As we boarded at F.L.on 23rd April 2009,we were still "virgin"cruisers!meaning to say we were ignorant of what went on on arrival aboard.Thus to our surprise of the LIRICA about a late with the tranfer from Miami we saw some passengers doing the boat drill at about 17.15hrs;Having been ushered to our cabin by a polite steward-then,but as time went on waiting for our baggage the steward kept pressing whether we were going to dinner-not thinking of the significance of it at the time;After the wife had put most of the contents of the baggages we eventually arrived at the restaraunt and encountered a barrage of remarks from waiters and Maitre de that were we late!After pleading with them of our ignorance of the strickness of the dining timings rules-ON OUR FIRST DAY OF THE CRUISE he relented and actually allowed us to sit down but only for this time.My point it appeared that the cruise ship crew and officers assume that one has been on a cruise before. At no point was a constructive level of information asking if one a is a "virgin" cruiser they would be able to assist in procedure etc;
Our second gripe was that we was given to believe that is was ocean voyage and only partial Caribbean therefore assumed as the ship was Italian owned that Euros would be dominant currency and only Puerto Rico would be in Dollars for excursions and the remainder ports in Euros as Martinique was French and dealt in Euros.But no ALL excursions including Madeira,Portugal,Spain and France plus Dover were in DOLLARS.
We were given to believe that the time of five days at sea after Martinique would be filled when NOT TO MISS ENTERTAINMENT!-Not so,by the time then third day arrived my wife and I saw the same entertainers at the Broadway theatre in different guises and giving the similar themes of show titles. The ship was absolutely spotless every day and night we even saw a rather tired but polite worker polishing one of the many stairs at 11.30 at night!
We found that the crew above the waiters and other lowly workers seem to think they were above our station and wasn't prepared to consider and compramise any our queries. Our last gripe was the day of the disembarkation at Dover;we were herded into the Broadway Theatre- rather the corridors leading to it for over an hour so that the British customs would assess our documents-then a further 45 minutes to get off the ship.No crew were at hand to assist but only after a near riot erupted with some disabled passenegers unable to get out of lifts.
Meals were average-only that our waiters were helpful and guided through most complicated menus we ever imagined after pointing out of our "virginity"!We think that the 15% charge on at the bars for drinks paid the CAPTAIN'S COCKTAIL EVENINGS twice on TWO evenings during the voyage. Ouir last gripe was that we had to wait for 8 hours at Heathrow for our a RETURN flight to Manchester although having asked the T.A.to ask why on our behalf they were told as it was on a Transatlantic Voyage we could encounter some kind delay!Absolute rubbish-There already a excursion list given for Dover giving options on passengers tranfering to Heathrow on flights after 5.30pm for an excursion to London or Canterbury on would be dropped off at Heathrow at a cost of 93 dollars! But we were not put off cruising in the near future we like it but not with MSC ever-space does not allow us to go further in our criticism.
All the ports we visited were superbly situated and suited us greatly excepting Le Havre which is not on the port choice-it was quite a walk from the terminal to the City-and were offered free travel by the city council-it was on a Friday and it was day of "Bank" holiday and the streets were virtually deserted and very few if any shop open!