We travelled on the Island Escape earlier this month and knew what to expect as had been on the ship three years ago in the Med but different ports of call. We had a lovely time, admittedly the cabins are pretty small and bathrooms could do with an update but the cabin was kept scrupulously clean and tidy by our cabin steward Uberio. He did a fantastic job, always so helpful and smiling.
The food was good considering the vast quantities of people the kitchens cater for, sometimes a little difficult at busy times to get a table but generally no problems and the choice was very good, you would have to be extremely fussy to complain. I must admit I prefer having a meal served at the table which is what happens usually with other cruise companies but for the price paid and for the all inclusive drink package it was excellent value for money and I would use the ship again.
We had some windy weather towards the end of the cruise and had to visit another port (Toulon instead of St. Raphael as the weather was too windy to use tenders and there was a fair amount of movement in the cabin at night - not too keen on that but you have to accept we can't control the weather sadly.
Entertainment staff were great, always smilling and friendly, dance troupe were excellent, good voices especially the lead singers and wonderful costumes, entertainment staff hilarious, Ross Roberts was great, good voice and so funny, a good all round host and his deputy Tony Mack was excellent too. The other staff were great, comedian Ian Roberts was very good - not smutty or swearing just funny! - dolly parton tribute was good, excellent entertainment all round.
We didn't go on any trips but organised our own, took the train to Rome and Pisa after checking this out on the internet and the train and metro fares were very reasonable indeed, people were helpful when we got a little confused on the metro. The spanish steps were just by the metro and the fountain was a little harder to find but we managed it easily enough, the trip to Pisa is only 15 minutes by train and was just 5 Euros and then we caught a bus that took probably the same amount of time for 1 Euro 50 with a time lapse of 70 minutes to return by or purchase another ticket so that was a cheap day out!
The weather was extremely hot in Rome and did stop us doing any more sightseeing and would recommend leaving the ship asap when it docks - we caught 8.45am train to Rome Termini just so we would hopefully have plenty of time to return on the train as delays can occur - our train was approx 15 mins late each way leaving the station but other than that no problems.
Pool was a little small admittedly but a good atmosphere and entertainment every day more than made up for this - shame the childrens pool isnt separate as they tended to use the adult pool if their parents allowed them but generally the pool was free of kids in the adult section.
Plenty of other entertainment during the day, we went to towel sculpting and napkin folding which was interesting to say the least, wished we played bingo on the last night - not a big bingo player but the prizes of 50, 150 and 800 was pretty good I thought!
We found all the staff to be very helpful, always smiling and friendly, remembered your name quite often and what you drank etc. and they certainly work hard and put in long hours - they were excellent!
Both embarking and departing the ship were very speedy - a lot better than other cruise lines - generally a great holiday all round and basically you get what you pay for - if you would prefer something a little more sophisticated then go with another company