The MSC Lirica was a most pleasant surprise. We booked what is called a "suite", which is really a larger, veranda cabin with a sitting area.(category 11) The cabin is approx. 301 sq. ft. and is very well designed with excellent closet space, a wonderful bathroom with a full tub, a nice but smallish sitting area, a very comfortable queen sized bed, and a decent verandah. The original art works in each suite are quite outstanding, and the service by our stewards was simply the best!
The ship itself is stylishly decorated, with an abundance of excellent public space, a great pool deck, and friendly staff (with the exception of the front desk gals, who seemed too cool and aloof.
There are several dining options including two main dining rooms, a very well designed, and pleasant buffet restaurant, two outside grills, and many interesting bars and lounges. The food was also a very nice surprise. In the two formal dining rooms, all meals were excellent, and the waiter service by a main waiter with an assistant waiter too, was top drawer. In fact, after many, many cruises, this was almost the best servicewe've experienced including Crystal and Silverseas. The wine list was quite decent and very fairly priced. The buffet restaurant food was a shade above OK, but with lots of variety. The pizza grill had an excellent variety, and seemed to be almost always available. The hamburger, frank, chicken grill with all the fixings was also quite good, as was the ice cream bar in the afternoons.
Lounges were all great with nice design, excellent art work and friendly service. Drink prices were also quite reasonable, and unlike many other cruise lines, the staff was not constantly pushing drink specials, etc. Service was laid-back, professional and very friendly.
The ship has a wonderful show room, but we found the shows universally not too great. The different bands, groups, soloists in the various lounges, however, were all really good, and the music on board was a definite highlight.
There were very few of those annoying PA announcements, which is a blessing, though the day time entertainment by the pool was usually much to loud, with a lot of screaming into the mike by the staff. The ship is large enough, however, to get a way from that. We also felt that the photographers were a bit too pushy, but that has now become the case on most ships.
Deck space was great, with many, many excellent places to read, sun, sip, etc. with very few other folks to disturb your privacy. There was never a shortage of comfortable lounge chairs, with built-in sun shades as well.
Considering the price, which is extremely reasonable, the MSC Lirica is a great ship, and a wonderful cruise experience.
It was an experience that will never happen again. The ship is very nice, the cabin in cat. 11 was very nice. Unfortunately thst is where the niceness ends. The Italian theme did not exist. The pasta was never served hot. The waiter, not Italian who came from Croatia could not explain anything about the menu. The food was of the cheapest quality amd very limited in selection. Even the so called lobster , was not the lobster as we know it. It was a Cray Fish split in half.
The library consisted of well worn paper backs. Cards for the card room had to be signed out at the Reception Desk and if not returned a chare of nine dollars would be put on your account.
The room service menue listed one sandwich and a cheese and cracker selection.
The casino had NO SOUNDS of the slots. When questioned the Cruise Director indicated that the MSC wanted a "Silent Ship". Activities weree never announced . In the buffet passengers were allowed to touch and take food on their own. Very unsanitary to say the least.
This cruise was an experience I wouldnever want to try again.
This was the fifth cruise in two years for my husband and myself. The other four with Princess. We loved this cruise very much and will probably return this summer for the Mediterranean cruise. The best entertainment team I've seen so far thank you to all 11 of them, they made this cruise a great experience. The ship is beautiful, the cabin was very confortable (outside cabin) and always very clean. The shows every nights were different and also very entertaining. But the entertainment team will keep you going with great activities during the day and hilarious entertainment at night not to be miss.
If you are found of fitness you must not miss Mr. Ty because he is simply the best: very professional, entertaining and different options of exercise (stretching, steps, aerobics, kick-boxing etc...). The pasta is always al dente at the buffet and the dinning room. The free ice-cream is a very nice touch especially when they were serving the real Italien ice cream not to be missed. The pool is ocean water and you could really swim in it and participate in many different games. The entertainment team allspeak different languages from italian, french, spanish, german, english, deutsh they are simply amasing. Thank you again to Valerio, Mr. Ty, Marco, Enzo, Miro, Peter, G.P., Sara, Valentina, Manuela, Elena for such a great cruise. If you are an active person and like to have fun I would recommand you this cruise. This was an international cruise and was a great experience. We are ready to cruise again on the Lirica.
Wow, what a great trip. Everything was wonderful. Very comparable to HAL, Celebrity, RCCL & Princess. Cabin stewards among the best. I can remember every single dinner. What fantastic food! The appetizers, soups & main courses were gourmet. Because they have no "gourmet room" that charges like Holland America, Princess & Royal Caribbean have, I think the food on MSC in the dining room is better!!! The fish and meat dishes were A+ at every dinner!
And the ports were simply the best - What a fantastic time: Went on a memorable Rainforest "Arial Tram Tour" while in Costa Rica (saw a wild parrot); Went ashore and visited up close the Panama Canal locks; Took a taxi into Colon, Panama; Visited the unique and never to be forgotten San Blas Indians; Toured the old town in Cartagena, Columbia and scaled Dunn River Falls in beautiful Ocho Rios, Jamaica. All quite memorable.
Only small negative were the fellow cruisers who kept saying "This isn't as good as..HAL, RCCL, Princess, etc." I highly recommend the MSC Lirica.
Embarcation was fast and efficient,luggage delivered within 3 hrs.Cabin was adequate, twin beds/window.Lots of cubby holes,plenty of storage space.Nice touch was fresh pitchers of ice water all day.
Lirica is beautiful,lots of marble,brass and mirrors.Although booked solid,elevators and public toilets uncrowded. Terrific seating in theater,always a seat to be had.Great Las Vegas type shows with beautiful girls and costumes almost every night. Service and food very good.Great pancakes,pasta and gelato.
Live music all over the ship with a fun group of youngsters leading the way. We saw great operas,had fun and games,4 cocktail parties. Great cruise,best of 7 we've taken.
WARNING!! Please read carefully before you book!
Day One: Embarkation - Boarded ship at approximately 2 PM. At the embarkation picture area we requested that our picture be taken with our friends. We were told "No" even though we saw embarkation pictures with 3 - 5 guests in the photo library. We were also told we could not use our personal camera either to record the event with our friends. We were later told by the photography crew that our embarkation pictures were lost along with about 25 others due to a camera malfunction. Upon arrival in our cabin #12031 we noticed that both 110V electrical outlets at the dressing area did not have plates on them and the wires were dangerously exposed. In addition, the door covering the mini-bar was falling off. We noted these deficiencies to our Cabin Stewart, Alex Noel. He assured us that these items would be seen too and corrected shortly. Upon disembarking the ship the items still had not been attended to. We also noticed that although our friends in the adjoining cabin had been given robes, however, we did not receive any in ourcabin. Upon questioning Alex, he made us feel that we may have misplaced or taken the robes.
When he did bring us two, they were shrunken, frayed, and too small for even a child to wear. The air conditioning system in the room consistently failed to bring the temperature down to an acceptable level. We brought these issues to the attention of Alex, once again to no avail. It operated in the same condition upon our disembarkation. We finally left port in Fort Lauderdale about 2 1/5 hours late. We were informed by a placard in our cabin that we were assigned to table #75 in the L'Campo dining room at 1st seating which was advertised in the brochure as 7:00 PM but turned out to be 6:00 PM. Table #75 turned out to be two tables seating two each next to each other. Our other friends we were cruising with had been seated at separate tables. We went to speak with the Maitre'd, Leonardo Moccia regarding this error and were reassigned temporarily to Table #80 at 2nd seating which had now been changed to 8:00 PM from 8:40 PM as the brochure indicated. At dinner that night we were assigned to a waiter by the name of Marcella. Upon sitting down at the table, he "threw" the menus down in front of us, never smiled, failed to introduce himself, and demanded that we make all of our dinner selections including desert on the spot. When the beef entrée arrived it looked like the bottom of an old shoe although we had ordered them rare. He begrudgingly took back the entrées in a huff and replaced them with something that looked somewhat better but now had the consistency of an old shoe with vegetables that looked like they were "Jolly Green Giant" frozen rejects. We could not get tea at dinner, only water which was served in a wine glass without ice. Needless to say dinner was ruined and our appetites quickly disappeared. Our travel agent had requested a seating with the waiter Ciccio, all together. In addition, my wife is allergic to tomatoes and several other vegetables. A special food request was put in by our travel agent, but both requests were not honored by MSC staff.
Day Two: At Sea - We paid a visit to the Maite'd once again to get reassigned to a table with Ciccio so we could all experience our lunches and dinners together. The Maitre'd was outraged at us and others trying the change their seating arrangements. He outwardly made disparaging remarks about Americans and vowed he would never sail with Americans again. He started swearing in Italian (I understand some) and kept up his negative remarks against Americans. His assistant finally changed our tables. However, the food once again proved to be of extremely poor quality although the service had improved. On another note, all beverages such as soft drinks, lemonade, etc. with the exception of water, tea, and coffee needed to be purchased at additional cost. We also found out that lunch is "open seating" and we cannot enjoy it together at an assigned table. This was not the way the cruise brochure depicted it. We were also surprised upon visiting the "Coffee Corner" that we were charged for our coffees as other ships we had sailed on in the past, these were always included. Activities on board were sorely lacking. No bands around the pool, no music, and a lot of dull entertainment. All lounge chairs, tables, etc. were wrapped up and put away by 5:30 PM and the pool/Jacuzzi facilities were then unavailable. The pizza area by the pool was never open during the duration of the cruise. We also realized at this time that the ship was not taking the navigation itinerary as shown in the brochure. The ship rather than going around Cuba to the West took the Windward Passage to the east. We especially booked our cabins on the port side to take advantage of the passage to the west around Cuba. This did not happen.
Day Three: Montego Bay - We arrived in Montego Bay 1 hour late, however, by the time we made it ashore we were over 2 hours late. We had reserved a car for the 12:00 PM arrival so we could tour on our own. We were told that we would be Tendered to port although the itinerary in the brochure never did not suggest this method of debarkation and there were ample docking facilities available for our ship. A Carnival cruise ship was docked at the port. Reasons for not docking at the port were not given and the crew members asked did not now why. We went out on the first tender, thanks to Betty at Reception, although we were told that excursions would go first. As we arrived at the dock the tender pilot was unable to secure the vessel. We bounced around in the docking area, almost turning over once, as the locals laughed at us as we tried to land. The tender pilot came around time and time again until finally several strong locals tied him up. No disembarkation photos were taken as experienced on other ships. Since we had only a 7 hour time slot in port and 2 ½ hours were now gone, our day in Jamaica was ruined. We only had the time to visit one attraction before we had to reboard the vessel. Although we had to be on board by 7:00 PM, we did not leave port until 9:30 PM since the ship lost several passengers and their travel agent. Apparently they left the ship in Jamaica, refusing to return due to their negative experience on board.
Day Four: At Sea - Once again the food was poor. The food at the buffet was bordering on uneatable. The joke on board was that whatever you didn't eat the night before would appear at the buffet the next day, and it did. Once again, the activities on board were the poorest we have ever experienced, napkin folding, learn to speak Italian, etc. Where was the wine tasting and the art shows we experienced on other cruises? Where were the bands around the pool, the excitement of it, and all the games on deck? Nothing at all on this ship!
Day Five: Cartegena - We disembarked and proceeded on a tour of the city booked through MSC. There were no disembarkation photos taken as we had experienced on other cruises. We were promptly advised by our tour guide that Cartegena is not visited by many cruise ships lately because of the danger to Americans. As a matter of fact we were told that it has become "a very dangerous kidnapping area" and we must stay close to our tour. My wife was terrified upon learning this and did not enjoy her time on shore. She counted the minutes until the tour was over. These security matters were never explained to us in the MSC brochures or accompanying information. Once again the food was very poor and the buffet got worse (if that was possible). All juices are canned, not fresh; everything on the buffet seems very old and recycled.
Day Six: San Blas Islands - Tendered to shore to Provenir Island where the local Kuna Indians sell their "molas". No disembarkation photos once again. On a high point, this was this first location that the ship set out water and juices for passengers. The experience here left a lot to offer. No tour guides from the ship to help us, dumped us off on an island where we were left to fare for ourselves. Food on board is continues to be the worse we have ever experienced on any cruise ship. Juices are canned, vegetables seem frozen and yesterday's food becomes today's salad.
Day Seven: Panama Canal - We are told that we can not set foot on Panamanian soil unless we signed up for an excursion. No mention of this in the brochure. Since we booked an excursion to the Changres River, our ability to set foot on land was guaranteed at this point. However, all others had to pay $32 to go ashore. We were later informed that we also paid the $32 each as it was included in the excursion we took. We were at informed at booking the cruise that all port charges were included. If so, why were we charged an additional $32 each to go ashore? Again, food is absolutely terrible; nothing ever changes from the rolls to the desert. All deserts always come with a putrid green liquid on the plate that doesn't taste like anything.
Day Eight: Puerto Limon - Once again ship is late getting into port. Brochures depict ability to travel inland to capital of San Jose. However, no tours or cabs will travel to San Jose and expect to get back to the ship in time for sailing at 5:00 PM. Trips to San Jose were advertised in the MSC brochure but no one could travel there due to the time constraints. Spend most of our time at the dock purchasing local handicrafts and other trivial items. Food hasn't improved at all. Now we're getting leftovers from three days ago at the buffet and at dinner.
Day Nine: At Sea - Activities at sea once again very limited. This is definitely not a "fun" ship. It seems that MSC has purposely segregated the nationalities on board and the attitude towards Americans is not good. It seems a joke when we wanted to play miniature golf that we had to go down to Deck Six, pay a deposit of $10 to secure a ball and club to play. The hours of operation were so short that it was almost impossible to enjoy a game. Tonight was the "Buffet Magnifique" or the best buffet of the cruise. No ice sculpturing on deck. We were so disappointed having experienced the Grand Buffets on other ships. This buffet was a total "joke". The food at the buffet and the presentation was terrible. The one ice sculpture on display had already melted into a form that was unrecognizable. Food was a little bit better but not at all what we had experienced on other cruise lines.
Day Ten: At Sea - Once again, activities are extremely limited. Food at the buffet has not improved at all. Staff continues to be nasty and not very accommodating. Our cabin steward at this point has made sure he doesn't interface with us, for what reason we do not know. Food in the dining room has become a ritual rather that an expectation of a culinary experience. This experience has set us up to never sail MSC Italian Line again. Everyone agrees that this ship will never make it in the U.S.
Day Eleven: Key West - All 972 Americans on board were compelled to gather at 6;45 AM in the Lirica Lounge to meet Immigration Officials. Arriving at 6:45 AM all available seating was taken. Passengers were pouring outside onto the decks and elevator areas. No refreshments, coffee, etc. were served. Passengers waited until approximately 8:00 AM before the Immigration Official made it on board. Passengers were told that they could board tenders for Key West beginning at 9:00 AM. At 9:00 AM all passengers were informed that the tender could not operate due to the fact that the seas were too rough. Our entire day in Key West was spent aboard the ship anchored off shore. No explanation was ever given as to why we could not dock at Key West. The brochure we relied upon to make our decision to cruise the line never alluded to a tender at Key West. There were two other cruise ships docked at Key West (RCCL) and there was ample room for another ship to dock.
Day Twelve: Fort Lauderdale - Thank GOD this experience was finally over. All of us on board have already come to the conclusion that the MSC Lirica is the "Motel Six" of cruise ships. Nothing could have been worse.
In conclusion, this ship definitely did not live up to our most conservative expectations. Our expectations were based upon the literature that MSC Lines disseminated as well as our previous cruising experience.
Your cruise $$$ can be spent far better on any other ship!
Joseph Lee/Angela Howard - Cabin 12029
Re: MSC Lirica Cruise - 1/26/04 - 2/6/04
We have the following comments regarding the cruise, which, in all kindness, we feel should be passed on to the owner(s) of the cruise line:
As you are may be aware, some of the comments posted on-line from fellow passengers on our cruise and comments posted by passengers on the previous cruise (which unfortunately were not available prior to our departure), identify the MSC Lirica as the "Cruise Ship from Hell," among other labels.
Here are some of the deficiencies specifically identified:
1. Our trip started off by having our photos taken as we entered the gangway. Our request to have the picture of the four of us taken was denied as being "not possible." In trying to find our pictures in the photo gallery, we became aware of the fact that there were pictures of three, four and even five people in one shot. Are there different rules for different photographers? As it is, this issue became irrelevant since the ship lost our pictures along with about 25 other guests' pictures.
2. The cabin was acceptable and quite spacious.However, the refrigerator stopped operating the second day and someone came to look at it approximately 5 days later. By that time it was working marginally and we were advised it was "just defrosting." At the time of the inspection of the refrigerator, the maintenance personnel also checked out the very pronounced indentation in the floor in front of the sliding glass doors. We thought for sure we would end up on the deck below before too long. The electrical outlets for the American products were exposed because some of the covers were missing; there were no outlets in the bathrooms and the doors to the wardrobe did not latch properly and thus the light inside was on most of the time.
3. The robes provided by the ship in our cabin were a nice touch. It would have been really nice to have had the use of them when it really mattered - the evening/morning before debarkation. Since everything was packed except what we were wearing the next day, it would have been nice to put on a robe when we put our luggage out instead of trying to wrap a towel around us.
4. The service at our dinner the first night on board was intolerable and rude. We were served in an abrupt manner and only very grudgingly received water upon request, forget about a soft drink or ice tea. Also, coffee was not offered at any time. We had a recommendation to request Ciccio as our waiter and our request was accommodated, but also very grudgingly. The service we received from Ciccio was superb, proficient and professional. Unfortunately, even very fine service could do nothing to improve the quality or presentation of the food in the dining room.
5. The food at the buffet and grill was marginal, to say the least. The first few days were almost unbearable in that we were served rather large rolls with one thin slice of meat in the middle, very dried out white bread sandwiches with the crusts cut off, marginal salads and very, very dry cakes and desserts. As shown on tours through the galley on other cruise lines, pastries, rolls, breads, etc. are freshly baked. Not on the MSC Lirica - and we can see why there were no tours of the galley given
6. Further to the issue of food and service, we have never been on a cruise where one could not get some kind of snack at any time of day or night. On this cruise, not only were the meal times rather limited, but the buffet, especially, would close 15-20 minutes early. On several occasions, but most pronounced and noticeable to all of us at the outing at the Gatun Yacht Club, was the fact that no food was served on the excursions, and no food was available upon return to the ship. To be fair, there was plenty of fresh fruit and ice cream, and, wonders never cease, free water, soft drinks and beer. Fortunately, none of our party were medically required to have some kind of "real food" between departure at approximately 9:00 a.m. and return approximately 3:00 p.m., so we waited until we could be elbowed by the tremendous rush of bodies to the mid-afternoon buffet when it finally opened at 3:45 p.m.
7. Most mornings we requested breakfast service in our room. Even though we noted that there were 2 people in the cabin, we received our requested order, BUT with one plate and one knife. We do not mind sharing in the least, but can they spare a plate and knife for each of us? We had to note 2 plates, 2 knives on our order, along with 2 people in the cabin and continuously received just one if not otherwise requested.
8. As far as the formal dinners were concerned, unfortunately we could not enjoy them as we had intended since the Ship took it upon themselves to reject - not once, but twice - the delivery of Joe's tuxedo to our cabin. We have never experienced a ship refusing delivery of any kind, since it is quite popular to send and receive "bon voyage" flowers, candies, champagne, etc. Without the proper attire, the experience of the formal dress nights were totally ruined and almost inappropriate - with Angela wearing quite formal attire and Joe in the suit he fortunately brought. The dinner at the formal nights did not differ from any other night, so the atmosphere was only enhanced by the clothes worn, but again diminished by the fact that most of the Europeans must not have been informed of the "formal attire nights" and were notably inappropriately dressed for these occasions.
9. The tours: Fortunately, we did not book any tours, with the exception of the Cartagena City Tour - since we were advised not to venture out on our own into this country, and the Panama/Gatun Yacht Club - since we would not be able to leave the ship otherwise. We also question the appropriateness of having to pay to "get off the ship."
10. Since the ship was usually either late arriving at a given port, or did not dock and tendered the passengers, the time allotted in these ports and our opportunity to experience the various countries and activities offered was diminished and spoiled.
11. Activities on Board: I would highly recommend that someone purchases the "Cruise Video" to get the full effect of the activities offered. We decided not to waste $29.95 on this experience, since we could not justify putting our friends and relatives through the antics of "Mr. Cortez," dressed up in various women's and otherwise unrecognizable attire, hosting contests where, at various times, two guests put their faces into bowls filled with some kind of "goo," a few of the men passengers perform a half striptease and three male passengers have wine or some other liquid squirted into their mouths to win an MSC Lirica t-shirt. Other activities included water balloon tossing around the pool, aerobics (or some form thereof) by the pool (which was the only time there was music by the pool), napkin folding demonstration some place, unhosted chess and bridge club meetings and Italian lessons. Judging by the winner, the Ms. Lirica contest most definitely must have been fixed.
12. The evening entertainment was, if possible, even worse. We looked in and walked out. Our friends looked in, nodded off, and walked out. Definitely not a fun experience.
13. As far as the decor of the ship is concerned, since it is still pretty new, the decor was sparse, but still within acceptable limits. The decorations, such as they were, left a lot to be desired. Not a fresh flower in sight, and even the very, very cheap fake flowers looked wilted.
This experience definitely does not fall into the "want to recommend to anyone" category. We understand that some guests may have "jumped ship" at the first port - we certainly thought about that and more often than not wished we had, and we were told by one woman that her husband was marking off each day of the voyage left with felt-tip marker on their cabin wall. We didn't think it worth the effort.
If you're looking for a traditional cruise experience on MSC's ship, the Lirica, you won't find it here. Although the ship went to some non-traditional Caribbean ports (St. Barts--mostly expensive boutiques; St. Lucia--lovely; Granada--also very pretty; Antigua, Nassau, and Puerto Rico--all typical), this new to cruising company needs more experience and lots of improvement. The meals were so-so, the service extremely slow. Stick with pasta, veal dishes, soups and salads for the best meals. Don't even think about the fish or beef dishes: they were really terrible. Forget any fancy desserts. They don't do these, or Danish pastries or doughnuts. Evening entertainment was European style with mixed shows featuring magicians, gymnasts, singers, etc. And they kept coming back 2 or 3 times on the 11 night cruise. And seats were saved by the rows. We had to go directly from dining to the showroom, but even then couldn't always get a seat. There are 3 treadmills with no sign-up sheet. And they're shut down during siesta, from 12-3 pm. We would not go on this line again, but maybe they will improve....PS We had cigar smokers on both sides of our roomwith veranda and all the smoke came in through the vents. Not a great experience.