ABOARD MSC DIVINA: There was a time in the world of cruising where most passengers hurried to the nearest shop as soon as disembarking – especially here in the Caribbean and purchased such goodies as jewelry, fragrance, liquor and even electronics, returning shipboard with arms full. I recall a stop in St. Martin where my husband and I and another couple schlepped to cartons of booze back to the ship – with help from the shop owner, a guy with a golf cart and crew members back at the vessel.
That was then, passengers can’t do that now, but they still hustle to places like Little Switzerland and the like. It was fun and I think I have a few pieces with me now acquired on cruises over the years.
But cruise ship honchos were also watching and created more and more expansive (and yes, often expensive) boutiques and shopping centers on cruise ships.
A case in point is the Piazza Del Doge, housed on Deck 6, to the well-appointed La Boutique and key fashion labels such as Armani, and a lovely collection of evening and daywear. There are always shoppers on the upscale jewelry and makeup and fragrance shops while the MSC logo shop is busy place. Poolside bazaars take place on sea days featuring bargains on purses, watches, fragrances and the ubiquitous T-shirts. These sales are promoted in the daily program.
A few days ago I told you that 80 percent of the passengers on this sold out cruise are from North America. That is unusual for MSC with its roots and most of its ships in Europe, but it indicates an awareness of this very international cruise line. And I, for one, love the mix.
MSC has only been sailing in the US for about 10 years, and its cache is widespread.
I had breakfast on the pool deck the other morning and sat with a couple from Argentina, another from New York City and a woman from Jamaica. In the elevator I’ve heart Portuguese, Italian, Russian and French spoken.
Today I had breakfast (an absolutely perfect omelet and English muffin,) in the dining room.
We sail from San Juan in a couple of hours and head north again. One more port of call: Nassau in the Bahamas, an old fave of mine. Looking forward to returning there on Friday.
Time sure does fly on a ship.
August 3, 2016