We were on the ship 28th May - 05th June 2013 - first time cruisers. Like many other people, we chose the ship due to the laid back atmosphere on board and the all-inclusive option. We would like to give a fair review of the ship and will say that we did not expect a luxury liner. We also had a good holiday in terms of the places that we were able to see (Palma, Cagliari, Naples, Rome, Adjaccio, Mahon), although we were unlucky with the weather for the time of year. There was a lot of rain. It was cold and we had little chance to sunbathe.
On seeing the ship at Palma, it looked good, although boarding was unorganised. Our inside cabin on the 7th floor was great and looked to have been refurbished. The ship itself left a lot to be desired for when it set sail and encountered choppy to rough water. It was very apparent that the ship was unable to handle less than perfect weather, this was made worse on more than two nights when the captain chose to put the full engines on max (after being delayed setting off at various ports). Found it difficult to sleep due to the movement of the ship and woke up one night while the ship was listing quite badly, (scary experience when you are stuck in a small cabin). Another night an emergency alarm went off at 5am then stopped. The captain did announce that the ship was at full swell & sick bags were placed down the isles for people. Many people on board complained of the ship listing. Due to these experiences this ship appears to be more suited to ferry crossings or cruising in the height of summer. Passengers who were on the ship the week before we arrived described how the ship did a sharp turn at Cittavichia, with many injured. We were unimpressed by the captain in our week and did not feel that safety was a priority.
The staff were fantastic with the exception of one staff member at the Island Restaurant who was very rude (We never got the chance to eat there because it was 'fully booked').The ship was constantly being cleaned, cabin was meticulously cleaned 3 times a day. On the whole the Entertainment was great, well done to the staff, they kept us sane while the ship was swaying about from port to port, many thanks to the shop for selling sea-bands -highly recommend if you are sea-sick. Ocean Theatre was full some nights though so we missed the shows, the shows we did see were great, fantastic comedian one night. The bars were nice. We liked the rooftop bar. The all inclusive drinks were 'ok', many drinks were not included and we bought drinks, but despite that the drinks were still good value.
Unfortunately, the standard of the food in the restaurants was very poor. It was look warm, bland, repetitive and was served by the staff due to an outbreak of severe novovirus while we were on board. The only night we enjoyed was when we paid for the steak menu. The food in the buffet should have been kept hotter and there is no excuse for that, disappointed with Thomsons in this respect. Many people did not bother washing their hands before entering the restaurants which is awful and must have also contributed to the outbreak. We were not affected but we spent the whole week constantly using hand sanitizer.
The gym was good. Ice sculptures by the pool were good. Sunsets were beautiful. On the day of departure we had to get off early so the staff could 'deep clean' the ship due to the novovirus outbreak. We were catered for at a Thomson's all inclusive hotel in Palma due to this. Hotel was great, we were just so glad to be off the ship, had a brilliant day at the hotel!
Overall, we did enjoy the holiday, however on considering a cruise again we would not opt for the Island Escape or Thomsons. The ship left a lot to be desired and we wouldn't fancy being on the ship in winter weather at all. The all inclusive option is not up to scratch. The Island Escape appears to offer good value but considering what it actually offers, we will be shopping around next time as we have seen bigger luxury ships for the same price!