ABOARD THE MSC DIVINA – Sandy Sherma could barely see over the steering wheel of her Formula One racecar. But she put the pedal to the metal and off she went.
A few spinouts later, the Florida woman emerged from her sleek Ferrari and proclaimed, “Whew! I need a drink!”
The race car simulator on the MSC Divina is so realistic, Sherma said, that she was breathless as though she had been running a marathon instead of just sitting in a stationary vehicle.
“It really gets your adrenaline going,” she said. “You feel as though you are actually out there racing.”
The Formula One racecar simulator was getting a workout itself on our three-day voyage aboard the MSC Divina. The state-of-the art simulator reproduces driving conditions in one of the fastest cars in the world. Wrap around video screens and vehicle movement makes it feel as though the driver is tackling some of the world-famous racecourses from Monte Carlo to Montreal.
“It’s even harder than it looks,” said MSC Divina crewmember Nelson Torres, in charge of the simulator experience.
It looked plenty tough enough to me. “A lot of people wreck,” Torres said. “It is a professional car and handles like one so people are sometimes surprised at how hard it is.”
The vehicle is an actual Formula One car, a single-seat, open cockpit, open-wheel racing with substantial front and rear wings. In the true racecar, the engine is positioned behind the driver.
In the simulator, “drivers” get to experience the thrill of traveling at high speeds. From the flash of the green light to the pit stop and to overtaking a rival, the goal is to safely and quickly make it to the checkered flag and be the winner. Not many simulator drivers accomplish that.
The Formula One Simulator on Deck 16 of the MSC Divina costs $9 for a seven-minute drive. “It’s something you have to do,” said Sherma. “It’s hard to describe unless you’ve done it.”
Next to the Simulator is another popular MSC Divina attraction – the 4D Cinema. With a giant screen, 3D glasses, seats that vibrate, tip and move, and wind gusts in our faces, the Cinema is a virtual reality experience.
Canyon Coaster was the flick showing when I stopped by. After having my cabin key scanned for the $7 admission fee, I seatbelted myself into one of the oversized theater seats. Then we were off.
To begin with, we did something I would never do in real life. We jumped out of an airplane, free falling into a roller coaster. Of course, the coaster encountered many obstacles, plummeting iwhen it went off the track, narrowing escaping a collision with a train and many other adventures. Coaster enthusiasts will love this less than five-minute ride.
“We show four different movies,” said Torres. “The Canyon Coaster is my favorite. I watch them all when we get a new movie but this is my favorite so far.”
Photos and video by Jackie Sheckler Finch