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Sail Date: September 2008
Embarkation This was the strangest one that I've ever experienced. I should probably say that first of all this cruise actually commenced 3 days earlier in Copenhagen but MSC were selling it as commencing in Dover for the UK ... Read More
Embarkation This was the strangest one that I've ever experienced. I should probably say that first of all this cruise actually commenced 3 days earlier in Copenhagen but MSC were selling it as commencing in Dover for the UK market. When I arrived at the port by taxi, I asked the driver where I should drop off my luggage and was told that it was normally just beside the entrance but it was closed. I then went in to the terminal itself, only to discover that there were no check in desks open (Check in was from 2pm onwards and I arrived at about 2.15pm). There were signs pointing to the ship and a steady stream of passengers returning to the ship. I decided that there was no other option but to follow them onboard along with my luggage. When I reached the port security just before the gangway to the ship, I explained that I didn't have my cruise card yet and there had been no one downstairs to check me in or take my luggage. He radioed to the ship and they told him to let me through as they were checking in onboard as they were only expecting 10 passengers in total to embark in Dover. As soon as I stepped onboard, one of the security staff came over to assist me, showed me where to leave my luggage and got another member to escort me to reception where they checked me in, in just a few minutes. Within 15 minutes of arriving at the port I was in my cabin. My suitcases were delivered to me 5 minutes later. Although this was the fastest embarkation that I've ever experienced it was certainly also the most unusual Ports of Call I don't do shore excursions. This is not a reflection on those provided by MSC but rather my aversion to getting up early whilst on holiday and being shepherded about in a group. I'm far too independent and I prefer being on my own or with a few friends to being in huge groups. I've also travelled fairly extensively in Europe over the past 30 years so my preference now is just to wander about for a few hours and feel the atmosphere of a place, rather than rush around trying to see every monument or tourist site listed in a guidebook. So anyone expecting lots of detailed information on any of these ports had best read someone else's review! After departing from Dover we had another day at sea before arriving at La Coruna on the morning of day 3. The seas had been a bit rough at times, but I was fully expecting this. La Coruna - we docked right in town. so no local transport required. It was only a few minutes walk to reach the waterfront promenade and as it was a lovely sunny day, I chose to wander along it for a few hours rather than head in to all the hustle and bustle of the shops in town. Lisbon - we were meant to arrive at 11am but didn't arrive until 12.30 as we'd made slow progress the night before due to heavy seas. The captain agreed to stay longer in port so we still had the same time in port. I've been to Lisbon many times before but this was the first time I'd arrived by sea and I particularly enjoyed the sail up the Tagus River which gave great views of the city skyline. It was amazing sailing under the 1966 Ponte (Bridge) 25 de Abril. As we approached it, it looked like we did not have much clearance room but we passed under just). I was standing on my balcony and being on Port side had a fantastic view all the way in. Lisbon is a beautiful and old city albeit extremely hilly. The best way to get up some streets is the trams or the public elevators dotted around the city. Most scenic tram ride is the 28 east from Baixa up to Graca and passing the magnificent 12th century Se cathedral and Igreja de Santo Antonio the 15 takes you along to the Torre de Belem and the fantastic Monasteiro de Jjeronimo (not to be missed). Other things of note are the Castelo de Sao Jorge (great views from up there) and the Panteao Nacional. If you are interested in things equestrian, you may also enjoy the Coach Museum which contains numerous Royal Ceremonial Coaches dating back several hundred years. If you have time to spare and are in port long enough, take the train out to Sintra. It's an absolutely beautiful place, so much so that it's classed as a world heritage site. There is a tourist bus service that leaves from the station and takes you up the very steep hill to first of all the Moorish castle ruins that have a great lookout over the valley below and then on to the fantastic Palacio de Pena (a Disneyland fairy tale castle has nothing on this) It closely resembles a many tiered pastel colored wedding cake. Unfortunately the inside is not as spectacular as the outside. It's very pleasant at the outdoor cafe on one of the esplanades near the top. The bus then heads back in to the town itself where you can not only enjoy the Palacio Nacionale but just wander around the many beautiful winding streets. You can also do the route by horse drawn carriage ride if you prefer. If you prefer the beach then catch the train along to Cascais or Estoril Gibraltar - didn't go ashore here as we docked in the evening and I didn't want to miss dinner and then later on didn't want to wander about in the dark on my own. We docked right in town and it looked just a short walk along the waterfront to the main part of town. I was a bit disappointed as it just seemed to have modern concrete buildings. Perhaps there were older ones with more character lurking behind! Malaga - we docked as expected at 8am, although I did not go ashore until later. I was glad I'd purchased a ticket for MSC's shuttle bus service (4 euros and you could use it as many times as you wanted to and from town). The docks were very large and industrial and I doubt that I'd have found my way out easily to the port Entrance. The ride in the bus (or rather buses) took about 10 minutes and ran every 15 minutes or so. Malaga is a very beautiful old city and I decided to treat myself by having a horse drawn carriage tour of the city and waterfront. It was well worth the 30 Euros. The commentary was in Spanish but I quite enjoyed this as I'm learning the language and was good practice for me. El Parador and El Castello were particular beautiful as were the many parks and the beachfront.... Another day At Sea followed and I stupidly had thought that now we were in the Mediterranean and well clear of the infamous Bay of Biscay, that would be the end of the rough seas. Boy was I wrong. We had the worse weather this day, so much so I ended up having to take seasickness tablets and lie down for a couple of hours. What was most annoying was it was the second gala night and I adore dressing up and having the cocktails, champagne and all the razzmatazz. I made it to dinner (minus the high heels, fortunately had a full length dress to hide the flat sensible sandals) but could not have any alcohol because of the tablets so had to forgo the champers. Dinner was great though Olbia (Sardinia) - as my research had informed me that Olbia was a commercial town with not much to interest a tourist; I'd planned on a taxi ride to a nearby beach. Unfortunately the weather although dry and sunny just wasn't warm enough for a day on the beach, so I decided to have a quiet lazy day onboard instead Genoa - final destination. As I've been here before, I decided to book a lunch time flight so I could get back to Edinburgh the same day without the need for an overnight stay in London. Cabin I booked a suite as these are the only cabins to have a balcony. It was located port side towards the front of deck 10. The balcony has 2 chairs and a table and is fine for 2 people but would be a bit of a squeeze if there were more than that. Unlike some suites it doesn't have a separate bedroom from the living area, just one long room (about the same width as a standard cabin but double the length) There is a sofa which I think converts to a sofa bed), coffee table, mini bar with cupboards either side and the TV. The bed is queen size (although can convert to 2 twins). It has a bedside cabinet either side. The wardrobe is much larger than the standard cabins and is the walk in type. There is also a dressing table that is fitted with 2 European and 2 US power sockets. The mirror opens out to reveal yet another cupboard and the mini safe. Along side the wardrobe are 2 further full height shelved cupboards with a large mirror and glass shelf unit in between. The bathroom is the same width as a standard cabin but longer, so has an additional cupboard in the vanity unit below the sink and has a bath rather than just a shower. The bath is not huge but at 5'7" was absolutely fine for me. I certainly appreciated it the days we had extremely rough seas, as I don't think I'd have managed to stay standing up having a shower! In addition to lots more space, other extras in the suite are a real hairdryer with diffuser attachment (rather than the horrible wall mounted variety with the bendy hose) and robes. I found the bed extremely comfortable and whilst I would have preferred a duvet rather than sheets and blanket, the bedlinen was of a good quality. The cabin was well maintained and my cabin steward kept it spotless. I liked having a fresh fruit bowl too which was regularly replenished. Bars and Lounges There are a number to choose from both day and night. La Canzone del Mare, La pergola & vitamin bar - all deck 11 on the pool deck and open air. La pergola opens from 7am- 8pm and the others open a little later. They serve a range of soft drinks, beers, virgin cocktails, cocktails and spirits and coffees. You can also get smoothies and juices at the vitamin bar. You can either sit at the bar or sit nearby and have waiter service. Coffee Corner - deck 6 aft above the reception area. Wide range of teas and coffees (including hot, cold and liquor). Also serves full bar menus of soft drinks, spirits and cocktails. It's a nice meeting point and a great place to people watch I strongly recommend the Amaretto cappuccino. Sometimes has live music in the evening. It's open 6.30-1.00am and is completely non smoking Lord Nelson Pub - deck 5, stern below the theatre. It closely resembles a British pub but I would not recommend it, unless you are a smoker as it is the smoking bar. Opens 7.00-1.00am The Beverly Hills bar - very pleasant lounge that has a programme of live music and other entertainment (musical quizzes, art auctions etc) It is surrounded by the shops. It has a small dance floor and opens from noon until 1am. I quite liked this lounge pre or post dinner as I enjoyed the live music, especially the classical trio that often played here. Non smoking Las Vegas Casino Bar - on deck beside the casino (as I'm sure you will have guessed) It also has live music, especially for dancing too. It has a reasonably sized dance floor. It's open from 7pm until late (anytime after 1am depending on how many passengers are still around). Although it doesn't serve drinks during the day, it's quiet a nice place to sit in peace and have a chat or read. Also non smoking L'Atmosphere piano bar - midship deck 6 handy for the smaller Ippocampo dining room and directly above the entrance to the main dining room la Bussola, It specializes in Martinis and has live music all evening (but just to listen to as there is no dance floor). Open 5.00pm-1.00am. This was my favorite as I loved the atmosphere (pardon the pun) of it. The bar staff were exceptional here and nothing was too much trouble for them. As well as having an extensive list of cocktails, they'd also create ones for you based on what they knew you liked. Non smoking. Lirica Lounge - the main show lounge directly above the theatre. Has live music and dancing every evening as well as a variety of other entertainment hosted by the young and energetic Entertainment team (cabarets, competitions, games, talent shows etc). The captain's cocktail parties are also held here. Opens 9.00pm-1.00am. Non smoking The Blue Club Disco - aft deck 12. Opens from 6pm until late (after 1am depending on when passengers leave). It has a chocolate bar. The disco music doesn't start until 11.30pm though. Drink packages Soft Drinks - 28 euros - 14 drinks Small beers - 32 euros - 14 beers Large beers - 63 euros for 14 Honeymoon Special - 2 cocktails, 6 non alcoholic cocktails/smoothies and a bottle of Asti spumante served in your cabin - 61 euros There are also wine and cocktail packages available but I did not note the prices. Restaurants and Food Breakfast - You can choose from continental served in your cabin 7-10am but needs to be ordered before 3am), buffet in le Bistrot on deck 11 (6.30-10am)or a la carte breakfast in the main dining room (6.30-9.30am). If you can't wait for your caffeine intake there is early birds coffee served from 6-6.30am or if you rise too late then try either the lord Nelson Pub or La pergola (deck 11) where they serve croissants and brioches 9-12.00, I didn't use the buffet at all on this cruise as I prefer waiter service of the dining room. The choice there was reasonably extensive with a variety of fruit juices (carton variety rather than fresh squeezed), fruits, cereals, variety of bread, rolls and pastries (I particularly recommend the pain au chocolate - avoid toast as they don't make it like you'd expect - stick to the fresh bread, rolls etc). You can have eggs pretty much anyway (the omelettes are very nice as is the scrambled eggs), bacon (bit on the crispy side for British tastes, ham, sausages, potatoes of the day usually sautEed), grilled tomato. They also have smoked salmon which you can have on its own or with cream cheese and a bagel. You can have pancakes too and they also have yogurts. Lunch - if you want to dine in the open air on the pool deck, then your choice is the pizzeria which makes a variety of excellent pizzas or the grill serving hamburgers, hot dogs, and salads both open from 12.00-6.00pm. There is also a gelateria at the opposite end of deck 11 serving a selection of fresh made ice creams (very good but are not complimentary) from 11.00-5.00pm. There is also the buffet on deck 11 from 12.00-2.30pm or the main dining room 12-1.30pm. or occasionally 2; Lunch in the dining room has a selection of 6 courses available - appetizers; salad; soup; pasta and rice: main; dessert. Meals at lunch time tend to be more international than in the evening. I particularly liked the variety of soups especially the chilled consommEs and fruit soups (very varied and absolutely delicious). Appetizers were invariably good and very varied. Pasta was always good too, although the rice dish which was usually some kind of rice salad, which could be a bit bland or dry on occasion. Main courses would always include eggs (e.g. omelette. Eggs Benedict; a fish dish; meat and a sandwich (which could be on ciabatta, foccacio or just bread) they always have hamburgers, cheese burgers etc available too. Desserts always include the ice cream of the day as well as sugar free alternatives and fruit is also available. On the whole I enjoyed most meals. Sometimes the food was warm instead of hot. I was less keen on the chicken dishes, simply because they do not use boned pieces and I can't be bothered trying to get the meat off the bones, especially when it is smothered in a sauce. Afternoon tea - is served 4-5pm. They have a selection of teas (Prince of Wales; Assam; English; camomile; peppermint and a few others) Coffee is also available. The cakes, and biscuits are Italian and may not be what Americans or the British are used too. Dinner is served in the dining rooms at allocated tables. There are 2 sittings; I chose the second at 8.30pm as the first at 6.15pm was too early for me. Dinner also has 6 courses available which are less international, usually with the food from a different region of Italy each night (although on a longer repositioning cruise of 18 nights earlier this year, they did do themed dinners from other countries e.g. Mexico, Asia, France, Spain etc) they also have grilled salmon, chicken or steak available every evening and spaghetti Bolognese, if you don't fancy the main courses available. We had 2 gala dinners in the 8 nights we were onboard. I had a fantastic waiter who looked after me extremely well. I was closest to his station, so this may well have been the reason that my food was far hotter than I'd experienced on previous cruises with MSC. I'm also pleased to report that the beef was greatly improved. I was almost reluctant to order it as I'd experienced the shoe leather variety on previous sailings but am pleased to report that I had it 3 times (filet mignon; cooked in wine and cold roast)( and it was tender and tasty on all occasions. Like lunch my favorite courses were the appetizers, soups and pasta although I also enjoyed the risotto too. Most main courses were either good or ok. I rarely had a dessert but when I did, usually the ice cream or something lighter like mousse or crème brulee, I enjoyed them. Midnight buffet - served from 11.30pm every night had a different theme. Can't comment on this as having just finished 4 or 5 courses an hour earlier, could not contemplate eating again. Crew For me the real stars 9as always on MSC) were the dining room, bar and cabin crew. My waiter was exceptional, he always was waiting to greet me and assist me to be seated. He went out his way to make me feel special with a variety of napkin sculptures rose, peacock to name but a few). If I left anything on my plate or seemed to be eating slowly, he'd be over in a shot, offering to get me something else. One night, I stupidly told him that crème brulee was my favorite dessert and ended up with 2 which I just could not mange after 4 other courses). He'd always give me recommendations as to what was best that evening. One night my main course arrived at his station a little bit early as I was still finishing my previous course. Rather than serve it anyway, it was discarded and he sent for another one, to make sure I had a hot meal. The bar staff were exceptional too, especially Arif in the piano bar who made friends with all passengers regardless of age or nationality. He was very skilled at making cocktails and would invent a few others for his regulars. He also made animals out of straws and played games with the children. He managed all this and kept the bar running incredibly efficiently often unaided by his assistant who was sent away on breaks or to help out elsewhere. My cabin steward done a great job too, cleaning my cabin twice per day and regularly replenishing my fruit bowl (he noticed which kinds I preferred and started to give me more of those and less of the others) and always took time to talk to me. Even the other stewards on my deck always spoke when you passed them (and usually more than just a Good Morning or Afternoon). They would ask what sort of day you'd had and when the weather was rough if I was feeling ok. Form previous cruises with MSC I knew that the Italian Officers and Reception staff were usually aloof and often unhelpful. However on this sailing that had improved too. Whilst I would not say that the reception team were as friendly as the other crew, they'd certainly thawed their frosty attitude to pleasant and were also helpful and polite. I also had to see one of the officers about my account and he was absolutely charming. Entertainment There were 2 showings of the main show in the Broadway theatre each evening to coincide with the end of each dinner sitting. The theatre itself is beautiful and has good sight lines regardless of where you sit. The shows had to cater for 6 languages so tended to be either visual acts (such as cirque oleil style acts; magicians; dancers; or musical (also includes a classical concert). I only went to a few shows but enjoyed the ones that I went to. My favorite was the classical concert which consisted of a good Italian tenor accompanied by a trio from Eastern Europe (pianist, violinist and flautist). Have to say this was my favorite. There is live music ever evening, throughout the evening in a variety of lounges. Some just to listen to and some to dance to. On the whole they ranged from ok to good. There was usually some kind of entertainment hosted by the very energetic group of young Italians forming the Entertainment team going on day and night. Day time tended to be dance lessons, quizzes and bingo (in 5 or 6 languages); competitions and games on days at sea there were also Italian lessons, arts and crafts and other demos and talks) Gym, Spa and other facilities The gym had only 3 treadmills (and 1 was broken) and 3 bikes, so you often had to wait a while to get on them at busy times. They had a good range of free weights and weight machines and here were never queues to use them. The gym is situated right at the front of deck 11 beside the spa and you got great views from up there. It did however mean it also felt the motion of the ship the worst when the sea was rough. Next door was a sun lounge which most passengers had not discovered as it was usually always quiet. The sauna and steam room were here too. I used the spa a few times and can recommend the Balinese massages especially the hot stone one. Not cheap but very good. Watch out for specials in the daily programme. They have a hairdresser too, the pool is salt water and not heated, so is fine when in hot weather but can get a bit chilly. The pool area itself and deck above have lots of sun loungers available (which are all fitted with an adjustable face shield). At busy times it can prove difficult to find a bed as passengers hog them by leaving towels on them. It can also get fairly noisy around the pool area as much of the day time activities take place here. If you fancy some peace and quiet, then head for the small deck areas aft from deck 8 upwards to 12. It is much easier to find a bed there. There is also a small library (although only a small selection of English books) card room, very well equipped medical centre (with extremely proficient and friendly staff), casino; slot machine area; cyber cafe; photo shop and a variety of other shops (clothing; Colombian Emeralds; duty free; perfumery; electronics and a limited range of toiletries) There is also a children's club on deck 11 but as I don't have children, can't tell you anything about it. There is no self service laundry onboard, but they do have a laundry service which is quick and good. They do a special on the last few days of the cruise where they drastically reduce their prices in their (let us do your laundry for you before you go home promo) Disembarkation We were supposed to vacate our cabins and be in our meeting points by 9am. Breakfast was being served from 6.30 onwards in the dining room as normal and slightly earlier I think at the buffet. Room service was suspended that morning (which is the norm with MSC). We docked at 9am as expected and they started allowing groups to leave around 9.30am. I knew that I was in one of the last groups, so expected to have a bit of a wait. My group was called at 10.15am. getting off was relatively simple as the system of only allowing so many off at a time, stopped hold-ups at gangways and in the baggage hall, so all went relatively smoothly up to this point. The next part was a complete nightmare. I made it outside the terminal and headed for where I'd been told the taxi ranks was. Only it wasn't a rank with the usual orderly queue of passengers waiting. Instead it was a complete free for all with no qs - and taxis stopping all over the place and just picking up whoever managed to push themselves to them first. As one of the few single passengers and with 2 cases and slightly visually impaired, I had absolutely no chance against the groups of passengers. I lost count of how many times I was pushed out the way. At first, I was not too worried as I thought "well, I'm just going to have to wait until last". However more and more passengers kept coming out of the terminal and I needed to be at the airport by around 12 and it was already just after 11. At this point I started to get really worried and a bit upset that I was going to miss my flight and have to find a hotel for the night and hope that I could buy another flight for the following day. Fortunately at this point 3 Italian ladies noticed that I was getting upset and offered to share a taxi with me as they were also going to the airport. Now that I was part of a group of 4, we got a taxi within 5 minutes and I arrived in good time for my flight home to Edinburgh via Gatwick. So anyone making their own arrangements to leave from Genoa be prepared to do battle in a scrum or be incredibly patient if there are a lot of passengers also making their own arrangements to get home. Overall Opinion Great cruise despite the sometimes uncooperative weather. Had exactly what I wanted a very relaxing time, being waited on hand and foot by fantastic friendly staff who could not do enough for me. Also pleased to observe the improvements in the quality of the food especially the beef) and the temperature at which the food was served was much hotter than previously. Only small blot on a wonderful experience was the debacle at the taxi rank in Genoa which MSC could hardly be blamed for. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2008
We just returned from a week long cruise in the Baltic. We had a great time and enjoyed the cruise and ports. We arrived in Kiel by train and were surprised to see a MSC desk at the train station to check our bags and there was a shuttle ... Read More
We just returned from a week long cruise in the Baltic. We had a great time and enjoyed the cruise and ports. We arrived in Kiel by train and were surprised to see a MSC desk at the train station to check our bags and there was a shuttle to the port. There was a charge for this (2.5 Euro / bag) but it was well worth it. The shuttle was complementary (so we could have dragged our bags with us) but we enjoyed the freedom of not having our bags. The check in process was very quick and painless. I don't think it took more than 10 minutes from the time we got to the port till we were on the ship. Once on board we found our cabin. It was an inside cabin on the 8th deck (mid-ship). The cabin was small. There was a double bed, two upper berths, a small desk, minibar, TV and closet. The bathroom was the standard small bathroom that I remember from previous cruises. We did not hear any noise from our neighbors. On occasion you would hear someone walk by in the hall, but it never disturbed us. The room was spotless and in good repair. The cabin steward kept the room clean at all times. The bed linens were of good quality which I am a little picky about. The minibar had a variety of drinks and snacks but were pricey. Fresh fruit was in the room and was replenished as needed. There is a fee for room service except for breakfast. The ship itself seemed in good repair. The common areas were clean and well maintained. The eating areas were spotless and they seemed fastidious about hygiene in the food areas. The service on the ship was good but sometimes a little slow at dinner. Dinner normally took about 2 hours which seemed a little long for me, but we enjoyed the food. The food in the dining room was good but not fantastic. The menu is definitely geared to the European taste - a little blander than the US. Also the meals are served using the Italian style of 1st, 2nd, 3rd plates. The soups were quite good per my son. You normally had a choice of 3 different items for each plate. At lunch and dinner you must purchase drinks in the dinning room We were given a complementary bottle of water for each meal but anything above this is extra. At breakfast water was free. Cocktails were expensive (5-7 Euro) and I did not have any wine so I can not comment on those prices. You could buy drink packages but I did not, so I don't know the offerings. There were two formal dinners for the week cruise. The range of dress was from dockers, dress shirt and sport coat to a suite and tie. The other nights were informal which translated to "no shorts". Jeans were acceptable with either a T-shirt or polo for informal nights. There were buffets for breakfast and lunch. There seemed to be some food available all day long (until 6 PM) between the buffets and the sit down restaurants. Water, coffee and tea were complimentary at the buffets. I never went to the indoor breakfast or lunch buffets so I can't comment. The grill buffet (outside on deck) was burgers, hot dogs and turkey cutlets. There was also a pizza buffet (outside on deck) for lunch which served a variety of pizzas which per my children were pretty good. The grill buffet and pizza buffet were normally open till 6 PM. Afternoon tea was from 4-5 p.m. was a variety of sandwiches and tea. There was a midnight buffet every night. It ranges from sandwiches, pastries to the grand buffet. We went the first night and for the grand buffet but I was not overly impressed. In general, the buffet food was OK, but I stuck to the restaurant where the quality much better. We went to two of the shows. One was a variety act which was entertaining and the second was classical music that we did not stay through (the 9 and 12 year old had no interest and neither did I). The lounges were quite nice with music through most of the day. We spent a fair amount of time in the lounges since the decks were on the cool side due to the weather. My one son did venture into the hot tub one day and enjoyed it although it was not as hot as we like. Service in the lounges was quite good and the servers were not pushy which was quite nice. The servers took the time to remember the regulars and quickly came to learn your likes and dislikes. The on-board shopping was OK. The main shop had different specials everyday and a fair portion of the merchandise was available for one day only so you had to buy it when you saw it. The service in the shop was good except for one night when the staff was quite grumpy. I don't know why and it was only one night. The staff at the reception desk were always helpful. We did not participate in any of the ships excursions. We booked a private tour in St. Petersburg and were not pressured in any way to purchase a tour through the ship. We were held up for about 5 minutes getting off the ship due to concern by the ship personnel of using a private tour. After explaining the situation, they made a quick phone call and sent us on our way. I don't think many Europeans make private arrangements so they are not used to this. We used Anastasia Tours and had a great time. Disembarkation was smooth and quite efficient. Conclusion - We had a great time on the cruise. I would recommend MSC but please realize that MSC targets the European market and caters to European taste so you need to have an open mind. Next year we are planning a cruise through Greece and Turkey and we will keep MSC as an option. Happy Holidays. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2008
Ship is beautiful. Huge lounges! Spacious public areas! Food was less than marginal. Bar and lounge service was pretty bad. Tips were not included on bar tabs, included in $12 per day tip package, and therefore service personnel had no ... Read More
Ship is beautiful. Huge lounges! Spacious public areas! Food was less than marginal. Bar and lounge service was pretty bad. Tips were not included on bar tabs, included in $12 per day tip package, and therefore service personnel had no incentive to provide service. The hot dog and hamburger grill was busy all the time. I think that's an indication of the quality of the other food services available. Seems there are more Chiefs than Indians on the wait staff. A lot of people standing around looking at the floor. Seems they didn't want to make eye contact for fear that they might have to do something. Entertainment at the pool was juvenile. "Musical Chairs" and "YMCA" are better suited for nursery schools or nursing homes. I think the cruise director got his job solely because he could rattle off announcements in five languages. Cabin was the smallest we have ever been in. Less storage space and people space than we have experienced on any ship before. If you like the experiences of Princess, Royal Caribbean, Holland, Norwegian, and the like, DON'T sail on MSC Lirica. A travel agent sitting at our table agreed with this review. Denny in Indiana Read Less
Sail Date: March 2008
Our Family sailed the Western Caribbean aboard Lirica. We had a balcony cabin (suite) and an ocean view room for our teenagers. While MSC wouldn't allow booking the kids in a room without us, or have them in our room, (TA had to ... Read More
Our Family sailed the Western Caribbean aboard Lirica. We had a balcony cabin (suite) and an ocean view room for our teenagers. While MSC wouldn't allow booking the kids in a room without us, or have them in our room, (TA had to split us and kids so an adult was in each room) once onboard, there was no problem. The rooms and ship were well maintained. Food: The dining was good, but definitely not americanized italian. Previous reviews were true: Avoid the beef - it was all over done and covered with brown sauce/gravy. The seafood and the risotto were fantastic. The salads were fantastic. My son loved the pizza station even if he wouldn't try the more creative choices (tuna & onion, anchovies & capers,) The wait staff was great in accommodating needs and tastes. We purchased a wine package - a great value and convenient. I was less than enthused by the Maitre'D. We had requested an early dining option when booking and were assigned late. We were told we could meet with him at 3:30 the first day. I waited at the restaurant with 30 others and after 20 minutes we found out that the line was at the other entrance where 100 others were ahead of us. It seemed that requests were ignored and people just slotted. (hey they had a 50% chance of getting it right!) When I asked for a change the Maitre'D didn't apologize, but told me I really didn't want to eat early. When I persisted he said the ship was full and I shouldn't expect a change. I asked why they took requests, and he got more upset. The next day we did get changed, but the experience left a sour taste in my mouth. Beer: I bought the coupon package which was a value - but the only tap beer on board was heineken (no light beer) and it was 5 degrees too warm everywhere on the ship. When I asked a bartender, he said lots of people were complaining, but it never improved. Excursions: We participated in 2 ship excursions and 2 we set up on our own. The two ocean rail in Panama was great. The guides were helpful, the view great and as the only ship in port we rode the train both ways. One tip: You get a snack on the ride back, but it is late afternoon and there was no chance after the Gatun locks to purchase food. If you have kids, plan to bring something because going from 8A - 2P without food might be too long! The Mangrove tour in Columbia was a dog. It was billed as a mangrove tour, visit to a private beach with swimming and tour of the city and fortress. (Cartagena). We went to the beach first for 30 minutes and drinks, then to the mangroves where the canoe guide spent much time on a cell phone. It was hard to hear descriptions of the wildlife over the road noise nearby. The guide pointed out the fortress as we drove by but we didn't see the fortress. The drinks were provided at the start and then there was nothing after the tour. Itinerary: We liked the Cozumel, Costa Rica, Panama, Columbia, Cayo route. We ended up missing Cayo Levantado after a crew member jumped off the ship in rough seas and we spent a night searching. We instead did Nassau which was fun, but packed with 6 other ships. Time on the ship: We changed time 4 X on the ship. First back a hour on two nights then forward an hour on two nights. (we ended up having a ship time that matched the time in each port.) Read Less
Sail Date: March 2008
We have been on many cruises, but never on MSC Lines before. All the stuff you read seemed really nice, smaller ship, more intimate surroundings, a friendly crew, etc, etc. Once we got to our room, we were a little taken aback. The ... Read More
We have been on many cruises, but never on MSC Lines before. All the stuff you read seemed really nice, smaller ship, more intimate surroundings, a friendly crew, etc, etc. Once we got to our room, we were a little taken aback. The bedspread had been mended(badly so), and the front of the couch was torn. Not exactly top shelf decor.After touring the ship, we found that there is nothing free. Water, ice cream are both items you must pay for.There also is a really bad language barrier. For those of us that speak English, you do a lot of pointing and double talk to get a point across. The internet service was a waste of money, and that opinion was shared by many guests. The ships food was second class, just food, nothing really special. Do not order beef, it is, well, undescribable is a good phrase.The buffet for both breakfast or lunch was just a "buffet", with nothing really special that you would tell your friends about. Having the grill outside is different, because by the time you get your eggs, or pancakes and go inside to the buffet, they are cold.On a windy day, that speeds matters up considerably. Bar drinks are lacking a major ingredient, alcohol, in any quantity enough to have it taste like a drink. The entertainment was-okay.When asked if I would use that cruiseline again, the answer is a very positive "NO". We paid first class price and got a second class cruise. They really need to look at what others are doing, and try to bring their standards up. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2008
We're a 40 something professional couple. This was our first cruise on MSC; previously we've cruised with Carnival and Norwegian. We're easygoing, not hyper-critical, and tend to make lemonade when handed lemons. We chose ... Read More
We're a 40 something professional couple. This was our first cruise on MSC; previously we've cruised with Carnival and Norwegian. We're easygoing, not hyper-critical, and tend to make lemonade when handed lemons. We chose this MSC cruise because we liked the itinerary and the price was very reasonable. Precruise: We decided not to chance the winter weather in the Northeast, so we flew down the day before. We stayed at the Days Inn off I95, which has absolutely nothing to recommend it unless you like walking 3/4 mile (in a pretty scary neighborhood) to reach a Burger King. Stay somewhere else. Embarkation: Hands down the easiest we've ever encountered. We arrived (the cruise terminal is minutes away from the airport; you do not need the cruise ship transfers as cabs are plentiful and half the price), got in the "US Citizens" line, and walked on to the ship. A staff member showed us to our cabin. Ship: As mentioned in many other reviews, MSC Lirica is new-ish and sparkling clean. I think the ship was built just before the industry started emphasizing balcony cabins and specialty restaurants, as most cabins are window or inside and there are only the two main dining rooms and the buffet. However, the ship never felt cramped to us. Public rooms are understated but comfortable, and the theater is the nicest we've seen at sea...none of those annoying pillars that obscure sightlines. Our cabin was on deck 9, inside, and was fine for the two of us. The only areas that ever felt congested were the pool deck (crowded and noisy, especially on sea days) and the buffet, which we went to rarely anyway. The casino is small, smoky and awful, with not nearly enough low-limit slots. The gym and spa are adequate, with high spa prices and reasonable salon charges. Passengers: True to previous reviews, it looked like the passengers were about 50% American and 50% European. We liked the multitude of languages, but I could see how some Americans wouldn't. This was the oldest crowd of fellow passengers we've encountered; there were very few younger people and almost no children. However, nearly everyone was friendly, tolerant and active. Either complainers were at a minimum, or we simply didn't understand whatever language it was they were complaining in! On this 10-night cruise there were three formal nights; the rest of the nights, dress was casual. Husband wore his tuxedo but was one of very few to do so; women tended toward sparkly pantsuits or dresses and comfortable shoes. It's true, you DO get wiser about footwear when you get older. Crew: Dining room staff is Indonesian. Our regular dinner waiter and assistant were great, but the staff at breakfast and lunch was iffier. Because orders can be placed in any of five languages (English, Italian, German, French and Spanish), it's really easy to get a waiter who doesn't understand you. A lot of "I don't know" and "We don't have that"; passenger frustration ran high at these meals. Cabin attendants were efficient but tended toward early-morning noise, and housekeeping trolleys obstructed hallways most of the day. These are things MSC could work on for the future. The European cruise staff, most of whom spoke four or five languages, were responsive to passengers and very popular. Food & Bar: When checking in, we discovered we'd been assigned the wrong seating. Reception told us to go see the maitre d' at 4 pm. This was wrong, and it was lucky we checked, because table changes started at 3 pm. There were so many messed-up reservations that they were giving out numbers to hold a place in line to get changes. There were some VERY angry people. After waiting about 45 minutes, it took only moments to get our table for two at the other seating. We like to eat alone. We got a booth at L'Ippocampo, the smaller dining room. We noticed that lots of the tables there, as well as in La Bussola, are very close together and noisy, so we were really lucky with the booth. The food was plentiful and adequate, Continental in style. As others have said, there was no effort made to include Caribbean or other local dishes. Out of ten days of menus, the one really outstanding dish was the fresh shrimp cocktail. Don't miss that one. All in all though we would give the food a C. The wine and bar list was good; lots of choices and reasonably priced. We tried some new wines and enjoyed them. The dining room bar waitress was particularly linguistically challenged, twice bringing the wrong drinks even after being shown their names on the menu. I'm sure she'll get better eventually. One thing about MSC is that they do NOT push drinks on you; there isn't even any bar service in the theater. Which brings us to... Entertainment: As noted in other reviews, because of the multilingual nature of the ship, the entertainment is mostly singing, dancing, magic, acrobats, and juggling. Shows are short, at about 45 minutes each. The singers have great voices. The classical trio (Caffee Concerto Strauss) are terrific. We enjoyed the acrobats and gymnasts. The dancers were more problematic...while slender and attractive, they suffer from dated choreography, awful costumes, and a complete inability to dance in synch. Still, for 45 minutes you can stand anything. Husband enjoyed the magic and jugglers; wife did not. We heard from other passengers that the late-night entertainment in the disco and elsewhere was fun; we wouldn't know. Although we were among the youngest passengers, I think we went to bed the earliest! Therefore we cannot comment on any midnight buffets. Ports: We chose this cruise for its itinerary. In COZUMEL, husband took the ship's tour to Tulum. He enjoyed the ruins, not so much the lunch stop or "mandatory" shopping stop. Unfortunately we were in Cozumel on a Sunday, so the ship's tour was about all that was offered for Tulum; otherwise he'd have booked it privately, as we did in COSTA RICA with George and Okeydokey Tours. With one other couple (hi Don & Dawn!) we drove around Puerto Limon, toured a farm, saw a sloth, saw the banana plantation (which is more interesting than it sounds), took an hour-long canal cruise (saw another sloth, lizards, crocodile, birds, bats....was amazing) and then had lunch on the beach. This tour cost half of what the ship's tour did and we saw more. Highly recommended. Civil unrest in PANAMA canceled all tours. We have been to Panama before, but really felt for people from far away for whom the canal was to have been their cruise highlight. Although we understood that it was not the ship's fault, it didn't seem like they went out of their way to console badly disappointed passengers. They refunded tour money but did nothing else. In CARTAGENA we took the ship's city tour because we were nervous about the safety of the city. Wow, were we wrong there. The ship's tour just skirted by lots of things we'd have liked to have seen (like the old fort) while including not one but TWO shopping stops. Waste of time! Cartagena is a beautiful and fascinating city (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and we should have gotten a cab and driver and done it our own way. I hope we'll have a chance to visit it again someday. In CAYO LEVANTADO we arranged to go whale watching with Kim on the Victoria II. We found Kim online; she is a whale expert. We saw several whales, including one who surfaced right next to the boat as though to give everyone a good look. It was amazing, but be warned that iffy sailors will probably have some degree of mal-de-mer. Dramamine, soft drinks and crackers are provided, and in my opinion it's worth a bit of flippy tummy to see the whales. Debarkation: You are asked to leave your cabin by 8 am. We had breakfast and then waited in the theater until our luggage color was called. A few minutes later we were at the airport. Perhaps because there are so many Europeans on board ship, MSC does not offer the option of carrying your own bags off the ship, which is too bad because it works great on NCL. Summary: Would we cruise with MSC again? Yes, if the itinerary and price was right. MSC seems to really want to be in the Caribbean cruise market and I think they'll work on the few glitches we noticed. Our grade: B. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2008
The Lirica with less than 1500 passengers last week is smaller than most of the cruise ships we have sailed. Public rooms were never crowded. There was never a crowd waiting to get into the dining rooms and we could always find a quiet ... Read More
The Lirica with less than 1500 passengers last week is smaller than most of the cruise ships we have sailed. Public rooms were never crowded. There was never a crowd waiting to get into the dining rooms and we could always find a quiet place to relax. Embarkation. At around 2PM we arrive in our car to the port, dropped off our luggage, and parked in the nearby garage. We proceeded through each step of the Embarkation process without waiting in any lines. I doubt it took more than 10 to 15 minutes. Somehow, we bypassed the chance to purchase packages of soda and cocktails. Make sure you do that before you board because we had trouble finding out information the following day. The Ship. Some of our favorite quiet places were the Blue Lounge on the 12th deck above the buffet. This lounge was not used during the day. It was airconditioned and had great views off the stern, and the port and starboard sides. We also liked to sit and read on the 7th-10th stern decks. If you have first seating for dinner, make sure you get to the Broadway Theater at least 30 minutes before the evening show. Some of our friends were turned away because the theater was full. The theater has great sight lines so all seats were good. We only used the elevators when we were first escorted to our room and for debarkation. If you need sundries, they are in the liquor store. We found them the last day. One of the things we loved about the ship compared to other cruise lines was the absence of announcements in the cabin. Also, the ship announcements were fewer than other ships, but I wish there were none except for emergencies. Dining. My husband and I enjoyed the dining experience. We ate at a table for 6 and had wonderful tablemates. Our waiter, Virgil, was from Romania and he did an excellent job. My husband and I always asked for his recommendations and he never steered us wrong. My favorite course was the soup. Every one of them was delicious, but I really enjoyed the ones with a fish base. Most Americans ordered pasta from the course that included pastas and risottos. The risottos that had a tomato base were outstanding. For the main course, fish was always excellent. If you don't see something that appeals to you from the right side of the menu, you can always order steak or salmon from the left side. I am not sure of her position, but Imma was frequently summoned to help me with my food allergy. She had the most positive, upbeat attitude of anyone on the ship. Her smile, her can-do attitude, and her love of life was contagious. We chose to eat every meal except 2 in the dining room. We met many interesting people as we chose to be seated at larger tables. One of the meals we ate in the buffet was a breakfast before a 7AM excursion meeting time. I was not impressed. The other time I ate a fabulous burger and fries from the grill when we got back too late from another excursion. It was delicious and I was tempted to back other days. Cabin. In one word, SMALL. The beds were comfortable, there was lots of storage, but I would have loved a chair. Great plumbing in the shower with great control of the temperature and water pressure. No room for shaving legs in the tiny, tiny shower. Room was very clean. Individual thermostat was responsive. We never heard sounds from the cabins next to us, but we did hear sounds from the hallway. Room steward, Pika, was excellent. Entertainment. Very enjoyable. I saw all the shows except two. My favorite act was the juggler. I wish the volume had been lower in the Broadway Theater, but our earplugs saved our hearing.My favorite band was the Tres Paraguayos who played in various lounges and on deck. Their afternoon show in the Broadway theater shouldn't be missed. Excursions. I attended one of the programs to describe excursions. It was a slide show narrated in a heavily accented monotone. The information did not include more that what the brochure that was distributed to the cabins. Be sure to research the excursions before you go. You will find lots of useful information on the message boards that this website has. San Juan. We used the ship's trip to El Yunque rainforest. I wish the independent guide mentioned on the message boards had been available. Our tour was interesting, but it could have been better. St. Martin. We spent the morning on the ship, had lunch, and then went ashore to visit Fredricksberg. It had really changed since we had been there before. There was lots to see there, and next time, we might swim right at the beach there. St. Lucia. We contacted COSOL who is mentioned on the message boards. He was as good as his reviews. We really enjoyed our day. The highlight was swimming on a private beach between the 2 Pitons. COSOL provided excellent local foods. I have a very sensitive stomach and I didn't have any problems. He wants to keep his reputation, so he only provides the best. Antigua. We did the canopy zipline tour through the ship. I won't tell my age, but my husband is 60. We had a great time, felt safe and the hardest part is climbing out. If you have germ phobias, you might choose another excursion because you wear helmets and gloves worn by others and they looked grubby and sweat-stained. Tortola. THE BATHS! Incredible place. Booked through the cruise ship. If you are physically able, be sure to cross through the cave to Devil's Bay. You don't have to go with the group. You can't get lost. Don't miss this excursion. I am pretty sure I could have done this excursion on my own without the ship. Cayo Levantado. We looked at the Island from the ship. Our tablemates went over early, enjoyed the beach, and returned to the ship for lunch. Disembarkation. Pleasant wait in the assigned lounge. Unfortunately, we came back to a different terminal. There was a bus to take with all our luggage and packages to get back to our car. It was a minor problem, but it was the last memory of the cruise. I would take MSC and the Lirica again. It would be my first choice for the Caribbean. I have already taken NCL, RCCL, and Carnival in the Caribbean and none of them were as enjoyable. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2008
This was my first cruise with MSC and it was my eighth cruise. Previously, I've cruised once with Carnival, once with RCL, twice with Holland America and three times with NCL. We flew down to Fort Lauderdale on US Airways from ... Read More
This was my first cruise with MSC and it was my eighth cruise. Previously, I've cruised once with Carnival, once with RCL, twice with Holland America and three times with NCL. We flew down to Fort Lauderdale on US Airways from Columbus, Ohio. We had a short 40 minute layover in Charlotte. Even with the short layover, our luggage arrived in Fort Lauderdale with our flight. We did arrive late at Fort Lauderdale by a few minutes after inexplicably sitting on the Charlotte runway for about 30 minutes. We rented a car through the Hotel from Budget. The wait to get the vehicle was extremely long, taking 45 minutes. Budget must have had great prices as none of the other rental agencies were busy. Once we got the car we drove over to our Hotel, the Comfort Suites Airport and Cruise Port on S. Federal Hwy. The Hotel was an OK value and for one night it wasn't bad. If we were going to stay there any length of time, we would have stayed elsewhere. The next morning, it was back to the Airport to turn in the car and board the free shuttle from the Airport to the Cruise Port. At embarkation, staff did a great job with moving people through the process. We arrived around noon and were on the ship in about 30 to 40 minutes after arrival. We were in an inside cabin and did not get preferential treatment. MSC Staff members were friendly and pleasant throughout the process. Once we were aboard the ship, we were immediately escorted to our cabin. When we booked, there were only a limited number of Oceanview and Inside cabins. All suites had been previously reserved. With the Oceanview and Inside cabins being the exact same size, we could not see paying the extra money for a window. At 140 sq ft, the cabin did feel small, but there were enough shelves, cubby holes, drawers and closet space to accommodate all of our clothes and personal items. We actually had space left over even after buying souvenirs at most of our ports. The ship was extremely clean throughout. We saw staff cleaning, shining and polishing constantly. If there was a spill in the buffet line, they were there to clean it up within minutes. We had a great cabin steward who did a great job keeping our cabin clean and tidy. They had a system with use of the do not disturb/clean room cards which could tell if the passenger had entered or left the cabin. The food was only above average. None of the dishes stand out as being incredibly good, but I never tasted anything that was bad. Dishes were always presented well and served warm. Each dinner always had a pasta dish along with dinner and there were also regular standbys if the menu was not appealing. For those passengers who enjoy spicy food, there was often an Indian dish available for lunch. The kitchen did a great job with fish and chicken entrees, but I was not impressed with their preparation of beef. The wait staff was somewhat stiff, but that could be due to a combination of the ship being used to a European crowd. It's my understanding that waiters are considered professionals in Europe as opposed to here in the US, where many waiters are using their job to pay bills until something else comes along. There could have been a bit of a language barrier as well. I found that if I did not use simple English when speaking to the wait staff or specifically something related to meals, it sometimes seemed that the staff did not understand what I was saying. As far as excursions, they were great. Getting organized for the excursions, well it was a bit confusing. I guess doing the same excursions with busses and tour guides in four different languages can be a bit daunting. In Cozumel, we went to Tulum and Xhel-Ha. Tulum was really neat, especially with the sea below. The beach side restaurant (can't remember the name) we went to would not have been my first choice. The food was cold when it arrived and not very tasty. The seven dollar margarita I ordered was probably the worst I've ever had. (Beers were six dollars.) The wait staff did not know much English. Fortunately for me, I remembered a enough H.S. and College Spanish and was able to help translate for my table. Other tables had problems with their orders and were even more unhappy with their food and service than we were. In Costa Rica we arrived early enough that we were able to go walking through the town of Limon. There was a nice park in the port area adjacent to a small island where Christopher Columbus landed in 1493. A few of my friends went to visit the cathedral and said it was gorgeous. At the port, there was a fair amount of stands selling wooden items, Tshirts, Coffee, etc. I wanted to mainly buy coffee from Costa Rica and from other postings, heard that buying coffee from a supermarket nearby would save money. Other Cruise Critic members were absolutely correct. We found a grocery store about three blocks away from the port and paid almost half of what they were asking at the port. Later on, we went on the Crazy Monkey Canopy Tour which consisted of Zip Lining through the rain forest. This excursion was not only exhilarating but also sent us through some of the most unspoiled rain forest one could imagine. They advertisement said that the experience would get one's adrenaline pumping and it certainly did. While ziplining, I saw a couple of Macaws and a small brown monkey hiding in a tree. The zipline ended at the beach where one could take a dip in the Caribbean if they so chose. Once we walked back to the main area of the resort, there was a family of three monkeys (including a baby) high up in the tree. Lots of pictures were taken of the monkey family. Our next port was Cristobal, Panama. Unfortunately due to civil strife we were not allowed out of the terminal area. I must say that the cruise line handled information about the civil disturbance badly. We were required to be in our meeting location by 7:45 AM. By 8:30 nothing was happening and everyone was wondering what why we had not yet left (in multiple languages). It wasn't until close to 9:00 that they actually made an announcement that we would not be let out of the terminal due to the problems within the city of Cristobal. While I was glad that the decision was make to keep us in the terminal, the announcement should have been made much sooner than it was. Once we were allowed into the terminal, we found that there were a good amount of stands there to shop. Later on there were other shops which opened, carrying the usual duty free items found at every port. The stands sold Tshirts, carved wooden items, baskets, pottery and various other things. Most of the items were fairly well prices. We couldn't help but wonder if the vendors in the terminal would be sending thank you notes to the strikers thanking them for the additional business they received that day. We also discovered a bar at the end of the terminal with a view of the Caribbean entrance to the canal. We also found that the bar was selling beer for $1.50 US which was a welcome relief from the liquor prices on the ship! Note we did take full advantage of the opportunity for inexpensive beer, but that's another story for another time... We took the city tour in Cartagena. While the sights in the city were really wonderful, the onslaught of vendors was overwhelming at times. Despite telling them that I did not want to buy anything in both English and Spanish, they did not leave me or anyone else in our tour group alone. Talking to friends who did other tours, I heard that the vendors were just as aggressive where ever they went as well. We did see some really neat places in Cartagena. The Spanish Colonial architecture was quite well maintained and it was enjoyable walking about the old city. While in the old city, we went to a couple of museums, as well as a museum devoted to the Spanish Inquisition, all situated around a park with a large statue of Simon Bolivar. Prior to visiting the old city, we went to a convent high above the city which was beautiful and had magnificent views of the city and harbor. The tour ended with a visit to the newer part of the city and an obligatory stop at a shopping center devoted to emerald sales. In Cayo Levantado, we did the Whale watching tour. Wow, this tour was incredible. After an hour of riding around, we saw our first mist cloud above the water. At that point our captain gunned the boat and we were off to see the whales. Once we found them, we saw multiple whales sometimes of to four whales in a grouping. It was a great day for whale watching as we saw at least three breaches. Additionally we saw several flukes up in the air and smacking the water. There was one whale who would turn over and wave his pectoral fin two or three times. It was almost as if the whales were putting on a show for us. After our excursion ended, we had the choice of going to the beach at Cayo Levantado or going back to the ship. We chose going back to the ship as we were hungry and didn't feel like buying lunch on the island for an additional $15.00 US. Once we returned to Fort Lauderdale, we were in the second group to disembark. Going through immigration was a snap. We just showed the officer our US Passports and off we went. We found our luggage within minutes went through customs, again a snap. We then walked out of the terminal. We chose to catch a cab instead of taking the ship's excursion to the airport. The cost for the ship to transport us to Fort Lauderdale Airport was $22.00 US per person. Our cab fair for both of us was $16.10, US. We felt like we made a good decision. Overall, I had a wonderful time on the ship. The international flavor of the passengers really truly enriched my cruise experience. While there are things that they can improve upon, such as speed of drink service or having tux rental available, I was very happy with the ship and the cruise line. I will definitely give MSC another try in the future Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
Background: this was my 3rd cruise, one on Royal Caribbean Voyager, then Carnival Glory, now this. I can't directly compare them since my learning curve has improved each time in terms of what I can and can't do, etc. I booked ... Read More
Background: this was my 3rd cruise, one on Royal Caribbean Voyager, then Carnival Glory, now this. I can't directly compare them since my learning curve has improved each time in terms of what I can and can't do, etc. I booked this cruise because I received a Cruise Critic newsletter just at the right time. I researched MSC and found mixed reviews. I got the impression that the people who knocked the line were maybe just knockers. So I booked. Aside from the reviews, the price, length (10 days), and itinerary were all to my liking. Of the six destinations I had only visited one. I booked 3 months before the cruise. Received my travel documents in less than a month. Plenty of time to research. MSC does not provide for booking excursions in advance. I let the travel agency book the air arrangements. Word of advice: look out for "codeshare" flight numbers, they may not be the actual number of the flight on the day you fly. It worked out okay for me. Airport personnel were actually helpful. Short cab ride from Ft Lauderdale Int'l to Port Everglades, $15. Porters take your bags at the curb. There was some confusion at embarkation regarding what forms to have out; they gave us an information card but never collected it, which is unproductive but doesn't hurt the customer. At checkin I was told that I was upgraded from Category 7 to 9, and the clerk seemed quite happy about it. With 1500 passengers the lines were much shorter than the 3000 pax giants I had been on, so the process moved quite quickly. I was escorted to my cabin by a white-gloved attendant. Cabin was outside window, much smaller than the one on the Carnival Glory. (On the other hand the carpet in the hallway didn't stink on this ship). Shower space tight. Two fold-down beds on the walls make for head-bumping concerns. Not roomy but functional, and everything worked. Ample closet space, a refrigerator, TV with about 20 channels, including French, German, Italian and Spanish. The ship is very multilingual. Passengers included many Germans and French Canadians, a fair number of Italians, and a mixture of others. Top staffers mostly Italian, wait and service staff a lot of Indonesians, and some others. Announcements in 5 languages, rather impressive to hear the staff switch from one to the other. Few announcements, none in the cabins. Staff generally either busy or friendly. DEcor: I do not have an eye for such things, but it seemed to me that the interior of the ship was nicely laid out. The interior lines are curvilinear, lots of brass and marble, the colors harmonious and easy on the eye. I thought it much more tasteful than the Carnival ship. Public areas are mostly on decks 5 and 6, residence on decks 8-10, decks 11-13 are buffets or open air. The top has a clean layout, uncluttered, easy to get around. There is a promenade deck on level 6, which doesn't have deck chairs. Deck chairs up top have awnings if you don't want your face totally burned up. Entertainment: I will divide into 3 areas: 1) Main show. Recorded music, leggy and talented dancers, a stylish tenor, mezzosoprano with a good voice, magician, very talented juggler, a pair of muscular acrobats, and a group of miniature female Asian acrobats who do incredible things with twirling props while contorted in unlikely positions. Costumes for the dancers are Las Vegas style. Stage shows tended to be short, about 40 minutes. Cruise Director Mario Cimbaro was tall, handsome, multilingual, and glib. You got a good variety of acts in each show, fast-moving, well-costumed, well lit. 2) Lounge acts. Some of these assisted in the main show as well. Some I didn't see. What I did see I liked: Caffe Concerto Strauss, a light classical trio with a very talented violinist, Artorex Cauneac. Lots of waltzes, romantic pieces, gypsy dances. Trio Paraguayos, 2 guitars and a harp, traditional and folk Latino. The lead singer has an excellent voice and the harpist is very good. A pair of lounge singers, the male with a good tenor voice and the female good-looking. 3) The Entertainers, a group of young and energetic Italians who lead various activities, dance and Italian lessons, trivia and other contests, etc. Some of them have comedic talent and they are all personable and enthusiastic. They added a very agreeable ambience. They also assisted in the main shows as well as all over the ship. Overall I rate the entertainment highly. Britney Spears fans might not be as happy. Food: I am not really qualified to rate the food because I eat to live. I had the 2nd seating at 8, which is not what I requested but I made do with light eating and good tablemates. Breakfast buffet was okay, a good selection but the same every day. The croissants were light, flaky and delicious. The bacon was mediocre. Lunch buffet ranged from okay to very good. Variety was not as wide as on the bigger ships, but I did have a fantastic beef bourguignon as well as some nice fish, vegetables, etc. On island days I missed the buffet and had to use the grill, which had good fries and a nicely seasoned burger. The pizzeria had some good flavors but I thought the crust too hard and the toppings too thin. Drinks in the buffet/grill area are water, iced tea, usually milk and some kind of juice. Size of glasses adequate. Dinner: our waiter was an Indonesian. At first there were some mistakes which were quickly corrected. Over 10 days he and his assistant learned the table's habits so by the end service was clairvoyant. Since 2nd seating is too late for me I was eating light; the waiter seemed to take it personally so I started eating less earlier to save room for the dinner. He seemed to breathe easier when I ate more. Choices at dinner were wide over the course of the cruise but not as much for one night; in other words you were going to get lobster and prime rib at some time, but not every night. There was always some kind of pasta and risotto, about 4 main courses, two or three appetizers, soups and salads. The table had some experienced diners who were generally impressed with the quality. Presentation was uneven; one lady, who had worked in the restaurant business a long time, kept getting a plain boiled potato with all her main courses. She called it terrible presentation, and I had to agree with her, but I always ate the potato. Wait staff seemed to have a real camaraderie with each other. Service was a little rocky at first but improved noticeably by the end. In all the meals staff was very quick to zip around and vacuum up empty plates, clean the tables, etc. The ship is famous for its cleanliness and I found this to be the case. Service: I ordered excursions through the ship. The process was easy. They delivered a bulletin and a form for available excursions. I filled out one form wrong and ordered the wrong excursion. I took it to the desk a day later, they pointed out that it was my fault, I admitted guilt, and they fixed it for me in a couple of minutes. On the last day I didn't receive an invoice for my onboard purchases, and the accounting desk fixed it in about 60 seconds. The ship does not baby you. If you order an excursion they give you the meeting place and time in the daily bulletin. You had better read it carefully, because they aren't going to make an announcement. Activities: the young, hard-working Entertainment staff handles activities such as tournaments, arts and crafts, contests, and general mayhem in the morning and afternoon, as well as a contest or event at 10:30 in the evening. Contest winners got little prizes such as caps, blankets or backpacks, pretty nice gifts. Entertainment crew very engaging and lively. Itinerary: 2 days at sea, which was kind of nice in order to make the transition from rat race to relaxation. We cruised off Cuba which was visible most of the time. At the destinations, time ashore was 7 to 9 hours. All of the islands were mountainous and scenic. San Juan: I chose excursion to El Yunque rain forest. Disembarkation was well organized. We loaded onto a bus and headed up into the forbidding mountains. 45 minutes or so to the rainforest, with a stop for shopping which I could have done without. Then up and up. We stopped at a waterfall by the road for about 20 minutes, drove up to a trail which we could walk for a half hour or so, then to an observation tower with really spectacular views of the sunlit northern coast, rain-shrouded mountains, mist and towering cliffs and plunging valleys. Bring your camera. The trip was a little short for my taste, but cheap, and a good introduction to a place I had never seen. I would definitely want to explore this place at leisure. Very spectacular. We had a good long time in port, so after the tour I had lunch on ship and returned to wander around the very scenic streets of Old San Juan. St Martin: this is a smallish island, so I elected to get out on my own. I walked over a 300 foot ridge to an undeveloped beach, which for much of the time I had to myself. There are currently no facilities here, food, bathrooms, nothing. After the beach I hiked back over the ridge and around the Salt Pond to the zoo, which was practically deserted. There is a different ambience than the typical big city zoo, the animals are much more interactive, and frankly you get the feeling that they are lacking the two-legged, stupid, cruel idiots we have tormenting the animals in American zoos. Mostly smaller animals, primates, birds and reptiles, well-housed, seem to be cheerful. We had a brief tropical shower which set the macaws to making a terrific racket. Walked back to ship. Green hills all around, an attractive island, goats walking around, lots of columnar cactus. St Lucia: southern point of cruise, not far from South America. I booked a catamaran cruise down the west coast to the Pitons (extinct volcanic cones). Again disembarkation was well organized. We boarded the Passion with Captain King and cruised down the coast at a moderate speed. Our guide was informative and the scenery spectacular, including a big sailing vessel. We were served complimentary drinks and took a swim in small but pretty Marigot harbor. After the tour I walked north, got lost, got picked up by a taxi and taken to a local beach (Shark Bay). Mostly locals present, I relaxed for a while and walked back. Some fellow passengers complained of overaggressive vendors and cab drivers in town but I did not have a problem. This is a very lush, tropical island. Antigua: again I set off on foot to the southwest through very pretty hills reminiscent of the foothills of the Appalachians except for the ubiquitous cactus: goats all over, cows and horses, green rolling ridges. The altitude of the road never gets much above a hundred feet but you're surrounded by heights. I visited three beaches and headed back, not leaving much time to cover seven miles on foot. I took a wrong turn at St John's and headed into maybe not the richest part of town, and what did the locals do? Gave me directions, and I arrived at the gangway two minutes past the posted limit. I made the ship, but that's cutting it too close. Three cheers for the kindness of strangers. Tortola: armed with a map, I set off on foot to climb over the island to Brewer's Bay. Total height over the ridge maybe eight hundred feet. It was not an easy climb, but doable. At the top I was offered a ride by a couple from Connecticut, Bob and Nancy. The road down was very twisty and steep, and I almost would have rather tackled it on foot. Brewer's is a nice semicircular bay with plunging pelicans, blue water and nice views of the surrounding hills and Little Jost van Dyke island. Snorkelers reported clear water and six-foot tuna. Had a burger at Nicole's, very nice view over the bay. On the way back over the ridge I was passed by a young couple. This is not a hike for the physically challenged, though any reasonably fit person could do it. Cayo Levantado: this is a small island in Samana Bay, Dominican Republic. This is the only destination requiring a tender. By this time my legs were heavy so I took an excursion to Los Haitises National Park. Again disembarkation was well organized, we were loaded directly into the smaller vessel. Our guide provided info in German and English. We took a brisk forty-five minute ride across the bay to the mainland. Here there are a number of islets forty or fifty feet high covered with vegetation and birds and hollowed by caves. We visited two caves on the mainland: one containing petroglyphs (drawings on rocks) made by Taino Indians 1200 years ago, and another with some stone carvings. Much information and scenery, and then a fast ride over rising waves with the boat slamming into the troughs. We debarked on Cayo Levantado, which is kind of a Disney version of a tropical island. Very nicely laid out and pretty, and I stretched out on the grass with blue skies and palm trees overhead and balmy breezes, and just about went to sleep and got left behind. When I did got on a tender I boarded the one to Samana, not to the ship, but I did get it straightened out. After another sea day we arrived at Ft Lauderdale. Since my flight out was late I scheduled another excursion, to the Everglades. At this point is the only real fault I can find with the cruise: we got off the ship no problem, but then they let us kind of string out with no real idea where the bus was. We all had to find it on our own, which is not optimal for old people carrying luggage. However we made it and took a quick tour of Ft Lauderdale, then to the Sawgrass Recreation Park and an airboat ride through the endless river of grass, sighted a wild alligator, got some ecological information, and back to a wildlife exhibit where you could view a big gator chomping a chicken carcass (count your fingers), get a chance to hold a baby gator (leathery, not unpleasant to hold), and listen to a video lecture by a Seminole named William who gave the history of his people and the U.S. government with a nice sense of irony. This is a smallish park and I don't know if you'd want to travel a thousand miles to see it, but if you have some spare time before your flight it's a better way to kill time than sitting in an airport. Overall my impression of this cruise was very favorable. Crew worked hard to make it a pleasant experience, the itinerary was great, the pace was perfect, activities and dining good for the size of the ship, interior beautiful and clean, and problems (for me) were quickly corrected. I would do this ship again in a heartbeat. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
Embarkation was long but about the same with any ship. Disembarkation was one of the quickest and least painful I have encountered. Arrived in cabin at 1230P, two single women with one bed...requested two beds when booking...were ... Read More
Embarkation was long but about the same with any ship. Disembarkation was one of the quickest and least painful I have encountered. Arrived in cabin at 1230P, two single women with one bed...requested two beds when booking...were separated after we returned from dinner. One bag arrived around 4P, one at 7P and one after dinner, not good!! Requested second dining, assigned first, changed with a looooong wait along with many, many others who did not get assigned their requested times. Food was of good quantity but poor quality! Gala dinners were the best, of course. Very bland, boring, over done food, decided they didn't use spices due to mostly elderly passengers. Freshly made daily pasta was good. Stated in documents that there were two formal nights, actually was three which was fine with us but heard lots of complaints on not being informed. Mass confusion on shore excursions but once on buses, most were great. Rather disappointed as one excursion we prepaid was cancelled due to low sign up. We were informed the day before and all the other excursions we wanted were sold out by then, ended up with a beach day and it was great but really wanted the other one! Entertainment was okay..not as professional as I expected. Rather strange times with 7P for late dining and 815P for early dining. Maybe again to fit the elderly passengers. Deck chairs were the most uncomfortable I have ever laid on, but there were plenty to go around. Very silly games on deck in the afternoons but many participants. Many items were an extra charge that I had not run into on other cruises, ice cream, speciality coffee drinks, very limited room service menu. Tipping is shared by all crew members at $12 per day per person and added to the bill. Think there would be much better service if done individually. Ship, Lirica, was lovely over all, little worn in areas but well kept and clean. Bit of a sewer smell when showering, must be some drain problem and showers are very small. More than adequate storage but need many more hangers in the closet. Itinerary was exceptional which was why we choose it and prices were very low for a 10 night cruise but passengers compared prices and some were unhappy they paid more than others for same category cabin. Heard of thefts in two cabins, money, jewelry, perfume and snorkel equipment. Money and jewelry should have been in safe but apparently wasn't but who would put perfume in the safe and snorkel gear wouldn't fit. I would guess passengers were 70% European and 30% American which was fun and loved hearing the many languages spoken but most of the staff did not understand English very well and sometimes communication was difficult. I would not recommend this line to former cruise passengers but maybe to first timers or those who really want an inexpensive cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
This was our first cruise but now we are hooked. I had read mixed reviews before booking. I am happy that we didn't listen to all the negatives. The Lirica is a beautiful ship & the staff is very friendly. We had a few language ... Read More
This was our first cruise but now we are hooked. I had read mixed reviews before booking. I am happy that we didn't listen to all the negatives. The Lirica is a beautiful ship & the staff is very friendly. We had a few language barrier issues w/ staff but everything worked out fine. The 4 of us had the time of our lives! (2 adults & 2 teenage girls) It was a little tight in the cabin but very workable. Food was very good in the dining room, breakfast is much better there. The buffet has something for everyone. The grill had great burgers & grilled lambchops. Entertainment was well entertaining at least the few shows we saw. Excellent juggler! Embarkation was very quick. Arrived at the port @ 12:30pm & we where in our room by 1:30pm. Had the rest of the day to enjoy the ship & start vacation. San Juan is very beautiful. We walked around old town & just enjoyed the buildings & some shopping.Found some really good prices on jewelry. The San Juan Hard Rock Cafe is a must! We noticed alot of Police around the area & felt safe the entire time. St. Maarten has a very colorful cruise port area. We took a 3-Island snorkel trip w/ Captain Alan. Gorgeous water, Pinal Island is awesome, some good snorkeling. I booked online myself & saved $. I strongly recommend this tour, you can book on-line @ Captainalan.com , excellent Captain & service. St. Lucia has a nice cruise port area but thats all we really saw. We did step out of the area for 15mins or so & that was enough. We were surrounded by aggressive taxi drivers(or so they said they were). We went into one shop to getaway from them & had 3 follow us in the store while 5 waited outside. It was very frightening to our 15 & 16 yr. old girls. We told them no we didn't want a taxi but they kept following us. We finally made it back to the cruise port & did some shopping there. I would suggest an excursion there & not just going off on your own. Other cruisers we talked to said they had a great time there on excursions. Antigua is a favorite. Did some more shopping. Had a drink @ a little bar in the shopping area & had them get us a cab.Taxi was $3pp each way & Sherry came back to pick us up at designated time. Went to Dickens Bay to enjoy the beach. The girls rented a waverunner while we soaked up the rays! Very beautiful & relaxing! Tortola is where the girls swam w/ the dolphins. The is a wonderful experience for the young & old alike. Very nice facility & staff. There is a small market place outside of the ship area that has good prices on t-shirts,jewelry & other things of that sort. One block away from the market is a smoothie stand that is the best hands down! Cayo Levantado is pure paradise. We took a catamaran tour, did some snorkeling & spent the rest of the day on the island. The Island is beautiful with warm waters & sand that just begs you to bury your feet in. Must try a pina colada made in the pineapple, yummy! Great way to end the cruise everyone laughing & having fun in the glorious sun. We met alot of very nice people from all over the world. Traded emails with other cruisers & staff. We will be doing more cruising in the near future & will book w/ MSC again. Next Time--No Kids! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
have taken many cruises-loved this. the ship is beautiful and immaculate. the ports of call and day tours were varied and fun. the outside cabin, altho smaller than some other lines was done in such a space saving way that it seemed much ... Read More
have taken many cruises-loved this. the ship is beautiful and immaculate. the ports of call and day tours were varied and fun. the outside cabin, altho smaller than some other lines was done in such a space saving way that it seemed much larger. all the employees are gracious and caring. drinks are varied and done just right. they really excel in entertainment-at night there were vegas style shows, magic shows, opera, gymnastic, oriental, and classical music shows(and that was only in the main showroom). most bars offer great entertainment. a great poolside crew kept things hopping for hours. they had a big poolside party with live band which was wonderful. the captain was always around and his crew seemed to really like him. he gave two free cocktail parties. altho 4 languages were spoken,this was not a problem. elevators were quick,signage was simple. breakfast was like all other cruises and so was lunch-but if you like all different types of pizza and pasta-this is the place to be. the ship is sparkling clean and i felt safe. the only thing about this cruise that was not perfect was dinner. the dining room is pretty and formal, staff attentive and courteous-dinner was many courses but some of the entrees need improvement-but this is a continental ship and done in this manner. they need to be more organized and quicker at dinner-i didn't want to sit for 2 hrs to have dinner because i wanted to go to all the fun shows and bars. had a really memorable time and will cruise with them again! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
This cruise was simply the worst cruise that I have ever taken -- travelers beware booking this ship. The main problem is the contemptuous attitude and complete disorganization of the Italian management. Despite the best efforts of the ... Read More
This cruise was simply the worst cruise that I have ever taken -- travelers beware booking this ship. The main problem is the contemptuous attitude and complete disorganization of the Italian management. Despite the best efforts of the hard-working and desirous to please Indonesian dining room and cabin staff, the management manages to sabotage their efforts. For example, 1000 people were confirmed into the wrong dinner seating on this cruise (January 29, 2008 out of Fort Lauderdale). An angry crowd had to spend two hours sorting out their eating arrangements at the very start of the cruise. One of the Italian officers informed us that it had been 1,500 people the previous week. Further, my roommate and I were confirmed into a certain cabin, transferred to another, and then finally ended up with one that I had specifically NOT requested. It was right under the restaurant/pool deck and the noise in the wee hours of the morning was deafening. Chairs, tables, rolling carts (and, I'm convinced -- elephants) were drug, flung-around, and scraped across the deck resulting in mostly no sleep for ten days. The management did credit us one missed excursion (after only two hours of sleep one night). Repeated calls to the front desk with complaints about the noise did no good -- the late night receptionist seemed unable to understand English. Back to the dining room (which was quite lovely): After the disgruntlement over the extreme mix-up in seating -- people were grumpy for days -- the food was quite literally DREADFUL. Don't let anyone tell you different. It's not pasta, pasta, pasta. The chefs are from the Philippines and their take on Italian cuisine is quite unsuccessful. There is plenty of bread but little else of value. No cookies, no dessert buffet (one type of dessert), ice cream during the day must be paid for, my asparagus soup was so stringy I could not eat it. Steaks were full of gristle and the "giant prawns from La Cote d'Azur" featured as a dinner entry one night were four measly overcooked shrimp. The one night that they advertised lobster, I saw tables of it being sent back. It tasted like it had been cooked in a microwave. My roommate, a frequent cruiser on Holland America, Princess, and Celebrity, was horrified. Many people told me that they were losing weight. The brownies were made of something other than chocolate -- it might have been carob. To order a cocktail was a huge ordeal in the dining room. A special waiter had to be fetched from a nearby bar. To order a bottle of wine in one's cabin was another ordeal. They weren't sure it could be done. This cruise line looses the opportunity to make money on alcohol and makes up for it by serving cuisine that is little better than 1960s frozen dinners. Our cabin decor was nice but needed maintenance (all the caulking around the bathtub was falling off in long strings). Since we were two married ladies we wished to have separate beds -- seems easy enough on any other cruise line. I was told by two separate cabin stewards that this could not be done! I showed them that not only could it be done but that the cabin was designed so that it could be done. I had to move all the furniture myself!! Countless people told me that married couples who wanted to be together had separate beds while singles who wanted to be separated were stuck together. Training is clearly an issue here. The entertainment was good to excellent but very talented people were stuck in idiotic productions. The cruise director screamed everything in 5 different languages. People smoked everywhere even thought there is supposedly a restricted policy. There was a general feeling of unhappiness and discontent aboard this ship -- it spread from the crew to the passengers. By the time we returned many people were desperate to get off the boat -- unlike any other cruise, where people do not want to leave. If you want to be well fed and well treated, never book MSC. Also, one excursion dumped us on an dog excrement covered beach with no shade and filthy chairs. This cruise line is owned by a cargo company and it succeeded in making me feel like an inanimate object. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2007
Note: I am of the opinion that prior to taking a cruise, one must think about their vacation goals and what is desired. Cruises, as lovely as they are, cannot accommodate EVERYONE's needs, wishes and desires. Before choosing a cruise ... Read More
Note: I am of the opinion that prior to taking a cruise, one must think about their vacation goals and what is desired. Cruises, as lovely as they are, cannot accommodate EVERYONE's needs, wishes and desires. Before choosing a cruise line, I strongly think that one must consider their own needs (for example - if you have children, find a cruise that is more kid-friendly), etc. Background: My boyfriend and I are in our late twenties/early thirties and do not have children. We have been on several Carnival cruises before and decided to try MSC as a getaway from a hectic family Christmas. Our primary goal was to relax, get some needed sunshine and have a nice quiet holiday together. We wanted a cruise line where there were not tons of kids and in-your-face entertainment and flashiness. We sailed out of Fort Lauderdale aboard the MSC Lirica on December 21, 2007. Embarkation We flew into Fort Lauderdale from Boston and almost missed the boat due to weather delays. Fortunately, we made it! The staff was very friendly, accommodating and efficient upon embarkation. Being experienced cruisers, we packed dinner clothing in our carry-on baggage, which was a good idea as our luggage did not arrive to our room until about 10:00pm. Our cabin steward helped us locate our cabin and was very accommodating in converting our inside cabin room twin beds into a king - no problem. The Room Our room was perfect for our needs. We typically don't spend too much time in our room, so an inside cabin was perfectly fine with us. The room as a decent size as far as inside cabins go. It was clean and smelled fresh upon arrival. There was a hairdryer, soaps and shampoos. We both liked that MSC has mini-fridges in the rooms with a mini-bar that is refreshed daily. Although we didn't use any items from the mini-bar, it was great to have extra room in the fridge for our own beverages and snacks. Our cabin steward was phenomenal. Our room was cleaned and turned down twice daily and was kept spotless. The hallways are vacuumed constantly. I actually tipped our steward more than the suggested 12% at the end of the cruise because he really did a fantastic job of keeping our room clean. The Food/Dinner Food was a bit of an issue for us, because we discovered that there really isn't any food being served between the hours of 10am and 12pm. Otherwise, there is plenty of food available throughout the day and evening. There was room service available, but the menu was very limited to a club sandwich, fruit plate and salad (which is fine with me but my boyfriend is picky). Breakfast was plentiful and delicious. The lunch buffet was also great - lots of healthy, fresh salads, carving station, lunch meats, etc. The pizza was delicious. Dinner was also decent. We sat at the later seating (8:15pm) and it was a good time for us. I think most people on the cruise sat at the earlier seating because our dining room was not crowded. My boyfriend celebrated his birthday on the cruise and a birthday cake was brought to our table. A lot of people on the cruise were complaining about the food, but overall, I thought it was pretty good. I like salads and fish and such, so I was happy. My boyfriend prefers steaks and more American-type cuisine so he was actually pretty unhappy. I thought the food was good though overall, but it wasn't full-on-pig-out friendly (which is fine with me but lots of people have issues with because they want to go on a cruise to pig out). We both LOVED how the dinner staff were treated like human beings. We both found Carnival completely offensive in that they make the dinner staff perform dances and appalling songs like trained animals. MSC let the staff do their job and everyone seemed very happy and friendly. Drinks Drinks were relatively cheap on the boat. Cocktails generally were around $5.00 and the house wines were $3.50 a glass (not terrible, but definitely drinkable). We bought the 'Honeymooner's drink pass' which was $56 and gave us a bottle of champagne, two cocktails and six virgin cocktails. We smuggled our own booze onto the boat having learned from previous cruises...so we just 'added' to the virgin cocktails. We brought three bottles of rum and three bottles of wine in our checked luggage - no issues. Things to do on the boat Again, our primary goal was relaxation - and we did just that. I liked that we could roll out of bed on the days at sea around noon and not have to fight for a chair in the sun by the pool. I am a marathon runner, so I used the fitness center. The fitness center only had three treadmills with a maximum time allowance of 15 minutes per treadmill - which I was NOT happy about. There was an outdoor 'track' but it was actually the upper sun deck of the boat. This would have been fine if the 'track' had some sort of markings on it so people would know to stay out of your way. I had to run in the early mornings or evenings. Not a big deal. There were fitness classes but I didn't attend any. The casino was also great. There was craps, poker, stud poker, black jack, roulette, and tons of slot machines. The staff was friendly. The dance club was also great. We both liked how the dance club was on the top of the ship and surrounded by glass so we could see the stars and water. The music varied, but was fun. We also like how the crew who had down-time were allowed to use the dance club also. There was a library/card room which I also visited. They had all sorts of books, but I brought my own. The stores on the boat were decently priced and sold anything from clothing, jewelry, sunglasses, hats, snacks and toys. We bought a hat for $13, sunglasses for $50 and various cigars at discounted prices. Smoking is allowed in the Casino and on the open outdoor decks. Cigar smoking is only allowed on the upper outdoor deck. Demographics on the Boat The other travelers on the boat were a very diverse crowd. The crowd was primarily European, but there were other Americans mixed in. There seemed to be a lot of Americans from the midwest and south who seemed a bit frazzled by the Europeans. We're from Boston, so we're used to city life and a diverse mixture of people. Many of the crew on the boat spoke up to five languages which was impressive. Announcements were made in English, Italian, Spanish, German and French. There were minimal Announcements which was great, and all pertinent information was included in the daily newsletter. There were quite a few older kids on the boat (it was kids sail free week) who looked entirely bored. I don't think that MSC really targets kids. We really didn't care though since we don't have kids and don't like being around kids though. Entertainment Entertainment overall, was tolerable. We have been appalled in the past by flashy shows, hairy man competitions and general idiocy. MSC had none of that. They had tasteful music acts and shows. There was a group of people called "The Entertainers" who really dug under our skin, but other than that, the entertainment wasn't bad. We both liked that any/all entertainment was subtle and wasn't rammed down your throat like other cruise lines. We pretty much entertained ourselves anyway. Information Desk The information desk was a bit ridiculous. We never really received real 'information' from them. The staff was not particularly helpful or friendly and became a running joke with us. However, there was a money exchange and ATM on the boat. I exchanged $105 Euros for US dollars at the fair rate and without question. Shore Excursions Because we've been on several cruises before, we typically do our own thing when we get to the ports of call - we do our research ahead of time and find cheaper alternatives to the shore excursions - and usually have a great time doing so because it's much more authentic and less touristy. Our first port of call was San Juan and we both LOVED that we arrived at night. We went to a nice restaurant recommended by a friend and then went dancing at a local bar. It was great! Other ports of call were St. Thomas, Cavo Levantado and Nassau. We had a great time at all of them. Getting back onto the boat from the ports of call was effortless. Disembarkation MSC does not allow you to porter your own baggage upon disembarkation, which I didn't like. Our bags had to be in the hallway by 1:00am. While for most, this seemed like a perfectly good time, for us it wasn't practical because we had plans to hit the casino and dance club late. However, upon getting off the boat we were able to find our bags in about 5 minutes, no problem. There were also plenty of transportation options to go back to the airport at the cruise terminal. We took an airport van for $9.00. Taxis were also widely available. Overall Overall, I was very satisfied with the MSC Lirica and the entire cruise. Although there were aspects of the cruise that could have improved (food, fitness center, etc.) it's impossible for every detail on a major cruise to be perfect. I think the key was to remain flexible, not be demanding, to just relax and have fun - and we did just that. I would definitely take another MSC cruise because the overall package was great and would recommend them to anyone looking to get away! :) Read Less
Sail Date: December 2007
I would not recommend this Ship to anyone unless you are Italian every thing was aimed at the Italians other nationality's where not catered for, it was also the worse food I have ever had on a Cruise Ship, the so called buffet ... Read More
I would not recommend this Ship to anyone unless you are Italian every thing was aimed at the Italians other nationality's where not catered for, it was also the worse food I have ever had on a Cruise Ship, the so called buffet restaurants where more like a canteen same thing day after day, staff very slow in all bars also reception staff not very helpful at all also no British rep on board had to make do with anyone who could barely make out what we wanted I also know that I was lied to by at least one of the reception staff, entertainment was awful, I could go on and on but don't have that much time to spare, This review is only of the MSC Lirica and staff not the destinations we visited which where great I would say do a Dubai Cruise but not with MSC Cruises. O' nearly forgot we where not getting picked up to go to Airport till 10.30 AM but we where put of the ship at 8.45 AM to either wait in the sun or the building that they use for Embarking in fact some people where not getting picked up till 1 PM and guess what we where all British. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2007
We took a 10 + 7 day back to back cruise from December 2 to 21. This was a special directed to Canadians and the price was excellent. The cruise was our 18th but the first with MSC. This cruise was unlike any that we have experienced in ... Read More
We took a 10 + 7 day back to back cruise from December 2 to 21. This was a special directed to Canadians and the price was excellent. The cruise was our 18th but the first with MSC. This cruise was unlike any that we have experienced in the past where at the end of the cruise one could look back and say that it was not up to standard, was average, or was better than anticipated. On the Lirica cruise the services ranged from excellent to very poor. On the positive side, the ship was immaculate. I have never seen a ship better maintained. The entertainment was also excellent. Given the Lirica is a smaller ship than we normally experience, we fully expected the entertainment to be very limited. While there was no orchestra, there was a wide range of very professional acts in both the main theatre and in the lounges. The entertainment, like the shops and spa, are contracted out - in the case of the entertainment to DanzeProductions. The serving, entertainment and cabin staff were all friendly with absolutely no exceptions and the service they provided was beyond reproach. Looking at the above it would be reasonable to assume the voyage was a totally satisfying experience. But alas, that is not the case. The excellence as noted above was more than offset by the total incompetence of the Italian mid-level management and their inability to effectively enable even the simplest of tasks. I will provide a few examples from many. Boarding took over two hours for passengers on the December 2 trip and over three hours for the second 7 day leg. There were about 120 passengers travelling back to back and they went through what seemed to be a totally confusing process at the end of the first cruise and beginning of the second. On the last port on the first half of the trip our pictures didn't come up on the computer when we left ship. When we returned, they took our cards and issued new ones which showed they were designed for the second half of our back to back cruise. On the morning of the finish of the first cruise and first day of the second we were told to meet in a lounge and were given new ID cards but were told to retain our old ones and remember which was which. So now we had been given two new cards over two days. There was no way of telling the two apart without a magnetic reader. Then we were taken off the ship and as we departed, our old card was taken from us - with large numbers holding up the process because they had forgotten which was the old card and which was new. I suggested to one of the crew that they might consider swiping an indelible marker across the old card or cutting off the corner and he looked at me like I was mad. Once in the terminal and after waiting for about an hour, a local security man said that anyone going into Ft. Lauderdale could leave at which point a shouting match was initiated between the MSC representative and the security guy resulting in her breaking down and crying. Eventually, after about an hour and a half we were allowed back on ship As another example, when tendering we were issued with numbered cards from 1 to 24 and were asked to come forward to the disembarkation area when our number was called. We were number 13 and when we arrived we noticed there were people with numbers 4 and 10 and 11 in front of us - and there were undoubtedly others with lower numbers. The first thing that happened after waiting in line for about half an hour without any movement was a directive to move out of the way so groups who had booked an excursion who were coming down the stairs from somewhere else could board. There were several hundred and the wait went on for a further half hour before any movement on our part. At that point the lady (same one as was in the previous incident noted above) said that all those with number 13 could board the tender. She would not allow those who had previously been called like those holding a 4, 10 or 11 and who were ahead of us to board. There was much displeasure voiced as you can imagine and eventually they just went forward independent of her ridiculous instruction. Presumably if she had had her way those with numbers less than 13 would be sailing on the Lirica unable to disembark for eternity. And finally, one more simple example of ineptitude. The library on the first 10 days was open and operated on a trust basis. There were books of many languages and perhaps a grand total of 6 in the English section. I donated three books to the library on the first leg. On the second leg they decided to regulate operations and installed a librarian. On the last day of the cruise I went to the library with two books to donate. I told the librarian that I had two to donate and would like to take a book from the library to read on the plane. She informed me that they would welcome my donations but I could not take a book out. And I could go on - the front desk was useless - in large part I suspect the result of language difficulties. To summarize, a wonderful ship, with wonderful service personnel and wonderful entertainment and reasonable food was to a large degree overshadowed by the lack of organization of simple activities. It was so bad that it made me sort of wonder as I lay in my bed at night if someone had remembered to post anyone on the bridge or if we were just moving involuntarily in hopefully the right direction. MSC needs to fire whomever is responsible for some of the minor logistics stuff so the wonderful job done elsewhere can be appreciated. Until they do I can only assume they will lose the opportunity to build a passenger base who will return for a second time. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2007
We (my wife and our two sons---ages 11 and 15---and I) sailed on the MSC Lirica 21 through 28 December 2007. The itinerary included stops at San Juan, Puerto Rico; ST Thomas USVI; Samana, Dominican Republic; and Nassau, Bahamas. As this ... Read More
We (my wife and our two sons---ages 11 and 15---and I) sailed on the MSC Lirica 21 through 28 December 2007. The itinerary included stops at San Juan, Puerto Rico; ST Thomas USVI; Samana, Dominican Republic; and Nassau, Bahamas. As this was our first cruise so we did not have any other cruises with which to compare. However, we have travelled extensively abroad and feel we are somewhat "qualified" to make judgment on the quality of this cruise. Embarkation: Embarkation went smoothly. Overall, from the time we dropped our bags at the terminal until we were actually on board the Lirica was less than an hour (side note: we drove to Fort Lauderdale and parked our car in the assigned parking garage; parking cost was $15 daily). This "less than an hour" included time required to park my car and take a shuttle bus back to the ship. As we were waiting in line to in process we were offered juice, sodas and water (nice touch) and given the opportunity to purchase ship's drink packages (pre-purchased drink/ice cream packages are the way to go, but more on this later). In processing is somewhat like ticketing for an airline flight, but much more organized. It consisted of verifying tickets, passports, and taking your photo for your "cruise card" that is issued on the spot (this cruise card is a combination boarding pass, room key and credit card for on board purchases---DON'T LOSE IT! MSC takes security very seriously, and the card is your identification while on board, as well as a departure and re-boarding pass during ports of call, as I have mentioned.). Once on board we were shown to our cabin by a member of staff, as well as being introduced to the housekeeping staff responsible for our cabin. A buffet lunch was available, and all of the coffee/drink bars were open prior to leaving port (not always the case on other cruise lines as we have learned from this website). The Ship: New (launched in 2003) with still a new feel. The was not a speck of dirt or even faded paint anywhere on the ship; exceptionally clean (the ship received 100 points out of a possible 100 points during a joint US FDA and Coast Guard sanitation inspection conducted during our ST Thomas stop). Cabin: We had a four berth outside cabin on deck 8 (no balcony, but a large window). Once again, we have nothing with which to compare, but the cabin's size was adequate and it was well equipped (plenty of storage space---enough for four suitcases and two soft-sides, individually controlled a/c, safe, TV, phone and hair dryer in the bath). We changed for dinner "in shifts", which worked very well for us and made the cabin feel larger than its 100 square feet (or so). However, the cabin was somewhat noisy and it seemed as if our neighbors were sometimes in the same room with us; honestly, soundproofing was its only downfall. The bath was small, but adequate. Dining: Food was nothing less than fantastic. Regardless if we ate in our assigned dining room for our evening meal or at the grill (burger bar) at lunch, meals were awesome (easily one of the best 'burgers I have had---and on an Italian cruise ship!). Food was available virtually around the clock, as apparently is the norm with most cruise ships/lines today. Room service (limited menu) was available 24 hours daily; breakfast from 6:00 until 10:00 am, lunch from 11:30-2:30, tea from 4:00 -5:00 pm, dinner with the first seating at 6:00 pm and the second seating at 8:15 pm, and the midnight buffet from about 11:30 pm until ????. Lastly, the evening meals in the dining room were truly gourmet, but the wait staff was ready with chicken nuggets and French fries—as well as a hamburger—to please our finicky 11 year old. On Board Activities: --Worship: The ship held a church service daily. --Entertainment: Nothing great…just entertainment. Some shows were better than others, but most were of an "amusement park" quality. There were a variety of shows nightly. --Fitness Center: Very good with top notch equipment…just not very big. Four treadmills, two stationary bikes, one Stairmaster, a variety of free weights and Nautilus machines, plus lots of padded room for aerobics, pushups, abdominal exercises, etc. Also, the gym did not open until 8:00 am (and closed at 8:00 pm), so an early bout with a Stairmaster was out of the question. My advice would be to exercise during part of your lunch period; the three hour lunches combined with the requirement not to "dress up" for that meal (due to the outside grill and buffet) make it easy to put back on any calories you may have gotten rid of during a lunch exercise session. At just about any other time of the day, the center was packed with souls exercising. The gym did offer a variety of fitness classes, but I did not take any so I cannot judge. There was a running area around the swimming pools, but I do not care for running in circles (or rectangles for that matter), so only ran one day. --Pools: Two of them with two whirlpools. Very clean; drained and scrubbed daily. --Internet Cafe: about a dozen computers, but a very slow connection. Cost is $5.00 for the first ten minutes then fifty cents for every minute after that. --Library: nice library with about 1,000 books that are loaned to cruisers on an honor basis. Excursions: --San Juan, PR: Great location! If you have never been to Puerto Rico, take the tour. If not, don't, just get off the ship and go shopping, eat dinner, or whatever. There is a great outside market that is literally less than 50 yards from the cruise ship docks, and you can get some great hand made things there. --ST Thomas, VI: Another beautiful location, just not as much shopping as San Juan (if that is your thing). However, we highly recommend the snorkeling excursion here, most definitely the highlight of our cruise! --Samana, DR: We took a tour of Samana, a supposed shopping tour. However, most shops were closed, a fact that our tour operator should have known (not MSC's fault, but the operator itself). We simply got a bad tour; the other tours available (horseback riding, ATV riding, and the jeep safari) were outstanding according to those who went on them. --Nassau, Bahamas: Beautiful, ritzy seaport. We took a snorkeling tour here as well, which would have been great had we not had a snorkeling tour at ST Thomas with which to compare it to. The snorkeling trips at Nassau were not as well organized or as long (a tour operator issue once again) and simply "adequate" when compared to ST Thomas' version. Knowing what I know now, I would not book any trips in Nassau. Nassau has a variety of things to do within half a mile of the ship (shopping, museums, a visit to the world famous Atlantis Hotel and Resort etc.) as well as non MSC affiliated snorkeling trips, Nassau tours and harbor tours that were better (or so I was told) as those offered by MSC. Debarkation: Once again, top notch and very well organized. Cruisers are asked to settle their bills by credit card, cash or cashier's check late the previous afternoon (last day of the cruise) or early the following morning upon arrival at Fort Lauderdale. Cruisers were divided into color coded groups, and were asked to have bags (minus carry-ons) tagged and outside our cabin by midnight of the last night on board. Bags were taken away for us to be off-loaded upon our arrival at Fort Lauderdale. Cruisers were disembarked by color code, then routed through customs and color coded baggage pick-up. Overall: In a sentence, this was a 5+ cruise (on the Cruise Critic scale) and we would sail with MCS again, without a second thought. Tips/Information: As first time cruisers, we learned a few things that we want to share, particularly for other "first timers". -- Cost: The Lirica was a great value for the dollar (particularly with the "kids sail free" promotion). With the exception of settling your bill on the last morning of the cruise, the ship operates on a cashless system, which is (again) where the multiple use cruise card comes in. With this card, you can purchase anything from alcoholic beverages to souvenirs from the gift shop to tours. Keep track of your spending; it keeps surprises to a minimum when the ship sends you its first itemized bill on about day five. As previously mentioned, the parking garage at Fort Lauderdale is $15.00 daily with controlled access. All shuttle bus operators taking cruisers to and from the garage operate on tips only, as do the porters, so be prepared. There was a bank on board, but hours were limited. Every place we stopped took US dollars (as well as Euros I believe) so an exchange location wasn't really necessary. --Tours: Tours can be booked at anytime on the cruise, but they are a first come, first served proposition and the popular ones fill quickly. Ask the MSC information desk on board what is available at each port of call. For example, in places such as San Juan, there was plenty to do without having to book a tour, and one could literally walk off of the ship and into a city. However, at Samana, the ship anchored about a mile off shore, and the only way in was by tender. Also, Samana did not offer much unless you were on an organized tour. Once again, asking what's available could save you a little cash as well as allow you to explore the sights on your own. --Dining: As I have mentioned, the food was awesome, as was the service. Although the evening meals are very much multiple course gourmet meals, the staff will bring guests anything they want (to include the previously mentioned chicken nuggets to please a finicky eleven year old). There were two formal nights ("formal" considered as tuxedo or coat and tie) with button down shirt and slacks acceptable on other nights. To be truthful, on my particular cruise, no one was ever turned away from dinner regardless of what they were wearing, but the majority of passengers dressed appropriately. Other meals during the day were just as good though not as posh, and you had your choice of sit down or buffet style. --Drink packages were made available to us before we boarded the ship. We are sharing this info now, because as first time cruisers, we truly had no idea how much we would be spending on drinks during the cruise. At all times, water, coffee, tea and juice were made available to us free of charge. Sodas, ice cream, smoothies, specialty coffees and all alcoholic beverages are extra. We purchased a package of 7 bottles of wine to be available in the restaurants at meals. This was $111. We chose the wines we wanted from a list of 13 provided. One evening, we did not finish the bottle with dinner and left it on the table. The next night when we came to dinner, the remainder of the bottle was chilled and waiting for us on the table. We enjoyed the selection available to us and chose only Italian wines, even though California wines were also on the list. Other wine packages are available and you can always purchase a glass or bottle with dinner. We also purchased two soft drink packages at $25.00 per package. These were for our 15 year old. He kept track of the coupons and figured out how many he could use each day. There were 14 coupons in each book. I believe that there were only Coke products on board, but will not swear to it. We also purchased 2 junior drink coupon books at $28.00 per book. This allowed our 11 year old to have 5 soft drinks and 5 "virgin" cocktails in each book (for a total of 20 special drinks). He also kept track of his coupons and was told to ration them out to last the cruise. Although you are not required to purchase any "coupons" and can charge drinks to your cruise account at any time, we found this helpful especially with our kids and budgeting. A complaint had been made previously on this site that ice cream was not available for free throughout the day, so we also purchased a book of ice cream coupons (10 coupons for $20). Wish we hadn't. Ice cream was available for free at every meal and who really needs ice cream in between also! Our last purchase (also wish we hadn't) was a coupon book for 10 fresh fruit smoothies for $33.00. While they were delicious, if we had been purchasing them individually, we probably would have only done so once as there is so little extra time between meals and shore excursions. Beer packages are available, but we did not purchase. --Pack a refillable athletic-type (Nalgene for example) water bottle for each person. The cups available to you during meals are very small and it is nice to be able to fill up your water bottle and carry it with you to make sure you are getting all of the water you need. You can also fill it up before leaving for your excursion and save yourself the cost of bottled water at port. --Pack an insulated coffee mug. For true coffee addicts, refilling the ship's small mugs during the day will drive you up a wall. --The old adage of "treat people how you want to be treated" includes cruises as well. We did overhear some guests complaining about how a particular member of staff treated them. However, these same guests generally treated the staff members as slaves as opposed to professionals providing a service. Yes, you are paying for a service when cruising, and you should be treated as such. However, we found that the service we received, simply by treating the staff decently, was outstanding. Just something to remember. --Is MSC the right cruise line for you? Picking the right cruise line is critical to feeling like you got your money's worth and enjoyed yourself, so be an informed consumer. I would definitely recommend MSC in general (and the Lirica in particular) if you appreciate a quieter ship as opposed to a "Spring Break" atmosphere; if you appreciate truly international foods and are willing to try something you have never been served before; if you are willing to meet people from other cultures; and if you do not mind hearing other guests and crew speak German, Italian, Spanish, French and Russian—in addition to English—constantly (The Lirica is a very international ship with a very international crew. Nonetheless, there was NEVER a language problem with the staff. Every member of the Lirica's "public" staff was well versed in a variety of languages.). On second thought, I would not take this cruise if I did not have patience with other cultures, wanted to play drunken college party games, or had a psychological need for chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes at every meal (and I say that as a former collegiate partier and fine Southern Boy from Texas and Louisiana stock). Also, MSC does not have a lot of the other "fillers" like I am told some other cruise lines have. For example, the cabin staff does not fold your bath towels to resemble a penguin, tiger, or any other animal. However, they do clean the cabin at least twice daily, to include stocking the bath with fresh towels and toiletries. Once again, we had a wonderful time on the Lirica, and would recommend her to anyone with a great sense of value, slight sense of adventure and a willingness to explore other cultures. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2007
We were a bit concerned after reading the varying reports about MSC but were generally pleasantly surprised. The ship was very clean and new looking with lots of glass and shine. The cabin was a basic windowless job but was big enough to ... Read More
We were a bit concerned after reading the varying reports about MSC but were generally pleasantly surprised. The ship was very clean and new looking with lots of glass and shine. The cabin was a basic windowless job but was big enough to spend time in and did not feel claustrophobic. There was loads of storage too. Food was good at buffet, lots of healthy options. At dinner it was variable but all edible. Entertainment was ok, not brilliant, lots of slightly out of time dancing but good opera singers and acrobats. The solarium on the top deck was a lovely place to sunbathe away from all the children and loud games. Drinks are good value, house wine is £4 for 0.5 liters at dinner and cocktails from about £2.75. The gym could have done with a few more treadmills and these were always full. If I could get over my eco guilt I would go again. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2007
I sailed on MSC Lirica for the holidays in 2007 (Dec) and was so disappointed by the cruise. Now let me explain, I have sailed 2-3 times a year on various lines, including Carnival, RCCL, Celebrity and Cunard. Checking in was the worst ... Read More
I sailed on MSC Lirica for the holidays in 2007 (Dec) and was so disappointed by the cruise. Now let me explain, I have sailed 2-3 times a year on various lines, including Carnival, RCCL, Celebrity and Cunard. Checking in was the worst experience I ever had at what is usually a seamless process. It took a good 20 minutes for each of us to check in. I had my own cabin so it should have been 1-2-3. Upon boarding, I found the cabin quite small and when I asked the steward to put the two beds together since I am alone in the cabin, that was the last I saw of the steward until day three! I moved them myself, no problem. The ship was very pretty and I had no qualms with the amount of lounges and areas onboard. BUT... no one ever was in the lounges! After dinner and show I went to one lounge where there was a 'singer' singing standards. I walked in and found the cruise director singing a Frank Sinatra song (one of my favorites). As there were only three couples in the lounge, I sat down and softly sang along. The cruise director stopped singing and told me to please not sing as I was throwing him off. OK..I didn't think my voice was THAT bad but no problem. Then after he was done he left and the 'singer' began singing Nat King Cole... "Unforgettable". Picture a man in his 60s, overweight, balding and with a heavy Italian accent, trying to sing this song. HE BUTCHERED IT! I thought this may have been Karaoke! I wondered why he didn't just sing some Italian songs as they are also nice to hear. Well I left to wander the ship looking for others. I made my way to the dance club(?) and found that even though it was after midnite and the program stated that it was a disco after midnite, it was filled with children (8-14 yrs old) and they were playing games there. I asked the bartender if this was the dance club, and he looked at me like I was on another planet. He said that since the 'kids' were here, they had free use of the room. Again, I left to wander. I headed to the casino, very small with 3 poker tables, a 3 card poker table, a mini craps table (?) and 2 roulette tables. A few slots (as my Mom loves the nickel slots)& I found 3 nickel slots. I went to the cashier cage and asked to have a $100 bill broken. The casino Mgr was manning the cage (thats how small it was) and he told me he would give me two $50 bills. I said I needed $5 notes and would like 10 $5 bills and one $50 bill. He said "NO!, PUT $50 in the machine and spend your money"! I thought he was kidding with me as the night before he had offered me a cocktail while I sat at the blackjack table. He opened the drawer and I could see a huge stack of 5s. He handed me 2 $50 bills. I said I needed 5s and he said "NO" Well, I looked him in the eye and told him the customer always wins. I proceeded to the slot machine, put the $50 bill in and then cashed out. I took the bucket of tokens back to the cage and handed him 20 (25 cent) tokens... he handed me a $5 bill. I counted out another 20 tokens, and he handed me another $5 bill. As I was counting out the next 20 tokens he got angry and asked me what I was doing? I told him, again, the customer always wins! Reluctantly he handed me the 10 $5 bills I originally asked for. During the day, I went to the pool and watched as they had 'disorganized' games at the pool for adults only. The staff kept yelling at anyone under 16 to leave the area and go to the children's room because these games were for adults only. What games were they playing? They had these plastic lids, like the kind used to cover dog food cans, and they had a boxed area 10 feet away. The object was to toss, 'frisbee like' the lids into the boxed area. WOOPEE! The adults all avoided this 'game'. They had to grab passengers as they passed the area on their way to the bar to play. All I could do was laugh and tell myself these were amateurs! Dinner was 2 and a half hours long every evening. On Christmas eve I asked for a bottle of champagne for the table but was told there was no need as they were serving champagne complimentary. I waited, and waited, and waited some more.I asked if I can just order a bottle, and was told it wasn't necessary. After dinner, after desert, they finally came around and offered half a glass of champagne. I again, chuckled inwardly and toasted my table mates. While I do enjoy any cruise itself, I can enjoy myself without these amenities, and did so. However, I would never sail on MSC again. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2007
This cruise is a great value if you are a family looking for a US Winter Break cruise with the children. We obtained a kids sail free rate and AT THAT PRICE, we were not disappointed and AT THAT PRICE we would book it again. We would NOT ... Read More
This cruise is a great value if you are a family looking for a US Winter Break cruise with the children. We obtained a kids sail free rate and AT THAT PRICE, we were not disappointed and AT THAT PRICE we would book it again. We would NOT cruise this line again, otherwise, however, because at $899 + p.p. adult, you can do far better on Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, etc... In summary: The ship was immaculate and everyone was very friendly, but the food was barely mediocre except for italian dishes which you would expect. The waiters were quite nice and pleasant, but were so poorly trained and harried that I felt sorry for them. Cabin attendants were lovely and worked hard and the evening entertainment was quite good. Information was lacking about shore excursions (which were overpriced so we booked them in port ourselves) and about in port arrival times and information about port cities. We have cruised before, so we knew the drill. However, if you had not, you would be floundering. Bottom line: Europeans probably think this cruise is just fine. However, US citizens expect a higher level of quality of service and food quality for $800 p.p. for 7 days, and up.This cruise is right but ONLY AT THE RIGHT PRICE. If you are a couple, young or older, look elsewhere at couples prices. This cruise is not for you. Families: this is a super deal if kids go free. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2007
My sister and I took MSC for the first time 12/14/2007 for 7 day to Western Caribbean. Both have cruised multiple times and with other carriers. Embarkation was unlike any other cruise. Arrived to Ft. Lauderdale port, hundreds of people, ... Read More
My sister and I took MSC for the first time 12/14/2007 for 7 day to Western Caribbean. Both have cruised multiple times and with other carriers. Embarkation was unlike any other cruise. Arrived to Ft. Lauderdale port, hundreds of people, no one giving instructions as to the procedures and the process to get on ship took approximately 2.5 hours. Time would have passed better if some instructions or expectations had been passed on. Later information and apology from the cruise line indicate they had computer problems in processing people and untrained individuals. Hopefully this is something corrected. Ship: The ship is likely one of the cleanest ships on the seas. It was clean, beautiful and very well maintained. We had an inside cabin. Layout was similar to other lines, with good storage and size similar to other lines we have cruised. Overall, we felt it was a good value as we paid a very low rate. If however we had paid what is normally paid on a cruise, we would have been disappointed. A rolling joke among our group and others was, "what do you expect for $500 USD". Our experience, was adjust your expectations. Our other observation was that people who had not cruised, were very impressed, but those who had cruised saw many deficiencies. Food: The food in general was good, however it was variable in both the buffets and the dining room. Some dishes were excellent and others bordering on awful. Moreover, the inconsistency was noted in the same dishes. Two people ordering the same thing and one terrific and the other not. For example ordered duck one night and could not even get it cut, woman sitting next to me said it was the best duck she had ever eaten. Buffet breakfast was typically cold, and clumps of food like bacon you could not separate. We opted for the dining room for breakfast and it was a great alternative for us. Service in Dining room for us was terrific. Pleasant, great english, helpful with food choices and always with a big smile. Similarly our cabin steward was wonderful. Always around, helpful, and as on other ships the magical transformation of the room when you slip out, even for a brief time. One very notable pleasant thing on this ship was the way alcohol was addressed. Prices for beer and wine were very inexpensive (beers for 3.50USD and up, 10.00USD for a bucket of 4, wine was 3.50USD for house wine and around 4.5 for others and up of course for more select choices). Also alcohol was available when you wanted, lounges, pool area etc, but it was not pushed on you as on many other cruise lines. Entertainment: The entertainment in the main showroom departed from other cruiselines. I suspect part of it is that they cater to guests with so many different languages, that they opt for entertainment catering to a wider international audience. They did have the typical dance troupe, often dancing out of step but with fantastic costumes. They had opera singers, classical music concert, acrobats, magicians and the like. Shows typically 45 minutes and we found them very entertaining. Actually I typically never go to the shows, and on this cruise went every night. Other entertainment included the now infamous art auctions, bingo and pool games, but as compared to other ships, little to offer during the day. This too was fine with us, as I don't need to be entertained all the time. Another favorable impression was the limited overhead announcements. Many have complained about the messages in multiple languages, but that made it rather continental in our opinion and enjoyed hearing the languages. One real criticism was the poor methods for using tenders when they could not dock in port. The current strategy of giving tender numbers was inconsistent on the cruise and without the announcements, it was a complete mess. We again tried to laugh it off to cope and felt as if we were back in the chaos of Italy in a loud jam of people pushing and shoving. Reality though is that they could have a safety issue on their hands if they don't improve the method. Overall, we had a good time. Would cruise them again with the right itinerary and for a rock bottom price. If however, it were priced like other lines, would definitely choose the other lines over MSC. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2007
I booked this cruise in an effort to find a replacement cruise line for Princess. After 25 cruises with Princess,I do not think I will cruise with them again. Embarkation was a snap for us, because we got to the pier early per our advice ... Read More
I booked this cruise in an effort to find a replacement cruise line for Princess. After 25 cruises with Princess,I do not think I will cruise with them again. Embarkation was a snap for us, because we got to the pier early per our advice to all of our clients, between 10:30 and 11:00. We were on the ship by 12:15. However, because of a computer problem we had to delay sailing by two hours so they could check in the rest of the passengers. Quite a few unhappy people, but it was not a MSC problem, it was the company they hired .The Captain did send everyone a letter of apology anyway. CABIN We were escorted to our Balcony Suite by a young lady who was pleasant and happy. The cabin had an overabundance of closet and storage space.. A good sign! My wife loved the separate make up vanity with separate chair and focus lighting. Behind the makeup mirror were a safe and more storage. The main closet was a small walk-in with ample hanger space and storage drawers. The TV cabinet also had three doors. Behind on door was a min-frig and the other two had more storage. There is a large ice bucket that was refilled twice a day. However, the bed and pillows were not up to the standards of other lines. The bathroom was very spacious with a nice shower head, plenty of hot water and good water pressure. The balcony was average size with two chairs and a table. The "Suite" part of the name is a little misleading because it is not the kind of suite that we are familiar with. I would not even mention it as part of the name. We unpacked our carryon bags and were in the cabin for about an hour and suddenly notice a strange silence: NO ANNOUNCEMENTS IN THE CABIN! The cabin stewards were very efficient and always greeted us with a smile. THE SHIP The ship was elegantly simple, like the traditional Italian ships. There is nothing to distract you from the beauty of the ship. This by far is the cleanest ship I have ever sailed. The mirrors and sliding glass doors were cleaned every day. I understand that they have received nothing less than a 99 score on the health inspections and have never had an outbreak of Norwalk virus. The casino was a little small, but every type of table games was available. This is one area where smoking is allowed in public areas. The gym had the best weight machines I have used. There is a free "quiet room" that also has a complementary steam and sauna. Deck chairs by the two pools and hot tubs were very unique. They had a separate shade that you could extend to protect you from the sun. Activities were abundant. You could be busy all day long either poolside or inside. I can't remember a recent cruise that had such variety. And there was not a charge for any of them. They even had tours of galley and back stage tour. ENTERTAINMENT There are no bad seats in the theater. All of the rows are tiered and no columns to block your view. Each evening featured a different show. For the most part they were very good. And the ones that were good were fantastic. You meet the entertainers all over the ship as they host quite a few of the activities. I have heard some complaints about the announcements in several languages. I hardly noticed them as they were very abbreviated. No more annoying than the announcements on an international flight. FOOD & DRINK The buffet for breakfast and lunch are traditional European and not as good as most "American" cruise lines. However, the pizza and hamburger stations at lunch were superior. There was always fresh pasta being made on both sides of the ship, and no less than 4 varieties of pizza. Because we enjoy Italian food, we ate mostly any dish that was Italian. If you did not eat any Italian food then I would rate the food to be about the same as RCL. But if you do like Italian food, then you are in for a real treat. The salads were large but choice of dressings was limited. There were two dinning times for dinner as well as an area in the buffet set aside for open seating. The Baked Alaska was the best I have ever had. The service was excellent. Room service is a limited, but adequate. The bars are plentiful like every ship. There is even a bar just for smokers. The prices are very reasonable and there are no additional tips: beer $3.50, coke $2.50, martini $6.90 except for happy hour (5:15-6:15 / 7:30 -8:30) $5.50. And the best part was that I was not hounded by a waiter hustling "bahama mamas". Wine selections in the dining room were mainly Italian and very reasonable. Most of the wines were under $25, but they did have premium selection that cost quite a bit more. KIDS PROGRAM From several parents I talked to about the kids program they all said that it was very good. I even saw them play some games I have never seen before. But, the program is not Disney or Royal Caribbean. CONCLUSION I must mention the excellence of the Purser's desk. They are simply the best I have experienced. They genuinely cared about your issues. Unlike most cruise lines, they smiled and acted on the issues, not smile and forget about the issues like most cruise lines. If I sound positive about MSC it is because I am. Having had the experience of over 90 cruises I think I have discovered "cruising like it used to be". Will I recommend MSC ... you can be sure of it. Just like when I began cruising, I was not ready to get off of the ship. If you book a Cat 11 in the Lirica, either book a cabin on the 12th deck or in a cabin under an area that has carpet on the deck above. The cabins are not as sound proof as you would like. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2007
Let me preface this review by saying I have about 15 cruises on many cruise lines and in general MSC has a long way to go to compete in the US market. Embarkation: We arrived at the dock by Limo at 2PM with boarding supposedly having ... Read More
Let me preface this review by saying I have about 15 cruises on many cruise lines and in general MSC has a long way to go to compete in the US market. Embarkation: We arrived at the dock by Limo at 2PM with boarding supposedly having started at 11 am. After dropping off our luggage we entered the hall and we were given a number and told to be seated. One hour and 15 minutes later our number was called and we moved into a second hall and stood on line for another 15 minutes before we received our cruise card and were allowed on the ship. Never went through this before on any other line. Cabin: We had a minisuite with balcony(actually the only balcony cabins on this ship. The cabin was lovely, clean and good size. The balcony while small had two wicker chairs and a table. Steward service: On most cruises the Steward presents himself and asks if you would like anything special. On this cruise we had to introduce ourselves to our steward on the second day of the cruise, and that was the only contact we had with him on the whole cruise. Yes he kept the cabin clean but otherwise his service would not qualify him on any other line. Common areas of ship: The ship is beautiful and has multiple bars, a good fitness center a small casino( I am not a gambler). There are two pools, but if the ship was full there would have been problems with finding a chaise. The best bar is the Martini bar(L'atmoshere) with pianist or mexican group(harp and two guitars. Dining Room, menu and food : There are two dining room and two sitting,no personal choice dining. This as advertised as an Italian ship and one of the reasons we took it was that I lived in Italy for 5 years and spoke Italian and was looking for the Italian waiter, and Italian menu. First be aware the only Italians were supervisors or the Maitre D. The dining rooms are staffed 90% Indonesians,who were inexperienced, and for the most part spoke little English. Our first night we sat down at 8:30 and got up at 10:45. Needless to say we changed tables and waiters for the rest of the cruise. The second seating was not crowded so this was easy. We were lucky to next have a waiter who was from Bali but had been with the ship for 4 years and spoke good English. Now for the food, although billed as Italian, the only thing Italian was the Pasta which was a different Risotto every night and a not very special second Pasta. After eating the Risotto for 7 nights we made a request to the captain in our area for Spaghetti Carbonara, but took a second request to the Maitre D to get it the last night of the cruise. The rest of the food was not Italian but a poor attempt to match the other cruise lines menus. The lobster was the worst I have had(first time I did not request seconds for lobster and the only Italian main dish in 10 days was Saltimboca. Itinerary: The itinerary was good and we especially enjoyed Saint Lucia and Antigua. We took an independent tour at the first and my only ship tour in Antigua which was Sail and Snorkel. The people we met on the islands were friendly and gracious and I only wish we could have taken them on the ship. Our itinerary was changed somewhat by a storm(Tortola shortened and Nassau instead of Caya Levantado(their beach stop)). Debarkation: Well done. They assign colors and lounges to wait and we were off the ship by 9:30. If only Embarkation had been as easy. Summary: MSC lines is trying to compete in the USA market. What they don't understand is that Service is important in this market. They did nothing with a smile and the hospitality I was used to living in Italy was lacking both from the Italian and other nationalities. I often saw staff arguing with guests. In ten days on the ship I had conversation with two members of the staff for longer than two minutes and one was on the excursion and the other came over at the request of our waiter because he knew I spoke Italian( it was his original supervisor). I met numerous people on the cruise and everybody had the same feeling.People who initially wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt soon changed. The only thing I did hear was some got a deal. Well I enjoy cruising and if a deal means poor service, only adequate food, then I won't cruise MSC again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2007
I would not recommend MSC Cruises to fellow Americans. If you want to cruise in the Mediterranean stick with a U.S. Cruise lines. Having just completed a horrible 7 night Mediterranean cruise onboard MSC Lirica, my husband and I ... Read More
I would not recommend MSC Cruises to fellow Americans. If you want to cruise in the Mediterranean stick with a U.S. Cruise lines. Having just completed a horrible 7 night Mediterranean cruise onboard MSC Lirica, my husband and I couldn't wait to get off the ship. MSC Lirica does not live up to its'promise, but rather is a like a 2 star floating motel. Beware - MSC cruises are more like Ferry Boats, boarding new passengers at every port of call. At every port of call there were passengers embarking and disembarking, causing confusion, delays and disorganization. If you are hoping for gourmet Italian food, you are in for an unpleasant surprise. Food was boring, repetitious and at times tasteless. MSC Lirica does not offer any dining options at meal times. They have no alternate dining, therefore you are forced to eat at the main dining hall or starve. At all meals you are required to purchase expensive bottled water, as they refuse to offer free tap water. Room service in cabin is very limited and offered at a cost. The ports of call were inferior to those offered by other cruise lines operating in the Mediterranean. Marseilles?? How about Nice, Villefranche sur Mer, etc. When at port there was little to no time to visit the place. Tangiers was beautiful, but docking at 4 pm during Ramadam and staying until 10 pm made no sense. In Malaga arrival was scheduled at 10 am with a departure scheduled at 1:30 pm. The few excursions offered by MSC Cruises were too expensive. Fellow passengers were more like Euro-trash than Euro-chic. Formal night was a joke. Forget about tuxes and formal long gowns. There were men wearing open collar shirts, shorts, etc. Our cabin was on deck 10, and had major plumbing problems in the bathroom. A stagnant odor of urine and human waste soured from the toilet plumbing. If you are planning on using the outdoor pools during a Mediterranean cruise in October you may want to think again. None of the pools are heated. All passengers are forced to sign out pool towel (one per person) with a 20 Euro penalty charge for failure to return it. I would not recommend MSC Lirica to anyone. Our cruise was a total disaster and expensive disappointment. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2007
My husband and I are in our late 20's-30's and we were celebrating our 3rd wedding anniversary. This was our second cruise, the first was a 4 day Bahama on Royal Caribbean. Although we don't have more than one cruise to ... Read More
My husband and I are in our late 20's-30's and we were celebrating our 3rd wedding anniversary. This was our second cruise, the first was a 4 day Bahama on Royal Caribbean. Although we don't have more than one cruise to compare this to, we enjoyed this cruise very much and did not notice the negatives that many others complained about regarding this line. Embarkation: Embarkation was very smooth, we waited in a line for about 10 minutes and then walked up the escalator to the ship where we had our picture taken and were promptly escorted to our suite by one of the white gloved wearing staff members. Stateroom: Our suite was well-appointed, cat 11 the highest category on MSC ships, equivocal to a mini-suite category on most other lines. I think it was approx 230 sq ft., The room had a large walk in closet with tons of drawer space and cabinets. I overpacked as I always do and still had enough room to put everything away and we had a place to store our big suitcases. There was a little vanity table when you walk in where fresh fruit like apples and kiwis were placed in a little bowl and re-filled as it was emptied. The bathroom was adequate with a somewhat narrow tub, good water pressure. The furniture in the room was a little worn, the balcony was covered and mostly private with a nice set of chairs & table for 2. We spent the first few mornings eating breakfast out there. The only complaint I had was with the bed. It was as hard as a rock and you could feel the springs. I called our stewards (there was 2 of them- Indra & Anita) and they placed several blankets underneath the sheets- they had no soft mattress pad like RC. This was not working for me so I requested several pillows and placed them lengthwise on my side of the bed and slept on top of them. I got used to it and it didn't ruin my cruise. The bed didn't bother my husband at all so I guess if your sensitive to that kind of thing you may want to consider it. Our room steward service was good, you just have to tell them what you need in the beginning of the cruise. They are more low key than RC but they come when you call them. I requested ice to be filled twice a day and water to be filled in a pitcher(which our room didn't have but others had in their rooms) There was a little bit of a language barrier between our wonderful steward Anita and I but after the 2nd day of getting a pitcher of ice water from room service, she started filling it for me twice a day with my ice. I drink a lot of water and that is really the only thing I am picky about (besides the bed) on a cruise. There was a mini bar in all rooms and that had bottles of italian mineral water for people who like that. As the cruise progressed, we became friendly with our stewards and overall, they did a great job. The balcony was washed down as needed and our towels were changed twice a day. I did here some of our neighbors shouting at Anita b/c she didn't bring him an extra box of tissues, these people work very hard and take unwarranted abuses from passengers. One more note on the rooms- there is a nice size safe in everyone of them. There are suites on the 10th floor, which travel the length of the ship and on the 12 deck forward- just about 20 cabins which is where we were. Our floor was very quiet, we were on the top deck, outside forward to us was the sunning deck with the pool below, one floor below us forward was the gym and steam rooms/spa. On our floor aft, was the jogging track and the disco, below that the La Pergola open restaurant/bar and inside buffet. It was a great location but sometimes if you wanted to get across the ship late at night without having to take the elevator several floors down you had to walk outside across the deck which was very windy and damp on some nights. Above us was the sun deck and sometimes we would hear people jogging up there or chairs being pulled out (MSC puts all the deck chairs away around 7pm each night) but we loved our location. The Ship/ public rooms/entertainment: The ship was beautiful, mirrors everywhere, marble tile, brass. The public rooms were great. They had lots of nice little bars. Towards the middle of the cruise, our favorite became the La Atmosphere Piano bar, in a central location on deck six, we would stop there before dinner and after dinner everynight. It had a piano where some nights Vitale,a great piano player would draw large crowds and a trio from Paraguay mostly playing spanish music would perform. The daily/nightly music was somewhat limited, a lot of italian songs, and light piano music, they had one female vocalist that sang in some of the lounges at night. The nightly shows were very European/Italian oriented, the cruise director was much older than I pictured and all announcements and some of the shows were spoken in 5 different languages. There was a large European passenger mix so I think it was needed. We attended only 2 of the shows- a magician that was very good and a classical piano show with an Italian tenor and Vitale on the piano. It was very good. We heard some complaints about the other shows from American passengers. The entertainment team consisted of maybe 5 Italian kids. There were very funny, got some of the older passengers to dance with them during the disco parties (which drew a crowd of maybe 20 people of different ages) The boys were kind of immature and would throw one of the girl entertainers in the pool during an event poolside. This was also a baseball cruise and during one of the free baseball trivia events, they were shouting at each other very loud in Italian and one of the boys was throwing a ball around at it hit me in the leg. After that, they would come up to me and talk in broken English at the pool bar and I was afraid they would try to throw me in the pool. They did do a good job of being silly during some of the events and always got the older passengers involved. One thing that I loved about this line was the daily "happy hour" drink specials. Drinks were priced at 7.98 but from 5-9 and 10-11pm in certain bars, all drinks inc. fancy cocktails and frozen drinks were 5.50- this inc. martinis,excluded beer/wine. In the La Atmosphere bar during 3 nights of the cruise, they had martini festival- martinis 5.50 till close and served hot canapes with them. Their bartender Alin from Romania was the best and made our cruise- Upon recommendations from one of the social directors, Piot, that we became friendly with I asked Alin to make me one of his own concoctions and it was fabulous. All drinks in the lounges were served with snacks and imported olives. We found the staff to be very friendly on this cruise- the reception desk women who also answered room service calls could be a little short and we heard that they wouldn't go out of their way to answer questions, but everyone else worked hard to please. Another thing I loved about this line is the steam room sauna area. Located in the spa and next to the gym, There was a relaxation room which overlooked the ocean forward and had mat-like lounge chairs- a very zen-like atmosphere. The only time we saw many people in it was when we were coming into a port or sailing away. The steam room was heavenly and hardly ever occupied. A sauna and steam room were available one for men and a separate area for women. It was totally free. The gym overlooked the ocean forward, had 3 treadmills which most people signed a sheet for each day with 30 min. time slots. However during non-busy hours you could usually grab a free one. Free weights, lots of machines. We didn't go during the busy morning hours but waited until the afternoons when most people were on the pool deck. There were early morning free soft gym classes, and a couple other pilate classes for an extra charge. Spa services were very pricey, even their port specials were too much for me to want to pay. Dining: Every day, there was an afternoon tea. Most days it was on the pool deck and consisted of tea, coffee from the open buffet area and a table set up with little cookies and sandwiches. Days in port it was located in one of the lounges w/ Vitale at the piano and you were served tea with cookies. I came fifteen minutes before it was to be over and had to pretty much help myself to cookies at the bar and ask a server twice for some hot tea as they were in a hurry to clean up. Regarding the dining services on this ship, I think you have to ask for things more than you would on another cruise line and some things are done a little differently but if you are adaptable and do not need any certain food item on a daily basis or it will ruin your cruise, then it shouldn't bother you. We are very adaptable, open to trying new things and we always found something good to eat. Breakfast was served in the buffet, in the dining room, and outside the buffet in La Pergola, they had made to order eggs and a line w/ pancakes, meat etc. The eggs were great, the cook very efficient. The dining room breakfast was good, we never got cold food. They serve "hot milk" on this ship w/ your tea, coffee and cereal. Maybe it's an Italian thing? When I requested toast, I got small little melba toasts. I am very adaptable, so it didn't bother me. Room service breakfast consisted of croissants, brioches, yogurt, jams etc and was perfect for us when we didn't want a heavy breakfast. There is no lunch/dinner service in the rooms which was a little disappointing as we had the balcony and would have loved to have dinner out there. Room service is limited but has a soup of the day which is usually decent, a good cheese plate and an awesome brownie w/ ice cream sundae. It is quick and efficient. They had chocolate croissants which were to die for. Lunch in the buffet always had great pasta, lots of cold salads, grilled vegetables, a daily carving meat, usually pork. No mashed potatoes, lots of rice, healthy selections. More limited than other lines but I was thrilled with all the healthy selections. Very good pizza was available outside all day and the grill was open to 8 and had hamburgers, hotdogs, fries etc. It was also very good. I read in other reviews that the pizza was limited with no meat on it but i did see pepperoni & sausage at least 2 of the days. I heard that you can also have a whole pizza made to order. I often brought pizza back to my room for an afternoon snack on the balcony. Outside at La Pergola, a table was set up with a daily pasta special which varied w/ dishes like paella, pasta w/ oil & garlic, pasta puttenesca. I tried it twice and it was great. We had lunch in the dining room only once, you could choose to have up to 6 courses and we found at least several items that were great. Evening dining room service was in 2 different dining rooms- we sat at a table for 8, noticed the smaller table for twos got quicker service but our waiters- Daddy and Joe were very efficient. No wine steward, your waiter does that. We noticed wine selections were limited and usually waited until after dinner to get a drink. Dinner consisted of 6 courses and featured selections from a different region of Italy each night. Some choices were excellent, others not so well-crafted. The breads were good. The cannelloni was the best I ever had, I had 3 steaks during the cruise and they were excellent- one came back too well-done, i sent it back and got what I asked for. The last formal night, we all had prime rib and lobster. The lobster was pretty decent. The waiters did not take it out of the shell for you and we had to ask for drawn butter but this did not ruin my night as it may have ruined others. My husband enjoyed the fish dishes and the chilled fruit soups. It was our anniversary and I called the cruiseline a head of time- my travel agent didn't do this- and reminded them it was our anniversary. We got a cake to our table the first night and it was a delicious cake- much more edible than the one we got from RC. They also sent us a dozen chocolate strawberries twice to our room. I was really impressed. On a side note- a couple we sat with who were celebrating their honeymoon did not call ahead of time and didn't get any recognition. It was mentioned to our waiters by others at our table and they still did not get a cake. On their website, MSC specifies that if you tell them you are celebrating an occasion after the cruise has started, you will have to pay for your cake. Ports: We visited San Juan. St. Maarten, Grenada, Barbados, St. Lucia, Tortola BVI, Cayo Levantado DR. I will not go into detail about the ports since I think I've made this review long enough :) I will say thanks to all the tips I received on the message boards from Cruise critic, we did all excursions on our own and had a great time in every port. I bought the Caribbean 2007 edition of Frommers and followed a lot of their recommendations. I will post mini-reviews of the ports on the port of call boards. I noticed if you did book a cruiseline excursion, you met at a certain time in a specific lounge and usually someone from the staff accompanied the group to the excursion. It seemed pretty efficient but I can't comment anymore b/c we did our own thing. Disembarkation was smooth, we were one of the last b/c we rented a car from the airport and took the rental car shuttlebus to the airport to drive back to WPB. We were off the ship by 9:30 am though. We had a delay b/c we left one of our bags at the port but the very nice shuttlebus driver drove my husband back to get it. Security gave us no problems. Our favorite thing about cruising is the people we meet. We became very friendly with some of the staff, enjoyed hanging out with some of the very few young couples that were on the ship. We met a lot of interesting people in the ports and learned a lot about the way other cultures live. One thing that stands out to me is in Old San Juan on the top of the hill near El Morro, there is a small neighborhood of dilapidated little shacks next to the gorgeous sea. From our vantage point we could see our big cruise ship in the distance. Most of the islands we went to were pretty poor and it made us feel blessed to live as we do in America. There were a lot of different cultures on this ship and I think you have to have an open mind to appreciate cultural differences. If you go with a mindset that the American way is the right way (seen something to this effect on a passenger's t-shirt) then this cruiseline probably isn't for you. Living in SOuth Florida I think we are pretty well-adapted to doing that. Overall, we loved this cruise and miss the Lirica already. We would sail again w/ MSC if the price was right but would sail with any cruiseline if the price and timing was right. If you have any questions, email me at shannon77@bellsouth.net and I'll be happy to answer them. 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MSC Lirica Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 4.0
Dining 3.0 3.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.4
Public Rooms 4.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.3
Family 3.0 3.3
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.2
Enrichment 3.0 2.8
Service 4.0 3.5
Value For Money 4.0 3.4
Rates 3.0 3.8

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