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mef_57

Lirica - as bad as some reviews state?

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I am new to MSC.  I have a week booked for Adriatic in April 2020 but am looking to change it to the Dubai to Venice cruise same month on the Lirica. 

 

I have cruised  and enjoyed Costa twice - albeit Caribbean and 10 years ago, NCL and Cunard recently.  I am a seasoned independent traveler so don't expect to meet 100 new friends on board, nor to have a ship with all the bells and whistles, but it is difficult to ignore so many recent reviews of 1 - 3*.  I also recognize that many reviewers have only provided 1 review, so one wonders whether to give them much merit.

 

I found I enjoy sea days and the ports are a way to see the area without dealing with organizing my own logistics, so the main appeal is the itinerary and route.  However, if ship's calibre is dropping consistently, then 3 weeks is going to be a loooooong trip. (12 days has been my longest cruise and wasn't long enough in my opinion)

 

I am mostly introverted and spend a lot of time reading, or keeping myself occupied.  I am fine with an inside cabin but hope for some quieter areas on board for watching the scenery or reading on deck.

 

I prefer European menus compared to the standard (and boring) North American  preferences. I can even accept 'boring' if there is some variety.  I prefer MDR as not having to prep or serve my own meals is a treat 🙂

 

I understand it is different, and I'll accept the 7 languages.  I'll have to figure out the smoking area, as I am allergic and know to expect more smoke than some ships, but given the poor design and ventilation on NCL Dawn, I can usually find some alternative.

 

I believe some may have just returned from a similar itinerary and hope to hear their feedback on the ship experience, as well as the itinerary.

 

Is it as 'bad' as they say, or are they just not open minded to a different style of cruising?

 

Thanks.

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Hi,

My wife & I have recently returned from Lirica's sailing & had a great time. 

This was our fifth MSC cruise, the last one being five years ago on Sinfonia, another repo, Capetown to Genoa.

Like you we picked on the strength of the itinerary. During sea days we spent most of our time on deck, we had an inside cabin. Chair hogs were rife, as you're travelling solo that may not be such an issue, as you'll be able to get one somewhere. 

If you prefer indoors there were many lounges, the Blue Club disco was predominantly used at night only & with a wraparound aft view on deck 12 it's ideal to retire to with a book.

Food, we reckoned, was much improved over our last sailing. On most sea days there was a themed lunch special set up in the semi outdoor La Pergola area as well as the buffet & MDR. We heard from some others that the service in the MDR for breakfast & lunch was a little haphazard, but we prefer the buffet for those times, so can't comment.

We had the early sitting in the evening, 6.30, as second at 9.00 was way too late. The menus were certainly more European, think pasta, fish, risotto etc. Failing that there was an always available menu containing things like grilled chicken,  fish & palliard steak,  which was certainly a hit with one of our table mates, who seemed to live on steak & chips (fries) for three weeks! 

Announcements were kept to a minimum, so the multiple languages weren't an intrusion. 

Smoking was more prevalent than other cruises we have been on especially in the Lord Nelson pub on deck 5. It was half & half smoking/non smoking which made no sense as the smoke drifted through the whole room & could be smelt out in the neighbouring areas to a lesser degree. 

Ports of call, other than Aqaba & Eilat (ships tours Petra & Dead Sea) we did our own thing. 

Overall we had a great experience & wouldn't hesitate to sail with MSC in the future. The comments from others either in conversation or overheard ranged from a couple who regularly cruise on Azamara who loved it & another who was telling every official he could find as we disembarked that it was the worst cruise he had been on! 

I don't want to ramble on or turn this into a blow by blow review, but feel free to ask any questions. 

Regards

Mark & Heather

 

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4 hours ago, the wandering two said:

Hi,

My wife & I have recently returned from Lirica's sailing & had a great time.

I don't want to ramble on or turn this into a blow by blow review, but feel free to ask any questions. 

Regards

Mark & Heather

 

Thanks Mark & Heather for the positive feedback. This puts my mind at rest to a large extent.  I particularly appreciate the overheard conversations of others as that shows you can't please everyone all the time. 

I typically don't eat beef or chicken on a cruise as it seems to be the worst cooked or poorest cut.  Fish or vegetarian works.  I don't tolerate wheat well, so pasta will be a minimum but I enjoy risotto.  If they have alternate meats or fowl, I found those may be cooked well as attention needs to be paid to the item.  I learned to enjoy guinea fowl on Costa - when they had a better food budget than I hear they have now.  Cunard was a once in a lifetime trip so I reveled in their diverse menus. At one dinner a table mate asked if I would ever order 'normal' food.  I think that was the night I ordered the frogs legs appetizer.  But, it is is steak and chips well cooked, or lots of salads, I'll take it even if it is several days in a row.  The themed lunch specials sound good, particularly if outside.  Like you, I would take the early seating.

Some questions:

- were there many children on this route?

- is there a thermal suite with affordable packages for it?  Given the number of sea days, I would consider a full trip package as it seems day passes are pretty much unavailable on heavy sea day itineraries.

- When you say you did your own port arrangements, did you hire local for sightseeing or just walk off and do your own thing?  I expect I would arrange ship trip for Petra as well. Haven't looked at Eilat options.  DIY tends to be my preference as well. 

Thanks again for the response.

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Hi,

Re children, not many & any that were on board were unobtrusive. 

We don't do any of the spas on ships. Would normally use the gym, but there was enough walking space on deck for our daily walk, so didn't even see what was in there. I'm sure someone else with more comprehensive MSC info may chip in at this point.

 

Our ports differ a little from next year's itinerary. Unless there was a must see location we just wandered around the towns. The ones that we visited........

 

Muscat

The ship docks right in town, it's an easy walk along the Corniche & a double back through the souk. Wifi available in the duty free shop in port, €3 For 2 hours, if memory serves.

 

Eilat 

Ships tour to Dead Sea & Masada fort. Although the latter was cancelled due to flash floods earlier in the day that closed the main road. We received a 30% refund onto our onboard account. 

One peculiarity of MSC is that any positive balance left at the end of the cruise has to be collected from guest services in cash,  most would just refund onto a credit card. I suppose at least you know you're got it back there & then.

 

Aqaba

Petra, the highlight of the trip. Given the distance from Aqaba port we went with the security of not missing the ship & went with an MSC tour.

 

Limassol

Very new looking cruise terminal, a couple of miles from Limassol town. There is a local bus stop (route 30) just outside the terminal building €1.50 each way into town.

 

Piraeus

Would have taken the metro into Athens, had we been able to dock.  Rough seas & high winds routed us to Corfu instead.

 

Katakolon

Hadn't decided if we wanted to go to Olympia,  there isn't a lot left to see.

On exiting the port there is the usual gaggle of taxi drivers  as well as private coach companies offering transfers there. At €8 it was too good to pass up. On arrival the options were to either pay the entrance fee if you want a close up look at the site & museum or stay with our guide for a short walk to get an overview.

We walked with our guide which took around 30 mins & went for a wander into the town for lunch. We were back in Katakolon in good enough time for a wander around the shops there also.

 

Split

Another easy wander around the town (Diotlechians palace is the historic core of Split), not far from the cruise port, unless you want to go further afield. 

 

Feel free to ask any other questions.

 

M

 

 

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Thank you very much for your comprehensive review. We are doing this cruise in November this year, and have been a little concerned about the very negative reviews about MSC and the Lirica. Your review certainly helps.

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We visited Eilat on Sinfonia (Venice-Durban 2016).  We took the MSC excursion to Jerusalem which entailed a flight down and a 4 hour bus journey back later that night (most people slept on the journey back to port, so it wasn't a hardship).  I'd highly recommend it if it's within your budget (and, of course, if it's still being offered).

 

We also did the ship's tour to Petra - I agree with the wandering two's assessment.  It certainly was a highlight (as was the day out in Jerusalem).

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2 hours ago, Beamafar said:

We visited Eilat on Sinfonia (Venice-Durban 2016).  We took the MSC excursion to Jerusalem which entailed a flight down and a 4 hour bus journey back later that night (most people slept on the journey back to port, so it wasn't a hardship).  I'd highly recommend it if it's within your budget (and, of course, if it's still being offered).

 

We also did the ship's tour to Petra - I agree with the wandering two's assessment.  It certainly was a highlight (as was the day out in Jerusalem).

16 hours ago, the wandering two said:

Hi,

Re children, not many & any that were on board were unobtrusive. 

We don't do any of the spas on ships. Would normally use the gym, but there was enough walking space on deck for our daily walk, so didn't even see what was in there. I'm sure someone else with more comprehensive MSC info may chip in at this point.

 

Our ports differ a little from next year's itinerary. Unless there was a must see location we just wandered around the towns. The ones that we visited........

 

M

Feel free to ask any other questions.

 

M

 

Thanks for the details in this (shortened) reply.  Good to know what is worth ship's destinations vs diy. 

Jerusalem sounds like a real trek but worth it as this is a one shot visit to that part of the world.

Too bad the November 2019 repositioning cruise is sold out.  It is not ideal timing, but despite some port changes it has similar appeal.  I am thinking to flag my calendar to see if spots come available after final payment date. Have a plan in place and book everything quickly - doable for cruises with limited port days.  Unfortunately, next November's repo is shortened so less appealing and more expensive.

Thanks again.

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22 minutes ago, mef_57 said:

Thanks for the details in this (shortened) reply.  Good to know what is worth ship's destinations vs diy. 

Jerusalem sounds like a real trek but worth it as this is a one shot visit to that part of the world.

Too bad the November 2019 repositioning cruise is sold out.  It is not ideal timing, but despite some port changes it has similar appeal.  I am thinking to flag my calendar to see if spots come available after final payment date. Have a plan in place and book everything quickly - doable for cruises with limited port days.  Unfortunately, next November's repo is shortened so less appealing and more expensive.

Thanks again.

 

That was our thinking re the trip to Jerusalem.

 

I'm a bit confused about your statement about it being too bad that the Nov 2019 repo is sold out.  If you're referring to the Venice-Dubai one, it looks like there's availability in all categories on the UK site.  If you were interested, you could contact MSC and request that they get Inventory to release a cabin for you.

 

However, you then go on to state that next November's repo is shortened so less appealing and more expensive.  It appears that you're referring to 2 different cruises (though they're the same date).

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17 minutes ago, Beamafar said:

 

That was our thinking re the trip to Jerusalem.

 

I'm a bit confused about your statement about it being too bad that the Nov 2019 repo is sold out.  If you're referring to the Venice-Dubai one, it looks like there's availability in all categories on the UK site.  If you were interested, you could contact MSC and request that they get Inventory to release a cabin for you.

 

However, you then go on to state that next November's repo is shortened so less appealing and more expensive.  It appears that you're referring to 2 different cruises (though they're the same date).

US site is sold out for Nov 21 2019 departure.  Thanks for letting me know there is space via UK site. I guess I could see what my travel agent can dig up for accessibility.

'next November'...I guess I should have said 'following November'  which still isn't correct as the 2020 Venice to Dubai repositioning cruise is actually October 30, 2020.  So, different years.  It is reduced to 17 days and no Eilat or Croatia stops.

EDIT:  Actually, Nov 21 2019 is only 'sold out' when I search for pricing for 1 person.  I'll have a chat to my agent.

Edited by mef_57

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52 minutes ago, mef_57 said:

'next November'...I guess I should have said 'following November' 

 

Ah ... it makes sense now.  I should have put a virtual "the" in front of "next November" and it would have fallen into place.  Funnily enough, there was something in the back of my head that was trying to tell me that's what you meant.

 

Best of luck with making a booking - I think your TA needs to push-back with MSC 'til they get a positive outcome.

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20 minutes ago, Beamafar said:

 

Ah ... it makes sense now.  I should have put a virtual "the" in front of "next November" and it would have fallen into place.  Funnily enough, there was something in the back of my head that was trying to tell me that's what you meant.

 

Best of luck with making a booking - I think your TA needs to push-back with MSC 'til they get a positive outcome.

I did ask, but for the inside cabin that I want (can afford), there are only 2 guaranteed cabins left and MSC won't sell them as a single.  I was searching the MSC site for 1 person, and when I searched my agents' site default is '2 persons' and it was available....albeit the very limited option.  So November won't be a go unless I get it last minute. 

One needs to remember that MSC is fairly new this side of the pond, and still hasn't developed a good relationship with bookers (clients or agents).  At least their website has settled down on all the foibles it had.  There were numerous agents that refused to do any business with them a year or so ago...

On the other hand, she has put a courtesy hold on a cabin for April 2020 repo, which suits my original dates of travel (2 land weeks Italy + a 7 day Adriatic cruise).  Repo will add about half a week or so for travel dates, so need to ensure work will allow close to 4 weeks off at a go. 

As I already have an April 18 2020 from Venice departure (7 days), I won't lose either way, but can't keep both, I believe.  I have a few days to decide.

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It's not really about how long MSC has been operating in North America (actually they've had ships based there since 2006 - so they're not exactly new to the market).  The issue of solos not being able to book repos (and selected other cruises) was very regularly discussed here a number of years ago when we had 2 regular posters (who have since given up on MSC and stopped posting here) who sailed solo and began experiencing difficulties with booking repos since they've become so popular.  MSC used to offer a fantastic rate on repos as they weren't a great seller (it was known as £25/£30/£35 referring to Inside/OV/Balcony pppd rate).  

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3 minutes ago, Beamafar said:

It's not really about how long MSC has been operating in North America (actually they've had ships based there since 2006 - so they're not exactly new to the market).  The issue of solos not being able to book repos (and selected other cruises) was very regularly discussed here a number of years ago when we had 2 regular posters (who have since given up on MSC and stopped posting here) who sailed solo and began experiencing difficulties with booking repos since they've become so popular.  MSC used to offer a fantastic rate on repos as they weren't a great seller (it was known as £25/£30/£35 referring to Inside/OV/Balcony pppd rate).  

Well, I haven't seen many limitations for solo travel on test bookings - repo or otherwise, so not sure about any solo prejudice - though it exists.  But there are certainly only guaranteed interior rooms left on the November repo....so pretty much sold out on the categories I can afford.

Whether I go in November or April, I really don't care as long as a similar itinerary.  I have flagged my August calendar to look at any solo promos for the southbound repo in November.  If it comes up, then I can cancel the April dates.  All this is of course dependent on getting that much time off work.  Trying to catch up after that length is always a challege.

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On 4/16/2019 at 10:51 AM, mef_57 said:

I did ask, but for the inside cabin that I want (can afford), there are only 2 guaranteed cabins left and MSC won't sell them as a single.  I was searching the MSC site for 1 person, and when I searched my agents' site default is '2 persons' and it was available....albeit the very limited option.  So November won't be a go unless I get it last minute. 

One needs to remember that MSC is fairly new this side of the pond, and still hasn't developed a good relationship with bookers (clients or agents).  At least their website has settled down on all the foibles it had.  There were numerous agents that refused to do any business with them a year or so ago...

On the other hand, she has put a courtesy hold on a cabin for April 2020 repo, which suits my original dates of travel (2 land weeks Italy + a 7 day Adriatic cruise).  Repo will add about half a week or so for travel dates, so need to ensure work will allow close to 4 weeks off at a go. 

As I already have an April 18 2020 from Venice departure (7 days), I won't lose either way, but can't keep both, I believe.  I have a few days to decide.

Hello, I'm new to this board.  I've been looking for information on the same cruise you're considering.  I booked my reservation yesterday for the April 18th cruise.  I was actually going to book a shorter cruise for just a few gulf countries near Dubai, but ran across this Dubai-Venice one and booked it immediately.  Got an Oceanview Cabin due to the number of sea days. I don't get into too much of the entertainment or activities on board, and basically travel for the sites and history.  But, the itinerary is great and I can visit several places that are on my list in one swoop.  And spend at least a week in Venice upon the completion of the cruise.

 

After reading in here that the cruise in November 2020 will most likely not include some of the ports, I'm glad I booked early.

 

I'll be following this thread to see what you ultimately decide.  Oh, I'm a solo traveler too, but retired early.

 

Good luck☺️

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46 minutes ago, 987654321000 said:

Hello, I'm new to this board.  I've been looking for information on the same cruise you're considering.  I booked my reservation yesterday for the April 18th cruise.  I was actually going to book a shorter cruise for just a few gulf countries near Dubai, but ran across this Dubai-Venice one and booked it immediately.  Got an Oceanview Cabin due to the number of sea days. I don't get into too much of the entertainment or activities on board, and basically travel for the sites and history.  But, the itinerary is great and I can visit several places that are on my list in one swoop.  And spend at least a week in Venice upon the completion of the cruise.

 

After reading in here that the cruise in November 2020 will most likely not include some of the ports, I'm glad I booked early.

 

I'll be following this thread to see what you ultimately decide.  Oh, I'm a solo traveler too, but retired early.

 

Good luck☺️

I did book this cruise and upgraded my inside cabin to an oceanview when there was a sale the other week. I am happier knowing I'll have some sunshine.

As a new member, welcome by the way, you may not be aware of something called a Rollcall for specific cruises. Someone has started a roll call for this cruise so you could say 'hi' there to get some introductions to other cruisers on our cruise. There are other solos as well. Here is the link to the MSC rollcall page. Scroll down a bit to find out date  https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forum/740-msc-lirica-roll-calls/

 

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