Yacht Clubbing On The MSC DIVINA, Part Two

Peter Knego’s latest trek continues in Dubrovnik and Venice in the midst of a six night cruise aboard MSC Cruises’ spectacular 2012-built MSC DIVINA. Part Two reveals more of the ship and illustrates two of the Adriatic’s most beautiful ports despite some weather-related challenges.

MSC Cruises USA

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All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2013 unless otherwise noted.

Friday, March 29, 2013

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Poached in Le Muse.

I don’t remember waking up or even crossing the ship to get there but I do vividly recall being aroused by the pungent olive oil in my poached egg at Le Muse. A gorgeous way to begin the day!

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Pigeon toed blur.

Outside, it was cold and misty — the visibility beyond our giant white ship was virtually nil. But if a perky black and yellow birdlet found us, we had to be close to land. I sipped away at a strong cappuccino and watched it hop around playfully until being blown off the stern.

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The Croatians Are Coming!

In my cabin a short while later, I felt the MSC DIVINA slow down. The Dubrovnik pilot was approaching…

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Shuttle to the Grad.

I am so glad I opted for the 12 Euro transfer ticket to the Grad, the walled city of Dubrovnik. Walking the slippery stone streets would have gotten tiresome and a cab would have chalked up a fortune, thanks to road construction that produced a nasty tangle of late morning, bumper-to-bumper traffic.

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Dubrovnik shoreline.

The shuttle delivered us to Pila Gate at the northwest end of the old town. A storm-tossed cove there sparked childhood memories of my family’s stay eons ago. I’m pretty certain that this spot was where my brothers and I swam, but in much sunnier, calmer conditions.

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Stones and citrus.

I love how the Mediterranean and California climes are so in sync. Just like at home, Dubrovnik’s citrus trees are bursting with colorful fruit, all the more vibrant looking in its medieval stone backdrop.

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Shutters to balconies.

As soon as I entered the Grad, I veered off to avert Stradun, the main street, where even on this bleak, off-season day, the crowds were swelling.

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Triple arc.

After five or so visits, I have given up hope of ever locating my father’s family. But I do wonder what it must have been like for him to grow up in this kind of fairy tale setting.  After a while, probably hell in paradise.

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Dubrovnik Cathedral.

The cathedral was open and didn’t even discourage photographs, so I wandered in and looked up.

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Basilic geometry.

How on earth did those Venetians do it?

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Falling candles.

At an altar to Christ, a man kept trying to reset fallen candles while a woman in a scarf prayed earnestly.

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Ripples and reflections.

A very cold wind stirred up puddles in the old harbor where I recall playing and eating candy.

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Conjuring the sea.

Out on the slippery breakwater, crashing waves met the impenetrable, ancient stone.

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Hero memorial.

Back in the walls, a very moving memorial honors the fallen from the most recent Balkan War that decimated Dubrovnik for most of the 90’s.

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Madding crowds.

Oops, I was somehow back on Stradun, going upstream in a sea of people.

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“Campanile!” was one of the first things I ever said and I think I know the one that prompted me.

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The fountain and the Wall.

My circuit of the town ended where it started, at San Onofrio’s Fountain.

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Medieval skyline.

One last look at the surrounds, then it was up to Pila Gate with me.

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Trio of pigeons.

Just before I piled back onto the bus, a final glance at the billowing Croatian flag.

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POSTIRA passing.

Back in the big harbor, I had considered going up to the highway to the suspension bridge for photos of the DIVINA but got distracted when a beautiful old ferry, the 1963-built POSTIRA, arrived. The man at the gangway let me on for a visit and in about twenty minutes as the little ship filled, I had most of her documented. She has to be one of the last original links to the original, former Yugoslav state-operated Jugolinija fleet.

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Endless steps.

POSTIRA sailed off at 2:00, which would give me two hours to get to the bridge and back down to the ship. I tried several dead-end alleyways, then found an endless mountain of stairs that got me to the highway, where there was no sidewalk.

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Dodging back and forth on either side of the highway, I finally reached the bridge.

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MSC overview.

From there, even in the backlight, the view was worth the trek.

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Relisse me!

Once back aboard DIVINA, I had lunch in the Manitou, then decided it was high time for a poolside gelato. I’ve never heard of relisse, but it sure looked good and tasted even better.

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Office on board.

At 4:00 PM, as the MSC DIVINA began to pivot away from Dubrovnik, I was in the Yacht Club, working on an assignment over a cup of tea.

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Home at sea!

Before long, the concierge brought me a specially printed version of the Los Angeles Times. A huge selection of newspapers is provided free-of-charge to Yacht Club guests, depending on satellite availability.

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Disco night.

After Dubrovnik, I settled into my usual routine of working out and having dinner at Le Muse. Of the 3,800 passengers on the ship, 3,500 would be disembarking in Venice tomorrow, so it was much quieter on board than usual.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

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Arriving glances.

My goals for the day would be to finish documenting the ship and then head over to Piazza San Marco for a ride up to the top of St. Mark’s for a view of Venice. I peered out the curtains just as the ship entered the breakwater and watched as the panorama grew ever more spectacular as we sailed into the heart of the city.

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Bridge to San Marco.

The irony was that my balcony was probably just as tall as the observation deck on St. Mark’s.

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Probably no place captures the hearts of visitors than Venice, especially when approached by sea.

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Breakfast en suite.

My breakfast arrived just as we reached the main passenger terminal.

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Villa Rosa, facing aft.

Among the spaces I was finally able to document was the aft-situated Villa Rosa Restaurant.

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Standard balcony cabin.

The front office could only muster up two show cabins during turn-around but that was better than none. The first one was a standard balcony cabin on Deck 11 and the next was an interior down the hall.

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Bali “Hi!”.

The vast MSC Aurea Spa, on the other hand, was camera-ready. Its lovely Balinese staff always greet with a smiling “Hello”, hands clasped.

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MSC Aurea Spa Room.

There’s a wide assortment of spa treatment rooms on the starboard side, one that even featured a bed of pink Himalayan mineral salt.

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MSC Aureo Thalasso Room.

On the port side, there is a Thalasso Room with couple-sized tubs.

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MSC Aurea steam room.

In the Thermal Suite, there are several steam rooms, a Hamam and Sauna.

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Cigar Lounge, facing aft.

I almost overlooked the Cigar Lounge on port Deck 6, having just been aboard the MSC PREZIOSA, which has replaced this attractive but perplexing venue with a shop.

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Sesame bread and olive oil in Le Muse.

Cameras stowed, I decided to try lunch in Le Muse before heading out into Venice. As the rain gushed ever more voluptuously down, I decided to abort the visit, relax and enjoy the ship before it filled with new, presumably wet, guests.

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San Giorgio.

When we sailed out that afternoon, I savored the less sought-after-view of San Giorgio, which is probably a prettier campanile than the larger, more famed San Marco.

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Egyptian acrobatics.

It was fun watching the crowd get all wound up with excitement during “Egypt”, the first show of “their” cruise. Gasps and applause met each of the increasingly complex, gravity-and-spine-defying acrobatics.

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Night decks.

Not much was going on out on deck as MSC DIVINA sailed along the east coast of Italy, aiming for the heel of the boot and Bari in the morning.

End of Yacht Clubbing On The MSC DIVINA, Part Two

Much More to Come…

Very Special Thanks: Yvette Batalla, Martin Cox, Gail Nicolaus, Gene Sloan

Peter Knego

Peter Knego

Having documented over 400 passenger ships and taken more than 200 cruises, MaritimeMatters’ co-editor Peter Knego is a leading freelance cruise writer, a respected ocean liner historian and frequent maritime lecturer both on land and at sea.  With his work regularly featured in cruise industry trades and consumer publications.  Knego also runs the www.midshipcentury.com website which offers MidCentury cruise ship furniture, artwork and fittings rescued from the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India.  He has produced several videos on the subject, including his latest, The Sands Of Alang and the best-selling On The Road To Alang."
Peter Knego

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