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I surprised my wife with this cruise for our 10th anniversary after we talked about visiting Greece for this anniversary since last year. I chose this cruise based on the itinerary and the price for these great ports of call. The ports of call did not disappoint at all, whether it was Bari (go down to Polignano a Mare for a little bit while at this port), Mykonos (absolutely spectacular), Heraklion, Crete (a solid stop but didn't have enough time there to explore outside the city to see more impressive Cretan sights), Corfu (nearly as spectacular as Mykonos), Dubrovnik (incredibly beautiful as well), and of course Venice (which is amazing)! When my wife and I reviewed the MSC shore excursions after booking the cruise, we were disappointed in their offerings and asked our travel agent for her advice on what else we could do. She recommended Viator and we were very happy with their tours. We planned our own excursions in Bari/Heraklion/Venice, and used Viator for excursions in the other three ports. Viator had more interesting and MUCH less expensive excursions than the cruise ship offered. As an example, we did the Achillieon Palace excursion in Corfu through Viator and it ended up as a private tour (it was supposed to be up to 10-12 people but the tour guide chose not to cancel even though only my wife and I were booked for that day). The similar MSC excursion cost ~$15/person more and was large groups of people crammed on buses. Do a little bit of homework ahead of time and you can have phenomenal experiences for a lot less than you would pay through the cruise ship. The MSC Lirica was "stretched" a few years ago which added additional cabins but, as far as we could tell, no meaningful additional common spaces. This leads to the ship feeling cramped at times, particularly during the one full day at sea. Just temper your expectations with this ship and know that it is an older ship and not laid out to comfortably accommodate all the passengers. The service on the ship was excellent, from our room steward to the servers in the restaurants. They were very attentive and willing to help with anything. Since this ship is more of a value ship, they try to do lots of upsells from the moment you walk onto the ship. Whether it is the all inclusive drink package or a water package or a soda package, be prepared for people plugging these packages throughout the entire cruise. Our stateroom package included 12 vouchers each (total 24) for any drinks throughout the cruise (excluding premium drinks) and we didn't need any additional vouchers or packages. If you like to enjoy multiple drinks a day then you'll probably want to get one of the other packages at some point during your cruise. Up on the pool deck, you'll notice a delicious looking gelato bar, but unless you've purchased at least the all-inclusive standard drink package, you can't get any of that gelato without paying extra. Dining was a bit of a let down on this cruise from our previous experiences (Norwegian & Carnival). The main dining room (we were assigned to L'Ippocampo) was hit or miss, with most meals being misses. Out of the 5 meals we ate in the dining room, only 2 were above average. In order to get a more premium meal, the staff offers a lobster package (€22/meal w/ glass of prosecco) or a T-bone package (€18/meal w/ glass of red wine); we didn't opt to pay for any of these premium meals. The buffet areas in Le Bistrot and La Pergola had okay food most of the time, with occasional above average food. The MSC website shows two specialty restaurants (Kaito Sushi & Jia Yao) on the Lirica but only Kaito exists on the ship. Kaito also becomes a Bar/Dance Club after hours. The Entertainment/Activities on the ship were average to below average. The main ship theatre entertainment each night was well below average. The performers tried their best but the stage is small and not configured well; one night, the gala night (when you would expect the performance to be at its best), my wife and I walked out 15 minutes in because the performance wasn't engaging or interesting at all (several other individuals had been walking out since shortly after the program began). The theatre itself is on the small size for the number of people on the ship and the chairs are old and make it feel as if you're sitting on the ground. They offer some activities throughout the day and night. We didn't participate in most of them, but the dance lessons late at night in the Blue Disco Lounge were fun and the instructors very engaged and lively. Overall my wife and I loved this cruise, not for the ship itself or for MSC, but because of the amazing ports we got to experience. We met people at our dining table that are now wonderful new friends that we look forward to seeing again soon and we had fantastic adventures at each port. If you are looking for a stellar itinerary at a great price, this is the cruise for you. If you look more for the ship experience and its activities, then this may not be the ship/cruise for you.

Amazing Ports of Call, Mediocre Ship

MSC Lirica Cruise Review by brian.gustin

8 people found this helpful
Trip Details
I surprised my wife with this cruise for our 10th anniversary after we talked about visiting Greece for this anniversary since last year. I chose this cruise based on the itinerary and the price for these great ports of call. The ports of call did not disappoint at all, whether it was Bari (go down to Polignano a Mare for a little bit while at this port), Mykonos (absolutely spectacular), Heraklion, Crete (a solid stop but didn't have enough time there to explore outside the city to see more impressive Cretan sights), Corfu (nearly as spectacular as Mykonos), Dubrovnik (incredibly beautiful as well), and of course Venice (which is amazing)!

When my wife and I reviewed the MSC shore excursions after booking the cruise, we were disappointed in their offerings and asked our travel agent for her advice on what else we could do. She recommended Viator and we were very happy with their tours. We planned our own excursions in Bari/Heraklion/Venice, and used Viator for excursions in the other three ports. Viator had more interesting and MUCH less expensive excursions than the cruise ship offered. As an example, we did the Achillieon Palace excursion in Corfu through Viator and it ended up as a private tour (it was supposed to be up to 10-12 people but the tour guide chose not to cancel even though only my wife and I were booked for that day). The similar MSC excursion cost ~$15/person more and was large groups of people crammed on buses. Do a little bit of homework ahead of time and you can have phenomenal experiences for a lot less than you would pay through the cruise ship.

The MSC Lirica was "stretched" a few years ago which added additional cabins but, as far as we could tell, no meaningful additional common spaces. This leads to the ship feeling cramped at times, particularly during the one full day at sea. Just temper your expectations with this ship and know that it is an older ship and not laid out to comfortably accommodate all the passengers. The service on the ship was excellent, from our room steward to the servers in the restaurants. They were very attentive and willing to help with anything. Since this ship is more of a value ship, they try to do lots of upsells from the moment you walk onto the ship. Whether it is the all inclusive drink package or a water package or a soda package, be prepared for people plugging these packages throughout the entire cruise. Our stateroom package included 12 vouchers each (total 24) for any drinks throughout the cruise (excluding premium drinks) and we didn't need any additional vouchers or packages. If you like to enjoy multiple drinks a day then you'll probably want to get one of the other packages at some point during your cruise. Up on the pool deck, you'll notice a delicious looking gelato bar, but unless you've purchased at least the all-inclusive standard drink package, you can't get any of that gelato without paying extra.

Dining was a bit of a let down on this cruise from our previous experiences (Norwegian & Carnival). The main dining room (we were assigned to L'Ippocampo) was hit or miss, with most meals being misses. Out of the 5 meals we ate in the dining room, only 2 were above average. In order to get a more premium meal, the staff offers a lobster package (€22/meal w/ glass of prosecco) or a T-bone package (€18/meal w/ glass of red wine); we didn't opt to pay for any of these premium meals. The buffet areas in Le Bistrot and La Pergola had okay food most of the time, with occasional above average food. The MSC website shows two specialty restaurants (Kaito Sushi & Jia Yao) on the Lirica but only Kaito exists on the ship. Kaito also becomes a Bar/Dance Club after hours.

The Entertainment/Activities on the ship were average to below average. The main ship theatre entertainment each night was well below average. The performers tried their best but the stage is small and not configured well; one night, the gala night (when you would expect the performance to be at its best), my wife and I walked out 15 minutes in because the performance wasn't engaging or interesting at all (several other individuals had been walking out since shortly after the program began). The theatre itself is on the small size for the number of people on the ship and the chairs are old and make it feel as if you're sitting on the ground. They offer some activities throughout the day and night. We didn't participate in most of them, but the dance lessons late at night in the Blue Disco Lounge were fun and the instructors very engaged and lively.

Overall my wife and I loved this cruise, not for the ship itself or for MSC, but because of the amazing ports we got to experience. We met people at our dining table that are now wonderful new friends that we look forward to seeing again soon and we had fantastic adventures at each port. If you are looking for a stellar itinerary at a great price, this is the cruise for you. If you look more for the ship experience and its activities, then this may not be the ship/cruise for you.
brian.gustin’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Fantastica Oceanview Stateroom
Cabin O2 9251
The cabin was more than adequate for my wife and I. Our steward kept the room very clean and well stocked with towels and the like. Bathroom was fine, though the shower felt exceptionally small, even though I'm 6'5", my much shorter wife also commented on the small shower size. The window was a nice size for enjoying the views while at sea or docked in port, but it wasn't the cleanest on the outside. We solved that issue by going up top and snapping pictures from the 12th deck whenever we wanted to get a good, clear picture.
Bellini Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Bari
    We went down to Polignano a Mare and had a late lunch in the Grotta Palazzese restaurant which is in a cave right above the sea. Phenomenal food and location...although pricey. Very cool beach in town nestled between cliffs, great for a quick visit. Then we went back up to Bari and had our cab driver drop us off at the Basilica of St Nicholas. This church is an unexpectedly beautiful gem on the inside with an unassuming exterior. Go downstairs to view the tomb of St. Nicholas.
    View All 163 Bari Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Corfu
    Surreal experience where we ended up with a private tour, even though the tour description states that they can cancel if not enough people sign up. Ines gave my wife and I a private tour of the island in a minivan with a private driver. We first stopped at a kum quat distillery (not listed on the tour description) which was a welcome surprise. We samples the liquors and fruits, purchased a few things, then headed off for Achilleion Palace. This large house is a beautiful location to explore, though our cruise ship excursions had brought a few bus loads of people over and it was starting to get crowded. We headed off to check out some great views of Vlachernha Monastery and Mouse Island from afar up on the Kanoni area. Then we headed off to the old town part of Corfu to spend some time walking around the Liston and Esplanade areas. You can go over to the old Venetian Fortress or check out St Spyridon Church if you want. We chose to just walk lazily around the beautiful streets and take in some authentic greek food. After meeting back up with Ines, we headed back to port driving along the coast where we could view the new Venetian Fortress from below.
    View All 11,851 Corfu Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Crete (Heraklion)
    Crete is apparently a spectacularly beautiful island, but Heraklion felt like many average cities. We walked from the port over to the Odos 1866 market and checked out St Titus Church and the Venetian Loggia before touring the Venetian Fortress on our way back to the port. A solid experience but wasn't the most thrilling.
    View All 247 Crete (Heraklion) Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Sea Kayaking
    Phenomenal sea kayaking and snorkeling experience. You'll kayak around 7.5km from the main part of Dubrovnik old town. You head out and around the island off the coast of the town, check out a secluded cave, and then head off for Betina Sea Cave for snorkeling (and maybe some cliff jumping) and relaxing before paddling back to town following the old city walls.
    View All 11 Sea Kayaking Reviews
  • Mykonos
    Cruise went to Rhenia for snorkeling in a secluded bay with crystalline waters and swimming to a deserted beach. The crew then cooked a delicious lunch for us all before we headed off to Delos to tour the ancient ruins. The entrance fee (€12/person) to the ruins is not included in the excursion cost but we paid it and enjoyed the island for the 90 minutes we had allotted to us. Then we cruised back to Mykonos and my wife and I spent more time exploring the city and then having dinner at Kastro's Bar & Grill in the Little Venice area of town.
    View All 11,851 Mykonos Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Venice
    My wife and I toured Venice after the cruise ended along with two of our new friends we met at our main dining table. Had wonderful experiences throughout this amazing city!
    View All 1,369 Venice Cruise Port Reviews
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