Although i enjoyed the cruise on Lirica I would have to state MSC is a budget line and so what you would expect from Cunard is not what you get on the Lirica.
The embarkation procedures leave a to to be desired with being pushed form one area to another and then having people shoving packages for drinks etc in your face.
Why do Aussies have their passport confiscated for the entire trip? It is demanded you hand over your passport only to discover they have no security with keeping them safe.They get shoved in a drawer. i am security conscious and to not have my passport on me is not what I would call safe. it is hammered by Australian authorities that passports should be kept safe at all times not matter where you are and from what I saw the MSC policy is not caring about safety.Then to have the passport delivered to my cabin by the cabin steward on the last day and dumped on the bed is ridiculous to say the least. I wonder how many people got the wrong passport?
The meals were adequate but often not hot. The first night I had mussels and they were stone motherless cold. Yuk! I was seated at a table for two with a non English speaking person and so was not impressed at being sat behind a pole. The waiter for this table was rude and arrogant and his service manner was terrible. Eventually after gluggy risotto i complained and demanded to be shifted to a larger table for the remainder of the trip. I have to praise the head waiter Luigi for being sympathetic to my needs and realising that the service I had been given on the first day was totally inadequate. I was reseated for the remainder of the trip and he went out of his way to ensure I was getting the proper service. The meals were of European style and adequate. Many of the meals were lukewarm and the time between courses varied until at the finish were rushed through and had finished all courses within an hour. The meals lacked style and I will never order risotto again - do not like gluggy rice.
The buffet was adequate but once again the hot food was lukewarm and the fried eggs at 6.45am were already cold and with runny whites. Considering the buffet opens at 6.30 this was not good enough. The head waiter here was on the ball and kept his staff on their toes. If he heard a complaint he was right on it. Salads were great and the array of sweet dishes was amazing. Fruit was there for the taking and I would grab a couple of pieces to munch on if I was going on an excursion. It was like a Coles lineup for the food but if people were disciplined in line everything was ok.
My cabin was an Ocean view and was decorated nicely. It is adequate for one person but should be squashy for two. The showers were hot and good pressure but do not try to bend or move around much as the shower curtain wrapped around you and you banged elbows on the walls. the TV was an old one and it had trouble changing stations with the remote. Often we could not get the BBC, the only English Channel which gave news of happenings around the world. Then there was no reception at all and we could only get the movies which were a rehash of movies from at least 4 years ago.
I initially had trouble with the daily communications being delivered in Deutsch so after the 4th time of complaining I became tetchy and this was immediately rectified. It should not have happened that many times. If you made a complaint it was not followed through especially when one of my friends was bodily tipped off a deck lounge by a German man who objected to her sitting there and then threw her handbag across the deck, and the white dressed officer did nothing when told about it and said her to complain to Reception. Really! What if she had been injured from this altercation? And as for the policy about towels. This was never followed through and I counted 30 towels left out overnight on one occasion, and not collected. This is slack and happened time and time again.
Most of the staff were delightful and tried to sort out any queries.There were one or two girls on Reception who need to learn public relations skills and it seemed to be my bad luck to get one of them if I had a query. The Excursions desk personnel were lovely and helpful and Alina came on many of the excursions I was on so she could familiarise herself with tours. The complaint I would raise with excursions was that the ship need to be up to date with what is happening on shore with events. In Piraeus we did not see all of the things listed on our tour because of a marathon being run in the city. Surely there is a way of knowing what is happening beforehand so the guests are not inconvenienced. The classic answer to this was that they do not operate the tours. Not true as they use these operators exclusively so there should be liaison with them for the unexpected happening. This was my second visit to Piraeus and once agin I did not get to see what I wanted. Next time I am inclined to organise my own outings so I get value for money.
Organisation on the MSC ships appears to be disjointed to say the least. I would have to say they could not organise their way out of a wet paper bag. Chaos reigned on excursion days and departments did not liaise with one another. Trying to get my club membership organised when I was already a member was horrific. Embarking and disembarking was hectic and crowded. The entertainment was ok but was often in another language so the English speaking people aboard did not know what was going on.
The company on board was great but if not for the Cruise Critic members on board it could have been a boring cruise. The Aussie contingent made life interesting and i enjoyed their company talking about their past cruises and getting advice as to ports of call.
Overall i would have to say the Lirica is a lovely clean ship decorated tastefully. However the owners need to aware of getting extra money from customers for hidden charges, drink packages and excursions, and I then discovered children really are not free as one parent was informing me of charges for children which are not advertised on any site.
If you want a budget cruise line and are prepared for the European way of life on board then this is the cruise line for you.