Very smooth transfer from Exeter to Tenerife. Flights on time, no problems whatsoever. We were clearly directed to the coach which transferred us the 40 minutes to the ship. On arrival at the ship we 'checked in' and put room number tags on our luggage that had been taken from the terminal to outside the ship. Then we boarded the ship and our luggage was delivered to our cabin no more than 30 minutes later.
Our cabin was in the centre inside of deck 4 and had a very loud constant noise, however while sometimes irritating on the whole we could sleep through it as it was constant. The cabin was on the small size but it was adequate for two people as we only used it to sleep. If I were to cruise again, I would opt for an outside cabin as I found it disorientating to wake up in the pitch black! The cabin was always kept immaculately by our room steward (Flaviano) who visited the cabin at least twice a day and also made some towel sculptures! The only minor problems with the cabin was that a light was flickering and that the bathroom door handle was loose but this was promptly fixed after reporting it. Our cabin had two beds laid out in an L shape, two wardrobes, a desk and a bathroom with a toilet, sink and shower. The beds were not uncomfortable but we did find the plastic under sheets somewhat irritating.
The crew on board the Island Escape can not be faulted. They work so hard to ensure you have a wonderful holiday and cannot do enough for you. At the end of the week you have the opportunity to nominate the staff you feel have gone the extra mile.
This was excellent. Firstly, the show team are exceptionally talented. We went to most of the shows they put on in the ship theatre and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The bounty lounge team are hilarious and fantastic entertainment was provided throughout the week.
We ate in the Beachcomber restaurant in the mornings and the Island restaurant in the evenings. The beachcomber is more cafe style with plastic cups and plates and you are served at a buffet by the crew. The Island restaurant is a self service buffet but you have waiters at the tables and proper plates! The food in both was much the same and a huge variety available. The only 2 criticisms I have is that the Indian themed dishes were too bland for us, however, I appreciate that they have a huge number of taste buds to cater for and that there were not enough chocolate desserts for this chocoholic! You can eat as much as you want and in whatever combination you want to eat it.
We were not all inclusive and found the drinks to be very reasonably priced with a glass of wine to be approx £3 and a cocktail to be £2.40ish. A bottle of wine was around £11. You are constantly being offered drinks by the bar staff-as we had not done a cruise before, it took us a night to realise that you can enter the bounty lounge, theatre etc and not have to buy a drink! Also, you can take these drinks from venue to venue and also out on the decks/ to your cabin etc. We found no problem with buying wine after a wine tasting session and taking it back onto the boat, while we bought it as souvenirs, our hand luggage was not checked or scanned at any point on boarding the boat so I would think there was nothing to stop a guest buying alcohol in port and taking it on the boat.
Ok, so I cant base a review on the weather! I will say though that whilst most of the week was beautiful sunshine, the odd day was a little rainy and we were not bored on ship as there is such a variety of entertainment going throughout the day and evening. Only one night was particularly rocky but this did not cause us any problems.
We took Thomson shore excursions in every port as we did not know the Islands nor feel confident enough to arrange them. Maps of every port with directions to places of interest were freely provided each day at the reception. Every port and island were so different with totally different landscapes. (I have completed 'port reviews' but could not find Gran Canaria or Morocco in the list! Sorry!) We found it unable to do an excursion in Tenerife because of our flight times. In Gran Canaria we visited Puerto Mogan (Little Venice). This was very beautiful and the tour guide was lovely and informative. We also had a 15 minute photo stop at Maspalomas sand dunes. We feel we could have done with more time in both places, however we would recommend this excursion. In Las Palmas, we did the volcano and wine trip. This was disappointing as the fog was so thick we couldn't see the volcano at all and the walk around it was closed. The visitors centre is very poor and the information stands are written in Spanish. We also found the tour guide to be very nice however did not provide us with much information.I would not recommend this excursion if the weather is as bad as it was for us! In Madeira we did the botanical gardens and cable car. Madeira is very pretty and we enjoyed both of these aspects. The trip to the market in Funchal was unenjoyable. The prices were extortionate and it was disappointing. We had 30 minutes in the botanical gardens and and hour in the market! In Agadir we did the Berber Citadel excursion. We found Agadir to look very dirty with litter everywhere and the people in the market seemed to be very hostile. We were warned not to take pictures and we felt very much like a tourist attraction as we were stared at! However, it was an interesting experience to have had. The Berber citadel was beautiful and the landscape in Morocco is breathtaking. The tour guide was lovely and very informative. I would recommend this excursion but stick close to the group and your guide! Lanzarote was our favourite port. As the excursion did not leave until the afternoon we paid £4 for a return ticket for the shuttle bus into town. There were 5 buses departing every 10 minutes on a circular route and there was plenty of room. There was a fantastic market on the road on the seafront. We then did the Fire Mountain and Camel ride excursion. This was the highlight of our holiday. The tour guide was very funny and knowledgeable, the scenery was breathtaking, the camel ride was an amazing experience and the wine was the nicest Ive ever tasted! This excursion has a thumbs up from us. We also thought it was excellent value for money.
The chat leaflet was put under our door each evening and was very informative: from a weather forecast, to notices, to restaurant info, to the entertainment schedule. It was lovely to always know what was going on!
On the day at sea we found that we spent 3 hours walking in circles to find a sunbed. Whilst there are more than enough sunbeds and more than enough deck space on 'normal' days, on this particular day many people left towels to reserve sunbeds and went off for lunch etc. We feel this wouldn't have been such a problem if people hadn't of done this.
We did not use the beauty centre or the gym but they both appeared to be well equipped-the gym was free to use.
There are hand sanitizers all over the ship which you are strongly encouraged to use. We thought this was an excellent idea.
The ship operates a cashless system, meaning you either make a cash deposit or give your card details at the start of your holiday and are given a barcoded card that is scanned to create a 'tab' system. We thought this was excellent as it meant you did not need to carry cash onboard ship. You were given reciepts for every purchase and an itemised bill was put in your cabin halfway through the week. These cards are scanned when leaving and returning to the ship.
This was a fantastic experience and very good value for money. We would definately cruise again and would probably stay on this ship again (if we visited different destinations!, however we would choose rooms away from the engines and with an outside window!