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Joan Dann

Age: 48

Occupation:Clothing Retailer

Number of Cruises: 10

Cruise Line: MSC Cruises

Ship: MSC Lirica

Sailing Date: March 31, 2006

Itinerary: Panama Canal / Western Caribbean


We sailed the MSC Lirica (Mediterranean Shipping Cruises) for their 11 night Deep Caribbean on March 31st and absolutely loved it ! (My husband Dennis and I....our two teenagers---one boy 16, one girl 15)

We had heard rather "mixy" reviews..............some not so good..........and then heard that new President Richard Sasso had made sweeping changes and had helped the line to understand the American market a bit more. (Sasso was President of Celebrity Cruises for many years----and was also onboard our sailing.) With the lackluster reports I had heard, was certainly somewhat hesitant to sail but decided to try it. We had the best time !

Embarcation..........A BREEZE. Wow........never have I ever gotten thru Embarcation so quickly. I don't think we have gotten thru as quickly even when we had priority Embarcation.

Boarding the ship............Wonderful ! Friendly ! Staff lined up and escorted us to our Stateroom. Our rooms were ready and our luggage arrived shortly. They were really "on it".

Ship................Gorgeous ! Really lovely. Really the right balance of elegant and modern.

Stateroom--------We were Mid-Ship on Deck 9 in Oceanview Staterooms. Nice. Clean. Crisp and Fresh Decorating. Beautiful, colorful artwork on the walls that I loved looking at the entire cruise. Small but efficient bathroom. TEENY shower, however. I took my shower things with me to the spa a couple of times so I could stand in a regular sized shower.

Food.............we thought it was great ! Service was just wonderful always. They made THE BEST CHEESECAKE...........ohmigoodness. Fantastic. Only thing they were disasterous at..(we thought)........their Lobster ! Unbelievably bad. (Funny how some of these lines have an item or two that really throws them.) We loved our Table Stewards. We just fall in love with those people ! We were there every single night of the 11 night cruise for our 7 course meal. They had a wonderful late afternoon Tea time buffet every day that we made in their Lido that we loved. Also-----------oh their Pizza !!!!!! Amazing ! Its been two weeks since our cruise and I am still dreaming about that wonderful pizza they served in their outdoor pizza grill area. Absolutely delicious. They would also have FRESH and wonderful pasta made right before your eyes every afternoon...........every day a new recipe. Always worth stopping by for a bite. Not sure if Richard Sasso changed anything about the food but it got rave reviews from all the people we talked to.

Formal nights.............only asked that men wore suits..........not Tuxedos............and EVERYONE wore them. Far better percentage of people who followed the dress guidelines. They also do a nice job with Birthdays and Wedding Anniversaries. They blast the Birthday song or the Wedding March over the loudspeaker........everyone sings and claps............its very festive.

Music............oh at last ! Just the right mix of piped in music. Lots of Mo-Town, Burt Bacharach..........things that had broad appeal for 30, 40, 50, 60. Whoever was picking the tunes did a great job. They also had a nice mix of Italian Opera that I really loved and found so appropriate on this ship.

Entertainment......FUN ! Sophisicated ! They had both ! We went to an excellent violin and piano concert one evening that was fantastic. They also had the BEST pool games and audience interaction on stage during some of the evening shows. They had a couple of excellent lectures on Astronomy and then had Star Gazing on deck later that night at 10 pm. They did this a couple of times during the 11 nights to catch different night skys. (What a great idea...........our first for seeing this on the program.) We also had Italian Language lessons !! We went to three lessons and just loved that. Also..............their Arts and Crafts were terrific. We only caught the last one...............we painted a T-shirt with these really great scans (so you ended up with something you were truly proud of) and everyone there said that they had all been great. (Some ships offer classes but they are not great crafts. Good area for them to really step this up to a much more sophisicated level.) They also offered gatherings several times for Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis...................I haven't ever seen this on other lines. What a great idea and a huge group to make happy.

Teen Program...........a bust. I understand the little kids program was very good but with Teens and Pre-Teens........you need to meet them at the gangway with the program for the week and nab them from the beginning. Trying to add things two days into it simply doesn't work. This was a big disappointment as all lines we have sailed have really had great programs. Luckily....our kids connected on their own. From our standpoint, however--with two teenagers--we didn't know where they were and what they were doing. When their is a kid program...you know there is some cruise line involvement.

The Spa.................WONDERFUL wonderful wonderful Turkish Spa ! Spectacular. Large steam room with beautiful tile. No charge for Caribbean sailings...........$10 or $12 per visit for Mediterranean sailings. I was there every day and loved it. Beautiful workout room with vistas of the horizon with huge windows. Certainly takes the edge off of exercise when you have views like this.

Itinerary............great. Particularly loved their Private Island. Just the best ! Really the most perfect island I have ever been to. They are also building a hotel there, I believe. Yes.......its different ! It almost felt like we went to Europe instead of the Caribbean. There were only about 20% Americans onboard. Our two teenagers mixed and mingled with teens from Belgium, France, Italy, Spain.........it was really a great experience for them. One thing we really noticed......................NO ONE was complaining about anything ! Now.....of course, I couldn't understand a lot of people...........but we didn't hear a single whiner onboard among the English speaking. It was so wonderful to take a cruise and not have to listen to that ! It really made all the difference in our own cruise experience.

In conclusion, I really urge everyone to take a GOOD look at this cruise line ! It fits the perfect bill for the Celebrity range customer..............someone who want something nice and sophisicated (but its also "fun" and lighthearted) but cannot spend the Seabourn/Crystal/Silversea price. We would love to sail MSC in the Med ! What a great way to experience the Mediterranean from the people who have a ton of ships there ! (Tremendous schedule). They also do the Baltics and Norwegian Fjords that I would love to sell. They have the new Melody coming out in July that sounds wonderful.

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