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Cruise Ratings
Sail Date: September 2013
Our cruise on MSC Lirica was most enjoyable. We chose the itinerary because most of the places we had not visited before. It is a beautiful ship, so clean and well kept. The nightly shows were great and always different, the musicians and ... Read More
Our cruise on MSC Lirica was most enjoyable. We chose the itinerary because most of the places we had not visited before. It is a beautiful ship, so clean and well kept. The nightly shows were great and always different, the musicians and dancers were extremely talented. The food was good and lots of choice. Keep in mind that it is an Italian line and therefore a lot of Europeans on board, not many from North America, although we were seated with 3 other couples from Ontario whose company we enjoyed each evening. The pizza served on deck 11 was fantastic and available from noon till midnight. Also keep in mind that children travel free on MSC so if you choose August for your cruise, yes there will be many children on board. We had an ocean view room which was very comfortable, even though small, it had a large window. We would choose MSC again..... Read Less
Sail Date: July 2013
We flew to Rome to embark and the embarkation process was very efficient. We soon made our way to our suite on the top deck and found the suite and the ship in general to be very clean and well presented. She's a mid sized ship which ... Read More
We flew to Rome to embark and the embarkation process was very efficient. We soon made our way to our suite on the top deck and found the suite and the ship in general to be very clean and well presented. She's a mid sized ship which is just what we prefer. There are the usual amenities (gym, sauna etc) but we don't use them. First stop was to the buffet while we waited for our luggage. There are 2 sides to the outer buffet, each serving different food. Here's the first disappointment! There were burgers, hot dogs, fries etc which were kept warm from underneath. This meant the top of the food was cold. We stuck to the inside buffet after that. This was a little better but still not too good. On sea days this became a bit of a bun fight with other guests pushing in front of you, standing blocking the aisles etc looking for a free table. The food in the restaurants was better though still not up to my standard. The potions were small and if the menu said "slices of veal", that's what you got. No accompaniments. This means having a 5 course meal to fill you up. There was no coffee afterwards and as others have said, water was charged for. No complaints with the service from the waiters and the room service. One big problem for me was a lack of enforcing of the rules. People were smoking on balconies and adjacent to the pool despite notices saying this was not allowed. Food was also taken to the pool which presented a danger when dropped on the floor. There were lots of children on board who were well catered for with kids clubs, mini golf, wiis and so on. You could even leave your kids with the team while you went off on an excursion. Unfortunately, most of the kids preferred to run riot round the ship knocking things over, bumping into people, playing in the lifts pushing every button then running down the stairs to start again. Evening entertainment was very poor with some awful singers in some lounges and decent ones in others. The theatre and Lirica Lounge were totally underused with shows lasting an average 20 minutes. We don't go in for many excursions as we prefer to mooch about in port. However we did book one excursion. Right in the middle of our cruise was an overnight stop in Haifa, Israel. One full day on Saturday and a half day Sunday. As the Saturday was the Shabbat we knew everywhere would be closed, so we decided to book an excursion on Saturday and stay on board Sunday morning. We didn't fancy an all day excursion so the 5 hour trip to Acre and Baha'i Gardens was ideal. This included the 2 places we wanted to visit and left us the afternoon to chill around the pool. On board ship, we were advised to confirm our places on the excursion. When we did this we were informed that there was a change of plan which nobody had bothered to tell us about. The visit to the Baha'i Gardens was cancelled and the trip to Acre was now taking place on Sunday leaving at 06:30 am! We couldn't cancel if we wanted as it was too short notice. That left us with nothing to do on Saturday. The staff on the excursion desk were happy to let us book another trip but that would cost over two hundred pounds extra to go to places we weren't particularly interested in. Never mind, we could always get the free shuttle bus which would take us around Haifa and we could hop on and off throughout the day. "Yes it did run on the Sabbath" we were told - sorted. So, on Saturday morning we got off the ship, walked through passport control and were told the shuttle was due to leave at 9:00 but we had probably missed it. When we got to the stop at 5 past there was no bus there. They run every 90 minutes so we decided to walk to the Baha'i Gardens and catch the shuttle from there to do the city tour. The sweat was dripping off us by 9:30. We arrived at the gardens to find only the lower most section open as it was the Shabbat! After the obligatory photos we walked back to the bus stop to find the shuttle didn't run on the Shabbat at all. And if it had done, none of the places it stopped at would be open. There was no public transport to anywhere. A taxi to Nazareth or someplace would be expensive. Apart from a few cafes in the German Quarter, everywhere else was shut so we returned to the ship and spent the rest of the day there. At least it wasn't as busy as a normal day. On the Sunday we set off for our trip to Acre and the first stop was, you guessed it, the Baha'i Gardens! The tour guide told us we would have to hurry around the Templar Halls and Acre old town as we had to be back on the ship in plenty of time. So, why was the itinerary changed without notice? It's not as though we had booked it months in advance, but a few days before the start of the holiday. MSC must have known but hadn't changed the web site. Why did MSC book into a port on a day when they know everywhere is closed? Has anybody else had a similar experience where excursions were changed or cancelled without notice? Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
We boarded the Lirica at Civitavecchia to cruise to Istanbul, Yalta, Odessa, Athens, Sorrento (Capri), and Genoa. MSC traces its history to cargo shipping, and care of the ship is tops -- constant cleaning, polishing, painting, crew ... Read More
We boarded the Lirica at Civitavecchia to cruise to Istanbul, Yalta, Odessa, Athens, Sorrento (Capri), and Genoa. MSC traces its history to cargo shipping, and care of the ship is tops -- constant cleaning, polishing, painting, crew training on a regular basis, arrival always on time, and the ship is well and tastefully furnished. The ship was very smooth and quiet. It has good facilities for children, including a popular water shower over one of the pools, a youth club, and video games, such as Wii. The lounges are spacious and attractive as well as comfortable, and the library is popular as a card room, also. Embarkation and disembarkation were fairly quick and the crew was very helpful. The service by the waiters and dining staff is good; we had a sharp-looking, almost-all Indonesian staff who did a good job. The food variety and quality was generally good but not outstanding in the dining room, with two buffets, one near the pools and one fully enclosed. They are somewhat limited and not always supplied with hot food. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all available in the dining room, with good service at all three times. Dining room times are rigidly adhered to, with assigned tables for dinner and casual table assignment for other meals. One strange item is that coffee is not available at dinner. Bottled water is available but no tap water is served, and American and Canadian passengers get a free bottle daily. The entertainment was typical cruise material, lots of American music, a bit loud; good dancers and a champion juggler, a couple of opera singers (an excellent tenor and a good soprano), and a Sinatra impersonator with a German accent. The entertainment seemed to be tailored to Americans, although there were large groups of Italians, Germans, and French, plus a group of Norwegians, and all the announcements had to be made in five or six languages. The theater is well designed and decorated. The problems we had with the cruise were mostly with the excursions, which were poorly described in the literature and not always well managed. We took four of their excursions. At Yalta we visited two of the Tsar's palaces, which were described as "sumptuous" and such terms. The first palace was sparsely furnished and had never been lived in - only used for summer picnics, and it was dark and not very attractive. The second, Livadia Palace, was the site of the 1945 meeting at which Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin agreed on how to divide Europe. It was an excellent visit to a very attractive location, so that tour averaged out fairly well. We took the tour of Odessa and its catacombs, and found that good. The first real problem was Athens, where we arrived for an 8-hour visit on the Orthodox Easter Sunday, and EVERYTHING was closed and largely deserted. We had been to Athens for several days on another trip but had not seen the new Acropolis Museum, and wanted to see that, but were disappointed. We were not warned until the morning arrival that we wouldn't see anything except closed buildings, but surely the staff must have known. The next problem was in Sorrento, where we paid about $190 each for a "four-hour" tour to Capri during about a six-hour stopover. The tour description said we would be taken to the center of town, then a minibus tour followed by a walking tour to the Caesar Augustus gardens. Actually, we had a two-hour tour, with no minibus tour, and the walking tour was so rushed that it more resembled a foot race on cobblestones. The rest of the four hours was taken up by a tender ride to Sorrento, a ferry ride to Capri, and a shuttle bus to a parking lot on Capri, then the reverse after the quick foot tour, with quite a bit of waiting between each of the phases. We had no more that 30 minutes to look around in Capri on our own and shop, and we were tired after the foot race. That excursion should not even be offered if the time cannot be increased and the tour properly described. In Genoa, we took the local bus tours rather than the ship tours, and found them very satisfactory -- Genoa is a beautiful city. Overall, it was a pleasant cruise, with a couple of serious problems on the excursions. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2010
This is our second [AND LAST!!!] cruise with MSC, but we have taken over 3 dozen cruises, all told. First let's start with your review of the ship: nothing is prepared at tableside-not risotto, nothing. Their only claim to fame, is ... Read More
This is our second [AND LAST!!!] cruise with MSC, but we have taken over 3 dozen cruises, all told. First let's start with your review of the ship: nothing is prepared at tableside-not risotto, nothing. Their only claim to fame, is the pasta made for lunch outside every day. But I digress: let's start with the children. We were told [by staff] that kids are free and they were everywhere. Usually not a problem, except these yelled, screamed, cried & carried on with no control from their parents [or anyone else (again told by staff they were 'Italian')], literally all day long. Smoking=know we were in Europe [we were actually there a week before the cruise], but passengers ignored smoking restrictions everywhere, they smoked whenever and wherever they wanted=again no help from MSC. Rudeness was rampant-things are different in Europe, but this seemed more than usual, cutting in on lines, in the elevators, etc. The food was mediocre, at best. Almost all the buffets were cold by the time you got to them. Service was almost nonexistent-waiters forgot food, who got what, to bring what was requested, to ask if your meal was good [and there was little supervision of help]. Service [LACK OF IT] seemed the order of the cruise. The employees attitude seemed to be 'not my job' and I can't/won't help you. Example-if you didn't take a ship's excursion, you were not supplied with any inforamtion about the port you were in, none. And if you asked, were told I don't know. Instead of trying to be helpful, the crew was actually an obstacle; shops didn't wait on you, etc. The crusie staff seemed more interested in talking among themselves, than serving the passengers. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2010
The most important thing on a cruise ship should be food, drinks, service and cleanliness. Ok Ill give them the cleanliness. The room was cleaned after breakfast, mid-day and sometimes in the evening. The room and ship were very clean. ... Read More
The most important thing on a cruise ship should be food, drinks, service and cleanliness. Ok Ill give them the cleanliness. The room was cleaned after breakfast, mid-day and sometimes in the evening. The room and ship were very clean. Now for an Italian cruise line you would expect for the pizza and the pasta to be decent. But no! It probably was one of the worst things they offered. The food is worst than cafeteria food. We were served pate one night and it smelled and tasted like dog food. The meat was always overcooked, tasteless and chewy. The breakfast was the same EVERY day. The scrambled eggs was soggy. The croissant was uncooked, I felt like I was eating an elastic. The lunch menu was recycled from one day to the next. The deserts were tasteless. We had the choice of chocolate, vanilla and a fruit flavored ice cream. The juices were basically water with some color added. The coffee was horrible, green looking. Basically while I was barely eating anything cos it was so bad, my friend cruising on royal Caribbean navigator of the sees was having lobster and escargots and shrimp brochette and amazing sundaes and Ben and Jerry ice cream on her cruise. Also we were charged for water during dinner and lunch. The drinks were around 7 euros! Are we in a club here or what?! The staff apart from ones cleaning the rooms were not smiley at all and almost unfriendly. We asked for information at the reception and always got the wrong information. For example, we asked for the Tunisian conversion rate. We were told its 7 to 1 with the euro. We only found out when we were bargaining that its actually 2 to 1. And other similar things like this. The itinerary included Portofino, Italy but it was never mentioned that the boat will dock away from the port and the we would have to pay to take a smaller boat to get to shore. They force you to pay 7 euro per person of service charge per day. With the service I got I wouldn't have paid half of that. Why should I pay for a bad service. Tip should be based on the satisfactory service you got. There are only 2 pools on the boat and they are shared with the kids. I never had the chance to enjoy the pool or the area itself because it was always filled with kids. The kids were yelling and screaming and making the stay around the pool very unpleasant. How hard is it to have an adult pool and a kids pool. Also they wasnt enough chairs to lie down on around the pool. Instead they had the extras stacked up and tied up. We had to untie it and take them ourselves. The hot tub was packed with kids we never had a chance to use it. The ping pong table was right beside the pool. Imagine the noise and the screams we had to put up with since the kids were on it all day. We wanted to use the internet to check our emails. We paid 10 euro for 30 minutes. Nobody warned us that you cant use outlook, so we spent our 30 minutes trying to send out the emails. Oh but we were told that its written in the F.A.Q. This should be a warning and not in the FAQ section were you check only if you have a question DUH!!!!!!!! So when we complained about this and asked for our money back, the manager said there is nothing they can do. Wow for 10 euros, they were willing to piss off a customer. So finally they offered us to pay only half of the service charge. WOW so instead of taking the loss, they cut on the workers tip. Shame on you!!!!!! why do u wanna use the internet on a cruise The excursions were out of price. We did our own touring for 1/3 the price they were charging. The relaxation room was right beside the gym so you can hear the pounding music noise from the gym. The gym was tiny, it had only 3 treadmills. We didnt even had a chance to get one. The mini pot section was ridiculously small and pathetic. I never saw anyone playing. While other cruise lines have rock climbing, great mini pot, ice rings, we have nothing but a crappy mini pot. Oh and the decor of the ship is so 80's!!!!!!! Basically I call MSC "Mega Scam Cruise". I would never go back on any of the cruises this company has and I would never recommend it to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2010
We chose this cruise for several reasons: 1) The timing was perfect. 2) The ports were interesting for all ages and my wife and I had not been to any of the ports on our prior cruises. 3.) Children sharing a cabin with their parents were ... Read More
We chose this cruise for several reasons: 1) The timing was perfect. 2) The ports were interesting for all ages and my wife and I had not been to any of the ports on our prior cruises. 3.) Children sharing a cabin with their parents were free. 4) We thought the variety of nationalities on the ship would be interesting for our children and grandchildren. As it turned out, we were correct in our choice. The itinerary included our port of embarkation, Rome, and the ports of Salerno, Italy, Tunis, Tunisia, Palma de Mallorca, Spain, Toulon, France, Genoa, Italy, Ajaccio, Corsica, France and back to Rome. The ports, with one exception, were wonderful and there was something for everyone. On the day we visited Genoa, we were to leave Genoa and go to Portofino, Italy, where we were supposed to be able to tender in (at an extra cost), to Portofino at 6:30 PM and stay until 11:30 PM. We received a notice in our stateroom, after we left the ship for some time in Genoa, that the stop in Portofino was canceled for weather related reasons (which we could not figure out because the weather seemed to be good all around us) and we would leave an hour or so later, heading for our next port. The cabins are on the small side, but our outside cabins had more than enough storage space for our needs. We had three boys sharing a cabin and they had enough room for their things, we think. We don't think the boys unpacked, but nobody would go in their cabin to check. As in most cruise ship cabins, the third bed is like a bunk bed, folding down from the wall. Even though we did not have a third person in our cabin, it took me a few days to figure out how to avoid bumping my head on the third bed, even though it was folded against the wall at all times. The cabin attendant kept the cabin clean, although she did not always leave the ice bucket full. We had been warned by others of the bottled water issues; however, each cabin received 7 tickets for 1 liter of bottled water to be used in the dining rooms only. Tap water was not served in the dining rooms. Additional 1 liter bottles of water in the dining room were 2.07 Euros each, including 15% service charge. Wine was reasonably priced, but soft drinks were very costly. Although the ship offers various drink packages, we found that unless you used every one of the drinks in the package, you would end up paying more than if you purchased the drinks individually. Their were bottles of water in the cabin, but you were charged for their use at mini-bar prices. Although they say they will confiscate drinks brought onto the ship, we found that they did not enforce that, since some unfinished bottles of water that had been purchased elsewhere made it back through security. Food in the dining rooms, where we ate most of our meals, was adequate, but not abundant. Menu choices were okay and somewhat creative at times. There was always pasta, burgers or hot dogs available in the dining room. Even our grandchildren couldn't eat the hot dogs, but the pasta and burgers were pretty good. Service in the dining room was always good for dinner, since you had the same table and waiter every night, but at breakfast and lunch, it was a little more inefficient and slow, unless you wound up with your dinner waiter for one of those meals. It must have something to do with additional tipping. Much of the help was from Bali. Based upon an earlier trip to Bali, the Balinese people are wonderful and very friendly. This group was no exception. Late seating was later than most ships (9:15 or 9:30 PM). The shows were better than on most cruise ships we have been on. The final show was an opera singer, who was outstanding. The other entertainment on our cruise was also very good. the late show started at 11:15 or 11:30 for those at late seating. On many ships, the show for late seating diners is before the show and after dinner for the early seating. At every show, as well as at all other times, announcements are made in 5 languages (Italian, English, French, German & Spanish), so they are a little tedious. It always sounded like the announcements in Italian were a little more detailed because most of the guests were Italian. We found out that about 90 out of the 2000+ passenger spoke English as a first language. That did not spoil our trip., In fact, the grandchildren found it to be somewhat interesting. Other entertainment on the ship was okay. The disco was crowed only some of the time, especially when there was salsa dancing. We did not do any of the ship's excursions, as we prefer to do our own thing and make our own tour guide reservations before leaving home. For our group of 10, it was more cost effective anyhow. The ship, in general, has very nice public areas. Be forewarned that the casino allows smoking, while most other areas do not. There is not adequate smoke removal equipment, so the casino and the area immediately outside the entry to the casino. Although there are a few areas where smoking is permitted, it was easy to miss them. We were glad that the cabins were free of smoke odor, as that was our biggest concern. This particular cruise is peculiar in that people were embarking at different ports. The primary port of embarkation is Genoa, but we embarked in Rome and people were getting on and off at each port. We found that to be strange. Some dislikes: 1.) They still schedule 2 formal nights where men should have jackets and ties. We saw many different interpretations of "formal attire". Contrary to what we were told, people were allowed into the dining room on formal night without jackets. Why they can't get with the program and go to more casual attire is something I don't understand. 2.) There is a charge for ice cream cones or cups except at dinner and during the day, it is available for only a short time. 3.) Coffee is not available in the dining room for dinner, but is available at breakfast and lunch in the dining room. 4.) Tea in the afternoon is nothing more than a buffet with poor quality food and mediocre desserts and it is only from 4:00 til 5:00 PM. 5.) There is a charge for food delivered to the cabin and the selection is very poor. 6.) For an Italian cruise line, we found the pizza pretty poor and not worth the calories. 7.) Although the smoked salmon was excellent, there was neither a bagel or cream cheese to be found anywhere on the ship. Overall, I think that the cruise is between a 3 star and 4 star experience and worth the money. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2008
My family took the MSC Lirica on a 7 day cruise from Civitavecchia (Rome) to Genoa, Marseilles, Valencia, Tangier and Malaga that departed October 24, 2008. We are from Texas and our travels included our 17 year old son. I have taken two ... Read More
My family took the MSC Lirica on a 7 day cruise from Civitavecchia (Rome) to Genoa, Marseilles, Valencia, Tangier and Malaga that departed October 24, 2008. We are from Texas and our travels included our 17 year old son. I have taken two other cruises, the Windsurf out of Barbados in 1999 and the Carnival Triumph from Miami two weeks after 9/11/01. My wife has taken a Norwegian and a Carnival cruise without me. This was my first cruise in a room with out a window and I did not miss one. Our room on deck eight has two fold down bunks over the two twin beds put together. I am 6'3" and there was plenty of room and storage but the shower was a kind of small. The second bunk served well as additional storage. The ship was beautiful and sparking clean. My overall impression of the cruise: we had a really good time. Getting on the ship was easier than any other cruise we have ever experienced. Passengers get on and off the ship at most ports so there were only about 300 (of the 1500+ total) getting on at the same time. It took minutes to go through embarkation and passengers are escorted by a staff member to their room. Disembarkation was just as easy. The first night there were just a couple of dozen people on deck as the ship went to sea. It was like taking a private cruise. The ship was filled to capacity as we left Marseilles. Beer and Soda coupons are available in books of 14. You save about 10 euros by purchasing the "big beer" (about ½ liter) book. You can use the soda coupons for bottled water at dinner. The Lord Nelson pub is gorgeous but a haven for smokers during the cruise. I don't remember being bothered by smokers anywhere else and there were plenty of other places to quaff a pint. Unlike our US based cruises, I never saw anyone get really intoxicated. The food: We opted for the late seating (8:45-9:00 PM). Our waiter, Jaya from Bali, was the best. I like it spicy and after the first night there was always Tabasco and hot chili's on the table. There was only one main course that any of us did not care for, the salt cod my wife ordered the first night. I love fish and selected the fish most evenings (white fish, salmon, red mullet, fish stew). I had lamb one night and a beef filet another. The beef wasn't bad but tasted like South American grass fed beef, very lean. When you order "sea food" anything, unless it says specifically what it is, it is likely to have squid and/or octopus in it. That did not bother me at all. I had three servings of their wonderful squid stew for lunch as we left Marseilles. The last night I ordered the risotto with cuttlefish (squid family) ink. It was the most interesting shade of blue/gray and it was delicious. As an alternative to the Italian specialties, pasta with meat sauce, turkey/chicken or salmon is available every night. Most nights the menu highlighted a region of Italy and its style of Italian food. I am not a sweet eater but the wife and son were very pleased with the impressive deserts that were served. The breakfast and the lunch buffets had an interesting variety and for breakfast they served these tasty little link sausages that had a rich wonderful flavor. For lunch, many of the salads with inside and outside buffets were unique and delicious. Some of the vegetables served with the salads, like cauliflower and brussel sprouts, were lightly blanched for the perfect texture. (As the chef on another ship told me; "you go to the US for beef, Europe for the vegetables".) The buffet plates were very large saving trips back. The coffee was particularly good and was served with hot milk if desired. The yogurt I had on the ship and in Rome was particularly rich and creamy compared to US brands. The outside buffet had burgers, hotdogs and pork chops on one side and pizza on the other. Getting pizza was a challenge because the one oven had trouble keeping up with demand. They had several very beautiful late night buffets but with our late seating we were still too full to enjoy them. Unlike US based cruises, I never saw anyone at an adjacent table order more than one main course. The Europeans: One of the reasons we took MSC was because we wanted a real European experience. Of the 1500+ on the ship, 150 spoke English as a primary language. The good news is most Europeans speak some English. I speak some Spanish and that was very helpful in Spain and understanding some Italian. We made Italian, English, German and Spanish friends on the ship. There were many French on the ship but I discovered that the French in Europe are like OU fans in the big 12 conference. It is not just University of Texas fans they don't get along with, it's everybody else. Maybe this analogy is a tad harsh (comparing the French to OU fans) but they just were not as gregarious as the Italians and the Spaniards. Who ever says Americans are loud has never been in a room with several hundred Italians during a meal. We only had one incidence where someone tried to push us aside in line and that was a teenager. One stern look and he was back in line. As a whole, the other passengers were very friendly, courteous and fun to be with. It was entertaining watching them go swimming when it is 50º and windy outside. It was a blast arguing the merits of American verses English football on the tour bus. (They said our ball was the wrong shape. I complained that in soccer, you don't get to hit anyone.) I enjoyed a hot pepper eating competition with some Spaniards at an adjacent table during dinner (Texas 1, Spain 0). I also have new best friend who is a retired policeman from Naples named Tony (of course). 17year olds and under are free. This saved us about $500-$800 over other cruise lines. There were no more children on our cruise than most others (the Windsurf had a no kids policy). Not only were most of the children reasonably well behaved and unobtrusive, they were quite a joy to be around. The ship has a "kids club" for the younger ones and a multi lingual director that appeared to be very attentive. There was a wide variety of young people for our son to hang out with in the hot tubs during the day and the disco on deck 12 after dinner. The young ladies appeared to outnumber the guys which didn't bother my son too much. Alcohol was only available to those 18 and over to the surprise of the German teens who said they could buy it at home legally at 16. The stops and tours: we took tours at all of the stops except Genoa. When you get off the ship in Genoa, ask for a walking map from the tourism desk. Everything of interest is within easy walking distance. We skipped the famous aquarium and enjoyed the wide variety of shopping available just back from the waterfront. I had a couple of wonderful Italian coffees, fried sardines, a pear shaped fried rice ball with peas inside, and cold beer. My wife had a large slice of pizza that she enjoyed. mmmmm Genoa is a much more relaxed city than Rome. What was also cool was watching the crew back the cruise ship through the harbor to the dock. We loved Genoa. Our next stop was Marseilles. Our first tour was quickly organized and loaded on the bus with no problems (as was the case with all of our excursions). We shared the bus with Italians and had an English and Italian tour guide. We took the city tour but with almost everything closed (it was Sunday), there was less to see aside from the major sites such as the cathedral on the hill and the water memorial. Even though this was my Grandmother's favorite city in France, it was an interesting but least favorite stop. In Valencia, our bus first went to the caves, a 45 minute drive North West of town. The country side was beautiful, looking like a mix between southern California and Northern New Mexico. They packed us a sack lunch and we ate at an open cafe near the cave entrance. The cafe sold ¾ liter of San Miguel beer for 2.8 euros, very tasty. The cave tour was interesting but the city of Valencia was breathtaking. Not only was the city the most impressive combination of old and modern architecture I have ever seen, it was also one of the cleanest. Rosa was our tour guide. Her English was easy to understand and she was very knowledgeable and hospitable. We loved our stop in Valencia. Tangier Morocco was our next stop. As an American, I was a little worried about visiting a Muslim country. We thought taking a tour would be the safest bet. We were also late because the ship was traveling into a 20+ knot wind with 7-12 foot seas. Despite the weather, the ship was comfortable. As we passed Gibraltar, I was privileged to listen to a first hand account of being stationed there during WWII by former British seaman. The ship was close enough to see the rock very well and to take good pictures. Our tour guide in Tangier Usef spoke excellent English, was very pro American and also an unapologetic advocate of everything Moroccan. The first stop was a Moroccan show where local tea and cookies (quite tasty by the way) were served. Next was a visit to the Hercules' cave, then the Sultan's palace and Kasbah. We were given the option to skip the palace to head strait to shopping. Usef works with two other men and they kept a close eye on us. We felt very secure. Walking the back streets of Tangier at night reminded me of an Indiana Jones movie. The guides knew just what shop had what we were looking for. The peddlers in the streets are some of the most persistent I have seen but not unmanageable. This was the one stop that just about any currency was welcome and haggling was expected. We enjoyed Tangier because our guide was really good. Our final stop was in Malaga. Our tour bus had a guide named Fernando that spoke English and German. Malaga was a beautiful city too with an 11th century castle that overlooked the town. We toured the castle and then went down to the city center to see where Pablo Picasso was born and the location of the Picasso museum. We had a detailed tour of the cathedral that Queen Isabella (of Christopher Columbus fame) commissioned. After the tour, the guide cut us loose for an hour of shopping on the West side of the cathedral. I found a nice place called El Jardis del Obispo at the rear left of the little square. I sat just outside enjoying tapas (anchovies, red pepper, and spicy meat balls) and a couple of cold San Miguels while listening to a young man play Danza De La Vida Breve, Capricho Arabe, and Asturias on his guitar. I could really learn to love Spain and our visit to Malaga was wonderful. So much for the details, here are some random notes I made about the trip. The ship's passengers were comprised of mostly working class Europeans. Shuttle busses were available at stops for much less money than the tours. Most went to the city centers. At the 50's style "Grease" function we determined that Europe has given mankind beautiful things like opera, architecture, and language. Americans have given the world the Village People. Most of the music played on the ship is American. After a couple of days, I began to understand Italian TV. The cocktail waitresses are not as aggressive as other cruises. They are attentive but don't pester you 10 minutes asking if you want another drink. Go early to the complementary cocktail party in the Lirica lounge. They have photographers that the entrance and the lines get lengthy and move slowly. Room service is not complementary. You get a daily news letter for the following day while you are away for dinner. Read it. The ship keeps announcements to a minimum because an announcement in 5 languages can take some time. Some the announcements in "English" were very difficult to understand. Food is not available 24 hours. When it is time to close the buffet, it closes. Read the news letter. Time is in military time i.e. 22:00 for 10:00 PM. Before we left the US, the Euro lost 24% of its value against the dollar, which saved us quite a bit of money. No drinks come with dinner. Bottled water is 2.75 euros. A little irritating at first but we got used to it. We purchased soda coupons which could be used for the water. The deck chairs have a neat adjustable face shield. The Cruise Director and the Excursion Director could go from Italian to German to French to Spanish to English with seemingly little effort. Not only did the Cruise Director speak English well, he would go from a British to an American accent and back again during a sentence. It was amazing to witness. The after dinner show theme repeats after 3 or 4 nights because passengers are constantly getting on and off. Excursions are available in advance on the web site. Some excursions were canceled because there were not enough passengers were booked. Some excursions are multi lingual. Some are not available until you get on the ship. As we were passing Gibraltar, the best place to see the waves break on the bow was the gym on deck 11. I and others were asked to leave (very politely) because we were not in work out attire and not working out. I was a little miffed but understood the policy respects those using the gym for its intended purpose. The end of October was an excellent time to travel to southern Europe. It was not too warm and it was only too cool for us to enjoy the pool. Our hotel in Rome had air conditioning but was prohibited by law from turning it on in October. 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: October 2005
A friend and I booked this seven day cruise after examining many itineraries, prices and reviews. Since the reviews for MSC seemed mixed, I was particularly interested in how it would stack up with previous cruises. This was my 16th ... Read More
A friend and I booked this seven day cruise after examining many itineraries, prices and reviews. Since the reviews for MSC seemed mixed, I was particularly interested in how it would stack up with previous cruises. This was my 16th cruise, three of which have been in Europe. I typically cruise on either Royal Caribbean or Celebrity, but have also been on Princess, Norwegian and a couple of other lines no longer in existence. My traveling companion has sailed three times on Norwegian. We are retired educators who especially enjoyed the opportunity to take an October trip to the Mediterranean - no crowds and no hot weather! Embarkation -- This was as smooth as any I have encountered. Because MSC in the Mediterranean boards people at each stop (with the exception of Tunis on this cruise), there are no crowds getting on or off. We simply dropped off the bags, walked in the port building, handed our paperwork to a smiling worker and were on the ship in a matter of minutes. On board we were greeted by a cheerful cabin attendant who walked us to our cabin, introduced herself as Giri from Bali, and after showing us how things worked in the cabin, offered to do anything she could to make us comfortable. We requested a few extra towels and skirt hangers, and these were all produced efficiently. A nice touch in the cabin was a bowl of fresh fruit. Because we ate fruit in the dining room on a regular basis, we never touched the fruit bowl. Later in the week Giri asked me if there was something wrong with the fruit in the bowl. I explained that we were getting our fill elsewhere, but she seemed so crestfallen that we had ignored her fruit bowl that I told her we might take some with us when we left the ship. She then brought an entirely fresh bowl. This was typical of her efforts to please and typical of our experience on this ship. All in all, an excellent start to the week! Our accommodation was an outside cabin on deck 10, one deck below the pool and buffet deck. We paid for an outside guaranty at the same rate we would have paid for the lowest priced outside cabin with obstructed views from lifeboats, so the upgrade was much appreciated. All of the cabins with the exception of those with balconies are the same, but having a better view helped. We were also well located just steps from one of the elevator banks and the stairs, which I try to use all of the time to walk off some of the calories. The cabin was on the small side, but nicely decorated and well designed. Storage was more than adequate for a week's cruise. Beds were comfortable and we both slept very well all week. I wondered if there would be noise from the deck above, (we were under the outside buffet area) but we never noticed any sound at all. Giri and her assistant, Joseph (from Madagascar), kept the cabin in perfect order. One of the chief differences between this ship and those on which we have previously sailed was readily apparent when we went up to the buffet for lunch. We are accustomed to a nice welcome buffet lunch with lots of choices. Here, the regular lunch buffet had ended and what was available was some sandwiches and several varieties of pizza. Several people have praised MSC pizza, but I think those individuals are not accustomed to really good pizza. It was fine, but certainly just adequate as far as pizza goes. We had a boat drill for those who had just boarded and the cruise director handled all the welcome information at this event. After dinner the first night the entertainment consisted of a ventriloquist who worked in five languages -- English, Italian, French, Spanish, and German. This was quite a feat and we enjoyed his performance. The late seating show, which set the pattern for the week, was always after dinner. On this ship the show was at 11:15 p.m. in the theater. The other embarkation surprise was the wrong assignment for dinner. Our agent had requested late seating back in the summer when we booked. The card in our cabin indicated early seating. This necessitated waiting on line to speak with the Maitre D' to straighten out the seating. The line was long, because a large group of 90 people had been assigned tables which didn't match their requests (the explanation that the Miami Office had not given him the actual requests and just told him to block off 90 seats for the early seating seemed to ring true, but reinforced my impression that communication between Miami and Italy wasn't great.) On the plus side I met several lovely people on the line, one a French woman traveling with her 92 year old mother who had been assigned early seating. She tried it for one night, hated eating at 6:30 p.m. and came down to change to late seating. She said to me, "imagine French people eating dinner at 6:30!" Another person I met was a woman from Seattle whose immediate family had been assigned to miscellaneous tables! We also met some folks from California who were switching, as we were, from early to late (which turned out to be no problem at all as the early seating was overbooked.) Much to our pleasure, they turned out to be our tablemates for the week and we enjoyed their company. The Cruise -- We chose this cruise principally for the wonderful itinerary. After Rome, the Lirica stopped in Sicily, docking in Messina. This was a rather brief visit and so we opted for a ship's tour to Taormina. It was a very good tour. Our bus had English and Italian speakers and the guide did an excellent job of switching between languages and imparting information continuously from the time we boarded the bus until we completed the walking tour of town, which included a visit to the Greco-Roman theater. Although it was somewhat cloudy, we were able to see the top of Mt. Etna from Taormina, much to everyone's delight. Taormina was delightful -- scenic and filled with charming shops. Best of all were the pastry and confectionery shops, filled with marzipan creations, cannolis with pistachio, and other local delights. Our guide urged us to have a granita before we returned to the bus, and sitting in the square doing just that we all agreed that this was a very good cruise stop. The next day (no sea days on this cruise, just a fabulous port each and every day!) we were in Tunis. Once again, due to the time constraints, we opted for a ship's tour, this time of Carthage with a shopping stop at Sidi Bou Said, a charming little town with a souk (shopping bazaar). I was glad we went to Carthage, which is interesting principally because of the vistas and the museum housing some of the finds from excavations (the rest is in the Bardo Museum, which is quite excellent according to reports, but with only six hours we had to opt for one tour or the other). Sidi Bou Said is very attractive and the tours all encourage a visit to a house in town where you can see what life was like for the well-to-do. Beautiful tiles, artistic doorways, and lovely furnishings make this house visit worthwhile. We enjoyed seeing it. Less enjoyable was the souk, where very aggressive young male vendors ranged from slightly amusing to obnoxious. I was glad I hadn't chosen to go to the big souk in Tunis. The hour or so allotted to shopping was more than enough, and gave me a headache. When shopping (usually my favorite pursuit after eating) gives me a headache, I know something is wrong! Our second evening on board was similar to our first, and this didn't vary all week. We had some time after returning to the ship to hang out on the pool deck, then occupy ourselves in the gym, the spa, the casino, or in my case the internet computer area, dress for dinner, cocktails in the lounge with the piano guy (unfortunately he started at 8:30) and dinner at 9:00 followed by the show. Our third day was the strangest. We were scheduled to dock at Palma de Mallorca at 2:00 p.m. and remain there until 1:00 a.m. to accommodate the large numbers of people who book Flamenco shows on the island. Just before lunch, they made an announcement (in five languages as always) that there was a strike in Barcelona (Spanish fishermen unhappy with the price of fuel had blocked the harbor)and that we would have to leave Mallorca early in order to sail to a mystery destination (to be announced). This made our visit to Mallorca very short. Fortunately I understood the announcement, but many people were confused and I spent a lot of time at lunch explaining what was going on. The ship folks made it sound as though this was an unexpected development. In fact, the strike was already in its second day and had been forecast for at least a week (we learned all this during the day talking with Mallorcans and others who had been following the story). The poor people who had embarked in Barcelona had to figure out how to get home with lots of last-minute scrambling and the even worse-off people scheduled to embark in Barcelona ended up with an 7-hour bus ride which brought them to the ship (docked in Marseille)at 1 a.m. Our exhausted cabin attendant had to be up to escort them to their cabins, where they were so exhausted they didn't even eat dinner (although some sandwiches were offered). MSC should have been able to do this better. As for us, we have both been to Barcelona before, would have enjoyed spending the day there, but were perfectly happy to have two days instead of one in France. We spent the shortened day in Palma by taking the public bus (outside the dock) to the Gothic section, walking to the Cathedral to see the Gaudi altarpiece and other lovely features, and then taking a city tour with earphones in seven languages. As it turned out the city tour took us right back to the ship, so if we had been clever we could have picked it up right at the dock. (It was possible to get off at each stop and board a later bus so we could have used it to see the Cathedral.) Palma is a lovely city and we enjoyed seeing it. The show on board that night was Flamenco, so we got to see some excellent dancing and listen to some Spanish songs after all. The mystery destination turned out to be Marseilles, where we did an overnight. Some people took advantage of that and took the train to Paris or over to the Monte Carlo/Nice/Cannes part of the coast. We took the train to Aix-en-Provence one day and stayed put in Marseilles the other. Aix-en-Provence has long been on my list of places to visit and we really enjoyed it there. We found lots of wonderful shopping, charming cafes, and beautiful little streets with interesting architecture. It was an easy day trip to do on our own. We simply took the shuttle bus to town (for seven euros round trip), walked to the train station and got a train to Aix. The station is only a few blocks from the center of town and the old town, where we spent most of our day is close by, all easy walking distance. The next day we planned to go to Avignon, but after a late start we decided to explore Marseilles. This was a pleasant surprise. The area around the vieux port (a long ride by shuttle bus from where we were docked)was charming and attractive. We opted for two city "small train" tours, one that took us up to Notre Dame de la Garde overlooking the city, and the other that went through the ancient part of town. Both were interesting, but the trip up to the top was great. We saw parts of Marseilles that were much nicer than we expected, enjoyed our visit to the Basilica and loved the outstanding views from the hilltop. After our tours we lunched at the port at a great restaurant near the City Hall that featured dozens of large salads. We opted to share a salad filled with artichoke, mushrooms, and many other delicious salad fixings and a fried seafood salad that included scrumptious fried calamari and shrimp and a bunch of other sea creatures -- it's probably best not to know what! We selected this restaurant after perusing dozens of menus. Best of all, after the delicious salads I ordered chocolate cake (by this point in the week I was dying for chocolate cake!) and much to my surprise, it turned out to be a molten chocolate cake -- the dessert highlight of the week. Our evenings in Marseilles followed the usual formula and the shows were both of the musical variety with plenty of costume changes, dancing and singing. Our last port was Genoa and although I had intended to go to Portofino, we ended up deciding to spend a shortened day out so that we would have some time to relax on our last day on the ship. This was a good decision (we'll go to Portofino and the Cinque Terre on another trip -- there's always another trip!). Genoa was also full of surprises. A tourist office representative in the port building as we exited gave us a route to follow. We took the ship's shuttle bus to the main square and then easily found the street filled with palazzos and museums recommended by the tourism person. It was Saturday morning, and much to our surprise the street was filled with wedding parties coming out of either the municipal building or the palazzo-museums. Five brides later, we went into the palazzos and enjoyed the architecture and the art work. Then we went over to an elevator which took us up the hillside to a lovely neighborhood with phenomenal views of the town and the port. It was an easy and pleasant day, which gave me a much better opinion of Genoa. Our last show was something different -- a singer who performed operatic arias with piano accompaniment. I really enjoyed this show, but judging by the audience, many people didn't like it and left early. Perhaps they had just boarded in Genoa and were exhausted by their travels to the ship. By the last evening on board, much of the group we had sailed with had debarked (some in Marseilles and some in Genoa). This, for me, highlights the downside of daily comings and goings. I missed all the familiar faces and greetings of my new-found friends. By the last night, I felt as though I had joined someone else's cruise. It was a weird sensation, and unique to this itinerary and cruise line system. By the next morning, though, the advantage of this arrangement was clear. Only those who had gotten on in Civitavecchia the week before were debarking. We had a leisurely breakfast and got off the ship at 10 a.m. to meet Marco for our trip back to the airport. No problems at all finding our luggage... there weren't that many bags to begin with and most of our fellow Americans had taken buses to the airport for earlier flights. Dining -- There are two dining rooms on this ship and we were assigned to the larger one called La Bussola. We had an excellent banquette table and wonderful service from our waiter, Salvatore and his assistant, Suprapta. As is true for most of the dining room, Salvatore comes from Napoli and Suprapta from Indonesia. These two went out of their way to give us a excellent dining experience and encouraged us to sit with them for breakfast and lunch, too! Perhaps the funniest moment my dining companions and I had in the dining room was the night I asked Salvatore if there was any mint jelly for the lamb. He literally ran off and came racing back after so many minutes we had begun to wonder if he was swimming ashore to get some, with the mint jelly in hand. Triumphant at his find, he explained that he had gone entirely around the dining room checking wait stations to locate the jar! If dining is the most important part of your cruise experience, this ship is probably not for you. The food is fine, often good, rarely excellent. Breakfast featured the same menu every day -- eggs, bacon, ham, porridge, fresh fruit, breads, smoked salmon, and probably a few other items I have forgotten. My traveling companion complained that it lacked eggs benedict, pancakes, waffles and the like. To sum up my experience, one morning I asked for an omelette with onions and smoked salmon (i.e. lox, onion and eggs). To my surprise, I got an omelette (just eggs), smoked salmon on the side along with raw onions! Clearly the waiter or the chef hadn't understood what I was requesting. On other hand, the eggs were fine, the bacon varied (some days it was crisp, some days burned -- we always asked for crisp). White toast was the norm. Getting some other kind of toast took fortitude. Bagels were non-existent (this wasn't a problem since we were, after all, on an Italian ship. I'm just mentioning it so no one will be disappointed. Salvatore assured me that when the ship is in the Caribbean they do have bagels). Juice was not fresh squeezed, but you could always get good fresh fruit with breakfast. I did sample the buffet one morning and found exactly the same items upstairs that were available in the dining room... perfectly fine but rather boring. Lunch was available at the buffet and in the dining room. We opted for the dining room for most of the trip. The lunch menu was plentiful with many choices including some egg dishes we are accustomed to seeing on the breakfast menu (omelettes, frittatas, egg with spinach and sauce, and the like). Also always available at lunch were burgers and at least one specialty sandwich (e.g. club sandwich, roast beef sandwich, etc.) The lunch menu had appetizers, soups, salads, main courses and dessert, so it was perfectly possible to eat way too much for lunch, and I did, every day! Among the entrees I enjoyed were lasagna, spaghetti carbonara, calamari, and stuffed vegetables. Dinner also features appetizers, soups, salads, a primo of pasta or risotto, a secondi (entree) with five choices, and dessert. The appetizers varied (some I had never heard of, but most were fine.) The soups were forgettable (which for me was good because I always order soup on Royal Caribbean and Celebrity -- their creamed and cold soups are so good that I fill up and have difficulty finishing my dinner every night!). On the other hand,on this ship I skipped soup and ate the appetizer, salad, pasta or risotto and main course (not to mention the bread sticks the guys remembered to bring every night) and was totally stuffed by dessert time. The salads were fresh and good every night and they had all the usual dressings. The best part of the evening meal was the pasta or risotto. Among those we ate and enjoyed were Spaghetti with Clams and Tomatoes, Gnocchi with mushrooms, Fusilli alla "Norma," and Porcini Mushroom Risotto. Main courses I ate included Lamb Cutlets, Beef Braised in Barolo Wine with Polenta, Honey Ginger Glazed Duck, Vegetarian Strudel with Curry Sauce, and Neapolitan Meatballs. They always had salmon filet, steak and chicken available, and I did have the salmon one night in lieu of the menu entrees. The salmon was excellent. My traveling companion had the fish almost every night and we both thought that was probably the most consistently good entree. Neither the beef nor the lamb is not up to our usual standards. The lamb I ate was okay, but couldn't compare to the delicious lamb we ate in Rome or was as tender as the lamb we eat at home. A cheese course was always on the menu for lunch and for dinner. It was good, but not wonderful. For those who live for dessert, and especially chocolate desserts, be forewarned. This is not the ship for fabulous pastry selections. Each dinner concluded with a pastry offering (usually some kind of cake that wasn't chocolate, ice cream or sorbet or fresh fruit). They did the usual baked Alaska routine one night and served Tiramisu another night, but any single night on Celebrity the dessert selections would top the entire week's worth on MSC. Twice they teased me with profiteroles, only to for me to discover one night that they were lemon and another time low-fat strawberry. Chocolate seemed to be in short supply! As for midnight buffets, there were a few including what they billed as the Grand Buffet, served on the pool deck. None of the buffets could hold a candle to what we are accustomed to, but who really cares about those buffets these days? Most of the food probably gets wasted, and everyone is full from dinner, so for me that isn't a big loss. They do serve "midnight snacks" on this ship on the non-buffet nights. These were easy to pass up. The other point which should be noted is that at least in the Mediterranean, room service is only available for free during meal hours and there is a limited menu. In between, room service is available, but they charge based on what you order. This is another area that doesn't concern me... I always eat plenty at meal times and don't need any extra food, but for those accustomed to ordering in, this is a difference. The Ship -- I really like this ship for many reasons. It is a fairly new and well designed ship. Everything looks good, although not as fancy and not nearly as much art work as on some other ships on which I have sailed. The ship is very clean and well kept. Public rooms are especially pleasant. Shopping is very limited. There is a store which sells some clothing and the usual ship logo items, a jewelry store, a liquor store, and sundries. Be forewarned that on Italian ships in the Mediterranean drugstore items like aspirin, cough medicine, and Immodium are not for sale. This is illegal apparently and you have to get anything medicinal from the ship's doctor or on shore at pharmacies. The Casino was disappointing. It's small and doesn't have much variety in slot machines, which usually keep me busy. In lieu of the casino, I hit the internet computer area every night for my fix of U.S. news (the televisions in the cabins show a BBC channel, which rarely had much U.S. news (as might be expected). There weren't any Times Faxes or news sheets distributed on the ship either. The internet did the trick, albeit at a very inflated price. They charge around three euros to start and then approximately a third of a euro for each minute. Because the servers are slow, the minutes quickly add up. All in all, I spent less than I would have had I been in the Casino, and I did keep in touch with my husband and son much more than usual, so I guess it was a plus. The gym was small and didn't have my favorite machine -- elliptical trainers. Also, several young boys were in there using the equipment, which I found annoying. I didn't feel like asking them if they were over 16, but I thought they looked about 13-15. (It never occurred to us that this would be a school vacation week, but in Europe it was half-term in at least some of the countries and there were French, German and English children on board.) Next to the gym is a great room called the relaxation room. There it is very quiet and there's a terrific view of the sea. I did try the spa one day for their combination facial and Balinese massage hour. I wanted to see how the Balinese massage differed from Swedish massage (I was told it's actually a combination of Swedish, shiatsu, and the more vigorous Thai-type massage.) At any rate it was delightful, as was the facial, and both were administered by a lovely young Balinese woman who kept me entertained the entire time with her funny and informative chit-chat. (Although I often like to totally relax and not talk during spa treatments, on ships I often find this hour to be one of the most informative in learning about life on the ship for the staff and crew. As a result, I encourage the chat, which is purely optional for those who prefer silence.) One negative is the deck chairs on the pool deck. These are Italian I guess and not very comfortable if you want to read. (Sitting up sufficiently is the problem.) There was never a problem finding chairs and they were colorful and comfortable for sleeping, just not for reading. Even the lounges in the relaxation room suffer from this fault. They're great for a snooze, but terrible for reading since you can't sit up at all on those. Ambience -- As I hope you can tell, with minor quibbles I liked this cruise very much. The itinerary was wonderful (even with the port change), but most wonderful of all were the people. Cruising on an Italian ship in the Mediterranean gives you a chance to meet people from many different countries. I enjoyed chatting (although my language skills are atrocious) with Sicilians, French people, folks from Toledo, Spain, English cruisers, and other Americans. These people seemed to be from a wide variety of backgrounds and proved to be a very pleasant crowd with which to spend a week (or at least part of a week). I liked them a lot. I also liked the crew very much. Giri was wonderful. Joseph's English was limited, but he was great. Salvatore was really funny and most obliging and Suprapta was delightful. As is always the case, good staff in the dining room and the cabin are critical to enjoying the cruise. These folks didn't ever let us down. As for other staff, they were fine. Bar staff were efficient and pleasant (they don't walk around pushing drinks on this ship, which I find also a plus. There wasn't any bar service at all in the theater, which is really surprising.) Front Desk folks were helpful on the few occasions when we needed them to do something. The excursion staff seemed equally proficient. We only went on two ships excursions, and although they don't have many to choose from, the ones we tried were very good and reasonably priced. Entertainment and activities on this ship are fairly limited. During the day, when most people are off the ship in port, the organized activities are limited to pool games and contests run by the Entertainment Team. Bingo is good for a laugh, but not much else. Every number and every direction is given in all five languages (one day they added Japanese so it was six). There was no board on which you could see the numbers, so I'm sure I missed some since they gave the number in English only once and there was no way to check. The entertainment staff was young and fun and very sweet. One day I had a long chat with one of the guys from Sicily. He was walking around the deck and stopped to make a comment. When he realized I spoke English, he plopped himself down and gave himself a one-hour English lesson, which we both enjoyed. Music is performed around the ship at various times and there is dancing and some evening partying, but for the most part the pace is slow and never frenetic. I had low expectations for the evening shows, and was pleasantly surprised. While not first-rate, they were definitely better than I expected. I should say a word about the Cruise Director who was British, and whose name I cannot find (apologies!) He was good. It's not easy to handle every piece of information in five languages, and he did it with ease. He had about the right level of enthusiasm (plenty!) without being obnoxiously enthusiastic (which as we all know can happen with Cruise Directors!). I would definitely go on the Lirica again in the Mediterranean. In the Caribbean, the price would have to be right since many other ships are doing the same itinerary and have better food (which is very important to me as you might have guessed!) Perhaps the food is better on this ship in the Caribbean. If I find a good price, I'll report back. It would be interesting, actually, to compare the Mediterranean and the Caribbean operations. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2005
The MSC Lirica glides through the sea as though her gleaming inside surfaces were guiding the ship. Sparkling, shining, sophisticated, modern all describe this beautiful ship. Interior public rooms have carpeting and upholstery in ... Read More
The MSC Lirica glides through the sea as though her gleaming inside surfaces were guiding the ship. Sparkling, shining, sophisticated, modern all describe this beautiful ship. Interior public rooms have carpeting and upholstery in beautiful and subtle shades of blue and green, each area blending into the next. Modern sculpture, large mirrored surfaces, marble, glass and steel all come together to reflect light. Dining room facilities are top of the line. Menus vary with plenty of choice both at lunch and dinner, both in the cafeteria self-serve areas on the upper decks and in the formal dining rooms. The entertainment was also first rate and able to be enjoyed by people who spoke German, Italian, English, Japanese, French and probably a few other International languages as well. Stateroom linens, sheets and towels, were definitely five star class, as was the care and attention of stateroom attendants. I wish the shore excursions could have been longer. Read Less
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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