Embarkation: A breeze! We decided to get to port everglades at noon, and there was quite the line forming out of the building. We stood in line for about 15 minutes. When we got inside the terminal, we went into the express check in line. Luckily we completed this before we left, because the line was wayyyy shorter than the regular line. Check in was super fast, and we were walking onto the ship by 12:45. There was a line of crew wearing there uniforms, and white gloves to show the passengers to their rooms. Great touch! We were in our room by 1 pm.
Our room: We were in an oceanview room, room 9068 to be exact. The room, well actually the entire ship was immaculate. Super clean. There was a bowl of fruit that was always replenished day after day. Our room wasn't as small as expected. There was a lot of storage space. We fit 5 big suitcases under our bed. The closets were large, and there were drawers in one which was excellent. The bathroom had quite alot of storage too, with shelves in one corner, and a cupboard under the sink. The towels were nice and soft. The shower... well like I have read in other reviews, was on the small side, but we are not big people, so had no problems at all. We managed to fit two of us in there. If you are a larger person, lets say 200lbs +, you may have a challenge. There were lots of shampoo and soap in the bathroom. There was no lotion, which we didn't care about, but I overheard some passengers who were livid that there was none in their stateroom. oh well.... The beds were on the stiffer side, and the pillows were awful! I asked for four more, which helped greatly! The room steward go the pillows very promptly. Their was a large mirror and desk in one corner, where the safe is behind the mirror, with a bit more storage there again. We used the telephone for our wakeup calls. The television was good, had read in another review how small they were, but they were fine. We went on an NCL ship immediately after this cruise, and those were small computer monitors! There were a lot of channels. New movie channels, some in english, some in italian. Cartoon network etc was available too. Also, a channel with the ships info such as speed, distance, wave size etc too, which we found interesting to watch.
Staff: The staff were great. Most very pleasant. A few you just had to break the ice with, and then they'd be smiling ear to ear. Waiters/waitresses were great. They didn't hound you to buy buy buy. You just had to make eye contact and wave at them, and they'd help you. We gave a tip to one girl on the pool deck, and she gave us amazing service for the hole cruise. The ladies behind the shore excursion desk at first appeared to be unfriendly, but after seeing all the passengers not being the nicest to them, I could see why they were like that. With us, just had to joke around a bit, and then they were smiling, and joking back with us. The various languages they spoke was fantastic. A real plus for us. Didn't feel like you were leaving the states. The entertainment staff became a bit annoying after a while. Everyday when you wanted to lay by the pool and tan, or just sit outside and enjoy the sun, they would be out there from 9:30am to 4:30pm pretty much. With their microphone, doing games, competitions... and so on. It was loud, and when they have to speak in 5 different languages, after a while, you just want to go inside! Our waiter at L'laccampo was extraordinary. Virgil was very professional. He was fantastic with our daughters. He gave them extra special treatment because of their great manners. Kept bringing more and more food to them. Knew to give them iced tea when we sat down. Gave us all iced water when we arrived. Always received coffee after our meal. Him and his assistant Oka were one of a kind! We ate in the La Bussola restaurant for lunch one day, and the waiters there were not that good. Forgot pretty much everything! Our room stewards were very friendly and attentive.
Food: The food in the dining room was incredible. We visit nice restaurants a lot, and nothing can compare. Their chilled soups are great. All their soups are great! Everything was amazing. Their beef was fantastic and cooked the way we asked. Can't complain about the dining room! Early seating at 5:30 was perfect. We were usually our of there by 7. The buffet was good for breakfast. Had the same stuff everyday... scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, pastries, oatmeal, cereals, hashbrowns, prunes... Right outside from the buffet is another buffet but someone is there who will make you pancakes, waffles, omelettes, eggs how you want them, and then you help yourself to the bacon etc. We liked that area more. There was always orange juice and pineapple juice and coffee by the outdoor buffet. The indoor buffet had apple juice, grapefruit juice, oj... along with milk and chocolate milk. For lunch, we would go to the buffet. We went to the la bussola once for lunch, and the service was not great, and the waiter would offer everyone ketchup etc, but always forgot about our daughters. That kinda sucked. Meal times... alright, breakfast was served from 6:30am to 10 am in the buffet. Dining room breakfast was from 7am to 9:30am. Dining room lunch was from noon to 1:30pm. Buffet lunch was from noon to 2:30pm. Pizzeria was open from noon to 3 and 4 to 6pm. The outdoor buffet (La Pergola) served lunch from noon to 3pm. and served from 4 to 6pm as well. There was usually coffee and cranberry juice served for lunches. We didn't mind the times, it worked for all of us! The food though, it was good! Ice cream bar was fantastic too. It's not the cheap soft ice cream. Its very good homemade type ice cream where they make u banana splits and stuff. Reasonably priced! Beverages on the ship were reasonably priced. 4 beers for $12. 6.90 for cocktails. You could by a book of cocktail coupon for $69 for 12. We preordered a bunch of items. I had prebooked beer coupons, which was for 12 bottles of beer. We tried to buy another booklet on board, but were told you can only order the beer bottle coupons in advance. Only draft coupons you can get on the ship. We also ordered 7 bottles of wine for the dining room, which was great. Just give the waiter the coupon at the beginning, and tell him which wine you would like, and away you go.
Entertainment: Well, we didn't go to any entertainment. Our kids did during kids club, and they seemed to enjoy it. There was always someone singing, or playing instrument in the public rooms in the evening. Was quite nice when you are walking around in the evening. We played bingo one day, which was fun. Every night at 11pm they have a buffet with some neat carvings etc. That was nice. We would go to the card room (which is kinda hard to find) in the evenings to play cards. Sometimes it was full... Like I said earlier, the entertainment staff were a bit annoying to us. Would have been nice to have a few hours by the pool with just some music playing, instead of someone yelling in the microphone!
Public Rooms: The ship had a wonderful layout. It all ran very smooth from end to end. There were no hidden rooms, where you had to walk in one room to get to another one. Once again, so clean. There were hand sanitizers in every room pretty much. Lots of mirrors, brass, marble. Someone was polishing the brass railings etc 24/7. Washrooms were very large and immaculate. The windows were a bit salt coated from the water hitting it and drying. We went to the Lord Nelson pub in the evening because you can smoke there, and my hubby smokes. The ventilation wasn't the greatest! Internet, don't waste your precious time or money! I tried 3 times, and it was so slow, and would eventually freeze up on me. They still charged me for it....
Kids Club: There were about ten or twelve kids in our daughters age group. After the fourth night, they said they didn't want to go because they kept going to the disco to dance. But, after the fourth night, they didn't do dance thing anymore, so they kept going. Every morning with you daily program, you also get a program for the kids club. Kids club runs from 10am to noon, 3pm to 5pm, and 8 to 10pm. They would bring the kids to some of the shows, and would reserve the front row for the kids. They liked the shows. They would also have competitions for girls against the boys and win doremi points, which you use at the end of the cruise to get prizes. Maria was a nice lady who took care of this age group. Our girls still speak of her a lot. There wasn't as much offered as on other ships, but our girls got to meet new friends. The prizes they got to choose from at the end of the cruise were more for much younger kids. Our girls usually only went in the evening. There were lots of kids things on the ship though. There was fooseball, ping pong, swimming (shallow side and a deepside), mini golf (was being repaired for the last half of the cruise).
Ports of call: We chose this cruise for the itinerary. Puerto rico we have been to before, but still had a great time. We arrived on time, and left on time. St Maarten we thought we arrived at 7 am, but instead were told it was 7:30, which messed things up a bit since we had booked a private tour, but after calling our guide from our phone in our cabin ($17 for 6 minutes) we managed to still make the tour. Martinique was disappointing, I don't think we heard any good things about this place. there really wasn't much to do there. Antigua we swam with the stingrays. Really wasn't worth the money, but was still interesting. We booked this thru the ship, and man, were there a lot of people on this one, should have booked privately! Tortola, here is a place we will go back to in a year! Beautiful. But once again, we booked with the ship, and there were LOTS of people. The excursions thru the ship are organized really well. We just didn't not like how there were so many people, not from our ship, but from all the ships on the one tour. We had prebooked our excursions in advance. If you plan on going on some ship excursions, book them early. They sold out of certain tours before the ship even left fort lauderdale! But, when word of caution. We prebooked, and saw the tours go on our credit card, and rec'd our tour coupons in our cabin, but my inlaws who also came with us, did the same thing as us, and didn't get any excursions. The shore excursion desk said they had no record of them booking it. My inlaws should have brought their credit card receipt with them to show. They had to pay for all their tours on the ship, and are in the process right now of getting credit now for the ones they rebooked. The private island was amazing. We just laid on the beach all day. The tenders going their were very fast. They had everyone on the island by 11am. Going back to the ship took a while though, since everyone left at the last minute.
Disembarkation: They gave everyone at the beginning of the cruise a form to fill out if you wanted to do the self disembarkation, but we decided not to do that. On the last day, they gave out all new luggage tags. It went according to if you were doing a tour after the cruise, even #'s on deck 9, odd #'s on deck 9, and so on. We were not in any hurry to get off. We were going on an NCL cruise right after. We were off the ship by 9:30 am. Customs and luggage collection were a fast breeze! Plenty of cabs etc outside the terminal. We paid $23 pp to go from port everglades to port of miami.
Just a quick note, the MSC Lirica put the NCL ship to shame. We could do nothing but tell passengers on the NCL ship how fantastic the Lirica was. She is an amazing ship! Have a good time! Also, we would say 70% of passengers were not from the US. There were maybe 10% from canada, and the rest from the states. Being from Canada, this was a perfect mix. Felt like a unique vacation! Met people from all over the world! __________________