I'm leaving for the Lirica in about 2 1/2 weeks (Dec 10). I have read with much interest reviews about this ship and the MSC line over the past few months. I have never seen such a wide arrange of differing opinions about a crusie line. Why is that? Why do some people love this line? Why do some people despise it? The answer is, that people cruise for different reasons, and certain things are more important than others to different people.
Here is what I have gathered from reading countless reviews:
1) People who are used to higher-end and upper-middle end cruise lines were disappointed in food and service.
2) People who have only cruised American-style cruise lines were disappointed.
3) People who have not spent much time on land-based vacations outside of North America were disappointed that the cruise did not cater to "American"-style sensibilites.
This will be my 14th cruise, and first on MSC. All my other cruise experiences have been with economy and middle-range lines (Carnival, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Princess, and the now-defunct Admiral and Royal lines). I have never had a bad cruise, though some stick out as better than others. Every cruise I have been on has had it's good and bad points, though the good points always out weigh the bad.
I am very-laid back, and don't complain about much in my everyday life, and can overlook most social faux-pas. I have been to Europe numerous times, and do not mistake cultural differences for rudeness. I don't put a premimum on entertainment aboard ship (great if it's good, otherwise no big deal for me). I like the idea of not being baraged every three minutes asking if I want a drink (I am very capable of going up to a bar myself to get my drinks). I like the idea of non-American style dining (I am adventurous by nature, and like to explore foods and styles that are non-American). I like good food, but am not expecting gourmet.
I guess what I am saying, is that I am going with a very open mind, and without set expectations. I am not going to allow little things or an occasional abrupt crew member to ruin my cruise. I realize that food is "uneven" and most ships, and I can live with that. I am going for much needed R & R, and I am going to keep in mind the fabulous deal I got for this cruise (don't expect 5-star or even 4-star when you book at near-bargin rates).
People that post horendous reviews without even one minor positive comment, indicate that they are difficult-to-please passengers, with unrealistic expectations (I run from these type of people when I meet them on board ship).
I will post again in mid-December when I return from this cruise, with an honest perception of my cruising experience on MSC.
I am sailing on Dec 27 on the Lirica. I'll look forward to reading your post when you return. I, too have read the mixed reviews, and I agree with everything you have said in your post. I am looking forward to my cruise.
New Year's 2007 MSC Lirica
New Year's 2006 MSC Lirica
New Year's 2005 Carnival Spirit
Hey! I will be on that cruise two with my best friend! I have not cruised MSC yet - have been on Carnival, NCL and Princess. I have been to Europe before and love meeting people from other countries, so I think I will enjoy this cruise!
Ok, I'm back from my cruise on the Lirica. As promised here is my mini-review:
1) THE SHIP
Simply spotless. One of the cleanest ships I have ever been on. Dishes and glasses are cleared from public areas immediately. Every nook and crany of this ship sparkles.
The most eager to please crew I have ever encountered. Service always with a smile. All staff very concerned that everything is going your way.
This is the area the cruiseline needs to tweak. Service is wonderful, but the cuisine needs work. Beef dishes were all terrible. Fish dishes were good. Vegetables and side dishes were very bland. Pastas and risottos were very good. Lobster not so good (very tough). Killer ice creams (we ordered several scoops everynight, the highlight of each dinner). Bread was wonderful and fresh each night. Water is served in small wine glasses, that needed to be constantly replenished. Also, water and ice tea in the buffet is served in very small plastic cups (needed to obtain several cups each meal). The main area that needs to be changed are the times that food is available. Breakfast Buffet ends at 10am. Lunch Buffet is only from 12noon to 2pm. There is no Dinner Buffet. Also, pizza and burgers aren't available after 2pm. Ice Cream was only available one day from 3-5pm. Lirica needs to extend buffet times as well as institute a dinner buffet. We had 815pm dinner, so we had nothing to eat from 2pm-815pm. Lack of food seemed to be the biggest issue of most passengers.
This was ok (though entertainment is not all that important to me). Disco each night was very festive, with the cruise staff interacting with the passengers on the dancefloor, and keeping the party going into the early morning hours. DJ was not all that good though. Mostly latin dance music (which was decent), but the DJ does not even know the meaning of the word "mixing".
Overall, a very good cruise. I would easily cruise this line again, as I assume they will work out their food and meal issues as they continue to cater to the American market.
A very good cruise value, with an international passenger base.
Thanks for your mini-review.... I will be sailing on the Opera in March and have a question or two if you can answer.
Did you find there to be a lot of European ambiance, and European passengers onboard? My background is Italian, and I have booked with MSC because I am looking forward to something a little different from the traditional North American cruise experience.
With interest i read your comment about the lack of food between 2 and 8. At first I wasn't pleased, but on second thought, it will prevent me from eating just because it is there. However, after a visit to port, it would be nice to have something to come back to. ..
You will be pleased that there are many Italians on board. This was the second largest group after Americans. Entertainers and crew translated many times in Italian. All entertainment staff speak Italian.
My advice is to book early dinner at 6. That way, you won't have such a long break between feedings.
Regarding the above poster, the cruise does not suck. I have been on over 14 cruises, and though this is a different type of cruise experience with a European feel and flair, it does not suck.
RD46 you'll have a blast, and our group is considering booking with MSC this summer or fall for one of their Mediterranean sailings.
I am definitely keeping an open mind about this cruise. Have read some recent reviews about the most recent 11 day Lirica cruise, and they are mixed.
By mid-March I will definitely need a winter holiday, and I am sure that a lot of the bugs will be worked out by then. I look forward to hearing a bit of Italian, Spanish, French, and German on deck - hope it spices things up a bit.
I too am looking to take a Med cruise this summer with MSC. I am taking my niece to visit our relatives in Italy, and we are looking at a Musica cruise from Venice.
Ok, you guys scare me a bit about MSC (not this thread so much but others here in this Forum). I have read a bunch of reviews on MSC outside this Forum-which frankly were much more positive than I have read here-- and have booked a trip for this April 2, 2006. I like my itinerary very much and it's on an older (and smaller, which I like) ship named the Melody.
I am very well travelled, with many cruises included in that. Mostly they have been along the lines of liners which are at worst were something like the Princess Line and at best something like SeaDream (both truly excellent in my humble opinion). I am American but with first generation with European parents (neither of which are Italian).
Call me an optimist but I have read so many positive posts about MSC until this Forum that I am thinking I will have a good experience. Only time will tell and I promise to post my views after my trip.
I agree with many of your observations, snick. The Caribbean cruise that I did was filled with Europeans. It was a little weird to have the announcements done in 5 languages, but they don't do a lot of announcements and that really isn't a huge deal. There were also a lot of French Canadians on the ship. Maybe the different cultural thing is easier to take for Canadians because we are officially a bilingual country? I know the Americans I met on the ship found it harder to get used to than I did.
The entertainment on the Opera was, however, the BEST I have seen on any ship and I have been on Princess, NCL, Oceania, Carnival, and Disney (total of 18 cruises). Not just the shows themselves (although they truly were magnificent), but the entertainment in the lounges was excellent. We went to the disco each night but found it was more the European style disco as opposed to Latin. I guess it depends on the DJ?
That being said, I think that just about any cruise experience that you have is what YOU make it. And if things go wrong, address them, don't wait until it is time to fill out the Guest Comment card. Great article in the newsletter about this btw.
Every experience in life is what you make of it, cruising certainly falls into this catagory. Like cruising on any line, if you know ahead of time what to expect it really does help. My second cruise (many years ago) was on Costa, which, as most know is also an Italian line catering to the Europians. I wasn't prepared for the differences in lines and thus it wasn't one of our best cruising experiences. Did we have a good time? Sure and some things I still remember, but I haven't been back on Costa and probably will not. there are too many choices out there. That being said, one of our agents just got back from MSC and loved it. I am booking clients (thier choice because of itinterary) on the newest MSC ship this summer. I have prepared them as to the differences and they are seasoned cruisers. Probably they will come back with smiles on their faces. At least I hope so. NMnita