Great time with MSC - first time cruiser
MSC Lirica Cruise Review to Europe - Western Mediterranean
Sail Date: September 25, 2011
Ship: MSC Lirica
Cabin Type: Oceanview
Traveled As: Couple
Reviewed: 5 years ago
Review SummaryThis was our first cruise: husband, my parents and myself. Chose a non-American cruise line for more European experience, which was fine. The only caveat to that choice is if you don't speak fluent Italian it is hard to meet other cruisers. But all staff spoke English and was very accomodating and pleasant. Itineray was great, the only day we did not go into port was at Tunisia - no thanks :-)
Food was fine, I have heard all cruise lines have mediocre food unless you spend a lot of money and choose a true luxury line. But for the price of the cruise the food was just fine and we never went hungry.
Drink prices were very reasonable - we are heavy drinkers when on vacation and spent significantly less than original estimates and never questioned whether or not we should skip an alcoholic beverage because we thought it was too pricey. The only issue as mentioned above is that all the public rooms closed at 1 AM - now there was a slightly older (average) crowd and sometimes we arrived at ports around 8 AM but my husband and I are in our 30s and if on vacation we plan on staying out some nights after 1 AM. We closed the pubs on more than one occasion so if you are like us you may find the same issue.
If you like to gamble this is not the cruise ship for you (unless you just play slots). They only had 1 blackjack table, 2 roulette tables and NO POKER! We became as friendly as one can get with one of the dealers and he said if you like to gamble this was not the choice. We are not heavy gamblers but went into the casino 3-4 nights out of the 7 and didn't stay long. Again, not a big deal to us but thought it was worth noting for others.
Would have like a little more time in the ports, the longest we had was 8 hours. But we knew that when we booked. As mentioned, the ports were beautiful overall and there were plenty of ship excursions available. Hubby and I chose to skip excursions but my parents took 3 and said they fully enjoyed them all. They are great because the ship waits for the excursions and leaves much less to worry about in terms of getting back in time for departure. This was our preference not to spend the money on the excursions but if you choose this route DEFINITELY research the ports in depth, including public transportation options and what sites you want to see ahead of time. Most ports had taxis - I fully recommend this even though they typically are the most expensive option because the taxi drivers mostly speak English and know where to go. Finding the correct bus routes and/or subway lines you need may be hard and time consuming if you don't speak the language and you could end up wasting time going the wrong way. Of course several of the ports you could just get off and walk around the city or the cruise line had a shuttle bus (for a fee) to the city center, which was nice because they take you right in and back easily.
One thing I must mention is if you embark at Civitavecchia be very careful if taking the train from the airport and transferring at Travastere train station. We were standing all together and a group of men caught our attention by throwing some kind of liquid on us then slashed my purse strap and took off. I was told this is known to be a very dangerous train station and it happens all the time. These are professionals who probably run this routine daily so please just hold on tight to your bags and keep passports and other important things in your pockets or somewhere safe.
I read many many reviews before choosing this cruise - some good and some bad, overall very mixed. My entire party fully enjoyed our cruise and would consider this line again if we wanted a European destination. Again, we were a little disappointed in the average age of the crowd but were very happy with the service and product overall.
Thank you for reading my review and enjoy your next cruise!
Food and Dining
Service and Staff
Cabin / Stateroom
Ports of Call
Don't Miss: Almafi coast
Don't Miss: focaccia
Don't Miss: Napolean's birthplace
Cons: Closing time of all public rooms