LIVE from MSC Lirica!

Okay, we have sailed! On our way, after tomorrow at sea, to CAyo Levantado in the D.R.

First, some housekeeping items. I want to give a shout out to my friends at Special Needs at Sea, they came thru again, and everything was all set to go when we got to our stateroom.

Boarding was as painless as any line I have cruised with. Our party was all together at 1pm, went in, swiped passports and credit cards, and on the boat by 1:15, where a white gloved steward took us to our stateroom. It doesn't get any better than that.

After a little break, we went up to the Buffet for some lunch, and everything was, well, as good as buffets get; which is to say, not exactly haute cuisine, but it was hot, tasty and varied. Tried some ravioli in cream sauce, chicken Romano, pork Milanese and Sheperd's pie...all good.And all better than I expected, based on some of the reviews I have read.Their is a nice outside area to eat - but it got cold and blustery just about the time we were boarding so we ate inside the buffet proper. After lunch, we took a quick tour of the ship, all the usual bars, lounges, shops, blah, blah, blah, and a smallish casino. I will report more, when I actually experience the venues.

By the time we got back all our luggage was in the room waiting for us - again, as quickly as any line I have sailed with lately.

Quick unpacking, while ditching the muster drill, and time for dinner. Left the rest of my party, who were still full from lunch, and went up to the L'Ippocampo dining room. Met up with a couple of TA friends, and were joined by Jean Rice, one of MSC's group dept people. As some of you know, I had a bit of a set to with MSC about my stateroom assignment a couple of weeks ago. Ms. Rice is the lady who fixed it, and she was every bit as interested in discussing the issue, and how to prevent it in the future, as she was when we were actually working through, so props to her...a few more like that, and some of the customer service dings MSC has been getting, will surely lessen.

As far as the ship, I can only say the LIRICA is an example of a great little cruise ship from the 80's...even though it was built in 2000, it is (I think)the third in a series built for the now defunct Festival line, and obviously was designed in the late 80's/early 90's. The hallways are too narrow, as are the elevator, and every threshold on every fire door is a lip at least an inch high, making navigation with a wheelchair nearly impossible. While the stateroom itself is barrier free, and well laid out, the ship as a whole is at least a generation behind. While most people would never notice, slow walkers and wheelchair users should be warned, this may not be the best ship for you.

So, in conclusion, based on first impressions, I think I like MSC, and would recommend them, but I am not sure the Lirica would be on my list for my disabled clients...but it's only the first day...we shall see what we shall see.

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