I know, you’re determined to not gain any weight on your cruise. But before you swear off the sweets and carbs in favor of salads and soda water, do yourself a favor and sample these treats on MSC Divina. (Then take the stairs instead of the elevator, and those skinny jeans might still fit by the time you disembark.)
I’m ALL about those girly cocktails that taste like fruit juice but pack a punch 20 minutes later. So I was thrilled to discover the Disaronno Sour, one of three cocktails created for MSC Cruises by the fellow Italian brand and served poolside at the chic Garden Bar, aft on deck 15. Satisfyingly sweet with a refreshing tang, the Disaronno Sour couldn’t be simpler to make: Just add one part Disaronno to three parts sour mix, shake with ice, garnish with a cherry. It’s a cinch to make at home but is best enjoyed on a cruise with a reggae soundtrack and a panoramic Caribbean view.
I’d expected an Italian cruise line to serve primo gelato, and I wasn’t disappointed. Bellying up to the gelateria on the MSC Divina pool deck, I reviewed the rainbow of choices from the Italian brand some consider to be the best in the world, displayed in the cold case like fancy gems: The icy white gleam of coconut and vanilla; vivid jewel-like hues of raspberry and passionfruit; the pastel tones of pistachio and lemon. I opted for mango, which turned out to have the same irresistible sweet/tart flavor as the Julie mangoes I remember devouring as a girl in Jamaica. And as it had been in my childhood, one mango just wasn’t enough.
Brunch is one of my favorite weekly rituals on land and now at sea. And if you do it properly, it can be the only meal you need for the day. The midday spread at Galaxy, the ocean-view restaurant on deck 16 of MSC Divina, is brunch done right, an indulgent extravaganza of five small plates, plus a flute of champagne, an entrée and dessert. It took us two leisurely hours to work our way through the culinary procession, from the oysters to the platter of fresh fish to the beef carpaccio, the unctuous, melt-in-your mouth morsel of fois gras (my personal highlight) and finally to the dessert table, which groaned with all manner of calorific finales. It was two hours (and a very reasonable $28) well spent on a 7-day cruise.
Every foodie knows that dining at the Eataly-branded onboard restaurants on MSC Cruises is a no-brainer: Which gourmand in their right mind would miss the fine cheeses, crispy house-made pizzas and sumptuous pasta dishes for which this Italy-based global restaurant chain is famous? So after you’ve sampled the casual, café-style Eataly Steakhouse, book a table at the exclusive (there are only five tables) Ristorante Italia for an intimate dinner. My husband and I did just that, enjoying the cozy and elegantly appointed quarters (and deep conversation we always seem to have when we travel together) as much as the sumptuous prix-fixe menu.
Dessert is my religion, and coffee is my drug. So Caffe Italia, featuring Segafredo coffee, was my onboard mecca. At the top of my too-tempting-to-resist list: The Chococcino, a frozen confection concocted with coffee, milk, dark chocolate and whipped cream so sweet, so delicious, so downright ambrosial that I’ll freely admit to having it twice (OK, three times). Because calories don’t count when you’re on a cruise, right?
To my list of life’s simple pleasures (a good book; good conversation; Nordstrom’s semi-annual sale) I’m adding this: A piping hot cup of tea or coffee, enjoyed on my stateroom balcony as the sun rises over the Caribbean, the steam from my cup appearing to dance in the balmy ocean breeze. Continental breakfast delivered to your stateroom is complimentary on Divina, so there’s no excuse not to enjoy this morning indulgence at least once during your cruise. It really is the best part of waking up.