Stand by to welcome the Lirica

Feb 13, 2003
Author: P&S

Stand by to welcome Mediterranean Shipping Company’s new cruise ship, the 58,600-gt 2,200-passenger capacity flagship MSC Lirica, which is due to be launched into a selection of seven night/eight day cruises out of Genoa as from 13 April 2003.

The 251m long ship, the first of two identical 5-star ships now nearing completion at the French Chantier de l’Atlantique yard at St Nazaire, marks MSC’s arrival as a top-flight 5-star rated cruise operator.

Not that they weren’t so before, but Lirica is the first newbuild to enter the fleet and marks a clear indication that, as with container shipping, where MSC rapidly became one of the top three leading operators, MSC is very serious about cruising. The second newbuild, sister ship MSC Opera is due to enter service in 2004.

MSC is no stranger to cruising, having successfully operated four cruise ships since the mid 1990s, beginning with MSC Symphony, which has since left the fleet, and subsequently joined by Monterey, Rhapsody and Melody. None of these are strangers to South Africa, having all cruised from Durban on different Southern Hemisphere summer seasons, with Symphony having over-wintered in South Africa for one season as well.

The arrival of Lirica certainly raises the standard of MSC Cruises to a higher notch. The luxury ship has 14 decks, with 132 cabins each having their own private balcony. Then there are 387 standard outside cabins, 272 standard inside cabins and four cabins for disabled passengers, giving a total of 795.

All cabins come equipped with satellite television, radio, mini bar, room safe and 24-hour service. Good food has always been the mark of MSC ships and the public rooms on Lirica include two restaurants, plus a grill and a pizzeria (what else would you expect on an Italian ship), as well as lounges, a shopping gallery, theatre, discotheque, gymnasium centre, sauna, two swimming pools, two Jacuzzis, a mini club, virtual reality centre and an internet café with 16 terminals.

Opening cruises from 13 April 2003 until 26 October operate to the following ports: Genoa, Naples, Palermo, Tunis, Palma, day at sea, Palma, Barcelona, Marseille, and Genoa. Other cruise options from 2 November to 16 December see the ship cruising from Genoa to Tenerife via Malaga, Funchal, Casablanca, Cadiz, Barcelona and return to Genoa.

A third 8-day cruise option on 13 November and 5 December 2003 takes the ship from Genoa into the East Mediterranean and Greek islands, with calls at Naples, Catania, Alexandria, Limassol, Antalya, Rhodes, Malta, Sorrento and back to Genoa. This is an area that Lirica will revisit in 2004.

After 27 December Lirica will reposition to the Caribbean for a series of 11-day cruises, five to the Eastern and Southern Caribbean and five to the Western Caribbean. The ship returns to the Mediterranean in early June 2004 to combine with her new sister ship MSC Opera. Lirica will homeport in Venice to do a series of 7-day cruises to the Eastern Mediterranean, while Opera will homeport at Genoa and handle the Western Mediterranean destinations undertaken by Lirica in 2003.

Medtour has arranged some excellent offers as an introduction to this fine ship – you can contact them at (27) 011-784 5252 (Johannesburg), (27) 021-419 6088 (Cape Town) or (27) 031-360 7222 (Durban) or via email at either or Alternately contact your local travel agent. Please tell them you read this in Ports & Ships.

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