We sailed with MSC Lirica last month on a short 4 night itinerary
We have never sailed with MSC before, so decided on a short trip to try it out
We boarded at Venice, and it was a relatively smooth process.
Our cabin (9035 - an inside) was a good size, with more storage space than we have had with RCI or Marella. The bathroom, and especially the shower cubicle was smaller though. The bed was very comfortable and the cabin steward, Rene was excellent. Our cabin was not far from the stairs and lifts. We didn’t feel much movement or hear any engine noise from the cabin other than when the ship was manoeuvring into position to dock.
We stayed in Venice for a few days before joining the ship. It’s a beautiful city with lots to explore. Highlights were the tower on the small island of San Giorgio Maggiore. €6 to get the lift to the top and you can see over the whole city. It’s much quieter than the tower in San Marco.
Also, the islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello are worth visiting.... especially beautiful Burano
A lovely old town within easy walking distance of the port. Narrow little streets and an ancient old palace to explore..... along with plenty of little bars and cafes to stop and rehydrate.
Next stop was Sarande, Albania. I was a bit nervous about this port after reading the reviews. We were tendered in, which was the easiest tender we have ever had, although we waited til the main rush was past. When you get off the tender, you are met by numerous taxi drivers advertising their trips to the blue eye national park etc. Walking towards the beach is quite depressing. It’s really run down. There are lots of beggars, but they don’t pester you. Many have babies or very young children.
Once you get down to the beach, it’s a fairly standard beach front, with stalls selling tat, and restaurants, cafes and bars. It’s very cheap for food and drink. You can’t buy Albanian currency outside of Albania, but they accept euros too.
Unless you’ve organised an excursion, there’s not much to do other than the beach. The beach is very stoney, but apparently there are sandy beaches in neighbouring villages. This would be a great beach stop for children though, there are inflatables and diving platforms which looked like great fun!
Again an easy walk in from the ship. The main attraction is Taormina, but we decided to stay in Messina and explore. There’s not much to see to be honest. The cathedral is beautiful, and at 12 o’clock the bell tower comes to life.... statues move, and the sound of Ave Maria rings out across the square. Unfortunately, that’s the highlight of Messina. Otherwise it’s quite a dirty, dreary town with weeds growing up through the pavements. My advice would be to do the tour to Taormina.