To start on the positive, the ship was spotlessly clean and the waiting and cabin staff were excellent. Unfortunately there are no more positives. We have cruised a number of times and this was our worst experience.
The bad experience started with embarkation. The pickup at the airport was good and we arrived at the ship just after 4pm. This is a cruise who embarks and disembarks at nearly every port. At this point there were only four of us to embark. We sat for over 50 minutes in the taxi while someone was found to let us on the ship.
Dining - every cruise we have been on late sitting is about 8pm not here, it is 9.15pm, so we had the hassle of moving to the early sitting at 7pm. Breakfast in the dining room was okay, as was lunch. Dinner, however, was a different matter. We are not big eaters but found the portions small and the food was usually lukewarm. I asked for a glass of water and was told they provided bottled water. At the end of the meal I was presented with a bill for 2.65 Euros. I have never paid for water on a cruise. We were allowed to take our own water in, so filled a bottle at the buffet were it was free.
Another problem was that we were expecting to pay in dollars not euros. It is a little complicated because the MSC brochure states that cruises in the Antilles is in Euros but that the Caribbean is in dollars. However the brochure also states that they do cruises to the Antilles and Antigua. I suppose we should have double checked but who expects a cruise line to differentiate between the Antilles and the Caribbean?
We were given very little information about ports of call and it was the Maitre'd who told us that in Martinque the town closed at 2pm, we only arrived at 11am. Guadaloupe was worse as it was not until we got off the ship we found out that everything is shut on a Sunday, although there was a small market on the quayside. When the ship docked at a distance from the main area you then had the joy of paying 8 Euros for the shuttle bus.
We also discovered this was new winter cruise for MSC Lirica and was definitely aimed at the French and Caribbean market. The majority of guests were French, Caribbean,Spanish and Italian. So beware as we found many guests were rude, from not saying thank you to stepping in front when you had waited patiently for the lift.
Our cabin was adequate but be warned although there is a lovely view from 9004 unless you like to be awake early this is not the cabin for you. It impossible to sleep through clanging machinery and the pods being switched on for early morning docking!