The 3,500-passenger Divina, from Switzerland-based MSC Cruises, returned after spending her summer season in the Mediterranean, where the line has deep roots. Previously, the vessel home-ported in Miami from November 2013 through April 2015.
Divina's return comes with a number of new features, chief among them an expanded offering with partner Blend Craft Wines, a fresh entertainment lineup, an updated casino and additional family options.
The new wine experience, called "Boutique Winery Tastings," will give passengers a chance to try wines from award-winning wineries, many of which otherwise are available only to wine club members. Passengers who participate can order wines to be shipped to their homes.
Four new shows will debut on Divina: "Treasure Island," "The Voices," "Swing" and "The Mask." In addition to the production shows, Divina also will feature new bands and musicians in the bars and lounges, and it will introduce a number of themed parties, including a weekly "flou" glow-in-the-dark party and a snow party that involves a snow cannon.
The ship's casino will feature new slot machines. Children and family activities will be expanded to include live talent shows put on by kids onboard.
The changes are designed to appeal to the North American market, to which MSC Cruises, the world's largest privately owned cruise line, has made a major commitment. The line's MSC Seaside, which debuts in November 2017, will sail exclusively from Miami; MSC has signed a multiyear commitment with PortMiami, where Seaside will sail from a newly expanded and renovated Terminal 5.
"We've already seen significant interest from North Americans in MSC Cruises' unique 'Mediterranean Style Cruising' experience, and MSC Divinasailing year-round from Miami - coupled with the opening of sales for the groundbreaking MSC Seaside - represents a new chapter for MSC Cruises as we grow in this region," Rick Sasso, president of MSC Cruises USA, said in a news release. The company announced that passengers can purchase cruises for Seaside beginning December 15, 2015.
MSC Seaside will include a huge waterpark, with five waterslides: an interactive Slideboarding tube, which combines video games, lights, music and a 367-foot water slide; two high-speed racing slides with clear loops that extend over the side of the ship; the Aquatube, an innertube slide; and a family flume-type slide. It also will feature an aqua area for the kids, and a ropes course.
MSC hosted a Sea Side Salute Veterans Day event last night at Miami's Perez Art Museum to both celebrate MSC Divina's return to the United States and honor the men and women in the U.S. Armed Forces.
"Today is a special day for MSC Cruises as the return of MSC Divina to Miami marks a new chapter for the cruise line as we embark on the first phase of our North American expansion strategy," Sasso said in a news release. "Today is also an important day for our country as we remember and recognize our nation's heroes."
The cruise line honored the people and companies who had made an impact when it comes to veterans and their families, employment and community activism. The celebration featured fireworks and a viewing of Divina's sailaway from PortMiami.
MSC Cruises offers military personnel and their families a 10% discount on balcony cabins, and the line will issue a full cruise credit for a future sail date if a military member can no longer travel because of redeployment or revocation of leave.