The MSC Lirica is not a top-end ship - it may be best categorized as lower mid-end. With that in mind, the fares are excellent for the ship's amenities and itinerary. The food is decent, the service is varied but generally friendly, the entertainment (especially if you love to dance and your concert tastes lean towards classical music) excellent. Much of the clientele are European. I would recommended it if this is what your budget allows for. Great cruising experience on a budget.
5 out of 5
The ship stayed in port for the first night and we embarked about 9 pm. No waiting, very smooth and stress-free.
Food and Dining
4 out of 5
Keeping in mind the cruise's price bracket and target audience, the food was surprisingly ok. There was plenty of room to sit in the buffet, with many more tables outside in the grill/pizza area. Burgers at the grill were consistently good. Service in the main dining room was slightly rushed and the food was hit-or-miss, but generally of higher quality than the buffet.
4 out of 5
This isn't a huge Royal Caribbean-type ship with everything under the sun, but it packs a decent number of amenities on board. All of the standard fare like pools, jacuzzis, casino, fitness center, kids' club etc. are present. Activities are Eurocentric, meaning that dancing lessons and singing prevail.
4 out of 5
We only attended two evening shows, but the ones we attended were very well done. The stage isn't very big or tall, and there isn't a live orchestra, but the performances were immensely enjoyable and well rehearsed. The performances made full use of the limited area, and it never felt constrained or restricted. Bear in mind that the ratio of classical music performances vs. trapeze-type entertainment acts is higher on MSC than on American cruise lines.
Not applicable to our group
Service and Staff
2 out of 5
Staff were generally friendly and hospitable. The biggest outlier was the ship's chief immigration officer (the person who manages all the guests' passports), a Mr. A, who was rude and demeaning on multiple occasions. We had a minor in our group who was traveling by himself, and his flight was delayed. One of the adults requested to leave the ship to pick him up at the airport, and rendezvous with the ship at the next port-of-call. Mr. A was extremely unprofessional and gave the adult a very hard time, both when leaving and returning to the ship. Perhaps he would prefer the adult stay on the ship while the minor made his own way through an unfamiliar country, overnight even???
4 out of 5
The ship was very clean. The layout is a little confusing, perhaps partly because the ship was lengthened several years ago, making for a rather "long" and "narrow"-feeling ship. But we got used to it quickly.
Cabin / Stateroom
3 out of 5
The room had good sound-proofing and very comfortable beds, and the upper bunks (we had a four-person cabin) were well-designed and easy to set up and stow away. Unfortunately, there were several negatives. Even though it was ostensibly refurbished several years ago, the furnishings were shabby. The windowsill had separated from the wall and a large gap had formed, and the rubber gasket was falling out. A closet drawer was broken - maybe our cabin steward forgot to inform maintenance to fix it - but it was later rectified when we reminded guest services about it. The toilet reeked throughout our whole voyage. The soap and shampoo were very low quality. The room was on the small side, and the bathroom was tiny also. However, for the price we paid, the size was to be expected and was acceptable.
Keep your expectations in check, and you'll have a good time
A private beach with numerous free loungers and sun umbrellas for cruise guests. Not the most beautiful beach - it was pebbly and there was no view to write home about - but it was decent. Large bathrooms and facilities.
The port is close to the old city - Souq Waqif - and the taxi fares are very reasonable. Very walkable and close to the famous Museum of Islamic Art. The view across the bay to the financial center of Doha is spectacular.
Port was very, very far from the city - a 50-minute bus ride away. We elected to pay for the ship's bus service since there were no taxis. The city has a bustling old quarter, and is known for the large Al Fateh Grand Mosque - but the mosque was far from the shuttle's drop-off point so unfortunately we didn't visit it.
5 out of 5
The latest time to disembark was 10 am, and we got off at 9:45 am. Very smooth - there were no lines at all. It took less than five minutes to get off the ship, go through the terminal and onwards to the luggage retrieval area.
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