This was our first and definately not the last cruise we have been on. Travelling with my husband and son of 11 we would definately reccomend cruising as an alternative to an all inclusive hotel. We holidayed in a 5* all incl in Turkey last year for about the same price but this was much much better. The beauty of it you are not confined to the same resort for 7-14 days the beauty of waking up in a different country every day is unreal.
The ship thou a bit dated was immaculate and we constantly found maintenance staff checking and painting different areas thou I believe it is going into dry dock for refurbishment in October so this should take care of that. The customer service is outstanding much better than we have ever received. In particular the restauraunt staff in the Island where we frequented every night a special mention to Matius and Jammy who entertained our son on a nightly basis who after two weeks still tells everyone about them. Our cleaner Natalia was also well above the normal standard all very much appreciated. Food was great and the staff just couldnt do enough for you. My son did not go to Palmy Kids club as this age group was from 3-11 which was a little too young for him. He did enjoy the arcade but a bit pricey i.e. £12 lasted about ten minutes. Entertainment was good thou only attended the cabaret twice there was just so much choice. We went to the beauty salon and I had a cut and blow dry with a treatment for £27 which I thought reasonable my son had a massage which cost £20 for about 30mins (As he is only 11 think we got better value) the staff in the salon where very attentive and informative.
We went on two excursions to Nice, Monacco and Monte Carlo and too Pisa and Puccini lakes although cost about £120 per trip for the three of us but no different that you would pay at any other resort. We thoroughly enjoyed both as they were well structured and you were not left to wonder around for hours in a place you didnt like. Bar staff very also very friendly thou maybe a bit too much in your face asking if you required "Bar Service" when quite clearly you had a full drink in front of you but if thats all to complain about its not very much. We booked about three weeks before we went and were not offered a drinks upgrade and asked at Customer Relations desk could we do it then and were told no we should have done it at the travel agents so we missed out or perhaps the travel agents should have told us about this.
Overall it was the best holiday we have ever had and please do not be put off by the bad reviews because you cant please everybody all of the time. We will definately go cruising again and if dates suit we would love to return to the Island Escape I am so jealous of anyone who is going this year. I hope because of the refurbishment the prices are not increased too much as I feel everyone should do at least one cruise in their lifetime and if they are lucky enough to do it on the Island Escape.