Our journey as two adults and two children (6 & 8) started well, all on time and excitement mounting, that was until we reached the ship Island Escape, only there was no escape. On being given our family room cabin keys we were instantly amazed at the tiny size of the cabin supposedly facilitating four beds. We had to ensure one was always upright so that we could stand and walk to the bathroom, that needless to say from the first flush omitted to work. This we notified to the reception desk immediately, but to our horror we did not realise that this was to be an ongoing problem throughout the cruise with a need to allow passengers to disembark overnight, on one occasion. Furthermore, our cabin ceiling dispensed soot on a regular basis, onto the beds, and we did hear that another cabin ceiling had collapsed along with fire sprinklers leaking.
It was necessary to walk around pails, which were strategically placed to catch leaks, on every deck, whilst crew endlessly cleaned to prevent bacteria spreading, more I think than what actually did. There was no facilities for water drainage on the pool deck, again effortless gestures by staff to vacuum or mop constantly were made. There always seemed to be more staff than passengers for the failing condition of this vessel.
Disappointment at not docking at a few ports only enhanced the surge of ill feeling of passengers, who felt that the ship itself was not suitable for the weather conditions it encountered and should never have been used at this time of year in the first instance.
Petitions, regarding a whole array of items were widespread and the whole feeling of 'mutiny' was imminent, causing the Captain to address all passengers in an effort to retain peace and order.
Children's play facilities were very poor with all younger age groups being merged. One hour sessions with a sign in sign out routine prevailed for the most of the trip, which only added to disbelief that proper arrangements and programmes had not been organised beforehand. The entertainment staff did their very best to accommodate and work with what the had to hand. I understand that they were not registered child minders but surely it is the requirement of the ship to ensure that a teaching/nursery nurse is on duty.
Food was plentiful, if not a little repetitive. Dining conditions were poor with leaking on the buffet deck. Other eating stations were time scaled, therefore the majority of traffic was in the buffet area, where seating was inadequate. One passenger was told to sit on the window ledge by another passenger, in order to eat his breakfast.
One of our main points was that we were advised that there was no all inclusive available on this ship, or drinks packages for that matter, but speaking to other passengers it became quite evident that this was not the case. Again we asked reception on arrival but was told uncategorically that it was not available and it was down to the travel agency where we booked to address the matter with. We were however allowed to purchase 'soda packages' for the children at a cost of £39.95 each, they were only entitled to fizzy drinks, no diluted cordial or water even.
I know that the Captain cannot control the weather for the cruise to port successfully in each dock, but I feel that the ship itself was not suitable to be put to sea in the first instance.
We, as good British people do, tried to make the most of a bad situation, but as this was our first ever family holiday, I am regretful to advise that I will not only never cruise again, I would be very, very hesitant in using or promoting Thomson Travel again for any future holidays we may undertake.
Lastly, thank you to the ever pleasant staff (albeit our duty free was filled with water, discovered on arrival at home). The food was most edible, but I can't help wondering how the review from the watchdog team will fare, and I look forward to awaiting its screening.