For our 21-day cruise on MSC Lirica from Italy to Dubai, we booked an ocean view cabin. We like the ocean view category because unlike an interior cabin, you get a view of the outside, but at a better price than with a balcony cabin. This was of course before covid. If we take a cruise in the near future we would definitely go with a balcony so we’d have a little outdoor space in case of any sort of quarantine problems. Balconies are of course always a nice feature, especially on a warm weather cruise. On colder cruises we haven’t used them much. Since there are normally public areas to sit outdoors, when there is a big difference in price we have in the past usually opted for the lower priced cabin. This sometimes even meant settling for an inside cabin. Luckily on the Lirica we had a window. Instead of cabins with private balconies across the back of the ship, the Lirica had public balconies there so that was where we generally went when we wanted to sit outside – and the deck chairs you can lay on in public areas are more comfortable than the chairs you can only sit on that are generally found on standard cruise ship balconies anyway. While chairs on the main pool decks are often occupied by towels if not people, most ships have deck chairs in other lesser used areas, which is our preference anyway.
Our cabin on the Lirica was 9077, which is found near the front of deck 9 – the Albinoni deck, just a bit back from the forward stairway/elevators. Deck 9 had all cabins, no public areas. It was also both above and below other decks with no public areas, which is our preference as cabins away from public areas generally tend to be quieter unless you have the great misfortune of ending up with noisy neighbors. We have had that happen occasionally, but not on this ship.
Pricing on MSC is also partly determined by service level, as different cabins are assigned different levels of service. Their basic or Bella service goes to interior cabins in what they consider the least desirable locations and obstructed view cabins. Fantastica, which is their middle service level goes to the best interior cabins, ocean view cabins, and their least desirable balcony cabins and even suites. Their top level of service, called Aurea is reserved for the best balcony cabins and suites. The fantastica service, which we had, is the standard cruise ship service with stateroom cleanings in the mornings and evenings. Bella cabins get cleaned just once daily. Those guests are also at the lowest priority for dinner seating choice. Aurea guests have drink and spa packages, priority boarding, and access to a private sun deck. They also have the option of My Choice dining where they can eat at any time during the dining room open hours in their own special dining room rather than having a set time and table for every night of the cruise in the main dining room.
Our cabin was pretty standard as far as cruise ship cabins go with both size and amenities, though the shower was probably the smallest one we’ve seen yet. Or at least it felt that way. The track for the shower curtain curved around above the raised bit at the bottom that keeps the water within the shower. Our shower curtain on the other hand was missing enough hooks that it just went straight across the middle of the shower, effectively cutting the space in half. Unlike American ships where washcloths are always included with the towels, Europeans don’t seem to use them much as the hotels rarely have them and on the ship we had to ask to get any. At least we only had to ask once and then were given washcloths along with our towels throughout the cruise.
The beds were the standard twins that can be pushed together to make a queen. While balcony rooms put the beds against a side wall, in ocean view cabins they always put them under the window. Sometimes having them set separately gives window access where you can walk up to the window and look out, but on this one the nightstands just replaced the beds under the window.
Closet and drawer space was pretty standard compared to most ships. Hanging space for laundry was a bit lacking though. A lot of our longer cruises have ended up on ships with no self-serve guest laundries and we have better things to spend our money on than their ridiculous prices for having laundry done so we often end up hand washing our laundry in the bathroom. Our cabin slept 3 and was of the old style where the bunk sticks out from the wall rather than folding up into the ceiling, so we did sometimes use that bunk as a place to hang laundry that was well beyond the dripping stage, but not quite dry enough to put away yet. The trick to getting laundry to dry faster in the bathroom is to keep the door open so it gets some air flow. You have to come back to the room and open the bathroom door after the steward cleans though because they always close it.
Besides the bed and nightstands, furnishings in this cabin included a cabinet with a mini-fridge inside and a TV on top, and a vanity with a stool under it and a mirrored cabinet above it. There’s always a safe somewhere in the cabin, usually in the closet, but in this one it was in the cupboard over the vanity. It’s not likely that anyone would ever bother any of your stuff, but it’s always a good idea to keep passports in the safe because if you ever miss the ship that is where the crew would look for them – and since you would likely need the passport to get to the next port once the ship left without you it’s important that they can find them so they can leave them at the port for you.
The walls were magnetic, which is always useful for keeping paperwork organized and things like excursion tickets easy to find if you bring along some magnets.
This was neither the smallest nor the largest cabin we’ve had on a cruise ship. Although fairly average in size and amenities compared to other ships, it did have a bit of extra storage space in the cabinet behind the vanity mirrors.