MSC Lirica Review 2019
We were a little apprehensive about our cruise onboard the MSC Lirica.
We had had a previous disastrous mini cruise onboard the MSC Magnifica, and to their credit, MSC gave us a full refund and promised a discount on a future cruise. This is the cruise we chose, mostly because it was cheap and had a good itinerary.
We booked the cheapest inside cabin, we organised our own flights and transfers and the only additional thing we added on was a soft drinks package. Our thoughts were that we were going to lots of lovely places – a different port every day, so if the ship experience was disappointing, we wouldn’t have felt we had lost much!
This was very much “Make or break” as far as us and MSC cruises went, this was their one chance to redeem themselves!
Embarkation MSC Lirica
We were quite anxious about this, due to our previous Magnifica experience.
When we approached the cruise terminal building, we were met by a lady from MSC and two large lines of people waiting to embark. She directed us to one of the lines, and we stood there for a couple of minutes, before thinking, “Hold on, we are black card members, we are supposed to have priority boarding.” I went back to the lady again, and she directed me to another, much shorter queue, and we were able to board very quickly after that.
The cabin was ready as soon as got onboard, and our cruise cards were left in the cabin for us. The bag arrived very quickly afterwards.
Our Inside Cabin
We were very pleased with the inside cabin that we had been allocated. We didn’t have any choice in where it was and we had been slightly worried because it was right at the back of the ship on deck 7. Normally we choose to be on deck 9 or 10, normally in a balcony cabin in the middle of the ship. It turned out to be a great place for us!
The layout of the Lirica meant that there were doors at the end of all the corridors, leading to open decks at the back. We were only one cabin away from the door, so easy to make a break for the outside if we wanted to see what was going on.
Yes, it was slightly noisier being at the back, but we could easily tell from the change in engine noise if we were docking or sailing away, and we could poke our head out of the back door and make sure we weren’t missing anything! It also meant we could easily nip up the outside back steps to the buffet on deck 11, or sit in the lovely bar at the back on deck 12. (We never found that bar open – such a waste, it was a lovely place to sit and look out.)
The MSC Lirica
The ship was smaller than many we had been on. Hubby thought he would like a slightly bigger ship, but I was perfectly happy on the Lirica. The bars always had plenty of space, and we never struggled to get a seat. We spent many a happy hour sat in the coffee bar in the centre of the ship, people watching.
The ship was always kept spotlessly clean. It never felt cramped or crowded, like many other ships we have tried.
I know Emma has talked at length about us being Black Members of the MSC loyalty scheme. Because we had loyalty status with Norwegian, and MSC will match your status with another cruise line. If you have loyalty points elsewhere, it really is worth filling in the form and getting the extra benefits!
To find out more about the black card benefits, check out the post here: MSC Voyagers Black Card Perks.
One benefit I have already mentioned is the priority embarkation, which made getting onboard easy. We got champagne and chocolate dipped strawberries in the cabin – what’s not to like? A free chocolate ship, a free visit to the sauna and steam room, and were also invited to a very nice “Black card holders” cocktail party with free drinks and nibbles.
Priority Tender Tickets
The priority tender tickets were also got were actually was very handy! When we visited Albania, we were in the second tender boat to leave the ship. We thought the port was very quiet, and lovely – it turned out that they had stopped all the other tenders leaving, as the sea was too rough! Very few of us got ashore, we were very lucky! We had wondered why there were so many people watching our return to the ship, they probably wondered if we were going to get back in one piece. (It was pretty bumpy but great fun!)
Another perk was a meal in a speciality restaurant, with no cover charge. Unfortunately for us, the only speciality restaurant onboard served Sushi, and I wouldn’t eat fish (raw or otherwise!) if you paid me!
After a few days on the cruise, we noticed they had a sort of “Pop up” restaurant near the buffet on deck eleven. We asked if we could try this restaurant instead, and they very kindly organised that and made the booking for us. The T-bone steak we had was lovely – they also had Lobster Tails on the menu, but luckily they didn’t come anywhere near me with those!
Food & Drink on the MSC Lirica
The food was FAR better than our Magnifica experience! I can’t say I ever had a bad meal. The portions weren’t huge, like on some of the American ships, but that suited me, I didn’t want to come home 7lbs heavier!
We had a set meal time of 6.30pm, and shared the table with another British couple. I’m not a keen table sharer, but they were very nice, and it was good to find out what others had been up to and what they thought of the ship.
MSC does an unusual thing at breakfast and lunchtime. You can go to the main dining room and have a sit down meal, but they also have a buffet going on in the same restaurant at the same time! We always think the staff would rather you got up and got your own food, but I rather like getting waited on. Sometimes the service was a little slow. We enjoyed having Eggs Benedict and Omelettes – things we would never normally have time for on a normal day.
There was a grill with burgers up on the top deck, lots of lovely pizzas (including a black, charcoal pizza!) and there were wraps and sandwiches available in the pub. We never went hungry!
After our Costa, lack of drinks experience, we decided to buy a soft drinks package. This was well worth the money for us. As well as canned soda, there was a great range of non-alcoholic mocktails, bottled water (which we were used to take to back to the cabin to have by the bed at night) but the clincher for us, was that it included tea, coffee and hot chocolate. It was well worth the money, and I would definitely buy another if I am onboard another MSC ship.
The Entertainment on the MSC Lirica
This was really the only thing I didn’t like about this MSC cruise. The entertainment just isn’t to my taste. I can completely appreciate that they can put on a conventional show when there are so many different languages spoken onboard. It was mostly singing and dancing, with a little magic or acrobatics.
The cruise director would get on the stage before the show and speak very rapidly in about six different languages. Unfortunately, even when he was speaking English, I struggled to understand him! By the time my brain realised he had swapped to English, I had missed half of it! One night I thought he was congratulating all the Japanese people onboard on the succession of their new Emperor – but Hubby thought he was talking about Freddie Mercury! (I missed that totally! Freddie must have had a mention though because the show was exclusively Queen songs!)
There was other music about the ship, but again, this really wasn’t to my taste. You may love it…
Can’t rate the staff highly enough, Abu the cabin steward, (the perfect balance of helpful inobtrusive) the lovely ladies in the coffee shop, the waiters in the main dining room and Valentina in guest relations. They always made us feel so welcome.
The only exception to the rule was Chad, the grumpy security man. It was a bit of a standing joke between us, every time we got onboard he was rude and snappy, telling the passengers off for touching his metal detector and rolling his eyes when people had the cheek to stop half the way through the arch! (Maybe he should get a job with the American Homeland Security – he would fit in perfectly!)
Some of the passengers onboard were quite rude, in my opinion. I know that I am very British, and most British people are polite to an extreme, but the way some passengers spoke to the staff (with no pleases and thankyous) is completely unacceptable in my eyes. (Good Manners cost nothing, as my old mother would say!)
Also, I couldn’t help feeling my hackles rise when you queue up in an orderly line at the buffet, but other European neighbours felt that it is acceptable just to push in and help themselves to the cookies we were all waiting for! (I am probably sounding like Emma here!) On a week’s cruise, it was a minor irritation, but if I had been there longer, it would have started to really annoy me. I am not holding MSC responsible for the rudeness of their customers!
If you’ve cruised with an American or British line before, check out this post about the differences between MSC and Royal Caribbean. They’re very different experiences and it’s better if you’re prepared.
All in all, we had a fabulous time on the MSC Lirica. We certainly got value for money. If you need Ice Rinks and Zip wires on your cruise ship, this isn’t the one for you. If you want a lovely relaxing holiday, good food, and great destinations this may well fit the bill! If the right cruise came along at the right price, I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to book MSC again.
Emma Says: Thanks for this one Mum. I’m glad MSC redeemed themselves, the cruise looked great!