The first voyage of the stretched Lirica (251 to 275 m), Genoa to Rio. The ship wasn't full, but busy nonetheless, and dread the feeding arrangements if it was full.
Overall the ship was clean and well-maintained, the food good although some economies were evident (compared to previous MSC cruises). The buffet was best avoided (crowded during meal times); we used the waiter served restaurants below deck. Lunch was the best meal of the day. The usual MSC Italian food (pizzas and pasta) was good. Sadly MSC cannot do scones, although their bread was tasty.
As usual the entertainment staff work their socks off (their dance classes were particularly good, notably the Brazilian folklore dancers). Our cabin was in the stretched portion of the ship so a brand new cabin which was well designed and worked well (although we did have occasional problems with hot water) - well sound proofed and no creaking. The cabin attendants worked harder than ever - I supect they have more rooms to look after than on previous cruises, but have no evidence for this view. And MSC have stopped the excellent free early morning stretch classes in the gym organised by gym staff (now run by entertainments staff next to the pool and less professional). One other serious point is that smoking was allowed adjacent to the exercise area by the pool - as one stretched/danced one inhaled great gusts of second hand cigar and cigarette smoke.
What were the areas that need some improvements? Its the little things like the webcam/Lirica position not working most of the time. The absence of English language stations on the TV (outwith the Mediterranean) and English movies. The casual approach of passengers to the alcohol hand washes- staff did not enforce. There was the usual bug circulating (cough/ upper respiratory tract infection) but I figure these are unavoidable with close contact with passengers in the theatre, restaurants/bars etc. De-caffeinated coffee and tea disappeared early during the cruise ( I blame light fingered passengers hoovering up the sachets), one had to ask the attendant for a de-caffeinated portion.
Evening theatre performances a mixed bag (we had seen 80% before) but with so many nationalities on board they have to be non-speaking; the classical concerts were excellent (an MSC strength).
Library poor, and they do not have a book-swap arrangement (in fact I suspect previous passengers' books comprise the MSC library).
It was a good trip for dancing, despite the minute dancing areas and the fact that many singers/performers seemed to avoid good dancing tunes.
We will take this cruise again (Brazil quite safe if one is careful) - we enjoy the MSC product and the Rio trip in November is a welcome change from autumnal Britain.
Cabin fine - we know what to expect with an MSC inside cabin.
Rio a super destination with huge beaches (Copacabana and Ipenema), good shops (and cheaper than other Brazil stops for tourist items). Money changing a bit awkward if you want to exchange euros/dollars. Food by weight in some restaurants an interesting option.
As we had visited it before we stayed on the ship
Nice play to visit particularly wandering around the town
One of the better stops. Enjoyed the Roman ruins.