This was our first budget cruise and I therefore didn't have very high expectations, which I think is half the battle. Having done our research, we knew roughly what to expect. That said, I was pleasantly surprised by most of what I experienced.
The ship itself is, as other reviewers have said, spotlessly clean. Our cabin was kept immaculate by Oliveira, who came in twice a day and left me with absolutely nothing to complain about. Yes, the cabins, like the ship, are dated and tired, but who really cares whether the sink in the bathroom is salmon pink? As long as the taps work and you can do the necessary, is the colour really that important? I've sailed on (and paid a lot more for) 'luxury ships' and our cabin was smaller than this one and not kept anywhere near as clean.
The food was perfectly fine in the buffet restaurants. Not outstanding, but enough to choose from and I had nothing to complain about and I can be quite snobby about food. The a la carte restaurant is well worth a visit - we ate in there twice and had an excellent meal both times.
The A/I drink was San Miguel or Boddingtons, red, white and rose wine and a number of spirits. The wines were a bit rough round the edges and the San Miguel wore a bit thin for me, but that wasn't a problem as I was quite happy spending a couple of quid on a bottle of Becks or Corona.
The entertainment was pretty much on a par with most other cruises. A lot of it wasn't my cup of tea, but most people we spoke to who had been to the shows said they were excellent.
There is plenty of sunbathing space around the ship, so no need to bag those beds....not that this stopped a particular family who, without fail, had their towels out by 8 a.m every morning while they were nowhere to be seen!
The staff are friendly and efficient - some friendlier than others. The itinerary was excellent and the main reason for us choosing the Island Escape.
Would I cruise on this ship again? Yes, if I could pick something up for between Â£300-Â£400 for a week, it is extremely good value for money. So, if you are looking for a cruise where you don't have to worry about being stung with a huge bill at the end or you are trying cruising for the first time, the Island Escape is worth considering. Ignore the moaners who are moaning for the sake of it - if you do your research, you will know what it is about and you can decide whether it is for you.