This was our 2nd time on the MSC Lirica. In Jan. '04 we did the Panama Canal on this ship. Then, our party of eight's only complaint was the food quality. Though I don't take a cruise for the 'food', the quality was way below par. However, enough complaints motivated MSC to change its food service. Having heard of the changes in food service, we booked for its 11 night cruise in 3/05, leaving from Ft. Lauderdale and travelling to ports of Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, Grenada, St. Lucia, Antigua, Tortola and Port Lucayan. I thought I was tired of cruising the Caribbean, but this trip of March '05 was, absolutely, grand.
The beauty and cleanliness of the ship is primo! We treated ourselves to a fabulous cabin on the 12th deck, one of only two that looks out over the bow. That was wonderful.
The positive reports on their food service changes were affirmed by the wonderful meals we experienced.
The crew was wonderfully helpful, from the cabin stewards and dining servers to crew members throughout. I was impressed with some crew member's reports on their Captain. He was held in their highest regard and, as one crew member shared - any crew member with a problem can knock on his door day or night and be heard.
The entertainment was fabulous and far exceeded the rather monotonous shows on other cruise lines.
The ports of call were lovely - educational, scenic and fun. We didn't do any of the ship's excursions, having learned from previous experience that the ones we secure ourselves are more affordable and result in better value for the money.
Everyone appeared to be having a fabulous time and I seldom heard any complaints, far different from '04 when everyone was complaining about the food.
I enjoyed the classes that were offered on ship, from Italian to sessions with individuals who have expertise to offer from various professions. This time around talks were given by a former US Ambassador to Middle Eastern countries. Very enlightening.
Another positive was the quick and organized embarkation and disembarkation process. Quite a positive change from our '04 cruise when it was slow with long wait lines. The Lirica was experiencing its maiden season then and any kinks they had have been wonderfully altered. Being Mediterranean in origin, the crew generates a warm, family atmosphere.
Geared to international passenger service, the Lirica's passengers, besides the US, came from mostly Italy, Germany, France and Ireland. We met two couples who were doing their back to back cruises.
Having experienced MSC twice, we're now exploring a transatlantic with them. I like the ship, its beauty and its ambience. Over the years they'll be a tough competitor to the more common cruise lines.