We booked the IE for our honeymoon leaving Manchester on the 17th April.
Left Manchester on time at 6.00am no problems with flight, took ages for the bags to come off the carousel, we then left arrivals and joined another queue to get on the coaches to the port which took about 20mins once you were on the coach.
The embarkation process was quick, off the bus collect your cabin envelope then queue for registration, skipped past the man with the camera who was taking photographs of passengers. They also take a photo at the desk which is used to identify you as you get on and off the ship, then went to identify luggage in the hall before boarding the ship. Once identified your bags are taken on board and they appear sometime later outside your cabin. Note there is no priority boarding for passengers who pay for higher cost cabins on the IE presume this is only on the Thomson ships despite the fact that this is advertised on their website. In the end it wasn't a problem because we were one of the last buses away from the airport so lots of those ahead of us had already passed through the embarkation process.
Cabin (Suite 8528).
Cabin was BIG.... Two toilets one with a shower (which proved very useful later in the cruise.... more on that later!) King size bed although we think it was bigger, the lounge area was separated from the bedroom by a large wardrobe/cabinet across the middle of the cabin, there was a fridge and a hairdryer provided along with shampoo, conditioner body lotion and a container in the shower with soap in it. Pool towels were also provided. The settee made up into a bed .... on inspection (just out of curiosity!) it looked a bit grotty don't think we would have liked to sleep on it!
Three restaurants, beachcomber which we used a lot of the time especially after the Rome and Florence /Pisa excursions which were all day so was convenient to drop in have tea and then go down to the show in the Ocean Theatre. Food seemed the same in both Beachcomber and Island Restaurant only difference was that you were taken to a table with 8 other diners and then you helped yourself to food, waiters served drinks, tea, coffee and water etc. We only had tea there one night and breakfast once mainly because you had no choice who you sat with there were very few tables for two and sometimes you don't always want to make 'polite' conversation with fellow diners especially when you're on your honeymoon!
Food was ok, not terribly inspiring, they had themed nights, Chinese, Indian, Italian but to be honest it always tasted the same, the Indian curry was supposed to be vindaloo but was very mild tasted little of curry and wasn't really very nice the meat was grisly and very dry. Only food that was always really hot was the soup.
We did Corsica wine tasting/essential oils and nougat factories. They were ok the nougat was very nice but very expensive 15 euros for 2 bars!
Next up was Rome, we had booked on the Classic tour but were informed that there was a protest planned for the day and that we may not get into the places on the tour which at Â£82 each was expensive. We cancelled this and did Rome on your own instead. Coach into Rome dropped us off near the basilica saw everything we wanted back to the coach pick up point. We were given a map on board the bus by the guide but you really do need to be confident with map reading we got into a maze of smaller streets and it took us a while to figure out where we were, its also approx 4/5 miles to walk to see the coliseum, pantheon, trevi fountain, Spanish steps etc but they are all highlighted on the map and normally there is an underground and various buses but these weren't running because of the strike.
Next up Florence/Pisa, guided tour round Florence, the guide was brilliant was local from Florence so had loads of knowledge about the area history etc. Had two hours free time which we thought some would have been better spent going earlier to Pisa as we only had about 1 Â½ hours there. Pisa was beautiful... sun was shining and all that white marble... stunning. Loads of market stalls in front of the pickup point and all along the right hand side where all the monuments were. Loads of people taking photos, you paid separate to go inside but we didn't bother because there wasn't much time, the leaning tower is open for people to go up to the top but you have to book a slot as they only allow so many up at a time and this wasn't feasible because we were on the cruise and time was too limited.
Toulon next we had booked for Cassis but cancelled... we were shattered from the previous two days so had a wander round the port , there is a market selling clothes etc and fruit and vegetable etc. Toulon wasn't very inspiring and we spent the rest of the day chilling on board.
Barcelona -- the Nu Camp tour was cancelled at the last minute because they were preparing for the cup match on Tuesday. We still went independently map in hand took a taxi there which cost 12 euros and then wandered back by foot using the map. The tours at the stadium were still going ahead you couldn't visit the visitors changing room or the press room but other than that it seemed like everything else was open.
We went every night to the Ocean Theatre to the first show. Great entertainment they've got some wonderful singers and dancers especially the guy and gal who do the opera sets... brilliant. We didn't really bother with anything else we did see the two singers in the bar just outside the theatre, one young chap singing and playing guitar and an older guy playing keyboard doing more jazz type music which we also enjoyed. They also did a cruise factor set in the Bounty Lounge which was the same as the X factor show with fellow passengers doing the singing and four judges playing the part of the Loui and the rest of the judges. A winner was duly chosen by the rest of the passengers. We tended to be back in our cabin by 11pm because we were doing tours some of which were very early starts if you wanted to catch breakfast before you left the ship. Rome./Florence and Pisa you had to be shore side before 8am to get on the coaches and no announcements were made. You could book an early morning call through guest relations.
You have to be out of your cabin by 8am which kind of spoils the last evening on board if you want to see any of the later shows. If you want to keep a cabin you have to pay Â£35 and you may or may not be able to keep the cabin you've used for the cruise.
That's it for the good stuff now the not so good.......
On the final evening of the cruise I became very ill with vomiting, severe stomach cramps and diarrhea. Another passenger was sick in the Ocean Theatre that evening and the show was delayed because they had to clean up where they had been sick. By 9.15pm we were back in our cabin and by 10.30 I started being violently sick, followed by diarrhea and severe stomach cramps. After waiting for over an hour I was eventually seen by the ships nurse in the cabin and was given injections and medication to stop the stomach cramps and sickness and diarrhea. We were then confined to our cabin.
At 11.45 the following morning I was transferred by taxi along with another passenger who was suffering from the same symptoms to the hospital in Palma where I had to see the doctor to get a certificate of fitness to fly home at a cost of 123 euros which was the excess on our insurance policy. There were more passengers at the hospital when we got there and several more arrived from the ship while we were waiting in the outpatients department. We did make our flight in the end but we were the fortunate ones others who were at the hospital at the same time as us weren't so fortunate one couple had a morning flight which they missed. A passenger on the flight was also sick at the front of the aircraft, they had put paper towels on the floor so that you didn't have to walk through it when getting off the aircraft. .
When we got home we went on the internet to find out more information about the illness and found Irwin Mitchell who have a lot of experience in this area. If anyone else who was affected by this illness whilst on board the Island Escape is reading this post you can contact Clare Pearson from Irwin Mitchell on by calling 0870 1500 100 or by emailing Clare on :firstname.lastname@example.org to get any advice or help you may need.