This cost effective cruise wasn't planned but booked on the spur on the moment after seeing a special offer in a Thomas Cook travel agent's window in Alnwick in Northumberland. We weren't expecting much but were delighted with our experience.
The transfer from Palma Airport in Mallorca and the arrangements to get us on board couldn't have been more smoother. It was all hands on deck and even the entertainment team helped provide a great welcome.
We embarked from after a great day's sight seeing in the city ready for our first evening meal.
The food on board was of a high quality which was maintained throughout our week aboard. On Island Escape there's a 24 hour relaxed serve yourself buffet from breakfast through to midnight snack. A second more formal buffet restaurant offered waiter service for drinks.And for those wanting to splash out a rather upmarket restaurant which came at a supplement where fillet steak caught my eye and went down well with a nice red wine.
Like most cabins on cruises they seem small at first glance but we found everything we needed including safe and TV and plenty of cupboard space. The two single beds were placed together but the sum of these two parts didn't really add up to a proper double bed. Our Cabin Steward Brian from India was a complete delight as were all of the bar and restaurant staff we encountered.We didn't see much of the officers apart from when they were paraded before the 600-700 cruisers one evening.
The second day was the one full day at sea and a chance to catch up on some rest after the exertions of flying and settling in. But there were plenty of activities for those with the energy including a gym and bowls.
Day three and we entered Ajaccio on the beautiful island of Corsica. At every port a great selection of arranged shore trips were on offer but we preferred to wander around charming Ajaccio itself and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Day 4 and Civitavecchia the gateway to Rome where many of our fellow travellers made their way on the varied day trips to Rome.
We save our energy for the next day and a chance to go either to Piza or Florence. We chose Florence. The buildings in this marvellous city are stunning but being Saturday the city itself was very crowded and took something away from the experience of this wonderful glimpse of history.
Next day's stop over was Toulon in France a delightful town now dominated by the joint navies of France and Britain. Cheese was very much in evidence in the open air market.
Last call Barcelona and what a climax. The Cathedral, La Ramba boulevard and Gaudi architecture simply took our breath way.
With the sights it's easy to forget the highlights on board especially from the entertainment team whose music and dance shows were a delight each night.
Overall the weather but in terms of value for money this cruise will take some beating. hadn't been brilliant all week and on occasional overnights the sea was a bit choppy but for value for money this cruise takes some beating.