I have been on many cruises from Princess to Holland America and everything in between. The MSC Lirica was a breath of fresh air. No pushy "art" auctions, no charging extra for ice cream, specialty restaurants and fitness classes, no aggressive bar servers. This was a relaxing cruise without the usual nickel and diming, loud announcements and tacky decor on other lines. Also, gratuities are truly optional, unlike many lines where they are automatically added to the bill.
It was also a truly sophisticated, international experience. I enjoyed getting to know passengers from Europe and learning words in other languages.
The entertainment was first rate. Cruise Director Francesco prepared a spectacular show every evening. The last three nights got standing ovations each night...from the traditionally more reserved early dining crowd! Asst. Cruise Director Paulo hosted a presentation each afternoon featuring opera videos on a big screen with printed summaries and commentaries.
MSC also hosts theme cruises, such as big band cruises with Les Brown Jr. (and his band of renown) and Fun & Fitness cruises for exercise enthusiasts. You'd have to check with your travel agent for the dates of specific theme cruises.
This ship is classic...I loved hanging out at the elegantly tasteful Lord Nelson pub. The Blue Club Disco is a quiet refuge during the day and comes alive at night. The two pools and various Jacuzzis are wonderful to "bliss out."
Dining was excellent. I'd only recommend that some soft, ambient music be playing during dinner, that the frequent "Happy Birthday/Happy Anniversary" musical theme be eliminated and that the lights be lowered slightly.
Social Hostess Linda was a delight, as were all the staff members. I'm surprised by some of the negative reviews on this site...I guess the service has been greatly improved since the January inaugural.