MSC Lirica seen departing Amsterdam in 2010. In recent years, the Lirica-class ships dock at IJmuiden while the larger Musica-class vessels keep using the Amsterdam passenger terminal.
The company Mediterranean Shipping Cruises was formed out of the remains of Lauro Lines when that company had faced a number of problems throughout the 1980's and early 1990's. MSC started to expand the fleet with ships they bought, mostly older vessels. At the end of the 1990's however, competition in Europe also had introduced newer and modern ships, and lines formerly sailing in the America's started sending ships to Europe when the Caribbean was flooded with megaliners. To stay competible, MSC had to modernize their aging fleet. They were not the only company facing these changes, another European line that was in the same situation was Festival Cruises, known as First Choice in America. Both lines were popular with Europeans and mostly sailed Mediterranean cruises and to ease matters, the companies splitted the order In a four-ship class, two of those went to Festival Cruises and two slightly different ships of the same design went to MSC Cruises. The Festival ships came first, European Vision in 2001 and European Dream in 2002. They were enlarged versions of Festival's popular first newbuild Mistral and opened up a new naming strategy for the line, reflecting their European nature. The order for the ships was signed at Christmas in 2000
For MSC, the 59.058-ton MSC Lirica was launched first and she entered service in 2003. She was the first newbuild for MSC Cruises, the name to which Mediterranean Shipping Cruises had restyled itself. The ship, like her sisters, was built at the Chantiers de L'atlantique wharf at Saint-Nazaire, France and is 251,25 meters long, 28,80 meters wide and her draft is 6,60 meters. She has accomodations for 1560 passengers (two-per- cabin basis) and 700 crewmembers and those have 13 decks in total for their enjoyment, of which 9 decks are available to the passengers. When every berth is filled, some 2069 passengers can sail her. The ship can sail up to 21 knots and flies the flag of Panama. Her sister for MSC became MSC Opera and she was introduced in 2004. Because certain works done to the ship were not up to contract requirements, the wharf paid the company a fee of $1 million out of a requested penalty of $3 million.
The ship has a very traditional, nautical style, created by designer Giuseppe de Jorio, who designed several ships interiours for MSC. His designs mostly use a lot of marble and brass, and the rooms are mostly small and intimate, creating a very relaxed and personal atmosphere aboard. All cabins aboard have the same size and because of their placement within the superstructure (the upper part of the ship), they are free of vibrations and noise from the engines. To reduce these vibrations, the ship is propelled by two Mermaid azimuth propellers.
Like most MSC ships, MSC Lirica was christened in the Italian port of Naples by Sophia Loren at the 12th of april of 2003, before setting sail for her first season of cruises in the Mediterranean, the traditional homegrounds for MSC. What's in a name? In winter, the ship took up sailings in the Caribbean, before returning back to Europe in summer. Next to cruises in the Mediterranean, she was also seen a lot in northern Europe, homeported in the newly constructed cruiseport of IJmuiden, the Netherlands. Here, the cruiseport was especially adapted to the needs of MSC Cruises and the growth of IJmuiden as a cruiseport was largely because of the commitment of MSC.
Above, MSC Lirica is seen passing Velsen Noord during a cruise where she did went on to Amsterdam instead of IJmuiden at the 8th of april 2012.
The decks aboard are all named for famous music authors like Vivaldi and Verdi, as music is the most important inspirationtheme for the ships of MSC. When the ship was introduced, MSC expanded their capacity with 67% so she was a very important step and the real beginning of the growth as we have seen for MSC in recent years, making the once small operator now the thirth largest cruisecompany in the world.