We arrived in Genoa the night before the cruise and stayed at the Best Western, we had been in Geneva visiting family and took the train to Genoa so that we arrived quite late and very tired which was too bad as Genoa would have been a lovely city to discover.
We cabbed it to the port at noon and were on board and in our wonderful stateroom by 1:00 pm. This was all very efficient and smoothly accomplished. Off to a great start.
We were not scheduled to sail until 5:00 pm so we took some time to familiarize ourselves with the ship and unpack as our luggage had arrived very quickly. Our stateroom, with balcony, was considered to be a suite but it was just a large room. No complaints there, it was roomy and bright with more than ample storage, the closet was a walk-in and there were so many drawers and shelves that we were unable to fill them. No need to push luggage under the bed as there was lots of room to stack it in the closet. The bathroom was small but efficient with a vanity and a narrow version of a full size tub. What a bonus!!!!
The ship itself was sparkling from stem to stern, and it remained that way throughout the cruise. This was a fact remarked on by many passengers, it was just a beautiful ship. We sailed away from Genoa right on time to the strains of Andrea Bocelli singing "Time to Say Goodbye" (in Italian of course) this became a theme as we left each port, we kind of liked it.
We tend to choose our cruises by itinerary and not by cruise company and this was no exception. The weather and the itinerary were wonderful and even the five days at sea as we crossed the Atlantic were sunny and warm.
We took city tours in both Barcelona and Casablanca and loved both cities and felt that the tours were well worth it. In Tenerife and Funchal we walked to town and poked around on our own, something that we enjoy doing and find it a break from the regimentation of tours.
Once in the islands we did a Catamaran snorkeling expedition in Barbados which was wonderful and a beach day in Antigua, we spoke with some who had done the swimming with the Rays and were sorry that we had not chosen that as they were very enthusiastic. We did Charlotte Amelie and Old San Juan on our own and loved both places although Old San Juan was a bit crowded and frantic in the downtown area.
I have focused on the positives of the cruise and I have done so because we truly enjoyed it but I do feel that some consideration must be given to the negatives.
The food on board the Lirica is not the best, I don't think that it was as bad as some would have you believe but they certainly do not know how to cook meats or fish. There was not a lot of focus on spices and meals came out mostly bland and overcooked. There was however, a great focus on fruits and vegetables and the soups for the most part were delicious. There were many passengers complaining about the food and threatening to withhold their gratuities, which would be unfair as the wait staff were wonderful and it is certainly not their fault that the food is not up to par. There should have been no reason to go hungry however and I think that given all of the positives, the food issue should not ruin your vacation.
I personally felt that the fact that there was no casual alternative to the dining room after 6:00 pm and that they closed down the coffee and tea at times, was a much bigger issue. I have never been on a cruise where there was not at least coffee, hot tea and iced tea available at any time. It was also very uncool to be clearing the tables in the dining room and taking away your plates while you were still eating your breakfast. I think the wait staff is instructed to do this and it is bad form.
There were a few Italian staff on board and it would not be a mistake to send a few of them to charm school, one in particular who worked at reception, just about everyone had her number and tried to avoid dealing with her.
Disembarkation was easy although we were kept waiting for over an hour for our color to be called, there was no explanation but I suspect that the problem lay mostly with American customs and clearing the ship.
I don't know if I would recommend MSC and the Lirica to anyone but I will not say that we would not go again if the itinerary was right.