We just returned home from a very very long 11 nights onboard the MSC Lirica. We sailed to the Southern Caribbean visiting countries such as Colombia, Panama, and Costa Rica. We were supposed to stop at Grand Cayman, but the weather was too bad to tender into port so we went home from there. Where to begin with this review???? Well, first of all the language barrier for Americans onboard this ship is awful. Most of the crew is European or Italian, and the extra special service given to the Italian passengers was very evident to the other guests. The food was not so good. This was not the Italian cuisine I was expecting to encounter onboard. Mostly the food was under- cooked or overcooked, or just plain gross. The pizza at the buffet was awesome, however after 11 days I grew tired of that too. The lunch buffets were always the same, and the bread is hard as a rock. Ewww! Our dining room waiter was excellent, but his assistants were terrible and we never got our food on time or the correct meal for that matter. The wine we ordered at the beginning of the meal usually came when we were about to order our dessert, or they just forgot about it all together. Also, they never give you water without having to ask for it. This was crazy, considering the bottled water on this ship is a rip off to purchase so getting water with my meal didn't seem like too much to ask for. Obviously, I was wrong. There were a lot of unsupervised children on this ship running up and down stairs through corridors and playing games in the elevators. Not only was this obnoxious, but very unsafe as well. There was also a good amount of older people on this ship and I was waiting for these kids to knock one of them down the stairs. They also ran the corridors late in the evening when people were trying to sleep and the cabins are so badly sound-proofed, it sounded like a heard of elephants outside my door. This was really something that management could've dealt with, but chose to ignore. Also, the "no smoking" rules were never enforced. Supposedly, they were there for safety but the European and Italian customers were smoking all over the ship. Some safety policy! The excursions are expensive and you are much better off getting a taxi, which are always readily available, and doing your own thing. I wish now I had done this. DO NOT USE THEIR INTERNET! It is $5 USD for the first 10 mins and $.50 a min after that. Well, it is sooooo slow and freezes up so often no matter what computer you are on that it takes about 9 mins to even log into my yahoo page. That's not even getting to the mail yet which takes even longer. You can check your mail in port with high-speed service for $3-4 USD per HOUR! My God the first two days onboard I ran up a $50 dollar internet bill! Everyone onboard complained about the internet and the ladies at the reception desk told us all that "the internet man" will look into it and if he decides to credit our bill he will. I never got a credit, and those Reception girls are mean and absolutely of no help.
Okay, enough with the bad right? The ship was really clean and that was awesome. The cabin stewardess, Anita, was great. Our room was always clean and tidy right after we left it and Anita couldn't have been more friendly or helpful. We loved her. We gave her and our waiter an extra cash tip at the end even though MSC charges $12 USD per person per day to your account for tipping of all the crew who service you. You can however sign a form from the Reception ladies, who by the way give you a horrible stare when you ask for it, to make the tipping whatever you want or choose not to have your card charged and simply pay cash to whomever. This I find a bad idea though, because there are many behind the scenes guys who really need that money and unfortunately get ripped off because people are docking the tips due to terrible service elsewhere. Also, be prepared to wait a long time to disembark. They told us they would start at 0800 and to be out of our rooms waiting for the announcements at 0800 and our colors to be called to disembark. Well, 0915 and guess what? NOT ONE ANNOUNCEMENT! That was aggravating. We were all tired and just ready to go and they couldn't even give us the decency of one announcement to let us know that they were running late? C'mon. This shouldn't have surprised me, considering they never announced the time changes in different time zones and you had passengers wandering around at 0630 looking for breakfast and it was really only 0530. Everyone was really mad about that. Oh well. Just watch your money closely on MSC. I have traveled on many cruise lines before and I am very fair considering I am a flight attendant and realize how hard it is to make everyone happy and try to do everything fair and equal, but this ship is just not good. I really tried to enjoy myself, but too many things about this cruise were just plain wrong. Bottom line: Save your money and your sanity!