Review: Our Smoke Filled MSC Divina Balcony Cabin 13093 and Cabin 10040

4
1422
a cruise ship in the water

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a sign and a card box on a wooden surface

After our mess of a boarding adventure, disappointing lunch and long wait for our cabin to be ready we were initially really surprised and pleased over our choice on the starboard side of the ship on the 13th floor (#ProTip – want some Frequent Floaters gear – check here)!

a bed with pillows and a couch in a room

a bed with pillows and a brown headboard

a bed in a room

I was impressed with the elegant décor, the reasonably spacious room with good lighting and an HVAC system that seemed to be keeping up (granted we were in Miami on a coolish day but still).

a room with a television and a table

a mirror above a desk

The sofa, while love seat sized, was comfortable for sitting and the “getting ready” area was ample for our needs. While I don’t spend a lot of time watching TV on my cruise adventures when I do I like to see a large modern one like in my recent HAL aft cabin.

a plate of macaroons and a bag of luggage on a glass table

As newly minted MSC Diamonds (from our status match) we were presented with some treats and a very very very sweet prosecco and some excellent dark chocolate for sail away. Nice so far – but there were issues.

a two white bathrobes on a wall

Despite the room being reasonably big the storage was sorely lacking. My wife, who does most of our packing and unpacking, said it felt like a full 1/3 rd less than the HAL cabin that was smaller than this one. Our magnetic hooks really came in handy and I plan to order more as they hold a surprising amount of weight (cruise ship walls are metal if you did not know so magnetic hooks stick). Also not really shown in the above photos is the cabin was old and dirty. The sofa was disgusting with lots of stains as well as the carpets.

a white object on a wall

I also always travel with an old hotel room key for cabins or hotel rooms like this that require a key inserted to keep the lights on. Most use their room key but I hate forgetting it in the switch.

a bathroom with a shower and sink

The bathroom was tiny and again, as you can maybe see in the photos, old and worn out and looked dingy even when freshly cleaned by our very good cabin attendant.

a chair next to a glass door

a chair on a deck

I picked this top balcony for a reason with the large overhang. My wife and I like getting sun up on deck but then to end the day on our balcony with shade to read a bit more before dinner.

a cruise ship in the water

a view of a body of water from a deck of a cruise ship

a view of the ocean from a boat

While a compact balcony it worked fine. I would have liked to have each had a foot stool (I know I could have maybe asked) but if MSC had gone with these nesting ones like HAL space would not be an issue as it may have been with two of the size provided.

a sign on a door

Well this far into the review, other than being a bit worn and dated, this cabin seems quite all right and I would agree. But then a few days in things changed for the worse in a big way.

a toilet paper holder and a tray of soap
Why not remove these ash trays already – it’s 2024?!

We awoke to cigarette smoke so strong in our room (at 7 AM no less) that I really thought someone had snuck in to our room and was standing near us puffing away. I at first assumed it was a guest next to us maybe (since it was so strong) and I called down to customer service and they sent some folks up and said they would look into it.

a black ashtray on a wooden table

This situation day by day got worse and worse and worse. It went from just a now and then morning smell to a nearly constant stench in the room and even in the hallway outside our room (you could smell smoke as soon as you entered the hallway from the elevators). What in the world could be causing this? I went down to customer service to ask if there was ANY cabin on the ship we could change to because my wife and I are both sensitive to smoke and it was making it impossible to use our cabin at all. The ship was full so no dice.

a sign on a pole

We then finally deduced what we thought was happening. On the pool deck just above us was a smoking section and it was packed, most days, with smokers puffing away. Due to that location their smoke must have been picked up by the ships HVAC and pumped down to the 13th floor as we learned from our cabin attendant that there were any number of guests complaining about the smoke smell in their cabins as well.

Then it got worse. Much worse. How?

a room with a bed and a mirror

While we were at dinner on the fifth night, “enjoying” the horrible food they presented, the crew decided to treat our carpets with some kinds of chemicals in an effort to “cover up” the strong now constant smoke smell. The chemical smell that hit us almost knocked us down. I kid you not it was so strong we could not breathe in the room. We opened up the cabin door and the balcony door for hours (with the wind howling through the room) in a feeble attempt to clear out this unbreathable air.

It did not help much. We both spent most of the night trying to sleep on the chairs on our balcony because the chemicals in the air were still so strong that my wife was coughing up blood from trying to breathe.

At this point we were just about ready to get off the ship at the next port and fly home because sleeping in a lounge chair up on deck for the next 5 days did not sound like fun. But then by happenstance I ran into the hotel director up on deck and was able to share our frustration about the smoke and what we thought was going on (possibly). All of a sudden – the previously surly customer service folks – were unbelievably nice to us.

a couch and a table in a room with a view of a city

Suddenly a cabin opened up on this fully booked cruise and we were offered to move to 10040. We were thrilled despite the fact we would have to fully pack up everything and move and then re-unpack everything. It was well worth it to be able to take a fresh gulp of air in our lungs in our cabin and not wake up in a “cigar bar” every morning. The new cabin was just about the same as our first one other than a larger sofa and a slightly smaller balcony. Everything was just as dirty and stained as our first room and I think you can see how gross the sofa is in the shot above.

a chair and table on a balcony

Our new room steward was simply one of the best I have ever had on any cruise ship. I was shocked he had not served as a butler yet and I made sure to find the hotel director again and tell her if she is looking for a new butler for the Yacht Club – our attendant is her man!

We did not demand any compensation for half of our cruise enduring a smoke filled cabin nor the chemical bomb that was set off (without asking us, btw) but I was curious if anything would be offered – one free night at the steak specialty restaurant was what they came up with! Considering how bad the food onboard was I did appreciate this but a $50 sorry really did not cut it for what we endured but we let it go.

a ship on the water

I will say that the next day the smoking section on the side of the ship directly above our old cabin suddenly disappeared and all the smokers were forced to puff away on the port side of the ship. The next day I took a stroll on the 13th deck hallway and low and behold on the starboard side there was no smell of smoke at all. I just don’t get how the ship could not have known about this issue for a long time before we came onboard but there you are.

Lastly I will say I hope you like a hard bed because these are really just that. We do bring something to compensate for a rock hard bed but pack it up on the last night to not have to wrestle with it in the morning so I can speak first hand how uncomfortable these bed are on the MSC Divina! – René

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4 COMMENTS

  1. I can relate! We had a Yacht Club room where the noise from a galley above was so loud all night that we could not sleep. We were also told no other rooms were available. It’s a long story but im the end we decided to get off the ship after one night. We disembarked in Palermo, got a hotel for one night and flew back to the US. Several crew members told us there were many customer complaints from this room so MSC was very aware of the problem. It was beyond disappointing. I’m also in the never MSC club with you!

  2. To fix a hard bed on ANY CRUISE LINE just ask your room attendant for a mattress topper. We have done so on every one of our 33 cruises (four of which have been on MSC). So there you go. Practical advice for you and your readers to fix or prevent the issues you gripe about here which are not specific to MSC. You’re welcome.

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