A different kind of (all-inclusive) family vacation

When Sunwing asked if I was interested in covering a family kidcation on the MSC Divina, a European cruise ship, I admit, I had to think about it. Even though I had cruised before, this would be our first week-long cruise. Would 7 days be too much? What about the food? And the beach factor? (For me, a family vacation must have at least one good beach day.) What would the activities on board be like?

I thought a bit more about it and decided that we would take on this new travel adventure. Because that is what family travel should be about: discovering places, experiencing something new, saying to yourself, “Why not? Let’s do this!”

The MSC Divina

When we arrived in Miami and I first saw the MSC Divina, with its 1139 staterooms, 3500 guests and 1388 crew, I was instantly impressed with its stature. It’s quite a large ship.

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On our first night, I remember my kids telling me that they would not be venturing out alone – it was too big a boat. It took them all of 24 hours before they were zipping all over the place on their own. We quickly found our way around. Not only was everything well signposted and carefully thought out throughout the ship, but the crew were very helpful. Speaking of the crew, they were outstanding – polite, respectful, great with kids and they always had a smile on their face.

A buffet of choices

There was hardly a dull moment on the cruise. Each morning, we received a news bulletin that highlighted all the activities happening that day. I particularly enjoyed watching the kids have a blast in the pool – there were three on board – my time spent at the spa, our wine blending experience, movie night under stars, and of course, the shows that perfectly capped off our fun-filled days.

There was something for everyone – from kids to teens to adults to families. Cruisers learned new languages, had fun in the water, danced their little hearts out, enjoyed cooking classes, played all sorts of sports, enjoyed numerous activities and games, and some even got to drive a Formula 1 race car and experience a 4D movie.

The many wonders of the sea

There were sunrises. And sunsets. Oh, and waking up and watching as we arrived in a new port. So many great moments. Cruising allows you to visit several different places in a short amount of time. The Divina has two itineraries, the Eastern route that takes passengers to St. Maarten, San Juan (Puerto Rico) and Nassau (Bahamas), and the Western which visits Ocho Rios (Jamaica), George Town (Grand Cayman), Cozumel (Mexico) and Nassau (Bahamas).

We sailed the first itinerary and beach lovers will absolutely fall in love with St. Maarten. With its 36 (some say 37) beaches, including the famous Maho beach, the one nestled only a few feet away from the island’s Juliana Princess airport runway, cruisers will have a perfect beach day – a picture-postcard kind of day. San Juan is a colourful city, rich with history, and the people were so welcoming. The ocean colours in Nassau are simply stunning and as you sail away, you’ll want to keep your camera close by to capture those ‘wow’ moments.

A different kind of family vacation

For those families looking for something different but who still want the feel of an all-inclusive vacation, a cruise could be your answer. Cruising allows you to plan your day to your liking – jam-packed or taking the day as it comes. It’s also the perfect balance of time spent on the boat and visiting new places.

On our last evening on the ship, as I was watching the show, it hit me: this was it. Our cruise was ending in a few hours. I remembered how unsure I had been in the beginning. When the cruise director took the mic to wish us well, he ended with an Italian word: arrivederci, meaning, until next time.

It was the perfect word to sum up how I was feeling.

Arrivederci.

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