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Richard

Age: Late 30's

Occupation:sales

Number of Cruises: 9

Cruise Line: MSC Cruises

Ship: MSC Lirica

Sailing Date: n/a

Itinerary: Eastern Mediterranean


Our cruise started in Venice.

We managed to find a discount airline that flew from Stuttgart Germany to Venice for only 40 Euros/person Return, including all taxes (Hapag-Lloyd Airlines).

It was difficult finding out how to get to the port on arrival, although I researched information on the web before-hand. We found an Express Bus that leaves Marco Polo Airport from 9:10am (3 Euro's) to the Bus Terminal, where, after much searching, a FREE shuttle is availiable every 15 min's to the Cruise Port.

The information at the Bus Terminal is not clear, and we were told that there was no such service by one of the Terminal staff. We ended up taking a Taxi after anoth

r person told us we couldn't go any other way. It set us back 15 Euro's for the 5 min Taxi trip.
It is possible to walk, but I wouldn't recommend it if you have luggage. Search out the free shuttle.

On arrival to the Port, it was a breeze.

Check in was smoother than most others cruises I've been on, and there were plenty of staff on hand for information.

After checking in, we waited in the air-conditioned lounge until about 12:30pm, when we were allowed to board. A pleasant touch was that we were personally escorted to our rooms.

The rooms were clean and spacious.

Our first tour of the ship showed itself quite well. There was Pizza available on the 11th floor for a quick snack, which at this point hit the spot well.

Our luggage arrived outside our room in about 90 min's after boarding (quite fast compared to our other cruises).

We were pre booked for the Late dinner, because of the departure times conflicting with eating times in some of the ports. We were surprised that we were booked on the early dinner. Others at our table had the same experience. It was changed without any problems after our first night, when we requested the late sitting.

Soft drinks are not included on this cruise, nor are any 'soft drink' cards available for purchase (as Royal Caribbean/Celebrity cruise lines offer). Ice Tea (real brewed), and standard water were available at no charge, and 750ml bottled water was availiable for 2.20 Euros. Soft drinks and beer were in the same price range.

Food is not available 'round the clock', although they did have 'midnight buffets' at 12:15am every night. We didn't bother eating anything there since the 9:30pm late sitting dinner, ended at about 11pm.

The self serve Buffet Breakfast was alright. Eggs made to order were available outside the restaurant (not advertised), and scrambled eggs were available inside. The bacon was a bit tougher than what we were used to, but sausages and cold cuts were avail as well.
The sit down breakfast was generally the same as the buffet, except it was 'served' to you. For the sit down meals you generally had to put aside about 90 min's eating/service time..so we found the buffet better for breakfast.

The lunch was better in the dinning rooms since the menu selection was much better. The Buffet lunch was basically hamburgers/chicken burgers and fries/salad.

The selection on the dinner menus was good, with at least 3 entrees to choice from. There was plenty of selection on the menus. The food was generally well prepared, and we enjoyed it.

What we would have liked was an area where food was available in 'off meal' times. If one missed breakfast for instance, you would have to wait til lunch before eating anything (small selection of stale buns/coffee are avail. at the upper deck bar til 11am)

We had no problem in buying bottles of water and beer at the ports and bringing them into the rooms. The rooms have a small fridge that has enough room for a liter bottle of water and a can of beer. There is also no restriction (unlike other ships) of buying alcohol at the on-board duty free store for personal consumption on the cruise.

The music was a problem for us. We checked out the Blue Room dance club one night to watch people dancing to songs like George Michaels "last Christmas" (not something that's usually played in July)...and (a very hard to dance to) outdated song by Pink.

We must have heard the rap artist Eminem 2 times daily...as well as a daily listen to the rap artist "50 Cent" with his 'birthday' song!!! Maybe its a European thing, but we certainly thought it got quite monotonous!

We knew this was an Italian cruise line, with mainly Italian guests, BUT, we found the entertainment was geared mainly to them! On the positive side, the evening shows were multi lingual and were generally entertaining.

There were many children on this cruise. The cruise should have had a policy of parents supervision, and not have them running all around the ship. We even noticed a boy (by himself) no older than 12 playing a slot machine outside the entrance to the casino.

The next day a hand written sign was posted on the entrance to the casino saying no admittance under 21, but we still noticed children being allowed to put money in the slots and pull the arms of the machines (although with their parents at that point).

The pools were mostly full of children jumping in and splashing around. We didn't get a chance to use the pool at all for this reason. We waited until the ports that had nice beaches.

Tipping was also done in an unconventional manner on the ship. There were no 'envelopes' given with recommended amounts as in other ships. On the daily itinerary of the last day,

A small mention of tipping being recommended was mentioned, but nothing more.

We found a German tour group info sheet (not from the Lirica) on board that recommended giving 27 Euros/couple to the Room Steward and dividing 54 Euro's/couple between the Buffet staff and Waiter, giving more to the waiter if you were in the dining area more.

They should spell things out for the guest more (especially for the first time European cruisers), for the sake of the staff that live for these tips.

We thought that maybe that is why the staff isn't up to the quality level of the American ships...because they aren't paid as well with the tips.

The Photo Shop was a joke. After taking every one's picture entering the cruise, they generally only took pictures of people on tours. We only had one picture taken of us all week..so there was no opportunity to select anything like in other ships.

The video was edited from previous trips of scenery shots, to include people on the tours.
They also only had a VIDEO available for purchase, at a time when most have converted to DVD.

The destinations were good.

With research, one can tell which ports are the better values for the ship excursions..and which are better on your own.

We were surprised to see some of the ports had the ship tours sell out a day or two before! Something that I've rarely seen before.

We didn't stay very long at the ports, but in many cases we didn't need more time.

In all...we enjoyed the ship and the cruise. A Mediterranean cruise is generally expensive in the summer, so we found this to be an excellent value compared to other cruises.

We think that after another year or so on the cruising market, and with a bit more experience...the MSC line may be an alternative.

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