The Lirica with less than 1500 passengers last week is smaller than most of the cruise ships we have sailed. Public rooms were never crowded. There was never a crowd waiting to get into the dining rooms and we could always find a quiet place to relax.
Embarkation. At around 2PM we arrive in our car to the port, dropped off our luggage, and parked in the nearby garage. We proceeded through each step of the Embarkation process without waiting in any lines. I doubt it took more than 10 to 15 minutes. Somehow, we bypassed the chance to purchase packages of soda and cocktails. Make sure you do that before you board because we had trouble finding out information the following day.
The Ship. Some of our favorite quiet places were the Blue Lounge on the 12th deck above the buffet. This lounge was not used during the day. It was airconditioned and had great views off the stern, and the port and starboard sides. We also liked to sit and read on the 7th-10th stern decks. If you have first seating for dinner, make sure you get to the Broadway Theater at least 30 minutes before the evening show. Some of our friends were turned away because the theater was full. The theater has great sight lines so all seats were good. We only used the elevators when we were first escorted to our room and for debarkation. If you need sundries, they are in the liquor store. We found them the last day. One of the things we loved about the ship compared to other cruise lines was the absence of announcements in the cabin. Also, the ship announcements were fewer than other ships, but I wish there were none except for emergencies.
Dining. My husband and I enjoyed the dining experience. We ate at a table for 6 and had wonderful tablemates. Our waiter, Virgil, was from Romania and he did an excellent job. My husband and I always asked for his recommendations and he never steered us wrong. My favorite course was the soup. Every one of them was delicious, but I really enjoyed the ones with a fish base. Most Americans ordered pasta from the course that included pastas and risottos. The risottos that had a tomato base were outstanding. For the main course, fish was always excellent. If you don't see something that appeals to you from the right side of the menu, you can always order steak or salmon from the left side. I am not sure of her position, but Imma was frequently summoned to help me with my food allergy. She had the most positive, upbeat attitude of anyone on the ship. Her smile, her can-do attitude, and her love of life was contagious. We chose to eat every meal except 2 in the dining room. We met many interesting people as we chose to be seated at larger tables. One of the meals we ate in the buffet was a breakfast before a 7AM excursion meeting time. I was not impressed. The other time I ate a fabulous burger and fries from the grill when we got back too late from another excursion. It was delicious and I was tempted to back other days.
Cabin. In one word, SMALL. The beds were comfortable, there was lots of storage, but I would have loved a chair. Great plumbing in the shower with great control of the temperature and water pressure. No room for shaving legs in the tiny, tiny shower. Room was very clean. Individual thermostat was responsive. We never heard sounds from the cabins next to us, but we did hear sounds from the hallway. Room steward, Pika, was excellent.
Entertainment. Very enjoyable. I saw all the shows except two. My favorite act was the juggler. I wish the volume had been lower in the Broadway Theater, but our earplugs saved our hearing.My favorite band was the Tres Paraguayos who played in various lounges and on deck. Their afternoon show in the Broadway theater shouldn't be missed.
Excursions. I attended one of the programs to describe excursions. It was a slide show narrated in a heavily accented monotone. The information did not include more that what the brochure that was distributed to the cabins. Be sure to research the excursions before you go. You will find lots of useful information on the message boards that this website has.
San Juan. We used the ship's trip to El Yunque rainforest. I wish the independent guide mentioned on the message boards had been available. Our tour was interesting, but it could have been better.
St. Martin. We spent the morning on the ship, had lunch, and then went ashore to visit Fredricksberg. It had really changed since we had been there before. There was lots to see there, and next time, we might swim right at the beach there.
St. Lucia. We contacted COSOL who is mentioned on the message boards. He was as good as his reviews. We really enjoyed our day. The highlight was swimming on a private beach between the 2 Pitons. COSOL provided excellent local foods. I have a very sensitive stomach and I didn't have any problems. He wants to keep his reputation, so he only provides the best.
Antigua. We did the canopy zipline tour through the ship. I won't tell my age, but my husband is 60. We had a great time, felt safe and the hardest part is climbing out. If you have germ phobias, you might choose another excursion because you wear helmets and gloves worn by others and they looked grubby and sweat-stained.
Tortola. THE BATHS! Incredible place. Booked through the cruise ship. If you are physically able, be sure to cross through the cave to Devil's Bay. You don't have to go with the group. You can't get lost. Don't miss this excursion. I am pretty sure I could have done this excursion on my own without the ship.
Cayo Levantado. We looked at the Island from the ship. Our tablemates went over early, enjoyed the beach, and returned to the ship for lunch.
Disembarkation. Pleasant wait in the assigned lounge. Unfortunately, we came back to a different terminal. There was a bus to take with all our luggage and packages to get back to our car. It was a minor problem, but it was the last memory of the cruise. I would take MSC and the Lirica again. It would be my first choice for the Caribbean. I have already taken NCL, RCCL, and Carnival in the Caribbean and none of them were as enjoyable.