The MSC Lirica was a most pleasant surprise. We booked what is called a "suite", which is really a larger, veranda cabin with a sitting area.(category 11) The cabin is approx. 301 sq. ft. and is very well designed with excellent closet space, a wonderful bathroom with a full tub, a nice but smallish sitting area, a very comfortable queen sized bed, and a decent verandah. The original art works in each suite are quite outstanding, and the service by our stewards was simply the best!
The ship itself is stylishly decorated, with an abundance of excellent public space, a great pool deck, and friendly staff (with the exception of the front desk gals, who seemed too cool and aloof.
There are several dining options including two main dining rooms, a very well designed, and pleasant buffet restaurant, two outside grills, and many interesting bars and lounges. The food was also a very nice surprise. In the two formal dining rooms, all meals were excellent, and the waiter service by a main waiter with an assistant waiter too, was top drawer. In fact, after many, many cruises, this was almost the best service we've experienced including Crystal and Silverseas. The wine list was quite decent and very fairly priced. The buffet restaurant food was a shade above OK, but with lots of variety. The pizza grill had an excellent variety, and seemed to be almost always available. The hamburger, frank, chicken grill with all the fixings was also quite good, as was the ice cream bar in the afternoons.
Lounges were all great with nice design, excellent art work and friendly service. Drink prices were also quite reasonable, and unlike many other cruise lines, the staff was not constantly pushing drink specials, etc. Service was laid-back, professional and very friendly.
The ship has a wonderful show room, but we found the shows universally not too great. The different bands, groups, soloists in the various lounges, however, were all really good, and the music on board was a definite highlight.
There were very few of those annoying PA announcements, which is a blessing, though the day time entertainment by the pool was usually much to loud, with a lot of screaming into the mike by the staff. The ship is large enough, however, to get a way from that. We also felt that the photographers were a bit too pushy, but that has now become the case on most ships.
Deck space was great, with many, many excellent places to read, sun, sip, etc. with very few other folks to disturb your privacy. There was never a shortage of comfortable lounge chairs, with built-in sun shades as well.
Considering the price, which is extremely reasonable, the MSC Lirica is a great ship, and a wonderful cruise experience.