A bit underwhelming but a relaxing vacation nonetheless

MSC Lirica Cruise Review to Europe - Eastern Mediterranean

Cruises: 7+ cruises
Reviews: 9
Helpful Votes: 95

Overall rating:

3.7 out of 5
MSC Lirica

7 Night Eastern Mediterranean (Venice Roundtrip)

Sail date: July 27, 2018

Ship: MSC Lirica

Cabin type: Oceanview

Cabin number: 8091

Traveled as: Family (young children)

Reviewed: 2 years ago

Review summary

This was my first MSC cruise experience. It was ok. It was affordable and family friendly so no major complaints. I will just state the comparisons I noticed (and remember) to my other cruises in this summary. One difference is the cruise card activation stations, that's new to me and they were smaller than I had imagined or perhaps seen on a video clip. Another difference is there is only one beverage service at main dining and no coffee to eat with dessert (after dinner). When I asked for a second drink, it was with a bit of pushback but I persisted. I did not purchase a beverage package since I'm a travel agent and took advantage of a promotion for included beverages as a promotion. A waitress at one of their bars told us if they didn't want to get us another drink, get their name and let them know. Overall, the staff just seems new. They don't seem to know much about cruising. The ones I asked stated they had about 2 more months on their 10-month contract and I would think after 8 months, they would get the hang of it. The dining staff had a clear head waiter and assistant but the assistant wasn't prioritizing our drinks and helping the main waiter with our food; it was more brown-nosing. For example, on RCCL I am use to my table being manicured throughout dinner. I took a photo of my un-manicured table (see below). This happened once at a lunch dining. One of the elevators mid-ship did not go on the 8th floor, my floor. So we would ride up to 9 and walk down to 8 but this was only a few times so not a huge deal. The spray park would close with windy weather, but I had to seek out the lifeguards under the tarp of the hot tubs to ask why. They never walked around or paid very close attention to guests in the water/pool area. Their lounge chairs are awesome as you can fold them over your face so as not to get sun in your eyes. This was quite a lovely feature! The baby club had posted times with a side note that times could change at any time. When it did cancel, they didn't update the door, we just waited outside 20 minutes and realized they weren't going to be showing up. The baby club was only 1 hour and with the registration only 1 employee, you maybe got 40 minutes before you needed to head back for pick up. They have a pager they give to parents and they page you if the child isn't adjusting or they need you to come back so that is a nice feature. The kids under age 12 receive an identifying bracelet via barcode at embarkation; another nice feature. Some of the staff also had pagers, like our housekeeper, Luc. He was great, but once he found out I spoke his native language, his English got worse; how convenient. :) The Internet is not unlimited like RCCL. And if you don't buy more BEFORE it runs out, the price quadruples so buy it before it ends. Guest services told me to buy it once it ends, big mistake and lesson learned. The spa was quite pushy. My mom took advantage of a massage and a hairdo on day 2 and by day 3 or 4 they were offering discounts on spa services. Now, I understand why they were so pushy. Hold off and get a deal if you're interested in the spa. It's very European, the food, the people so go with it. There is a presence of prepubescent girls topless and topless tanning. This doesn't bother me, but it may some so be aware. Although storage was fully adequate for us, we learned of additional storage in the room (shelves behind the mirror over the desk, including the safe). It was on an angle, don't know why we didn't think to look behind the mirror. There was also a shelf above the mini-bar that my toddler discovered about day 4 or 5. It was on her level, so she used it. I did have an issue with the photo shop. They have a no return policy unless a defect. I had a defect and they said that they would just reprint. So it's actually a no return policy. What makes me comment on this is that when I pointed it out to the manager, he became clearly upset with me and threw the reprint pictures at me in front of my daughter and elderly mom. Guest services had no interest in my complaint either. But this incident involved 2 employees (photo manager and senior guest service rep, both of Italy), so I won't let it deter my entire viewpoint of MSC. As far as the status match on the voyager program, it's great but I didn't notice any special treatment and most of the staff didn't know what it was really. I was a Silver member on this cruise and I met up with a Black member with his family and there was really no difference, maybe aside from embarkation. I just expected it to be a bit different. But I will try a different class of ship by MSC before I make a decision on the brand. My next MSC ships are Poesia then Meraviglia and Grandiosa. After 4 MSCs, I will know if I can continue cruising with them but so far so good!

Embarkation

4 out of 5
Great until the person checking passports tells me in a very rude tone to take off my sunglasses before I even get all 3 passports out. I've cruised before. I told him, I will take my sunglasses off once I have given you my passport to actually verify something. So please relax, it's my vacation and I'm not in a hurry! Sales are quite pushy at every phase of embarkation but it's all about revenue in the cruise (and every) industry :)

Ship experiences

Food and Dining

4 out of 5
The buffet was the same, which if fine, and it was good and predictable when the lunch and dinner dining wasn't what I was int he mood for. The drinks were OK. My mother really enjoyed the non-alcoholic drinks of the day. She did not like any of the dining room options except for salads. I enjoyed most of the dining room choices.

Beverly Hills Bar

5 out of 5

Quick and friendly service, always inviting us to relax and have a seat, unless grabbing water on the way off boat.

Pool Bar

2 out of 5

They were closed and when I asked for a bottle of juice THEN they tell me they were closed but didn't bother to direct me to another location to grab a juice. I had to seek out myself.

La Bussola Restaurant

3 out of 5

Food was ok, the wait staff was inexperienced. Even the lobster tail I purchased extra was just "OK".

Coffee Corner Bar

4 out of 5

Staff was great and friendly but they didn't have decaffeinated coffee. Luckily, the barista was so good, he made a cool kid friend ice coffee imitation that my daughter loved!

Onboard Activities

2 out of 5
I used the spray park for my daughter and the pool. The lines were too long for the 2 hot tubs. The lifeguards were only at the hot tubs under the tarp to get some shade. They never walked around. The staff walked around to clean, pick up finished plates, glassware, etc. but not the lifeguards so that was a bit disappointing. The spray park's 3 slides could get a bit dangerous. When wet, the kids slide into the wooden enclosure so I had to sit on it to catch my daughter (and other kids) which made my daughter a bit upset that she could only go down 1 of the 3 slides. She is a toddler at a phase where she likes slides AND her independence!

Shopping Area

2 out of 5

My daughter ripped a box and the sales lady told my mom that now she couldn't sell it and gave a sad face as if she would get fired for something a little kid did. Only part of a box was ripped, so just mark down the price and someone will buy it. Unfortunately, my mom felt guilty and bought it. Don't guilty people into buying.

Tour Office

4 out of 5

They sent us bus tickets to enjoy the sites even when we didn't ask for it. We would only be charged if used and so this was a great feature! I would give 5 stars but the excursions were just OK and the Venice excursions were too long, didn't accommodate our flights (in or out) so we had to arrange independently.

Spa

5 out of 5

My mom loved her massage.

Reception Area

1 out of 5

I had a conflict and could not speak to anyone other than the senior reception representative who was not receptive to what I had to say nor would she let me finish before interrupting me.

Pools

4 out of 5

Pools were cold, salt water. There is no incline/decline just one depth for the deep/adult size side and one depth for the kid size side. The spray park was chlorinated (I hope) water.

Beauty Parlour

5 out of 5

My mom was quite pleased with her hair

Entertainment

3 out of 5
I didn't see a show except for the voyager club mini-presentation, but it is good that you reserve your seats for the shows on the computer screens conveniently located in the halls outside the elevators.

Children's Programs

4 out of 5
Only 1 staff member, only 1 computer. It made the check-in and check-out times lengthy and you don't really get a full hour and an hour is not much time anyway.

Children Area

4 out of 5

Only 1 staff member in baby club (under 3 yo) and 1 computer for check in and check out. Not as organized as it could have been but my daughter liked all but 2 drop offs.

Service and Staff

3 out of 5

Ship Quality

4 out of 5
The ship is in great condition for being about 15 years old and one major renovation. I just have to get use to the Yacht Club access, as you get to the front of the ship things are blocked off so I did find that I just went to the back 3 elevators (out of 4) on the ship.

Cabin / Stateroom

4 out of 5
I usually buy a balcony cabin but this was a last-minute trip booked about 3 weeks before final payment and ocean views were all that were left, but I was surprised at the space, the storage. I didn't particularly care for the extremely firm mattress but my mom and daughter had no issues (and slept much more than I did)! The only other complaint, if you call it that, was the shower stall. It was quite small and with a curtain, one can't help but touch its surfaces. I am not comfortable with that, so I had to flip the curtain up and over the drying line so as not to come in contact with the curtain and surfaces. In turn, I had to either be careful while showering or not care and get water everywhere. It was a bit dusty when we first arrived, but I travel with Clorox wipes and wipe down surfaces in the room upon arrival anyway. So the only cons for the room for me were 1) shower stall size/curtain & 2) mattress firmness. I liked everything else. This was a Fantastica experience under the MSC Voyager program.

Ship tip

Bring magnets to have the daily itinerary available to all. I forgot mine this time, so used my packing tape that I had on liquids to post it on the wall -- and it worked!

Ports of call

Venice, Italy

5 out of 5
Too much to see and do. I will continue on my next visit to Venice in about 4 more cruises when I take RCCLs Rhapsody of the Seas in August 2019. The water taxis are just great. I had visited Venice on a spring break in high school and remembered it being wistful....over 20 years later, it still is! The preservation of cities in Europe is astoundingly amazing.

Bari, Italy

5 out of 5
The excursions sent tickets to our room for the shuttle service without our asking. We were going to take it easy on the boat as we didn't see that there was much to the city. We ventured out anyway and it was great. We caught up with a tour agency and they had a train that took us through the city, to 2 important and beautiful churches, met some local tradespeople and saw how some sun-dried pasta was made, and then we were off to play music with a local musician of traditional music to the region. The musician asked for help from the audience, so that was fun. We also went into another store to taste local wine and 3 different types of olive oil, from normal to spicy. I don't recall the third.

Mykonos, Greece

1 out of 5
This was my second trip to Mykonos and still unimpressed. You tender in and there are nothing but shops and restaurants, nothing of particular "Greek" culture like Iraklion (Heraklion) and Corfu. Just a different ambiance than other Greek islands I've visited. I have heard that the nightlife of Mykonos is quite good but our ship left around 8pm and we needed to be back on board by 7 or 7:30.

Iraklion (Heraklion), Crete

4 out of 5

Corfu, Greece

4 out of 5
It's a cool city, learned it is near Albania based on picking up cell towers from Albania not Greece :) It's good to learn something new every day!!

Dubrovnik, Croatia

5 out of 5
If you're a Game of Thrones fan...King's Landing! It was pretty cool.

Disembarkation

2 out of 5
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