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August 28, 2004




Launched in 2003, the MSC Lirica gleams with impeccable public rooms in pleasant colour schemes of peach, cream, teal and blue. Understated elegance best describes the vessel. Staterooms and suites are well-appointed with all the usual amenities. A very nice touch is a pitcher of iced water, bucket of ice and fresh fruit bowl in every room that is replenished as consumed.

Our itinerary included San Juan, Antigua, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Barts, Tortola and Nassau. While in the Caribbean the passenger mix is 80% North American and 20% European, but when the ship is in Europe the reverse would be true. English, French, German, Italian and Spanish are spoken onboard. Thankfully there are few announcements over the PA, but at shows the Cruise Director would address us in five languages. The ship employs staff fluent in each major language to conduct information talks in separate lounges and guests speaking the same language are seated in the same areas of the dining room.


MSC Cruises does not push bar drinks which is a welcomed relief; although prices are the most reasonable we have ever seen on ships. Gambling is also not big onboard – the casino is small and bingo is only one 15-minute game. There is a $14 per day charge to use the sauna and steam room which we found highly unusual. Nightly shows were excellent and our applause goes to an exceptional quartet of flamenco dancers from Spain. It is evident that English is not the first language of the headline singers, they would have been better off singing in Italian.

We had mixed reviews on the food and service onboard. At the buffet, cutlery and paper napkins are dispensed from metal containers cafeteria-style. There are no trays for your plate and no staff is available to provide assistance. We noticed canned pineapple rings and peach halves in the fresh fruit selection. At breakfast, rectangular hashbrowns are straight out of the frozen package with diagonal grilled marks. Juice is served in small and flimsy plastic cups. Pizza, burgers, hotdogs & fries at the outdoor grill were under heat lamps. The Food & Beverage Manager advised us that the buffet plays second fiddle as guests are encouraged to eat in the main dining room, but MSC Cruises is taking steps to improve the buffet.

The excellent dining room service is enhanced by the camaraderie of the waiters, most of who hail from Sorrento. Dinner is always a festive event with waiters singing and sharing stories. The menu is varied and featured many fish, meats and vegetarian dishes but sometimes have unrecognizable names such as Tyrolean Speck and lack description so we had to ask what they were. A pasta and risotto dish is always available as are vegetarian and healthy choice dishes. Dessert is not a big emphasis as only one cake is offered and the rest is ice cream or sherbet. Meal portions are excessively large, although we were advised that it is the Italian hospitality, we can’t help but see it as being wasteful. A midnight buffet is still offered each night with an impressive gala buffet at the end of the cruise.

MSC Cruises would be suitable for first time cruisers. Experienced cruisers need to be prepared for slightly different food and service standards. All cruisers need to be advised of the international passenger mix and the different languages onboard. MSC Cruises is eager to tap the North American cruiser and they do listen to guests’ suggestions and will be making adjustments to improve the product for the North American cruiser. We look forward to seeing more of MSC in the future!

Elegant ship, beautifully appointed with pleasant décor throughout
Spacious staterooms with great amenities
Excellent Caribbean itinerary offering unusual ports with convenient roundtrip Ft. Lauderdale departure
Very reasonable bar prices and no pushy waiters selling drinks

Food and service levels need to be brought up to North American standards
Buffet amenities and selection needs improvement
Casino games and bingo very limited
North American guests should be prepared to be among European passengers speaking different languages

Written By Ming Tappin, MCC

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Posted by Denise at August 28, 2004 10:15 PM
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