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Mediterranean in Miami | The MSC Divina arrives in North America

Mary Murray

   Few regions possess the same romance, style and intrigue as the Mediterranean. Throughout the last decade, MSC Cruises has sought to deliver the Mediterranean experience, no matter the water upon which it sails. While the majority of its fleet of 12 cruising vessels operates within the Mediterranean, MSC also travels to destinations in Northern Europe, the Black Sea, the United Arab Emirates and—most recently—the Eastern and Western Caribbean.

The MSC Divina now sets sail from Miami for Caribbean destinations.

   On November 19, the MSC Divina arrived in Miami, ushering in a year-round North American presence for the company. The Divina, which was christened in May 2012 by Italian film siren Sophia Loren, now sails to Caribbean destinations like Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Cozumel, Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas and San Juan. Though it may be based in Miami, stepping aboard the Divina is like traveling to the Mediterranean in 2.5 seconds flat, right down to the cans of Coca Cola Light.

   Soft drinks aside, the Divina boasts beauty on a grand scale. Imagine an Italian opera prima donna, dressed in luxe furs and dripping in diamonds, belting out an aria in an otherwise quiet room—that's the Divina. Measuring a length of 1,094 feet with capacity for 4,345 guests, the Divina is a cruising titan. The interior is a blend of Mediterranean opulence and 1970s glamor, infused with the charm of Italian cinema. Photos of movie moments dot the halls, while a sleek, black-and-white nightclub beckons you to boogie. And the pièce de résistance: a collection of sparkling staircases sporting 50 Swarovski crystals in every step.

   Dining focuses on Mediterranean-fusion cuisine with two main dining rooms, The Black Crab and Villa Rossa, serving up homemade pasta dishes and French, Italian and Spanish flavors. For an Italian Steakhouse experience, visit Eataly Steakhouse with a menu of Piemontese beef dishes. In addition, Ristorante Italia serves a new menu every night to a maximum 30 guests, while the nearby La Cantina di Bacco wine bar and pizzeria offers wine tastings and pizzas representative of different Italian regions (we recommend the prosciutto and buffalo milk pizza) as well as traditional tapas. Guests can also indulge at the Galaxy restaurant and with Segafredo Zanetti specialty coffee and artisanal gelato.

Sample modern Italian steak dishes at Eataly.

   For those interested in the zenith of luxury, the MSC Yacht Club is the only way to go. With suites located on the top decks of the ship, the Yacht Club experience provides unparalleled ocean views and service. Enjoy a private pool on the ship's uppermost deck before grabbing a pina colada at the One Bar or slinking down for a dry martini at the Top Sail Lounge. Yacht Club guests also have access to the private restaurant Le Muse, as well as 24-hour butler service and a host of other amenities (including your pick of daily national newspaper). Though all suites are well-appointed, the gem of the MSC Yacht Club is the Sophia Loren Suite, designed by Loren herself in warm reds and accented with black-and-white photographs of some of her greatest roles.

The Sophia Loren Suite is the ultimate in diva style.

   Between ports of call or during an extended day at sea, guests can pass the time at the Aurea Spa, a number of stylish lounges and shops, five pools, a casino and a bowling alley, to name a few.

   For the fitness buff, the aqua cycling class is a must try. This popular new exercise experience from Hydrorider reinvents the spin class for the pool, making for one challenging—and sometimes comical—underwater experience.

   When it comes to entertainment, MSC does not skimp on spectacle. Given the multicultural, multilingual nature of its client base, MSC focuses on presenting visually exciting productions. A repertoire of seven shows, ranging from cirque-like productions inspired by Alice in Wonderland and Pirates of the Caribbean to a Michael Jackson tribute show, rotates on the stage of the dramatic Pantheon Theatre. And in January, Divina will welcome a new opera production, further solidifying its diva status.

The Garden Pool on the MSC Divina.

   For leisure types, poolside sunbathing, a cappuccino break or a heavenly Balinese massage is always at hand. When you must venture ashore, check out MSC's excursions like snorkeling, kayaking and tequila seminars.

   Whatever time you spend on the Divina, whether it be three days or two weeks, is never enough. Before the task of disembarkation begins, there is one last treat in store: a warm sunrise set against the Miami skyline. Take it in while sipping an espresso or sneaking in a final soak in the hot tub. For those last few moments, you will feel like a true Mediterranean diva.

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