I have just returned from a wonderful cruise on the beautiful MSC Lirica. This ship has had some dreadful reviews and since factual information in these reviews (e.g. MSC described as a "new" line) is so inaccurate one loses faith in the entire content I approached the experience with an open mind and determined to form my own opinion. I had cruised the previous year with MSC aboard the Melody and was aware that somethings might be less than perfect. However I was delighted and really would only make two complaints. First the slow delivery of baggage to the cabin and second the late running of the Captains cocktail party. We were invited for 19.45 not admitted until 20.00 and at 20.15 advised that dinner was now being served.
The cabin was a joy...and yes I realise that I was fortunate to enjoy a full bathroom and balcony and I do realise that the showers are extremely small in all other cabins as are the complete shower/toilet area.
The staff were magnificent and could not have done more for the passengers. I had specifically requested Ippocampo Restaurant 2nd sitting and a table for 2 and all was in order. Luigi the waiter was superb and provided brilliant service. The Italian/European food was excellent. It may not be to American tastes but that does not make it bad.
The itinerary was excellent and we made the most of our time in every port. We docked in Montego Bay and had great value in the tour we took which lasted almost 5 hours and was spent in the company of a very funny guide. We enjoyed the ships tour of Cartagena also but did find the continual hassle of the local vendors a little tiring by the end. San Blas was a delight and after tendering ashore spent an idyllic day partly on the beach and also in the motorised canoe of one of the local indians. It was sad to see wealthy passengers bartering and haggling and taking pride in paying 2 dollars for something which had taken great skill and countless hours to produce and which was at a reasonable price to begin. Panama Canal/Gatun Yacht Club was another interesting and most enjoyable day. Costa Rica we docked and hired a local taxi driver to take us on a wonderful tour taking in the canal, a banana plantation, several local beaches, hotels and churches, his home village, a delicious local restaurant and a city tour. Excellent value and another memorable day. Once again we berthed in Key West and although it was crowded being a Saturday we had a special time that will always be a happy memory.
All too soon it was time for us to leave Lirica but there is no doubt that we will be back and we will continue to use MSC for good food, superb service and value for money.
Just for the record I am a British Citizen now living in the Czech Republic. I have lived in 4 continents and visited every continent. By sea and by air I have been round the globe 5 times. I have dined in the grandest 5 star restaurants in every major city and have shared food at the most humble inns. The one downside to the Lirica experience was the huge contingent of American passengers who could do nothing but complain in decibel 10 of their total dissatisfaction about anything and everything. They prided themselves on their gourmet knowledge but simply as a result of their comments poroved there ignorance on matters of food. I had to applaud the one American who in desperation finally told one group "If you want everything to be like at home then stay at home. If you want your plastic and tinsel cruise ships then have them but do not expect everyone to dumb down to your level".
Seated beside us in the restaurant were 8 of the most uncouth boorish people I have ever encountered in my life. They proudly bragged they came from a free country not some communist state and would say do and behave exactly as they wanted and no one would stop them. They were wrong. A formal complaint to the company and they were obliged to tone down their behaviour even if in their ignorance they continued to toss personal abuse and make verbal assaults upon me.
I urge all potential passengers - Keep an open mind and Bon Voyage.