On Saturday morning at the STX France shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France, the MSC Divina was officially delivered to MSC Cruises. In maritime tradition, when a ship is transferred from the shipyard to the cruise line, there is the formal flag ceremony.
As the French flag was lowered, the stirring and historic French national anthem, La Marseillaise, was played in the background. The General Manager of STX France, Laurent Castaing then formally handed over the ship to its Italian owner and President of MSC Cruises, Gianluigi Aponte. When it was time for Mr. Aponte to give command of the MSC Divina to Captain Guiliano Bossi……the melodious Il Canto degli Italiani, the Italian national anthem, filled the air. Mrs. Aponte, wife of MSC Vice President Diego Aponte, cut the ribbon, signaling it was time for the traditional breaking of the champagne bottle against the hull of the ship.
“I am very proud of MSC Divina, the 12th addition to our wonderful fleet and our third Fantasia-class ship. Dedicated to Ms. Sophia Loren, MSC Divina’s stylish refinement represents a new benchmark in cruising. More than that, MSC Divina is the latest expression of our long-term collaboration with STX France,” said MSC Cruises CEO Pierfrancesco Vago.
A ship built for the gods (and goddesses)
The MSC Divina is dedicated to Greek mythology with thirteen of the eighteen decks named after the gods and goddesses of ancient Greece. Among the most well-known names in Greek mythology, there are the Aphrodite, Apollo, Zeus and Uranus decks. In honor of the Roman gods and goddesses, the spacious, state of the art, 1,600 seat theater is named the Pantheon (Greek for ‘every god’), after the 2,000 year old amphitheater in Rome.
The MSC Divina, while a sister ship to the luxurious MSC Splendida and MSC Fantasia, will have a myriad of even more luxurious enhancements. Starting with the Asian-influenced Aurea Spa, unique to the MSC Divina spa experience will be a healing Himalayan salt crystal bed for deep relaxation and detox. A water bed will be added to enhance the new spa experience of l’Aurea del Mare, or “warm shell therapy.“
Carrying 3,502 guests (based on double occupancy), the MSC Divina will have four sparkling swimming pools; one of which has a covered dome and another is exclusive only to guests in the Yacht Club category. Sensitive to the needs of everyone, the MSC Divina was built with an astounding number of 45 accessible cabins.
An exclusive retreat aboard the MSC Divina
The most opulent and innovative ship-within-a-ship concept is the MSC Yacht Club category. On the new MSC Divina, there will be only 69 suites, butler included of course, on three exclusive, key card entry-only decks. The experience of a Yacht Club suite is like being on your own private yacht, but still having somewhat privileged access to all of the ship’s features and attractions.
Within the Yacht Club is the Top Sail lounge, open 24/7, where guests can relax, visit with friends and enjoy complimentary cocktails, gourmet snacks, a proper tea time and even watch movies on individual screens built into the banquette seating. For outdoor relaxation, the Yacht Club has the One Pool with two whirlpools, bar and snack service and an expansive deck area with cushioned lounge chairs.
Perhaps the best feature of all is the private dining room, reserved strictly for guests of the Yacht Class. On the MSC Divina it is Le Muse, with open-seating at dinner and complimentary wine throughout dinner. Located at the aft of the ship, Le Muse is almost totally surrounded by glass affording a panoramic view of the sea while dining.
Award-winning naval architects De Jorio Design International designed the MSC Divina as they have with other MSC cruise ships. The public areas of the ship include the Garden Pool, an ‘infinity’ style pool which seems to flow into the sea, the Galaxy restaurant in the disco with contemporary Mediterranean fusion cuisine and clever décor, based around the theme of light.
Step into the ‘Diva’ Suite
But the most unique addition to the MSC Divina is the Royal Suite, number 16007 on Deck 16, in the Yacht Club, of course. Named in honor of Sophia Loren, this suite will evoke all the glamour that is embodied by Ms. Loren. Designed for and with the assistance of Sophia Loren, the décor of rich reds, specially designed lamps and a wild heather and red carpet were chosen. On the walls are stunning photographs of her most memorable movie roles. And to feel like a movie star when getting ready for their appearance, a replica of the dressing table Ms Loren uses in her room has been added.
When Saturday’s flag ceremony concluded, the MSC Divina set out for her pre-christening cruise from Saint-Nazaire with maiden port calls at Lisbon-Portual, Cadiz and Valencia-Spain, arriving at the port of Marseille on Friday, May 25. The Port of Marseille will be the host for the official christening event on May 26. In typical MSC fashion, this is sure to be an extraordinary event culminating with iconic movie star and godmother to many of the MSC ships, Sophia Loren.
The Yacht Club comes to America
Perhaps the most exciting news is the announcement that the MSC Divina will be heading to Miami, Florida for a winter season of 7-night cruises eastern and western Caribbean cruises, beginning late November 2013 through May 2014 before returning to Europe.
For more information visit: MSCCruisesUSA.com
I’m the editor and creator of CruiseMaven.com, a solo traveler cruising the world on waves and wheels, collecting recipes along the way. I hope my articles and photos entertain, advise and inspire you to travel the world without flying. Take a breath…stop for a local meal and a glass of wine along the way.
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