Great cruise, but a few issues

MSC Lirica Cruise Review to Europe - Eastern Mediterranean

Cruises: 2-3 cruises
Review: 1
Helpful Votes: 18

Overall rating:

4.2 out of 5
MSC Lirica

7 Night Eastern Mediterranean (Venice Roundtrip)

Sail date: July 26, 2019

Ship: MSC Lirica

Cabin type: Inside

Traveled as: Family (older children)

Reviewed: 2 years ago

Review summary

A really good week! Not without its faults, but we had an excellent time overall and I would highly recommend it.

Embarkation

3 out of 5
Fairly well organised, although there was a bit of hanging around. What did irk me a little was that the minute we got on board, we received the hard sell for the drinks packages. I had already worked out that it wasn't for us, but it took about ten minutes of repeating "no, thank you, I don't drink alcohol and I really quite like just water, tea and coffee!" before they accepted my answer. Not exactly the nicest welcome on board!

Ship experiences

Food and Dining

2 out of 5
The food itself was actually pretty good, but the whole experience around eating wasn't without its problems. We had chosen the early sitting (7pm every evening) and there was no alternative to that other than the buffet. But because the main evening show in the Broadway Theatre was at 8pm, and service was so slow in the restaurant, we actually only ate there once. There was an adult menu (swordfish, octopus, veal, vegan options, etc) or a kids' menu at the other extreme (puréed food for babies or turkey twizzlers) - but nothing really in between that suited my 11-year-old daughter. I tried to go myself one evening too, but was brought the wrong order after waiting 45 minutes, at which point I gave up and left. So we stuck to the buffet. Plenty of choice and most of it excellent, but just far too busy, very few seats available, and not enough staff to clear up the tables afterwards. Many of us ended up clearing tables ourselves and piling them onto another table. On a number of occasions I gave up looking for a seat after going all round the inside and outside seating, and took my food to the poolside or to my cabin. I wonder if the main restaurant had been more efficient or that if times didn't clash with the evening entertainment that more people would have gone there (there seemed to be quite a few empty tables on the two evenings I tried it) rather than crowding into the buffet. Also the buffet seemed to replace dishes without changing the labels, so you often weren't sure exactly what you were putting on your plate!

Onboard Activities

5 out of 5
The pools, especially the kids' splash area, were great. Quite busy, but clean and well maintained. The gym was outstanding, as was the thermal suite. I paid for an extra package that gave me a couple of personal training sessions, access to the thermal suite and a group class. The personal trainer from Cuba was superb. There is also a good little minigolf area, which they were upgrading on our final day and plenty of other games you could borrow. Each day there was a list of activities taking place from dance lessons to games and challenges to food demonstrations and tastings. You could never be bored!

Gym

5 out of 5

Brilliant. Loads of up to date equipment. Wonderful view out of the huge windows. Really helpful and attentive staff.

Entertainment

5 out of 5
The main show each evening in the Broadway Theatre was outstanding! Acrobats, dancers, singers - they were all of a calibre I would never have expected on a holiday of this type. My daughter who loves music and dance was blown away. Definitely a highlight of the cruise. You had to book your place to get in as it was so popular, but this was easily done and became a morning routine for my daughter, eager to see what the evening's performance was going to be.

Children's Programs

3 out of 5
My daughter chose not to go to these, having looked in. The main issue was the age range - 4 to 11 and 12+. She was 11 and really didn't fancy being babysat together with 4 year olds, understandably! But she was more than happy playing in the pool or have a game of minigolf or reading, during the times we were at sea.

Service and Staff

4 out of 5
Our room steward was excellent and I would also mention in particular the personal trainer in the gym. The entertainment staff were lively and friendly. But in comparison to another cruise I was on, I felt that most other staff (dining, cleaning, maintenance) did not really engage with passengers. I'm not sure if this is MSC policy, or if it perhaps shows that the staff don't feel as valued or as happy. On my previous experience (with Marella), every single crew member went out of their way to greet you and make you feel welcome. I did try on a number of occasions to greet crew members as I passed them, but it was hard to get eye contact with them. Very different from Marella.

Ship Quality

4 out of 5
Very clean - no issues there at all. The layout was good on the whole, once I had worked out why certain lifts and stairwells on went up to deck 10! But one thing that was an issue, as mentioned above, was that there was simply not enough seating space in the buffet - whether changes to timetabling to encourage more people to use the dining room would be sufficient here, I'm not sure.

Cabin / Stateroom

5 out of 5
Cabin 9804. Excellent - roomy, clean, comfortable. My only suggestion for improvement would be a shower door instead of a curtain, which stuck to you while you were in there! But that's me really being picky.

Ship tip

Great for kids. But don't fall for MSC's attempt to get you to book tickets on their extortionate transfer buses from the pier to the town (eg Chania and Bari).

Ports of call

Venice, Italy

5 out of 5
This was our embarkation and disembarkation city, so we didn't do any of the tours by MSC here. But we arrived two days early and spent a lovely time. It's Venice, it's out of this world, what else is there to add?!

Bari, Italy

3 out of 5
Not the most exciting place, but we found a nice beach (Pane e Pomodoro) and wandered around the shops for a while. Glad we ignored MSC advice to take their shuttle, which they claimed would take us to the city centre, situated "15 minutes away by bus". It took no more than ten minutes on foot, and that was only because our ship had docked at the furthest away part of the pier. No need for a shuttle at all. 20 Euros saved!

Santorini, Greece

5 out of 5
We did the volcano and hot springs trip, which was excellent. Superb guide, efficient transfer by tender, and boat. We got back from that and still had about 6 hours to explore Fira. Absolutely stunning location, with interesting shops and narrow streets, even if they were a little overcrowded with tourists just like us!

Chania, Crete

5 out of 5
Beautiful city, especially at the Venetian Port. Great food and very reasonably priced. Like Bari, I'm glad we ignored the MSC advice to take their shuttle into town. MSC were charging 19 Euros for a child and adult, but the local bus company has a bus stop on the pier, just yards from the MSC bus, costing only 1.70 Euros. They left every 5 minutes or so and ran all day - no issues with getting about.

Argostoli, Kefalonia, Greece

5 out of 5
We did the Drogorati and Melissani Caves trip, which was excellent. The guide was very knowledgable and friendly. Comfortable bus. Despite having read some horror stories about long queues when you got there, it was actually fine. I would have liked longer in the town of Argostoli when we got back, but had to make do with just an hour and a half. Still, it was enough time to get a quick glimpse of a turtle in the harbour!

Split, Croatia

5 out of 5
Not the nicest bit of the city when you get off the ship, as you're bombarded with people trying to sell you unrealistic day trips (we were only there for a few hours). But once you've passed all that, and found the street stalls and the amazing narrow streets of the Diocletian Palace, it is easy to see why this has received Unesco World Heritage Site status. We found a beach some 15 minutes from the centre and spent a couple of hours there.

Disembarkation

5 out of 5
Actually very quick and well organised. We needed off the ship earlier than the time slot we had been given, but they were good at changing that for us and we made it to our flight in plenty of time.
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