For ship captain Francesco Veniero, it’s a dream come true. “I say mamma mia,” he said. “I never imagined that my dream would come true like this.”
Coming from a family of seamen, Veniero said his heart “was always about the sea.” But being able to captain the 4,345-passenger ship is a blessing he still can’t believe.
Now on a three-day Bahamian celebration cruise, the MSC Divina is the first MSC cruise ship to be based year-round in North America. Known as “a diva like no other,” the MSC Divina will call Miami her home. The family-owned company has 12 ships and is a major player in the European market, drawing cruisers traditionally from Italy, Germany, France and Spain.
“We have never forgotten where we come from and are proud to remain a family company,” Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman of MSC Cruises, told passengers. “Born in the Mediterranean, these roots continue to inspire every journey we make.”
The company’s goal is to greet each passenger with traditional Mediterranean hospitality. “You will experience the region’s celebrated values of authenticity, warmth and humanity and feel the Mediterranean spirit which reminds us that good food is a way of life and that following your heart is just as important as following your head.”
The MSC philosophy, Vaga said, is “that life should be measured in moments, not minutes and that each of these moments should be savored.”
To help guest savor the experience, MSC Divina has seven restaurants, 18 bars and lounges, five swimming pools, a bowling alley, casino, infinity pool, internet café, theater, gym, spa and one of the most unusual staircases at sea. The Swarovski spiral staircase in the three-deck atrium contains almost 50 genuine European Swarovski crystals on each step. It felt like walking on jewels.
Each of the ship’s 13 public decks is named for a god of ancient Greece – Zeus, Apollo, Minerva, Cupid, Mercury, Aurora and so on. My cabin deck is Minerva and it is one of the most spacious cabins I’ve seen on a cruise ship. It has a nice sitting area, a work desk, flat screen TV, big bathroom with a walk-in shower, plenty of floor space and a lovely balcony to watch the sea.
The line is quite proud of its Italian flair but has made adjustments to attract passengers from the U.S. market. Most crewmembers are fluent in English. Announcements as well as signs, menus and other written material are in English as well as several European languages. Sports bars offer top games on TV.
And the smoking policy is more American than European. The ship is primarily nonsmoking, except for certain decks, parts of the casino and a cigar bar.
On our cruise, we will be stopping in Cape Canaveral and Great Stirrup Cay. I’m sure the cruise will be over far too quickly. Now I’m heading off for the evening’s entertainment. So much to see. So much to enjoy.
Photos and video by Jackie Sheckler Finch