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Chris

Age: 39

Occupation:self-employed

Number of Cruises: 8

Cruise Line: MSC Cruises

Ship: MSC Lirica

Sailing Date: 12-13-2008

Itinerary: Caribbean

SUPERB experience!!!!! We came very, very close to canceling our cruise after reading some scary reviews. One reviewer even (falsely) claimed the Chinese staff was so miserable that a staffer jumped overboard. That's a vicious lie, as we learned there isn't a single Asian employed on the Lirica ... not to mention that nothing corroborates the claim. We thoroughly enjoyed our trip. The service was exceptional, the ship was pristine, the food was excellent, and the schedule was impeccably coordinated. Every meal (including the 11:15 pm buffets/snacks) was executed EXACTLY on time, with great flourish and absolutely delicious! Outstanding! The leg of lamb was among the best, most tender I've ever had. The children's menu included a "lamb cutlet", which turned out to be two lovely lamb CHOPS that were phenominal! The chilled soups were excellent. There was an abundance of fresh fruit, which unfortunately this time of year (December) was sometimes "prettier" than it tasted. All in all that would be the only food criticism we have ... and that is beyond MSC's control. We definitely preferred to dine at La Bussola for breakfast and lunch, as opposed to The Bistrot (buffet), but both were fine. The pizza is superb --- and the gelato is addictive! The service of our particular waiter (Panji), w/assitant waiter (Bongaya) and Assistant Maitre D (Romualdo) were particularly superb. At breakfast, Panji would come over from his other duties and tend to whatever we needed --- such as water, extra lemon/creamers, or taking our orders. For this reason alone, we would book again on the Lirica rather than even consider another ship. Why mess with perfection? Quite adequate. We had two interior staterooms with a total of 7 people: three adults, one teenager and three small children. The bathrooms were sufficient, although be prepared that the showers are quite small. Not really something that MSC could remedy. We read that you had to stand with one foot in the bathroom just to fit in the shower, which was largely a big exaggeration. In truth, the shower itself (although small) was sufficient --- especially if you could strategically tack some water shoes to hold the shower curtain at the perimeter so it didn't blow in on you. The grab bar, while necessary, was a bit of a nuisance. The removable showerhead was a HUGE plus when bathing children. Plenty of storage. We had ample room to store our clothes and luggage, with the better part of space under both beds empty and available for more stuff! Our cleaning crew, as apparently for the entire ship, were from Madagascar. Each spoke sufficient English to understand our needs and did an impeccable job of tending to us. Entertaining. We had a total of 23 family members onboard the Lirica, ranging in age from 2 years to 75 years. The shows in the Broadway Theatre were stunning, although sometimes not appropriate for smaller children. Sadly, a number of other patrons chose to leave their children in the Children's Program (which we never used by our own personal choice to enjoy every aspect of our vacation with our children). We will say that the children's program staff appeared to be quite competent and thoroughly enjoying their interaction with the children. The Entertainment Team was delightful and interacted well with each other and the patrons. One patron requested and was given permission to teach line dancing poolside and we watched as the Entertainment Team cajoled other patrons to join in the activity, as well as particating themselves. The nightly dancing lessons were a blast. The activities in the Lirica Lounge (10:00 pm+) were definitely geared towards adults and not appropriate for children, although that should be a given. There were a number of games and activities onboard, such as painting t-shirts, trivia quizzes, etc. Very entertaining! We have small children, so we did not participate in any planned excursions. However, some of our family took the catamaran/snorkeling excursion in Cayo Levantado and really enjoyed that. We had a DELIGHTFUL experience. The ship was pristine. We personally observed them touching up paint on the walls, scrubbing the pool decks every night, polishing the brass on the stairs every time we took them. Our ports of call were Key West, Florida; Cozumel, Mexico; Georgetown, Grand Cayman; and Cayo Levantado, Domincan Republic. We hadn't planned on getting off at Key West, having resided in Florida for many years, but the weather was gorgeous and it was a nice bus ride in. Some of the shops down the main street (Duval) sold inappropriate items, so parents with children may want to avoid that. Cozumel was nice --- but the taxi drivers gouged my brother on the return trip from the beach: $14 out and $50 back for two adults and two small children. Grand Cayman had a lovely beach, with calm waters at Seven Mile Beach and soft, white sand. Everything was quite expensive ... and we paid $70 round-trip to get to/from the beach (7 people). That included a side-trip to the most-expensive children's store (!) on the Caribbean to buy a stroller we had neglected to pack. Cayo Levantado was the MOST LOVELEY island I have ever been to. It is a private resort island, not visited by the other ships (which docked across the bay on the mainland). The island was the cleanest, most pristine, most untouched --- although the water was rough and the sand quite shelly. It rained off and on during our day on Cayo, but the tree cover was so thick that we were able to stay dry for the spurts of rain. The tender drivers are highly-skilled and did an extremely good job of getting everyone to/from the ship.

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