We have recently returned from a cruise of the Western Med and this was the first time we have cruised on the Island Escape and it will be our last. Firstly the good points. The embarkation at he port of Palma was very slick and professional, indeed quicker than other cruise lines we have travelled with. The second good point was the staff which includes the waiters and cabin attendants. They were all friendly, polite and very professional but thats where the good points finish.
The cabin was small and very tired looking. The ship is currently in dock for three months before it starts cruising again in the New Year and I hope Thomson's have budgeted for an overall complete decoration of the ship during this period, but I doubt it. The 'informal' dress code for dinner was a joke. Although some dressed for dinner quite a few did not and quite frankly were more suitably dressed to eat at McDonalds. The food is buffet style with limited choice, repetative and nothing outstanding. Sometimes the meals were barely warm. You could eat at another restaurant with a supplement of £14.99 which we did and was far more superior and waiter service.
The entertainment was substandard and many guests complained that the theatre was too small and unable to find seating and therefore many could not attend the shows. Although quite frankly those that could not attend the shows did not miss much.
The ship had to stay in Corfu overnight and we missed out on the port of Messina. This was due according to the captains announcement, to bad weather/wind, despite two other cruise ship's embarking from the port with no aparent difficulties. The captain who sounded extremely bored announced ' thats life' perhaps something you don't exactly want to hear when some were looking forward to trips from Messina. Surprisingly he also said that he had difficulties leaving the port. However we heard no evidence or noise generally associated with the ship making its departure in the normal way and furthermore we also noticed that the ship remained tired up on the quay side during the period when he was 'having difficulties' departing. So we are sceptical of the resaons given by the captain.
The trips, of which we went on three, were well organised and the visit along the Amalfi coast was excellent.
Overall I would not recommend Island Escape. It is a shabby ship in dire need of refurbishment and Thomson's need to undertake a detailed look at its on-board catering facilities and take note of the many critics about it's informal dress code. In short it was very much like cruising with Chavs.