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MSC Cruises’ MSC Divina is back in Miami year-round, sailing weeklong cruises to the Caribbean, and the ship has found its groove by offering affordable vacations that have fantastic appeal for families. Divina, which spent summer 2015 in the Mediterranean, returned last November to South Florida with a focus on appealing to North American passengers. The formula for the 3,500-passenger ship — a focus on food, fun and frolicking entertainment — has definitely been working, and it especially has a strong draw for families with youngsters.
Family FocusWhen fares are booked at standard rates, kids ages 12 and younger sail free on Divina when staying in the same cabin with parents, and teens ages 13 to 17 receive discounted fares when they are the third or fourth guest in a stateroom. About 65 percent of Divina’s passengers are from North America, and the rest hail from international destinations, making the ship a wonderful mix of cultures. This brings a vibrant feel to the lounges and nightclubs.
MSC makes it easy for kids to interact with one another, with dedicated activities for young cruisers from infants to teens. I found it refreshing to see so many children from different parts of the world becoming fast friends while participating in activities such as mini-bowling, riding the waterslide and taking part in the Lego Experience Day onboard, during which kids compete in Lego-themed games and building activities. Children can even learn new languages; basic courses teach them sentences from six languages.
Teens can hang out away from parents, with a teen disco and organized events such as a karaoke party, a white party, a flash mob and a talent show.
These young adults also can take part in sports competitions for soccer, basketball, dodgeball and minigolf as well as try the 4-D simulator or F1 race car simulator. Kids ages 3 to 17 can participate in the new Dorebro sport program, which offers daily sessions of a range of sports and active games. Parents can take part, too, by participating in training and competitions that feature prizes.
Divina also offers cooking classes for kids. The Doremi Chef, by Carlo Cracco, is a program designed by the Michelin-starred chef that features Doremi, a mascot who helps kids age 3 to 11 prepare pasta and other recipes from scratch. Teens can take pizza-making classes, as well.
Off the ShipOnce onshore, families can choose from a variety of interactive and educational excursions. They can go horseback riding in Carabali Rainforest in San Juan, Puerto Rico; explore Mexico’s Maya ruins in San Gervasio or Tulum before enjoying beach time in Cozumel; or take the Amphibious Bus: Land and Sea Adventure in the Cayman Islands to learn the history of the region while viewing ancient shipwrecks and vibrant marine life from the seat of an amphibious bus. In Ocho Rios, Jamaica, families should take the tour of the green grotto caves to learn about stalactites, stalagmites and other interesting geologic formations.
Whatever the activity, kids have plenty to keep them happy during a cruise onboard Divina — which, it turns out, is crucial to helping parents enjoy their vacation, too.