In March 2015 I went on holiday on the cruise line MSC Divina to celebrate my uncle’s 50th Birthday and our third cruising holiday I have got the cruise bug I love them! We flew to Miami then embarked on the MSC Divina and travelled to Jamaica, , Grand Cayman Island, Mexico, Great Stirrup Cay (Bahamas), back to Miami, Puerto Rico , St Martin, Grand Turk then back to Miami again.
DAY 1 – Jamaica Ohio’s Rio.
Jamaica was our first port of call and we got off the ship and walked to Margaritville Jimmy’s Buffet, which was recommended in the cruise port of call brochure and was about a five-minute walk from the port. There is a pool, bars with live music, a pub called ‘The Little pub’ where we watched a singer while we ate Jerk Chicken, it’s a must have in Jamaica and a private beach, which is nice as you cannot access many beaches in Jamaica as long as you’re staying in their resorts. A nice start to the holiday. The Beautiful MSC in port in Jamaica
Day 2 Grand Cayman Island.
I was really intrigued about going here as I had not heard much about it but it is a lovely place. We had to get a tender (a boat ride) from the ship to the island, the MSC officers were really helpful lifting the manual wheelchair on and off within minutes making no fuss. Most excursions on Caribbean and Bahama cruises is snorkeling, scuba diving, animal watching and history tours around the island, so we took a taxi costing us 20 dollars each and the wheelchair was able to be folded up in the taxi. The taxi took us and a group of people around Grand Cayman telling us about the island, a Rum Shack, Severn Mile Beach, a place called Hell where this guy spiritually healed me in a devils costume (well it hasn’t worked). It was named ‘Hell’ after a Commissioner from England in the early 1930’s from England visited the district and shot a bird among the large patch of pointy black limestone’s and missed and said ‘Oh Hell’ and from that day the place has been called Hell. We also visited the turtle farm costing $10 dollars each for entry, with that price you could get up close to the turtles and me, my auntie and uncle got the chance to hold one which was amazing as I find them fascinating animals. At the farm there were also penguins and crocodiles too. I suggest if you have enough time (we didn’t) to visit the dolphin sanctuary too. After the tour the taxi dropped us off at Bayshore Mall. At Bayshore Mall there is a massive Diamond International and markets full of souvenirs.
Day 3 – Mexico Cozumel.
We took a taxi to Paradise Beach which was recommended by Cruise Critic and an accessible beach along with many beach resorts in Cozumel. It was about a 20 minute drive and I would recommend you ask how much the fare will be as we were charged $50 dollars going there and only $16 dollars back for three of us. I am so pleased we went to Paradise Beach, it lived up to it name as it was set around tropical trees with Parrots perched on them and was able to get up close and see these amazing birds. Paradise Beach was a private beach and there you got a sunbed for a small charge, a bar with a menu filled with Mexican favorites, live music, and toilets and changing rooms. It was a great day and you know you’re in Paradise when you’re eating nachos and enchiladas on a beach getting a tan, listening to the music and looking at the view of the sea! That’s the life! I will be planning to go back to Mexico in the future.
Day at Sea – These are the days you get a chance to explore the ship and see what it has to offer! The MSC Divina ship interior is very classy defiantly in the glamorous five deck atrium which has a hint of Hollywood glamour with chandeliers, Swarovski crystal staircases, which I loved, and beautifully designed Art Deco running throughout the ship. Each place on the ship flow into each other from the Golden Jazz Bar, where you could listen to singers, The Caffe Italia, where you could get the best hot chocolate, The Sports Bar, where you could have a snack, watch the latest sports and a mini bowling alley at a small charge. Also there is the piano bar, the Black and White lounge, La Luna and Plaza Del Dodge offering you the freshest cakes, coffees, smoothies and held stores around the café like Pandora, perfume, aftershave and watches. There is also shops on-board selling clothing to make up. Plaza Del Dodge was one of my favorite area along with the atrium as it is beautifully designed and a great place to relax and have a drink. The only part of the ship that wasn’t disabled friendly was the lobby of the atrium.
Day 5 – Great Stirrup Cay Bahamas.
I was so excited about visiting the Bahamas as you only imagine the rich and famous going! We took a tender (a boat ride) to the small island owned by Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL). It is a man-made beach with some quirky qualities like Grand Turk. It has rows and rows of sunbeds, a food hut, a Bacardi Bar, Cabanas, which you can book in advance with MSC and you can hire rubber rings on the beach. What was brilliant about Great Stirrup Cay for wheelchair users is they had beach wheelchairs that moved easy on the beach and around the port and easy access to the toilets. Great Stirrup Cay is a tranquil place and what more could you ask for? A BBQ on the beach, live music going and sun lounging in 38 Degrees sipping a cocktail – Bliss
Day 6 – Miami.
I had always wanted to go to Miami and it was what I imagined it to be like. Our first time in Miami we went to the famous Miami Beach, which is massive, you easily find a sunbed and there is beach wheelchairs available. We went along Ocean Drive and went into many of the bars along the strip and I had a protein berry smoothie, which was lovely! You know you’re in Miami when you’re drinking a high protein drink. We walked along the harbor and saw some impressive yachts and popped into the boutiques and did a tad bit of shopping.
We had booked a Balcony Accessible Cabin, which was amazing for the wheelchair as I had plenty of room to move around, I didn’t have to worry about folding up or fitting it through the door and the bathroom was accessible too with handrails, walk in shower which I wheeled my chair into and a shower seat. I did have a problem with the shower seat though as it wasn’t close enough to the handrails to balance enough so I rang reception and they gave me another seat the same night. The other thing I loved about the room was there was even a small ramp to access the balcony so I didn’t have to struggle walking onto the balcony and I loved waking up every morning to the sound of the sea and the sights of a new destination.
Day at Sea – I would advise anyone thinking about going on MSC Divina, you would have to like Mediterranean food, such as Pasta and Pizza. There are two main restaurant’s the Black Crabb and Villa Rosa.We went to Villa Rosa a couple of times and the food and service you get is brilliant! We had the friendliest and helpful waiter you could ask for and the table next to us said the same. What we loved is they entertained you in the restaurant with a parade of the Chef’s recommend Deserts. One of which was a Bake Alaska parade, where they went round the whole of the restaurant show casing Bake Alaska’s lit on fire to music. If you don’t fancy going to the restaurants dressed up and just want to grab something to eat you can go to the two large Lido style self-service buffets Calumet and Manitou, where you have a range of options for any taste bud. There is also La Cantina di Bacca a pizzeria and wine bar and a Steakhouse, where you pay a supplement. We ate at both of these and enjoyed every meal
Day 9 – Puerto Rico. I didn’t know what to expect of Puerto Rico as I had read from Cruise Critic it was hard to get around in a wheelchair, they were right. I would advise if your wheelchair isn’t good over cobbles or haven’t got a strong carer (aka strong uncle and auntie) to take a shore excursion as I went to the old town. The Old Town was lovely and very historic. We saw the Old Fort, fountain, markets of souvenirs and back street café, which to get to in walking distance was cobbled and often needed two people to help with the chair. But it was still a great place to visit and wouldn’t have miss out on it.
Day 10 – St Martin. We had visited St Martin on a previous cruise, so it was nice to go back and see the places we went to before and see what had changed. We went back to Captain Jacks, a bar along the strip and a Carib Beer. St Martin always reminds me of Spain of how it looks with its beach, the bars and restaurants and shops. What was new this time was a MAC shop, my favorite makeup range, so I picked up a lipstick for my sister and for myself of course it was just weird seeing a MAC in the middle of a Caribbean Island.
Day 11 – Grand Turk. (Turks and Caicos Islands)
This is one of favorite places it is so peaceful and beautiful. We had previously visited Grand Turk on our last cruise, so I was so excited to go back as Grand Turk is fully accessible. It is only 7 miles long and has only one beach that runs along Grand Turk. What I love doing there is sitting in a swing seat hung on a palm tree and just relax sipping on a coca cola, listening to the music and looking out to the beautiful sea. There they have a Cruise Centre offering shops selling clothing, jewelers and souvenirs. There is a big pool area with a swim up bar and a standing bar with sunbeds and Cabanas.
Day at Sea – There is a theatre that’s spreads over two decks for entertaining passengers at night with shows. That’s the one thing I had found with MSC that the entertainment wasn’t as good as P&O and missed the sail away parties. What I did like is they have an arcade, F1 simulator and a 4D cinema. We went to the 4D cinema one night and I loved it, you sit in a seat, put the glasses on and pick what game you want to be in. We picked the Cannon rollercoaster and oh my god it did make you feel you were actually on one I’ve never screamed so loud I actually forgot that it wasn’t an actually one . You had to wear a seat belt as it took you from side to side, up and down and wind blowing-so much fun. Uncle Dave went on the F1 simulator, where you sat in a racing car with screens in front of you of the race track and you had three rounds and you had to beat the timing each time -(he did). That’s what I liked about MSC it offered us new experiences we didn’t have before on our cruising holidays it’s just a shame about the few things that lets them down like the entertainment and the ticketing process.
Day 13 – Miami.
On our last day of our holiday we disembarked the ship at Miami and booked a shore excursion of a tour around Miami before taking us to the airport for our flight home. On the tour we got to learn the history of Miami, passed where David Beckham stays in Miami (Palm Beach Resort), where the only way to get their is on a boat and saw the impressive buildings. Also we got to go down Ocean Drive again and saw the locals having there breakfasts at many of the bars. Also we went to Dolphin Mall – which is perfect for shop-a-holics like myself. Everything was a really good price I picked myself a top, a pair of shorts and some earrings. There were shops like Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, Gucci and their own shopping outlets. I knew one thing I had to have while I was in Miami was a Starbucks as America is known for their Starbucks and it didn’t disappoint! I will be planning to go back to Miami to stay in a resort and this time take a bigger bag so I can buy more clothes.
I did love the Beautiful MSC Divina and the places the ship took us too. If I had the chance to go on MSC again I would, okay there is some things it could improve on but apart from them,it is a brilliant cruise line that caters for everyone needs and I loved every second of it!