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Lou

Age: 65

Occupation:Retired

Number of Cruises: 14

Cruise Line: MSC Cruises

Ship: MSC Lirica

Sailing Date: December 4, 2007

Itinerary: Caribbean and West Indies


I am writing this review mostly for people that have not cruised on the MSC Lirica or with MSC cruise line to supply insight from seasoned cruisers. Over the past 22 years my wife Margaret and I have sailed on 14 cruises on the Princess, NCL, RCCL, Carnival, and Commodore cruise lines…

Our cruise departed from Ft. Lauderdale on 12-04-07 and returned 12-14-07 and we will start by reviewing the check in process or lack there of… We arrived for check in fairly early at about 12 noon as the MSC office had told us that was a proper time to arrive. The previous cruisers were still in the process of leaving the ship and there was much confusion on what to do with the arriving passengers and their luggage, it took some time to find anyone that knew what to do with our luggage but we finely did find a porter. We went into the area designated for arriving passengers and were given a number 3 and then lead to the ‘holding’ area were we sat or a long time but we did meet some very interesting people from Philadelphia.. Finely after what seemed an eternity (probable more like 1 ½ hours) were let into the check in area were there were like 14 lines and you just picked any line... As can be expected some lines move faster then other, it appeared that a lot of the computers the check-in personal were using either did not work or the personnel were very unfamiliar with them. After some time in line we reached the check in lady and this went fairly well as we had pre-registered and that appeared to have helped a lot... Several people had trouble with there check-in due to lack of all required travel documents, or a credit card or lack of a passport. The cruise line requires you to have a credit card on file or a cash deposit as they list this as cashless cruising, upon check in you are given a passenger card to use for all purchase onboard and to ID you upon leaving the ship or returning to the ship during your trip. The cruise line will also deduct granitites at $12 per passenger per day to your listed credit card (more on this later). We were then allowed to board the ship. At the entrance to the gangway were the ever present ship’s photographers (more on them later)…

Upon arrival aboard the Lirica were meet by head steward that handed us off to a white gloved steward who took us via elevator to our cabin which is a Veranda suite cabin number 10071. The suit was very large and comfortable with a queen bed, fold out couch, chair, small but very adequate walk in closet, drawer space, bathroom with tub and shower, and very nice veranda >>> NOTE: there is NO smoking on any verandas on the MSC Lirica and also smoking is discouraged in the cabins – there are like 8 to 10 places on the ship one can smoke and that is all..

This ship has truly an international clientele. Our table mates were from Sweden and a very nice couple and we were pleased to meet so many people from various countries. It is not a typical American cruise. All of the announcements are given in 5 languages and on cruises to the Caribbean English is given 1st.

The passengers on our cruise were surprisingly old, perhaps due to the length of the cruise (over seven days). There were only a handful of children and young couples. There were few single people onboard.

Because the Lirica uses a predetermined gratuity rate (12%), the staff does not try to win somebody's favor by pleasing him or her, especially in order to gain an advantage. We believe this makes the service way below what it use to be and we do not like it at all – plane and simple put service suffers a LOT because of this policy. BUT it is used by almost all the cruise lines now... I have asked the staff if they ever get the tips we supply this way and have received many different responses but most staff say yes in a divided way with the management getting the majority of the money and the working staff getting very little. You can always tell accounting you’ll do it yourself, if you don’t agree with the rate or you want to recognize service individually.

Our cabin steward was the best staff member we meet on the cruise, always there when you needed him and the room was always made up and immaculate. He kept things in tip-top shape, including a supply of ice and fresh fruit at all times.

The waiters and waitresses in the dining room were way below standard especially on the 1st night but after we talked to the maitre d’ things got somewhat better. They only have one waiter and NO bus boy for about 6 tables and the staff always seems behind, our water did tell us that the kitchen was under staffed and that made the wait staff always behind…

Most passengers felt the food was below quality level, and that is very true when it comes to meats and desserts. The one night we had lobster it was beyond dry and there was no drawn butter served with it, it was very bad. The Italian dishes were good. The desserts are not very tasty or imaginative one oddity - there is no free ice cream. The menu was very limited.

I am a shopper but my wife is not and there are very few shops on the Lirica maybe 4 or 5 and that included a shop dedicated to cameras, computers, and all things electrical and that shop was way way over priced. The liquor shop is GREAT and has GREAT bargains, the Emeralds International shops was also great and had a wonderful staff and many bargains although you had to look for the bargains which are in watches and NOT jewelry.. The cloths shop had very few t-shirts and very very few items with the ships logo this shop was very limited... The perfume shop was also over priced… The personnel from the photo shop are very nice and very professional and take very nice photos but most passengers thought the photos were very over priced…

The tour desk was manned surprisingly little of the time, and the personnel at that desk did not appear overly concerned or helpful. They were not very familiar with the actual tours, and as a result were of little help. Find out about the tours in advance. If you are looking to rest and relax on deck, near the pool, you will have a very very hard time as there is continuing “entertainment” spewing from the microphone, whether athletics, quizzes, or games and there are deck chair everywhere and none to spare.

The MSC information concerning ship’s dress is somewhat misleading. Everyone brought way too many dressy clothes. There are only three nights requiring coats and ties, and the other evenings are informal, despite the literature calling for coats and ties almost every night.

In the casino, the two blackjack tables were invariable full, yet a third was not manned the also had two roulette tables although we only saw one ever in use, and there was a craps table. The personnel are nice and very helpful. When we 1st. came on there one penny slot and 3 nickel slots although one was out of order the entire cruise, after a day or two there did convert 4 quarter slots to nickels.. My wife was lucky enough to leave the ship a winner and this is most unusual on any cruise line.

The entertainment was not to our liking so we did not attend any shows on board but our fellow passengers told us that the entertainment was not very good. First and second seating are at odd times, so that the usual procedure of flip-flopping the nightly shows doesn’t work. The second show follows the second seating. If you retire fairly early, you’ll need the first seating, if you want to see the entertainment. First seating is an early 5:45.

The itinerary listed was great but due to bad weather we were cut short on our stay in Roadtown (Tortola) and had to skip Cayo Levantado (Samanà - D.R.) And replace that with Nassau Bermuda.

Also this ship appeared to ride very ruff through out the cruise and I do believe it is because the Captain did not deploy the stabilizers probable to save money on fuel.

Tips
Deck six is the wide promenade deck. Strangely, there are no deck chairs anywhere, and it’s the only deck this is also one place smokers can go. The chaise lounges are found by the pool on deck 11, on the track on deck 12, and on the fantails. The fantails are the ship’s secret. They run from deck six all the way up to deck 12. Most people don’t even know they are there.

Don’t bring more than three dress outfits.

Cokes are $2.50 each but you can buy a coke card that gives you a small discount. Mixed drinks also know as bar prices are a little odd. Crown Royal is $3.90 unless you have it with water then its $4.60 because it’s a "cocktail".

Summery
In conclusion, this ship definitely did not live up to our most conservative expectations. Our expectations were based upon the literature that MSC Lines distributed as well as our previous cruising experience. All in all we had a good time, however, there was nothing that made us feel we wanted to return. As our travel agent said ‘you get what you pay for’ BUT with MSC you really do not.

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