We wanted something relaxing and informal as this was our first cruise. The Island Escape is an excellent ship for a first cruise.
The cabin was fairly big with plenty of space for your clothes and possessions. The bed was not particularly comfortable and we had an inside cabin, which is not ideal for someone who suffers from claustrophobia. However, you don't spend too much time in your cabin. The cabin steward was excellent and every day we came back to clean towels wound into the shape of various animals - swans, rabbits, elephants and the best of all, a monkey hanging from a coathanger!
The food - we only used the Beachcomber Restaurant where you could enjoy buffet meals 24 hours a day. There is also free coffee and tea available 24 hours a day. The food selection was excellent - something to suit everyone.
The entertainment was far better than we expected. We did expect Butlins afloat, but the entertainment was excellent. Really professional dancers and singers. There was the usual bingo, games shows, karaoke, etc. Again, there was something for everyone. However, at no time is anyone forced to join in with any activities. It is there if you want it. You can join in as much or as little as you want.
The ports of call were excellent. The shore excursions were a little expensive at Â£36-Â£38 for a 4 hour excursion. However, they did seem worth it if you hadn't been to that particular port of call before. We especially enjoyed the Monaco trip. The guide, Monique, was excellent.
Overall, this is an excellent ship for a first time cruise.
The only downside for me personally was the two nights of extremely rough sea crossings. The two crossings between La Spezia and Villefranche and Toulon and Barcelona were very rough, the one between Toulon and Barcelona produced a 3m swell and the ship was rocking and rolling making me feel ill and this has rather put me off cruising.
Apparently, if you request an outside cabin midships in Decks 5 or 6, you don't feel the rocking so much.
For me, I feel this cruise was excellent value for money. We did not expect too much from it and quite honestly did expect it to be a bit noisy and before we went referred to it as "Butlins afloat", but it was lovely (apart from the rough sea).
I would recommend this cruise to anyone, but not those who might be seasick! However, I do not really think cruising is suitable for people with young children.