sails into Dubrovnik

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NEIL STEEDMAN has been a trade journalist, copywriter, editor and proofreader for 52 years, and News & Features Editor for ‘Irish Travel Trade News’ for the past 42 years.

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