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We sailed with MSC Lirica last month on a short 4 night itinerary We have never sailed with MSC before, so decided on a short trip to try it out We boarded at Venice, and it was a relatively smooth process. On previous cruises, you queue once, and get everything done at the same time. Here, we had the initial queue to have passports and boarding passes checked, then again to hand over luggage, then to get through security scanners, then as we boarded the ship, our passports and boarding passes were checked again, another queue for photos to be taken for sea pass cards, then a walk through what seemed like hundreds of staff touting drinks packages. However, all queues, except the initial one in the port, were very fast moving so we didn’t hang around long each time. Also, the staff trying to sell the drinks packages were not too pushy. We really liked this ship. I was slightly apprehensive before boarding after reading reviews on here, but we found the ship to be clean and comfortable. There was plenty space for everyone. On previous cruises - particularly Navigator ots, public spaces (bars, cafes, lounges) were always packed and it was difficult to find a seat. Not on this ship. There are numerous lounges and bars. Even in the buffet restaurant on the final morning, it wasn’t too hard to find a table. The safety drill was totally chaotic, with passengers wandering in halfway through, and talking loudly all the way through, making it impossible to hear what was being said. You also have to take the life jackets from your cabin, which we have never done before, but it was good to know how to put them on if the need arose (not that it’s difficult) Obviously there was a different clientele on MSC than our previous cruise experiences. Fewer British passengers, more Italian (obviously), German and a very large group of Chinese passengers. There was also a slightly different culture. The biggest difference was that the MDR and the buffet restaurant did not open until 7pm. There are a couple of places to eat before then, a grill serving burgers and chips etc, and a pizza station. When the buffet restaurant opened at 7, it was very quiet until around 8.30-9.pm The staff was very efficient in keeping tables cleared. They seem to be under less pressure than RCI staff, which was nice. They had a little time to chat as they were serving you. We found the food in the buffet restaurant was of decent quality. There were fewer choices available, but they were presented better, refilled promptly and mostly well cooked. The selection of fresh fruit was also much better than on our previous cruises. We didn’t eat in the MDR, or any of the specialty restaurants We had non alcoholic drinks packages, which was good value. It included soft drinks, bottled water, mocktails, specialty coffees and soft serve ice cream. The price was less than half of what Royal Caribbean charge for the same thing. We didn’t go to any of the entertainment. There was very little in the way of activities on board during the day, but I suppose it would be very difficult to do quizzes etc when you’re to ask the questions in 5 languages! English was always the first when announcements were made. We spent a fair amount of time in the coffee lounge. Staff were very friendly, and it was a lovely spot for people watching. The ship was well presented and clean. We really liked it. The only downside was that there is no deck on which you can walk round the whole ship. You can’t get to the front of the ship at all, other than on deck 13, which has big sun screens, so you can’t stand there and look at where the ship is going. This certainly wouldn’t put me off booking on this ship again, but we missed a wander round the ship in the evenings. We left from Venice and our first stop was Split, in Croatia. A lovely old town within easy walking distance of the port. Narrow little streets and an ancient old palace to explore..... along with plenty of little bars and cafes to stop and rehydrate. Next stop was Sarande, Albania. I was a bit nervous about this port after reading the reviews. We were tendered in, which was the easiest tender we have ever had, although we waited til the main rush was past. When you get off the tender, you are met by numerous taxi drivers advertising their trips to the blue eye national park etc. Walking towards the beach is quite depressing. It’s really run down. There are lots of beggars, but they don’t pester you. Many have babies or very young children. Once you get down to the beach, it’s a fairly standard beach front, with stalls selling tat, and restaurants, cafes and bars. It’s very cheap for food and drink. You can’t buy Albanian currency outside of Albania, but they accept euros too. Unless you’ve organised an excursion, there’s not much to do other than the beach. The beach is very stoney, but apparently there are sandy beaches in neighbouring villages. This would be a great beach stop for children though, there are inflatables and diving platforms which looked like great fun! Messina was our next port. Again an easy walk in from the ship. The main attraction is Taormina, but we decided to stay in Messina and explore. There’s not much to see to be honest. The cathedral is beautiful, and at 12 o’clock the bell tower comes to life.... statues move, and the sound of Ave Maria rings out across the square. Unfortunately, that’s the highlight of Messina. Otherwise it’s quite a dirty, dreary town. My advice would be to do the tour to Taormina. Final port was Naples, but we didn’t have time to explore, we just made our way to the bus stop to catch the bus to the airport for our flight home. Traffic is horrific in Naples. Very scary.

Pleasantly surprised by this lovely ship

MSC Lirica Cruise Review by Clorty Midden

11 people found this helpful
Trip Details
We sailed with MSC Lirica last month on a short 4 night itinerary

We have never sailed with MSC before, so decided on a short trip to try it out

We boarded at Venice, and it was a relatively smooth process.

On previous cruises, you queue once, and get everything done at the same time. Here, we had the initial queue to have passports and boarding passes checked, then again to hand over luggage, then to get through security scanners, then as we boarded the ship, our passports and boarding passes were checked again, another queue for photos to be taken for sea pass cards, then a walk through what seemed like hundreds of staff touting drinks packages.

However, all queues, except the initial one in the port, were very fast moving so we didn’t hang around long each time. Also, the staff trying to sell the drinks packages were not too pushy.

We really liked this ship. I was slightly apprehensive before boarding after reading reviews on here, but we found the ship to be clean and comfortable. There was plenty space for everyone. On previous cruises - particularly Navigator ots, public spaces (bars, cafes, lounges) were always packed and it was difficult to find a seat. Not on this ship. There are numerous lounges and bars. Even in the buffet restaurant on the final morning, it wasn’t too hard to find a table.

The safety drill was totally chaotic, with passengers wandering in halfway through, and talking loudly all the way through, making it impossible to hear what was being said. You also have to take the life jackets from your cabin, which we have never done before, but it was good to know how to put them on if the need arose (not that it’s difficult)

Obviously there was a different clientele on MSC than our previous cruise experiences. Fewer British passengers, more Italian (obviously), German and a very large group of Chinese passengers. There was also a slightly different culture. The biggest difference was that the MDR and the buffet restaurant did not open until 7pm. There are a couple of places to eat before then, a grill serving burgers and chips etc, and a pizza station. When the buffet restaurant opened at 7, it was very quiet until around 8.30-9.pm

The staff was very efficient in keeping tables cleared. They seem to be under less pressure than RCI staff, which was nice. They had a little time to chat as they were serving you.

We found the food in the buffet restaurant was of decent quality. There were fewer choices available, but they were presented better, refilled promptly and mostly well cooked. The selection of fresh fruit was also much better than on our previous cruises.

We didn’t eat in the MDR, or any of the specialty restaurants

We had non alcoholic drinks packages, which was good value. It included soft drinks, bottled water, mocktails, specialty coffees and soft serve ice cream. The price was less than half of what Royal Caribbean charge for the same thing.

We didn’t go to any of the entertainment. There was very little in the way of activities on board during the day, but I suppose it would be very difficult to do quizzes etc when you’re to ask the questions in 5 languages! English was always the first when announcements were made.

We spent a fair amount of time in the coffee lounge. Staff were very friendly, and it was a lovely spot for people watching.

The ship was well presented and clean. We really liked it. The only downside was that there is no deck on which you can walk round the whole ship. You can’t get to the front of the ship at all, other than on deck 13, which has big sun screens, so you can’t stand there and look at where the ship is going. This certainly wouldn’t put me off booking on this ship again, but we missed a wander round the ship in the evenings.

We left from Venice and our first stop was Split, in Croatia.

A lovely old town within easy walking distance of the port. Narrow little streets and an ancient old palace to explore..... along with plenty of little bars and cafes to stop and rehydrate.

Next stop was Sarande, Albania. I was a bit nervous about this port after reading the reviews. We were tendered in, which was the easiest tender we have ever had, although we waited til the main rush was past. When you get off the tender, you are met by numerous taxi drivers advertising their trips to the blue eye national park etc. Walking towards the beach is quite depressing. It’s really run down. There are lots of beggars, but they don’t pester you. Many have babies or very young children.

Once you get down to the beach, it’s a fairly standard beach front, with stalls selling tat, and restaurants, cafes and bars. It’s very cheap for food and drink. You can’t buy Albanian currency outside of Albania, but they accept euros too.

Unless you’ve organised an excursion, there’s not much to do other than the beach. The beach is very stoney, but apparently there are sandy beaches in neighbouring villages. This would be a great beach stop for children though, there are inflatables and diving platforms which looked like great fun!

Messina was our next port. Again an easy walk in from the ship. The main attraction is Taormina, but we decided to stay in Messina and explore. There’s not much to see to be honest. The cathedral is beautiful, and at 12 o’clock the bell tower comes to life.... statues move, and the sound of Ave Maria rings out across the square. Unfortunately, that’s the highlight of Messina. Otherwise it’s quite a dirty, dreary town. My advice would be to do the tour to Taormina.

Final port was Naples, but we didn’t have time to explore, we just made our way to the bus stop to catch the bus to the airport for our flight home. Traffic is horrific in Naples. Very scary.
Clorty Midden’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Cabin 9035
Our cabin (9035 - an inside) was a good size, with more storage space than we have had with RCI or Marella. The bathroom, and especially the shower cubicle was smaller though. The bed was very comfortable and the cabin steward, Rene was excellent. Our cabin was not far from the stairs and lifts. We didn’t feel much movement or hear any engine noise from the cabin other than when the ship was manoeuvring into position to dock.
  MSC Lirica Deck Plans

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Sarande
    Next stop was Sarande, Albania. I was a bit nervous about this port after reading the reviews. We were tendered in, which was the easiest tender we have ever had, although we waited til the main rush was past. When you get off the tender, you are met by numerous taxi drivers advertising their trips to the blue eye national park etc. Walking towards the beach is quite depressing. It’s really run down. There are lots of beggars, but they don’t pester you. Many have babies or very young children.
    Once you get down to the beach, it’s a fairly standard beach front, with stalls selling tat, and restaurants, cafes and bars. It’s very cheap for food and drink. You can’t buy Albanian currency outside of Albania, but they accept euros too.
    Unless you’ve organised an excursion, there’s not much to do other than the beach. The beach is very stoney, but apparently there are sandy beaches in neighbouring villages. This would be a great beach stop for children though, there are inflatables and diving platforms which looked like great fun!
    View All 37 Sarande Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Sarande Cruise Port Review
  • Split
    A lovely old town within easy walking distance of the port. Narrow little streets and an ancient old palace to explore..... along with plenty of little bars and cafes to stop and rehydrate.
    View All 395 Split Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Split Cruise Port Review
  • Taormina (Messina)
    Again an easy walk in from the ship. The main attraction is Taormina, but we decided to stay in Messina and explore. There’s not much to see to be honest. The cathedral is beautiful, and at 12 o’clock the bell tower comes to life.... statues move, and the sound of Ave Maria rings out across the square. Unfortunately, that’s the highlight of Messina. Otherwise it’s quite a dirty, dreary town with weeds growing up through the pavements. My advice would be to do the tour to Taormina.
    View All 400 Taormina (Messina) Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Taormina (Messina) Cruise Port Review
  • Venice
    We stayed in Venice for a few days before joining the ship. It’s a beautiful city with lots to explore. Highlights were the tower on the small island of San Giorgio Maggiore. €6 to get the lift to the top and you can see over the whole city. It’s much quieter than the tower in San Marco.
    Also, the islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello are worth visiting.... especially beautiful Burano
    View All 1,426 Venice Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Venice Cruise Port Review