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303 Island Escape Cruise Reviews

Do not let the negative 1 star reviews put you off completely! However, I do agree with some of the points made by the 3 star or less reviews. Firstly, I do agree that the cabins did not look anything like they were made out to be in the ... Read More
Do not let the negative 1 star reviews put you off completely! However, I do agree with some of the points made by the 3 star or less reviews. Firstly, I do agree that the cabins did not look anything like they were made out to be in the brochure! This did make me and my mum feel a little :/ when we walked in the room. The room is dated, no doubt, the pictures aren't very nice, the TV's are old and the beds look nothing like they are made out to be! However, this room really is only for sleeping and for the price you're paying you can't expect anything outstanding, I slept fine for 2 weeks and I have trouble falling asleep, it's not the best bed but not the worst either, I think most people will be able to put up with the quality of the beds. ANOTHER POINT I MUST POINT OUT IS MAKE SURE YOU CHOOSE YOUR CABIN CAREFULLY! Me and my mum were on deck 8 towards the front of the ship with an outside window, and no word of a lie, we were shaking constantly for the first week until we had to DOWNGRADE for a better room. Basically you could feel the shuddering of the boat constantly and we were honestly shaking from side to side, this is not to say we didn't sleep but it's not something you should have to put up with. Only a selected few had the same problem as us and we also think it was because we were so close to the white barrels that help balance the ship, they juddered from side to side and we believed this was the cause. BEST PLACE IS MID SHIP, MID CABINS! We felt nothing in the second week, completely no movement and slept fine! The food really isn't so bad, the pizza is a little poor but for all inclusive you can't complain, don't expect anything exceptional like steaks or anything but they have good puddings and have different themed food nights on almost every night, like I say, it is what is it, just enjoy. Also, i've read numerous times that the crew make up for where the ship itself fails and I have to agree that this is COMPLETELY TRUE. The staff and crew work their arses off and are funny and polite and you meet some good people who work really hard. The entertainment is good, all the singers are class and the dancer are very good, they put on a different show every night and is quite good, again it is what it is, don't expect broadway but enjoy it for what is is. I think the best part of the entire cruise is the fact that you get to know a lot of people and the crew including the Cruise director and the assistant cruise director are so funny, they have class banter with the quests and put in loads of effort to say they must do it all the time. Also the oasis restaurant is a must, the food was quality, a starter and main and a pudding for 14.99 pp is quality. The only problem we had was with some of the excursions, eg: Monte Carlo. DO NOT PAY FOR AN EXCURSION if and I say if you are docking in Villefranche for Monaco and Monte Carlo because you can get the train for like 2.50 return! Also I would suggest in my opinion to book the option of doing trips on your own, so for example, Florence on your own 9.5 hours, you get a chance to walk around by yourself and you aren't rushed, you obviously get dropped off and picked up and this is better I think, I would have booked all the excursions we went on with the option of going by yourself but that is my opinion, I am only 21 and wasn't put off by the fact you had the find your own way around. Overall, I would book with Island escape again, I loved the crew, the banter, the shows, the game shows etc and especially the people! For what you pay and what you get, remember IT IS WHAT IT IS and it's not that bad. I would recommend to people no doubt just remember also MID SHIP MID CABIN AND DON'T EXPECT P&O TYPE SERVICES ETC. Thank you! Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
My wife & I had our first cruise on the Island Escape from May 21-28 2013 & as it was our first cruise we were fairly enthusiastic about it. Embarking & disembarking was fairly straight forward, the time in-between is where ... Read More
My wife & I had our first cruise on the Island Escape from May 21-28 2013 & as it was our first cruise we were fairly enthusiastic about it. Embarking & disembarking was fairly straight forward, the time in-between is where the problems lie. Since the ship has gone all-inclusive, standards appear to have dropped. The food is sub-standard...lukewarm at best. The entertainment i have no problem with, Ross & the Showteam are top notch...fantastic guys, we loved you. Halfway through the cruise, the buffet, self serving at the beginning, was served to us with no explanation, eventually, it became apparent that Norovirus was on board, but nothing from the staff to inform us of this. On departing Civitavecchia, the ship listed to one side to avoid the rocks,(ive since heard the captain has been suspended), bottles, glasses & basically anything not nailed down was forced to one side of the ship...including passengers. We were in the Ocean Theatre at this point & it was terrifying, i witnessed a disabled woman in her wheelchair drenched in blood. Another passenger was airlifted to hospital with a suspected heart attack, another had a broken arm, & several had cuts & bruises. Around 200 passengers chose to disembark the following day. The majority of staff were pleasant, although 1 or 2 could do with a course in dealing with the public. All in all, it hasn't put us off cruising.....just NOT on this ship. Another reviewer put it better than i could when he described it as Butlins at sea. Finally, we will never set sail on this poor excuse for a cruise liner again, it's really not built to handle extreme weather conditions, & we still feel grateful to escape with our lives. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
We had a really bad cruise experience as weather at sea was very bad. Seasick on day at sea leaving Palma for Corsica we were unable to dock at Propriano as planned and instead went to Ajaccio although that was a good stop. Next stop ... Read More
We had a really bad cruise experience as weather at sea was very bad. Seasick on day at sea leaving Palma for Corsica we were unable to dock at Propriano as planned and instead went to Ajaccio although that was a good stop. Next stop Civitavecchia - had great day in Rome, however on way out of port weather was very rough on 24May and ship made a sharp turn on the way out which resulted in most people, drinks and dishes on the floor and the ship listed way over to the side. I can't believe no one was seriously hurt. Many people were very nervous to stay on board that night. The weather never improved and apart from the second last night the seas were rough and ship very noisy. There was little opportunity to get out on deck. Another port was changed and we visited Toulon instead of St Raphael which again was a good stop, however not what people had signed up for. We requested wheelchair assistance on arrival and departure from the ship and this was an excellent service. Food was mediocre and cocktails tasted different on every order. Very poor standard of catering and I was disappointed as I had high expectations from others people's experience of cruises. The help yourself buffet became service only about half way through the cruise and no explanation was given so I thought maybe people were helping themselves to too much, however I later heard another passenger saying her husband was suffering from Norivirus and may be leaving the ship for hospital and not home the following day. It would have been nice to know this was on board the ship. Although there was an all gratuity included policy, it was obvious that many staff were expecting tips but not all. Entertainment was excellent but was hard to enjoy as I was so nervous about ship sinking, but it did take my mind of things. I had paid extra for a suite but was still very small and smelt very musty and I had a headache every day on board which I think was caused by the constant air conditioning overhead in bedroom. Room was kept clean but the décor was very tired so it still never felt very fresh. It was a great way to get around major cities in a week but I could not recommend as I don't think cruises are safe after this. The shops were selling old stock and at not very discounted prices. I found it hard to believe that people say you would never know you were on a cruise as we lurched from one port to another. Due to the incident at Civitavecchia,Thomson has offered 100 per adult and 50 per off the next Thomson holiday booked, which I think is a great way to drum up some more sales......... Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
My daughter and I were on the Island Escape on w/c 21st May. This was our first time (and last).I have been on 3 other Thomson ships and comparing it to them I found indeed as per the brochure states the Island Escape was more laidback. ... Read More
My daughter and I were on the Island Escape on w/c 21st May. This was our first time (and last).I have been on 3 other Thomson ships and comparing it to them I found indeed as per the brochure states the Island Escape was more laidback. Which suited us fine. Staff were absolutely brilliant and couldnt have been better. The Island Dining room was nicely laid out, no queues there. Great waiters. Food good.It was self service buffet til about 4 days in to the cruise where it changed to served by staff from the buffet. (as we were to find out this was due to illness on board. Cabin was pretty basic -think budget hotel furniture- but very clean. Public areas looked better. Though they seemed very crowded in bars etc compared to other Thomson ships. These were the plus points.Comparing it to to other Thomson Ships drinks package, it was poor. A very basic choice of unbranded sprits. White rum, vodka, Gin, no version of Baileys etc.Lager by the half pint.Though the wine was good and the white rum fine. Entertainment was also very good. The reason I would not go back again was due to the unfortunate weather. Not of course that can be helped, but I dont think this ship handles at all well in bad weather.weather was truly awful and relentless for most of the cruise. Both if us seasick all of the day at sea. Then almost every night was sleepless and quesy because of the banging and lurching. Two change of ports due to the bad weather. Worse, when leaving Civitaveccia the ship listed badly. I honestly say I have never been so scared in my life. We were in the dining room and food and glasses and people fell. I know there were injuries but a miracle none seem to have been serious. I wanted to leave the ship but as noone spoke to us or made any further announcements other than the Capitain immediately afterwards who said he had to make a sudden turn to avoid rocks!I wanted to leave the ship at the next port. but I had no idea how to make arrangements for planes and travel or where the nearest airport or availability was. We had trips booked the next day to Florence and Pisa so we just decided to go and assume the worst was over. A lady on the bus became ill and was very sick and had to be returned to the ship. On returning to the ship we discovered people had left supposedly at Thomsons expense.I would have definitely have left if we had the option. Then people began to fall ill. Out of 6 of us who dined together, 3 became ill on board.1 of them had to have two injections and they were considering moving her to hospital at one stage. The buffet was changed to being served by staff, which was fine. But on asking we were advised there was no problem with sickness it was a change of hygiene practise. I fell ill the day I returned home and missed a long awaited operation as I had to be clear of sickness for 48hours. Again unfortunate fact of life, norovirus on ships. The good points really were the hard working cheerful staff, and they really went out of their way to make sure passengers in the dining room were ok after the listing incident. Despite the good points. I would not go on the Island Escape again. It doesn't appear from my experience to handle at all well in bad weather and I just wouldn't risk another week of seasickness. I still feel over a week after the event that we had a very lucky escape leaving Civitaveccia, and I think perhaps we should not have sailed or been so close to the rocks, and the outcome could have been terrible. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
We have just returned from a Thomson Cruise on the Island Escape and just wanted to warn anyone that is thinking of spending their hard earned cash on a cruising holiday to avoid this ship like the plague! We have sailed on other ... Read More
We have just returned from a Thomson Cruise on the Island Escape and just wanted to warn anyone that is thinking of spending their hard earned cash on a cruising holiday to avoid this ship like the plague! We have sailed on other Thomson’s ships (Topaz, Celebration, and Spirit) and always had a good time but the Island Escape is in a class of its own and for all the wrong reasons! The all inclusive package sounds pretty good until you get on board and then you are given a scrappy bit of photocopied paper which gives details of what the "all inclusive" includes-this takes up about 1/5 of the leaflet and the rest giving details of the cocktails, beers, liqueurs etc which you cannot have without paying extra. We knew that international brands were not included but what they don’t tell you is that apart from spirits there are no locally produced liqueurs offered such as Baileys, Amaretto, Tia Maria etc so if you want these or a cocktail containing these you have to pay extra at £2.50 a go!Noro Virus was rife on the ship which we were unaware of until again we were on board and started to hear the horror stories from people who were on the second week of their cruise and had all been ill and confined to their cabins at some point the previous week. The help your self buffet was reduced to something like a bad school dinner experience where absolutely EVERYTHING was put on your plate for you by staff-even the bottles of HP sauce were kept behind barriers and a "dollup" put on you plate if you wanted any. The food choice was terribly poor and compared to the other Thomason cruise ships was a massive disappointment. Needless to say despite the efforts of the cleaning staff we ended up in our cabin for a couple of days with sickness and diahorria and when we finally docked in Palma at the end of our cruise the whole ship was getting prepared for a disinfecting "deep cleaning exercise" and any passengers who were unlucky enough to be staying on board for a further week, had to be transferred to a nearby hotel while this process was taking place.The entertainment was very hit and miss,-evening shows when they were on were excellent- but the daytime entertainment was virtually non existent and consisted mainly of badly photocopied picture quizzes and bingo. On the days when the weather was awful or when we were at sea, there was no "contingency" entertainment added when it was raining- only entertainment cancelled if it was scheduled to be held at the poolside. The ship itself could only be described as a "rust bucket" which was obviously not up to sailing the bad weather conditions we experienced. Even though the captain kept reassuring us that the stabilizers on board would help in the stormy conditions this was not the case. We were on deck 9 at the rear of the ship and felt every movement and the loud clanging noise that accompanied every sway was horrific and made trying to sleep a nightmare!The only plus to this whole dreadful experience was as usual the wonderful and hard working cabin crew and bar/waiting staff.In my opinion the word "informal" which is used to describe this cruise should be changed to sub standard. We paid £1600.00 for something which at best could only be described as cheap and nasty!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
I have decided to write this review as I have just read the "I can't bear a snob" review... We are a middle aged couple who have been on Thomson spirit/Celebration and the Island Star when Thomson had it so obviously enjoy ... Read More
I have decided to write this review as I have just read the "I can't bear a snob" review... We are a middle aged couple who have been on Thomson spirit/Celebration and the Island Star when Thomson had it so obviously enjoy what people call the "budget end". The dump of the fleet "Island escape" is the most awful ship we have ever been on. We, unfortunately were on the ship when the "norvo Virus" outbreak was on there which Thomson didn't want people to talk about. (Quite funny daily counting the "confined to cabin markers on the doors"!! Anyway putting the food poisoning aside and the awful weather (no one can help that) I will give you a totally constructive opinion of the ship... .To Start with it needs totally refurbishing. The exterior is shabby, extremely unloved and tired (Now I know its no P&O or Royal Caribbean but I am not comparing to them). The cabins are ridiculous, old extremely dated cabins with old fashioned furnishings that look like haven't been updated since 1982. The cleaning crew are great, but you cant make the Ritz if you've only got Rigsbys house to work with! Now then The "A/I" YUK drinks package. Everything you would like is not included (or if you like vodka etc its the most awful cheap alternative you can imagine). No Baileys (or baileys substitute included) or Malibu (or cheap alternative) etc etc. Be one of the elite and pay for the things you enjoyed, which used to be included in the standard A/I and you were treated a bit better. It was though Thomson had told the bar staff to serve the premium drinks payers quicker leave the A/I cheapseats as long as possible. My husband likes bitter, this was supposedly worthingtons I think, and my husband could not drink it anymore after one and was adamant it was not like any bitter he had ever tasted... Same goes for the lager. We are no alcoholics but when you go all inc you expect to find something you can drink when socialising at night. The animaton team at the time had the lives of royalty..occasionally showed their face in the daytime for their one hour quiz game then disappeared off the face of the earth till nightime. PLEASE do not go on this ship if you have a certain budget go for and MSC and upgrade to their A/I for hardly any difference in price. We are not snobs (far from it) but this ship was that bad that we have said we will never go with Thomson again which is a shame. I really cant get my head round the 4 and 5* reviews of this ship it is totally and utterly baffling.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
The wife and I enjoyed the cruise, even though our cabin was a little shabby and dated. The food was average and rather bland and you had to pay extra to eat with waiter service; Which was strange because the holiday was advertised as all ... Read More
The wife and I enjoyed the cruise, even though our cabin was a little shabby and dated. The food was average and rather bland and you had to pay extra to eat with waiter service; Which was strange because the holiday was advertised as all inclusive. But on the positive side the shows and the live bands were fantastic and so were the crew. Ross Roberts, the CD, a Russ Abbot look-a-like with the voice of Dale Winton was fantastic. We enjoyed Mardi Gras and Jimmy Hart on deck7. Jimmy and the Brazilian duo were really friendly and they ended off our evenings which were packed out with cruisers dancing on every space they could find. Unfortunately we had a few drunks on board, mostly a group from Northern Ireland, who drank the all inclusive alcohol from morning till morning; but on the whole the cruisers were friendly and good humoured. The all inclusive alcolhol policy needs a re-think. Perhaps a time zone say from 5.00pm to 2.00am for all inclusive drinks, outside which the booze should be paid for. This would stop the drunks spoiling a good time had by all. So if you are not a snob and you are happy in a social club atmosphere, then the Island Escape is definitely for you. But if you'er looking for Diner Jackets and Tiaras then keep well away. In general I loved our time on board this ship and I also enjoyed our time visiting Capri, Tuscania, Cagliari, Adjaccio and Menorca and would be happy to cruise on the Island Escape again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
We went on the Island Escape from 14th to 21st May, as it was our first time we really didn't know what to expect. From the start it was fantastic, when we arrived in Palma it was quick transfer to the ship, the whole procedure to get ... Read More
We went on the Island Escape from 14th to 21st May, as it was our first time we really didn't know what to expect. From the start it was fantastic, when we arrived in Palma it was quick transfer to the ship, the whole procedure to get onboard was very well organised and quick. 10/10 for that. Our cabin was on deck 6 and our steward was Luis, wanted to fetch him home he did so much for us. if there was anything we needed he sorted it, right down to get our clothes washed and pressed for going to hotel after the cruise. We ate at the Island Restaurant, we were met at the door, and taken to a table, and we were served drinks there and then we went to the self serve buffet so you could get what you wanted. The window seats were lovely as you could see out of the full length windows. The staff in here were fantastic, if you couldn't see something you wanted they would do their best to get it for you. and we went in there for all our meals. We went to the Oasis and the paid the extra for a special meal as it was our wedding anniversary while on board and enjoyed it that much we went back again on our last night. Its silver service and the staff were fantastic in there as well. The shows we watched were great. Ross the entertainment manager is brilliant he even dresses up to do the time warp you have to see it to believe it. We used to go into the Bounty Lounge after tea and then into the ocean theatre later, the entertainment crew really work very hard and deserve with Ross a big thank you, for all their hard work. One thing i must mention you do get asked before you board the ship if you have been ill in the previous 48 hrs because of the nuro virus. I did actually here someone say they wouldn't have told the truth as they wouldn't have been allowed on the ship. There is antiseptic gel outside every restaurant and toilet. so you must always use, there was no nuro virus while we were on board. Loved my time on the ship and like lots of people still watch it on the web cam at Palma so we can see it sail on a tuesday. This is a dress down ship if you want to dress up you can, myself and some ladies did like to put on a maxi dress or evening dress but that's because i like to dress up in an evening i would if i was at home and going out for a show or a meal. Anyone due to sail we are booking again to go back on the ship, and i would say ignore the bad reviews the people who we spoke to the only ones who had anything bad to say are the ones who normally go on the posh ships, but if you want that type of cruise then pay for it, as the Island Escape is a great fun ship to holiday on Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
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 ... Read More
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!   Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Travelled on this ship from 28th May and during the week started to hear a few unbelievable stories about the week before. I booked the Deluxe Balcony cabin, one at the back of the ship, imagining sitting out there watching as we left the ... Read More
Travelled on this ship from 28th May and during the week started to hear a few unbelievable stories about the week before. I booked the Deluxe Balcony cabin, one at the back of the ship, imagining sitting out there watching as we left the various ports. Cabin was nice but a bit shabby. For the extra money Id paid I expected better! The first morning we woke up to find the toilet in our cabin was blocked and were informed by Customer Relations that this was a problem in a large part of the ship. Both my husband and I had to find a public toilet that was working to use that morning. We proceeded to breakfast in the Beachcomber Restaurant where the food was warm but not hot. Served to you on plastic plates and drinks in plastic mugs. After lunch back in the Beachcomber we walked along to the Mirage poolside bar and ordered a drink. White rum and coke for me and a whisky and lemonade for my husband. They were both awful! We then tried the vodka and that wasn’t much better! The alcohol tasted cheap and nasty. It was only drinkable in the various cocktails on offer. We could have ordered the premium brands and paid for them but that is why I went for an all inclusive so I didn't have to worry about how much was being taken out of my bank account each day. The following day, after returning from our trip to Sardinia, we decided to have dinner in the Island Restaurant. You queue up to get in here and they seat you at a table, but again a buffet. Again the food was only warm and not hot. After dinner we had a few cocktails in the Bounty Bar and then went to bed. In all the restaurants/bars they were very slow to clear tables and we often sat at a table that hadn’t been cleaned at all. The food was not of the standard that we were led to believe it should be. Butlins at sea was a common phrase used amongst the passengers. The two resident bands, duo Mardi Gras and 5 piece The Switch, were awful. People were constantly walking out, ourselves included. And if you wanted to see a show you had to queue up or you find a sign saying "full". And the fact that they knew that Norovirus was present and virulent when we boarded, and still allowed the cruise to go ahead, is unbelievable! We lost half of our last day by being transferred to a hotel in Majorca whilst they disinfected the ship and again the food there was not to standard. My 50th birthday is memorable for all the wrong reasons and has put us off of taking another cruise!   Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
I didn't like cruising and would never go on one. After a nightmare crossing from Calais to Dover a long time ago, ships were off my list forever. After nagging for 34 years my wife finally got me to agree to trying a budget 7 night ... Read More
I didn't like cruising and would never go on one. After a nightmare crossing from Calais to Dover a long time ago, ships were off my list forever. After nagging for 34 years my wife finally got me to agree to trying a budget 7 night Med cruise on The Island Escape. The arguing has now finished. No more arguments about booking a cruise. After a mere week on the Island Escape my mind is made up. I just can't wait until our next cruise!! What a brilliant weeks holiday for what can only be called ultra economy price. Our balcony cabin, although compact, was excellent and immaculate. Service throughout the ship was just perfect. Absolutely everything you could want. Gee whizz, for just about £500 each plus £250 each supplement for the balcony meant a mere £1500 each. Two people, a week of fun, food, and a tour of the Med with return flights UK to Palma included. I'm not at all a fan of Thomsons. But, on this occasion I must admit, they have definitely got it right. Maybe it was our first cruise but it certainly won't be our last. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
I returned last week from my first cruise on Island Escape and had an amazing week on this ship. It was a last minute booking and managed to get a fantastic price on an all-round great value for money, all-inclusive holiday. My ... Read More
I returned last week from my first cruise on Island Escape and had an amazing week on this ship. It was a last minute booking and managed to get a fantastic price on an all-round great value for money, all-inclusive holiday. My expectations were not high as I knew this was a budget ship and had read the very mixed reviews. The biggest shock was seeing the cabin (an inside on deck 7) for the first time, which is even smaller in real life than in photos, but I have to say that after the initial shock I was completely comfortable in there and really didn't care that there wasn't room to swing a cat! It was actually the most comfortable I've been on a cruise, despite having been in bigger and "better" cabins on other ships. Best of all I did not experience any seasickness at all, which I usually do as I'm very prone to nausea and even have anti-emetics on prescription for this. I had been worried about the location of the cabin after reading that you are more likely to feel motion higher up the ship, but on a deck 7 forward cabin I was absolutely fine. Decor-wise the cabin is very basic and outdated -- especially in the bathroom with its 70s coloured porcelain! But it was a very powerful shower with ample room and that's all you need really. Embarkation was very swift and efficient, as was disembarkation on the last day. Island Escape doesn't just get it's reputation as the "casual & informal" cruise ship for the absence of formal evenings and dress code -- unlike on other ships, on the last day and when going out on excursions you are expected to just make your way off the ship at the required time where your coaches are waiting, rather than having to gather in a specific place and await calls over the tannoy system telling you what to do and when to move. The entertainment team make much more of the sailaway party on the first night than you get on other ships where it can be a bit lacklustre. There was a genuine party atmosphere on the ship right through the week. At this point I should give a HUGE commendation to Ross Roberts, Cruise Director, who is by far the best CD I've experienced! You can tell he genuinely loves his job and everything he does, he does with great enthusiasm. It's especially good to see him fully involved with the activities, be it taking a role in the shows in the Ocean Theatre or out on deck taking part in the poolside fun and games. On other cruise ships the CDs seem to take a more managerial role, overseeing things and popping up at the end of shows etc to make announcements, but Ross seems to be everywhere at once and is fully involved in all aspects of the entertainment. I'm going to give a little run-through of the activities taking place throughout the ship over the week as I always find when I'm reading reviews of cruises that people say the entertainment was great and shows fantastic, but they don't give specifics which I know is of interest to people thinking about booking a cruise but maybe not sure:- Daytime activities were plentiful -- lots more going on during the day than on other ships I've been on. There is constant activity out on the pool deck throughout the day -- quizzes, bingo, music, games such as darts, bean bag boules etc, other entertainments led by the hosts such as Gladiators (crew vs guests), and demonstrations on ice and fruit & veg carving etc. The sailaway from Ajaccio was fun with Ross leading party dances such as YMCA & Gangnam Style! One thing my husband thought he was going to miss was having an onboard cinema, but on the day at sea the Ocean Theatre held a screening of 'Lincoln' to a completely fully house. To those who haven't cruised before and are maybe not aware of what you get in terms of TV -- channels are very few as on other ships (just news channels like BBC Worldwide and Bloomberg) but you do get 2 channels which screen a current film six times a day. Elsewhere on the ship there are daily seminars on beauty, weight loss, detox, hair etc, more quizzes, daily dance lessons (salsa, line dancing, merengue, jive, cha cha) and exercise classes. The salon & gym are open till late and prices at the salon are cheaper than on other ships so this time I was persuaded to try ionithermie inch loss treatment -- I never usually do this kind of thing! In the evening there was a nightly show in the Ocean Theatre. Four productions were by the ship's showteam. A welcome show on the first night which was a whizz through all the genres of music we could expect to see during the rest of the week, which contained a very funny rendition of Gilbert & Sullivan's 'Three Little Maids' with Ross Roberts dressed as a Geisha! The other shows were 'A Night at the Musicals', 'Rockin' All Over the World' and 'Rock This Ship'. The shows were of high standard as you usually find on cruises, although I have to say I found these particular shows a bit samey to shows I've seen on past cruises. The low point for me was having to sit through a tribute to the Lion King again, which has been done on every cruise I've been on and I really hate it!! The rest of the audience seemed to appreciate it though, judging by the gasps of amazement when the lion came out! 'Rock This Ship' was a bit random in its choices of songs -- going straight from 'Pie Jesu' to 'Proud Mary' seemed a bit strange! To be honest I wish I'd been on the ship the following week, as they have a 2 week rolling programme of shows and I think I would have preferred the ones I didn't see. The other shows were a soul singer (who I didn't see), a Scottish comedian called Johnny Mack and an Abba tribute act called 'Reabba'. The comedian was fantastic, and was the highlight of the week for me in terms of the evening entertainment. 'Reabba' on the other hand were awful -- or maybe that's just me feeling bitter because I missed out on the Queen tribute act I was expecting! Again, I seem to have boarded the ship on the wrong week! Other nightly entertainment included live music in the various bars -- Mardi Gras in the Lookout Bar were very good. Not so keen on the so-called 'pianist' in the Sundowner, who seemed to play every song in the style of Chas n' Dave! The Bounty Lounge hosted other evening entertainments such as nightly bingo and quiz, gameshows such as Millionaire and Mr & Mrs, a very popular race night and karaoke on 3 evenings (very funny!). For those who like to gamble, the Casino was very busy every single evening and hosted Black Jack tournaments etc. There are also lots of fruit machines and a video arcade next door. Value for money on Island Escape is second to none, especially as it is now an all-inclusive ship. Of course premium drinks etc are still charged and as a cocktail drinker I was expecting to have to pay for some of my drinks, but actually there is a really good selection of cocktails included in the all-inclusive. Overall, prices onboard the ship for extras (salon, shop, internet etc) are very good and I was impressed at how much cheaper certain things are than on the Thomson ships, given Island Escape is essentially the same company. For example, putting an announcement in the Island Chat (nightly cruise newsletter) was only £6 compared to the £40-odd that my husband was quoted for the same on our last cruise!! Odd things can be ridiculously expensive though, such as £3.90 for a mini tub of Pringles!! Ports of Call & Excursions -- We were on the 'Spirit of the Med' itinerary, which called at Ajaccio, Civitevecchia, Livorno, Toulon & Barcelona. Ajaccio is a lovely place and a lot more to it than I was expecting. The highlight of the trip for me was going to be Livorno (for Pisa), but I probably enjoyed the day at Ajaccio most of all! We did the Tortoise Protection Centre shore excursion, which is a little gem of a trip and highly recommended if you want to do something a little different from just looking at scenery. Also included is a drive around Ajaccio, stopping at the Napoleon monument. When we got back to port I went out on my own for a look around town while hubby went back to the ship -- I don't normally go out on my own, but felt perfectly comfortable in Ajaccio. It's a small town and easy to navigate your way around. There is no long walk from the port -- you just come off the ship, walk through the port building and there you are. It's a lovely little town with a nice market and nice range of shops and cafes -- lots of clothes and shoe shops for the ladies and some nice souvenir shops to browse in. The whole place smells strongly of cheese (their main export is cheese made from sheep's milk!) which hits you almost as soon as you leave the port building! As Napoleon's birth place, as you can imagine almost everything is named after him, and they have a Napoleon museum in his former house which is very easy to get to. Ajaccio harbour is quite small and uncommercial so there is a lovely panoramic vista from the ship which makes a nice change from industrial ports such as Civitevecchia & Livorno. The sailaway is beautiful. We didn't leave the ship in Civitevecchia (port for Rome) as we didn't want to do a long, full day excursion on this holiday. It's a pretty ugly, industrial port but I think most people probably would want to take advantage of a visit to Rome when docked here. From Livorno we did the Easy Pisa trip. I chose this one as I'd read that there is a long walk to Miracles Square from the coach park, but this trip takes you on a mini trolley train to the main sights. I highly recommend this trip, not only if you have mobility problems but also because you get a wee drive around Pisa too so get to see the rest of the city. Not that there's a great deal to see, as the main sights are all concentrated in Miracles Square, but it's still interesting. At Miracles Square you get 2 hours of free time to look around, take your photos of the Leaning Tower, go into the church if you want to, and have a browse around the souvenir stalls. Two hours is ample time here -- it's not recommended that you go inside the Leaning Tower as there is a long queue and there might not be time. I'd say at this time of year it might have been possible, although may not have left time for anything else, but probably not during the summer. The ship's photographers are there taking photos and I have to say they were a lot of fun in helping me to get the perfect picture I wanted!! Just a word of warning about Pisa -- beware of the annoying 'looky-looky' men selling watches and umbrellas! Felt like I was in Egypt for a moment! At Toulon we didn't do any excursions but went for a look around. There is a bit of walk from the port into town and so there is a mini train waiting outside the ship which will take you on a tour around and you can get off at the town and beach. We got on as I thought it would be the easiest way to get around and wanted to save my legs for Barcelona the next day, but this idea backfired on me as we got off at the beach but although we were waiting at the exact place we were dropped off the train kept driving on past us and not stopping so we ended up having to walk all the way back to the ship!! Wasn't amused at all at this so didn't have a very enjoyable time in Toulon, but it's a nice enough place -- not a great deal to do or see, but a nice beach and plenty of eateries if that's your thing. At Barcelona we wanted to visit the zoo, and again we thought the easiest way to get around would be to get on one of the hop-on-hop-off buses that stop at the zoo. Our ship got the prime berthing location outside the World Trade Centre, which meant no walking or shuttle buses to get out of the port. We just had to walk through the port building and you are practically at the bottom of Las Ramblas (near the Columbus column) where you can get on a HOHO bus. The zoo was good but for some reason the hippos weren't on display which was disappointing as they were our reason for going. After a morning at the zoo we got back on the HOHO bus and saw the Sagrada Familia, which is definitely worth seeing although you may be surprised at just how much scaffolding etc is around it -- work has been ongoing since the 19th century, but when you see photos of it you don't see all the cranes and scaffolding. It's not quite as picture perfect in real life, if you were hoping to get some amazing holiday snaps of this masterpiece! The weather in Barcelona was absolutely scorchio, even at this time of year, so make sure you have sun cream on, especially if you are going to be sitting on an open-topped bus for hours driving round the city if you don't want to get a burnt head (I talk from experience!). A note about the HOHO bus -- it takes hours to get around the city as the traffic is crazy in Barcelona. We only got around half the route in about 3 hours and had to get off at Placa de Catalunya and walk back down Las Ramblas to get back the ship, or we would never have got back there on time to sail!! The weather during the whole week was very good for the time of year (9th-15th April). It was lovely day in Palma when we arrived, then the day at sea was very pleasant -- warm enough for sunbathing but not too hot. We had fab sunshine in Ajaccio too. Civitecchia was meant to be the warmest day with highs of 20 but actually turned out to be the coldest and greyest -- was shivering with cold in the afternoon. Livorno was sunny and warm, as was Toulon although quite a high wind. Barcelona was very, very hot!! Evenings were cool but it was comfortable enough most evenings to walk around on deck without a jacket or coverup. With regard to the ship photographers, they are everywhere and anywhere during the whole cruise -- much more so than I've noticed on other cruises. They will be taking your photo as you disembark at each port and have at least one if not two set-ups outside the bars/restaurants each evening so you have plenty of chances to get photos taken with various backdrops. Some people may find ship photographers irritating, but I have to say I didn't feel pressured into buying any photos. They were very friendly and not at all pushy. They took some I really liked and ended up buying, which I don't normally bother with. Overall, this was a brilliant holiday. The only problem I had, other than an issue with excursion tickets that weren't delivered (but easily resolved by Shore Excursions staff) was with the food. Admittedly I am a fussy and unadventurous eater, which is often a problem for me when on holiday but one of the things I have loved about cruising in the past is that I've always found the restaurants to have a good selection and choice of food and have always managed to find something I like. The buffet in the Beachcomber restaurant is laid out almost exactly as those on Thomson Spirit & Celebration, but the menu is very limited. Several lunchtimes and evenings there was nothing I could have and had to live on plates of chips or crackers and cheese until the midnight buffet was laid out! The whole week I didn't even have one pudding, as there was never any I fancied. I also didn't like the fact that the main course dishes are kept covered and you have to ask for what you want. I like to be able to see what I'm getting and help myself - I found the helpings to be very, very small on the Island Escape. If you wanted the chicken, for example, you would get 1 piece. If you asked for fries you would get the smallest helping ever -- maybe 10 or 12! Part of the fun of being on holiday is being able to eat like a king but it was quite hard on the Island Escape! We didn't bother with the Island Restaurant as the menu was the same, just with waiters and set opening times, whereas the Beachcomber is open 24 hours. There is also the Oasis a la carte restaurant, which had a cover charge of £14.99 I believe, but we just stuck with Beachcomber as we prefer to dine informally. I would also like to see the late night menu in the Beachcomber being brought forward to say 11pm, as if I hadn't been able to have dinner from the evening menu it was a long time to wait till midnight! But despite the issue with the food, I absolutely loved my week on Island Escape and the entertainment and everything else more than made up for the lack of choice in this area. Would I recommend the ship? Definitely -- if you want laid-back, informal cruising then this is the ship for you. Would I go back myself? Absolutely -- I was planning my next holiday on Island Escape before I even left the ship!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
Was rather worried after reading earlier reviews but we needn't have bothered. First sight of the ship was quite pleasing - not as large or as grand as some of the other ships we saw but not as bad as I thought. Our cabin was on the ... Read More
Was rather worried after reading earlier reviews but we needn't have bothered. First sight of the ship was quite pleasing - not as large or as grand as some of the other ships we saw but not as bad as I thought. Our cabin was on the 9th deck. We had a balcony , which we didn't have too many chances to use because of the weather. The cabin was extremely small - but we were only using it to sleep in so not too much of a problem. The bathroom was tiny but the shower was great - iv had much larger and posher bathrooms that the shower has soaked everything in sight but this worked great. It is all inclusive now but we didn't come across anyone who had too much to drink. The spirits weren't as strong as in u.k but we found when we asked for e.g gin and tonic 50/50 you could taste the alcohol. The beer was great as was the wine. The food was plentiful . We ate in both the island and the beachcomber restaurants and again had no problems. The entertainment was outstanding - as good if not better than anything I have heard in the west end and broadway. All in all we had a brilliant week - apart from the weather and would I go again on the island escape - you bet I would Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
Absolutely fantastic, and was a nice change being on holiday and not listening to the usual moans and groans of other holiday makers. Everyone was full of praise of this fab ship, and basically really 'happy' holiday makers :-) ... Read More
Absolutely fantastic, and was a nice change being on holiday and not listening to the usual moans and groans of other holiday makers. Everyone was full of praise of this fab ship, and basically really 'happy' holiday makers :-) Everything was very well organised, from arriving at the port, cases arriving at our door effortlessly, daily bulletin under our door last thing at night with the next day activities - and something for everyone, take it or leave it. When disembarking there were maps at reception of the port marking clearly any points of interest. As the Island Escape is small in comparison to other ships we got prime berthing spots. We did the Rome in One Day, was ok but pretty expensive at around £76 I think per person, and Florence on your own, again pretty expensive, £36 I think per person for a 1hr 15 min bus ride and drop off. Other stops we did on our own. Dining... something for everyone. Restaurants were very well organised, and sanitizing was the order of the day, every day, everywhere. I noticed in the restaurants the plates were upside down to help prevent germs, waiters putting out the cutlery on tables wore plastic gloves, and the team work in restaurants was second to none. We liked all restaurants at different times of the day, but our favourite was dining in the Oasis restaurant in the evening after a busy day sightseeing, or just for waiter service and being totally spoilt, and totally spoilt we were! They were doing a 'Happy Hour' deal whilst we were there, dining after 9pm for £10.95 per person, the wine flowed, and believe me worth EVERY PENNY! The Ocean Theatre... top acts here, in fact still cant believe the standard. Fantastic. We spoke to folk who had done over 30 cruises and found the entertainment to be the best ever on the Island Escape. They had a great comedian flown in from Glasgow, singer from London who did a soul and mowtown night. There is the Bounty Bar where things like karaoke, xfactor, bingo, resident band took place. The Lookout bar was a great place for sailaway if a bit chilly, or the Sailaway Bar/Beachcomber restaurant outdoor area also great for the sailaway if not so cool. The entertainment staff/ship director were just great, and Captain David gave us updates through the tanoy every morning/evening which was nice. The cabin... this too exceeded our expectations. Floor 7, inside midship, we had two four drawer chest of drawers, so space for everything, space under beds for cases, lots of shelves in bathroom with a bar across to save stuff falling I suppose in stormy weather [didnt feel a wave when we were onboard!!]. The wardrobe space had a curtain covering, lots of rail space, although I was glad I took a few hangers, but then I did take a fair few clothes! There were two power points, one 230 and 110 [?] we just used our euro plug for hairdryer which was fine. No hair dyers in room but I think you could probably rent one. Safe was £15 for the week. There were two dark green towels for using at the pool etc so no need to take beach towels. Gym... I did plan to use this every day, however I used the stairs all the time as I don't like lifts so felt this was my exercise, and of course walking about the towns... I am happy to say that I actually LOST 4lbs when I weighed in back home!!! I seem to remember reading somewhere that since going AI waiters weren't so forthcoming... we found the total opposite! In the theatre at night there were a flurry of waiters wanting to take your order for drinks, and there was also a five minute warning that a show was starting and a waiter would come round again! We never queued at a bar once in the whole trip. Hope the staff read this too - well done all of you, each and every one of you deserve a big THANK YOU for making our first cruise so enjoyable and memorable. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
We have just returned from a Spring Cruise on the Island Escape, the second time we have cruised with Island Cruises on this ship. All inclusive worked very well without any obvious over indulgence. Local spirits aren't quite up to ... Read More
We have just returned from a Spring Cruise on the Island Escape, the second time we have cruised with Island Cruises on this ship. All inclusive worked very well without any obvious over indulgence. Local spirits aren't quite up to the standards we are used to at home, but that's what you expect when abroad. The food quality was good and although buffet style, the waiting staff were there to help when needed. Well done Ronnie our waiter, very helpful again. The shows were of good standard with Johnny Mac providing humour and an Elvis Tribute a good sound alike and not taking himself too seriously. But it was the ships own entertainment crew which shone with outstanding personal contributions and superb dance routines. Well done to the cruise director Ross Roberts and his show team. The excursions were very comprehensive although rather over priced, and the descriptions of trips purchased on-line did not always agree with what actually happened. One unfortunate incident when we landed in Toulon at 9.00am and disembarked for our 9.15 trip to Cassis only to be told that we did not have clearance from the French authorities to leave the ship. An hour of our port time wasted, although Captain David Thackray arranged to leave Toulon and hour and a half later than originally arranged to allow trips from St Tropez time to return. If you get the chance do not miss Cassis. This may be considered a budget cruise and the ship so obviously ageing, but the staff and crew are all so helpful and friendly it really makes for a superb holiday and, as tipping is taken care of in the prices you pay, you only need to say "thanks" to those who really go out of their way to make your holiday special. Disembarkation was a bit of a farce as we were going on to Palma Nova for a few days but were not allowed to travel until 11.30. That seemed to leave us at a loss for anything to do, and when we did finally get to leave we had to wait in line while new arrival buses were emptied of luggage. If we had been sent earlier we would not have been in the way. However, if she's still sailing this will not be our last trip on the Island Escape. None of the ports we visited are on the review list supplied, so just for the record, Palma, Ajaccio, Cititavecchia, Livorno, Toulon, Barcelona and back to Palma. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
When looking at cruises what drew us towards the IE initially was the words 'Relaxed, Friendly & Informal' which was exactly what we were looking for, and exactly what we received. Couldn't fault the staff, ... Read More
When looking at cruises what drew us towards the IE initially was the words 'Relaxed, Friendly & Informal' which was exactly what we were looking for, and exactly what we received. Couldn't fault the staff, entertainment or the food. Very impressed. Yes the ship is older, the decor a little dated in places, but the staff and crew are fabulous and thats whats makes this ship special and made this the cruise for us, the great atmosphere. Special assistance with dad were excellent both ends Cardiff and Palma. Flight over was an uneventful and smooth process. As was checking in at Cardiff and through immigration at onto buses to the port at Palma. Embarkation at Palma was glorious blue skies and less stressful and hurried than expected. Warm, friendly staff greeted and explained the process at the port in Palma, and from our perspective embarkation day seemed like a well oiled machine. First impressions of IE were exactly what I expected having researched online. Impressed with the attention to hygiene and disease prevention starting right at the port entrance with hand sterilising and continuing throughout the ship, eating venues, toilets, gangways, etc. Our cabin and bathroom were small, but adequate, with plenty of storage space crammed in and spotlessly clean with a decent size window. We ate at the Beachcomber 24hr buffet for breakfast and some lunch/afternoon teas, once at the Island Restaurant for lunch and each evening meal here. The food was buffet style at both venues but found the quality excellent and the staff at each friendly and attentive even when clearly extremely busy. We didn't use the a la'carte restaurant, maybe next time. The entertainment was superb. We saw a Motown/Soul singer, Steve Simone at the Ocean Theatre, who we had the pleasure of dining with earlier that evening, fabulous singer/entertainer and lovely dinner companion. The Comedian Paul Eastwood, very funny and the Rockin all Over the World show which we enjoyed. The Bounty lounge was a great venue also, my father really enjoyed taking part in 'Name that 70's tune' and winning on the men's team, the excellent resident band the Switch could often be heard here too, very good mix of music by them. The Lookout lounge is a superb little spot for panoramic views during the day and most evenings the resident duo Mardi Gras performed, lovely couple with excellent voices. Later in the night the lookout becomes the late night disco venue. The Pub was another fun little venue, awesome bar team and 2 great solo artists doing alternating 45min spots in the evenings, whilst we were on board it was Frankie De Soto a singer/pianist and Jimmy Hart a singer/guitarist. The staff at the boutiques were all friendly and well informed of the products on offer. Our cabin steward was friendly and very efficient, oh and great towel animals. We attended the Q&A with the Captain, David Thackray, really glad we did, found it informative and rather enjoyed his dry sense of humor. When encountered around the ship he was always friendly and approachable. The cruise director Ross Roberts, and his whole team, Steve, Abby, Daniella, Lukas and everyone whose name I can't remember, excellent. With the wet weather you truly outdid yourselves with extra activities added on. Ajaccio was lovely, warm, if a little cloudy, went on the petit train tour and shopping/sightseeing round the town. Our favorite port on the itinerary, very beautiful town full of charm. Civitavecchia was also little cloudy but warm, we did the Easy Rome excursion, our guide lady was very good and well informed, really enjoyed our free time at the end at Vatican City, had almost 2 hrs to explore. Left Dad at the Mirage bar one lunchtime when me and mum went into Livorno, bar staff looked after and kept and eye on Dad, jumped straight to his aid and guided him to the men's room when he needed and had him thoroughly merry after a few Cocktails of the day by early afternoon. Explored Toulon on our own, got some lovely new pieces for my wardrobe and enjoyed exploring the market and harbor. Barcelona was quite wet, but still enjoyed the sights of the port and exploring the shops on Las Ramblas, gathering gifts to take home to the family. Glorious weather again for disembarkation, really didn't want to go home Wasn't expecting residual the wibbly wobbly feeling, felt quite odd first night home, subsided over the next 48hrs then. Already looking towards booking another trip on IE. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
This was our first budget cruise and I therefore didn't have very high expectations, which I think is half the battle. Having done our research, we knew roughly what to expect. That said, I was pleasantly surprised by most of what I ... Read More
This was our first budget cruise and I therefore didn't have very high expectations, which I think is half the battle. Having done our research, we knew roughly what to expect. That said, I was pleasantly surprised by most of what I experienced. The ship itself is, as other reviewers have said, spotlessly clean. Our cabin was kept immaculate by Oliveira, who came in twice a day and left me with absolutely nothing to complain about. Yes, the cabins, like the ship, are dated and tired, but who really cares whether the sink in the bathroom is salmon pink? As long as the taps work and you can do the necessary, is the colour really that important? I've sailed on (and paid a lot more for) 'luxury ships' and our cabin was smaller than this one and not kept anywhere near as clean. The food was perfectly fine in the buffet restaurants. Not outstanding, but enough to choose from and I had nothing to complain about and I can be quite snobby about food. The a la carte restaurant is well worth a visit - we ate in there twice and had an excellent meal both times. The A/I drink was San Miguel or Boddingtons, red, white and rose wine and a number of spirits. The wines were a bit rough round the edges and the San Miguel wore a bit thin for me, but that wasn't a problem as I was quite happy spending a couple of quid on a bottle of Becks or Corona. The entertainment was pretty much on a par with most other cruises. A lot of it wasn't my cup of tea, but most people we spoke to who had been to the shows said they were excellent. There is plenty of sunbathing space around the ship, so no need to bag those beds....not that this stopped a particular family who, without fail, had their towels out by 8 a.m every morning while they were nowhere to be seen! The staff are friendly and efficient - some friendlier than others. The itinerary was excellent and the main reason for us choosing the Island Escape. Would I cruise on this ship again? Yes, if I could pick something up for between £300-£400 for a week, it is extremely good value for money. So, if you are looking for a cruise where you don't have to worry about being stung with a huge bill at the end or you are trying cruising for the first time, the Island Escape is worth considering. Ignore the moaners who are moaning for the sake of it - if you do your research, you will know what it is about and you can decide whether it is for you. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
I'll start with positives - the crew and the ports of call. The negatives - The food - lukewarm or cold both in the Beachcomber and the other dining room. When we pointed this out, for about the third time, we were told it could ... Read More
I'll start with positives - the crew and the ports of call. The negatives - The food - lukewarm or cold both in the Beachcomber and the other dining room. When we pointed this out, for about the third time, we were told it could be taken away and heated. I wanted hot food not reheated. Bland and monotonous, same dishes repeated again and again. If I never see a chicken leg again I'll be happy. Some people were comparing the food to school meals. It wasn't even up to that standard. The only good meal we had in the thirteen days was in the Oasis restaurant, which cost extra. The service and the food was first class - which is what I expect every day on a cruise The all inclusive package included only about 25 per cent of the drinks available. The spirits were so bad I'm sure I could have drunk a bottle of rum with no ill effects (I didn't). Drinks and snacks in the cabin were not included -a can of Red Bull was over £5 and a mini tube of Pringles was £3.90. No free coffee at the pool area (it is an all inclusive ship). To get a coffee one had to go to the Beachcomber and then carry it back, past the spa and through the gym and one extremely heavy door. Health and safety was obviously not a priority. The same hazards were obvious in the Beachcomber, with people wandering around looking for tables while carrying food (perhaps that's why it was cold) and hot drinks. The theatre -I think it seated about 350 so even though each show was on twice one had to be there about an hour before to get a seat. We only saw three shows in the thirteen days. The cabins - no hair dryers, chipped sinks, cracked tiles, the smallest cabin I have ever been in my life. Some people we met were in three different cabins because there was water leakage. A common sight was big industrial style machines drying out carpets. The price of the excursions. The one to Rome cost £84. Minimises at the port were taking six people to Rome for 27 euros each. This included a commentary and stops at all the sites of interest. I have been on all of Thomsons ships but this was at a different low level. Perhaps it was telling that on at least three occasions we were told that the island escape was not a Thomsons ship. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
we (90 yr old husb and i, 67 yrs) selected this itinerary because the travel agent had a group going and included train transport as well as all transfers from train to ship and reverse. no flying required, which is best for my husb. MS ... Read More
we (90 yr old husb and i, 67 yrs) selected this itinerary because the travel agent had a group going and included train transport as well as all transfers from train to ship and reverse. no flying required, which is best for my husb. MS Zaandam is the second Holland vessel we've booked. ship's company, hotel and restaurant staffs are wonderful, professional and hard working. from previous experience i suspected that food service might be rocky the first couple of days and a comment in Rotterdam dining room the first night indicated that a 'new program' for food service had been instituted and no one was happy. many fewer restaurant staff in evidence, no wine stewards, food inedible. everything improved by day three and although i still think that staffing levels are lower than our previous experience, service was excellent with truly charming people helping us. food was great, for the most part, from that day forward. [i'm a picky eater, so i'll order two or three appetizers, no dessert; husb loves everything, especially dessert!]. husb made cabin reservations and although we were able to get a cabin with handicapped accessible shower (saints be praised), the cabin was not the deluxe verandah which i expected and had experienced previously. oh well. weather was rough for a couple of days, which we have to expect in the winter and, because we like to sail, we enjoyed the four sea days and i wore a patch, just in case. i discussed previous problems at Hilo with our travel agent: port security is tight and Holland ties up right in the middle of the action, necessitating independent cruising visitors to walk a very long distance (for a 90 yr old with rheu arth) to catch a cab. we (travel agent and i) thought we had solved the problem with Holland providing golf cart for handicapped folk, but that was not the case. oh well #2. we had a great time and the old boy managed to enjoy his Bananas Foster at Cafe Pesto while i drank a reviving glass of cab sauv. got my Japanese fabric, my new dress for SIG ZANE (and yes, i know caps indicate shouting, but i love SIG ZANE clothes). we lucked upon a volunteer with a Hilo booster group who managed to talk her way past security and we got very close to the ship on our return. we visited family in maui and left the ship a week early in honolulu, flying home at our own expense. no refund requested or offered. problems: handicapped accessible shower had a shower stool upon our arrival which disappeared while we were at our truly awful first dinner in Rotterdam dining room. no ship's employee could provide information on aforementioned stool nor was a replacement provided until 1400 hrs on day two. poor husb had to spend that time with a little washcloth refresher. sea was too rough for him to even stand and hang on to the grab bars while i hosed him down. he fell on a trip to the toilet in the night but was not hurt. since i could not find anyone who was able to solve the mystery of the shower stool and i couldn't get anyone to answer 'at your service' button on the phone, i started asking every employee i met from 7 am on day two about our stool. i started looking at passenger load levels for flights out of HNL to LAX that morning and discovered that our favorite flights (noon departure) were almost if not already full. i decided that lack of response from ship's staff on the shower stool and really poor food did not bode well for the remainder of the two week cruise and elected to book a return after one week on the ship, so we continued the cruise to hilo, as mentioned above; stopped in Lahaina where we rented a RED CONVERTIBLE to drive to Kahalui and Wailuku for lunch with resident step-relatives. had a great meal and a great time, returned to the ship by tender without incident. in the days at sea i noticed and commented to fellow cruisers about public restrooms being closed intermittently, industrial carpet drying fans arrayed in hallways, stewards steaming carpets, plumbers working away in the chases and observed plumbers in the chases on deck 7 (ours). plumbers were working amidships but ominously, gradually moving closer and closer to our cabin which was the last aft on that deck. i was counting my blessings and saying my beads...no plumbing problems...and we were getting off the ship, so we wouldn't have to worry...except that at 0300 hrs (3 am) the toilet backed up enroute to Oahu necessitating a hazmat cleanup that was completed by 0400 hrs. seas were rough and altho the smell of chlorine bleach was comforting under the circumstances, i started retching about that time and slapped a scopolamine patch on. we had to clear customs (????) at 0630 hrs and i started vomiting about that time. i'm not sure whether it was seasickness, food poisoning (we had eaten a meal in Wailuku as well as aboard in the 'kill zone time-wise', or stress because of our flood and impending five hour flight. regardless, it wasn't pleasant. fortunately i am a demon packer and it was done before i was really ill and we were finally able to get off the ship, get our transport, check in at HNL and eventually get home. I WILL BE CHECKING FOR PASSENGER COMMENTS ON PLUMBING IN THE FUTURE. Also, if i am missing required and promised equipment i will plant myself at the front desk until that equipment is replaced. i am of the 'stuff happens' school of life. i still love cruising, under certain circumstances, because my husband really prefers it. and, because of available itineraries, i might cruise with Holland again but i'll be making some in depth investigation before any money leaves our accts. the other ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS experience i had was the Thermal Suite in the Spa. that room is worth the price of the ticket and if i travel on Holland again it will be because of the Thermal Suite (and maybe the itinerary, of course). my ipod and i were content for the hours we spent there and husb didn't want to pay the bucks, so i was alone, except for the other occasional escapee. i wish i was there right now....but i have a little laundry to do and have to make the coffee. my dog is happy i'm home and my house/dogsitting friend is a neat freak so my house looks like five million dollars without a micron of dust observable. not expected nor requested--we have housekeeping help, but Karen is such a wonderful friend and our dog loves her, too. and i'm not vomiting any more! 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Sail Date December 2012
We booked the 8 day Olives and Ouzo Cruise aboard the Island Escape departing 30th October 2012 through Cruise Deals, and arranged Special Assistance at the airports by telephone with Thomson, although done individually it is all part of ... Read More
We booked the 8 day Olives and Ouzo Cruise aboard the Island Escape departing 30th October 2012 through Cruise Deals, and arranged Special Assistance at the airports by telephone with Thomson, although done individually it is all part of the TUI Group, and this being our 5th cruise with TUI and another one with P&O we had an idea of the standard to expect. Our outbound from Cardiff Airport was OK, but when we reached Palma Airport where the people responsible for Special Assistance refused all but one request for a wheelchair (although there were ample hidden behind a screen) and forced disabled passengers to hobble through the airport, with very few company representatives to direct or assist to waiting coaches. On arrival at the port terminal again help was sparse and passengers were unsure where to go to label their baggage, and then to board the ship. The cabins were somewhat a disappointment very small but very clean, with two under standard size beds against either wall (which were uncomfortable) and a small table between, plus hanging space and a dressing table with hairdryer, also a shower room with wc and hand-basin which was quite adequate. Our cabin had a small outside deck over part of it and we were woken daily by staff dragging sunbeds across it as they put them out for the day. This is the tiniest cabin I have encountered and I and others nicknamed them the shed, some passengers found even more derogatory names. The safe in the cabin cost an extra £15 to use where on when we went on P&O Ventura there was no charge. The restaurants, The Beachcomber and Island Restaurant were both buffets which we thought would be ideal because and it made a change from having to dress up for formal nights as on other cruises. The Island restaurant although a buffet you had to wait to be seated, then queue for the buffet, on one night we entered the restaurant at 6-15 and finally got to the buffet at 7'o'clock the ship seemed absolutely full. The Beachcomber buffet had its own problems and seating there at meal times was at a premium. Although there was plenty of food on offer there wasn't a lot of variation as everything seemed to be covered in some sauce or other, there was very little that wasn't covered in some sticky mess that tasted very bland. The food was generally luke warm and time you got to your table and ate half the other half was cold. Fortunately there was a very good selection of fresh fruit. Hygiene in the restaurants and the ship was good, everywhere was clean and staff made sure you used the antibacterial dispensers when entering the food areas. The Ocean Theatre shows were not the best, thought we didn't see them all but what we saw didn't inspire us to queue again. Apart from two of the cast who could actually sing very well, and Ross Roberts the Cruise Director who put so much into everything he did, without them I would have left the theatre very early. The one show that was excellent was the guest comedienne Brenda Collins who was hilarious. The theatre suffered the same problems as the rest of the ship, the amount of passengers seemed too many as some people queued for both performances of evening shows and were unable to get in the theatre on either occasion because it was full. The stage in the theatre was a joke, just a step up from the floor level so if you weren't in the front few rows vision was very poor. The bars and lounges were always full, and there was no other seating as on other ships where seating is available in places away from the bars. The ship was just too full! All outside areas seemed to be available to smokers and for a non-smoker it is nice to be able to sit in the sun away from the stink now and again the opportunities for this were few and far between. The ship couldn't dock in Kalamati and tenders had to be employed, three tenders were used to shuttle passengers back and forth and this was very well organised. The crew apart from the odd exception which was usually the bar waiters, were very helpful and good natured and worked very hard to provide a good service. The ship throughout was very clean and hygiene was a priority, the main problem we and others saw was the ship was far too full for the facilities. People we spoke to were divided, some said they were quite happy others, about 50%, were like us disappointed. If this had been our first cruise we might have enjoyed it more but having experienced far better we expected more. Would we cruise again on the Island Escape definitely 100% NO. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
We are a couple aged 27+32 and booked this cruise very last minute on the Thomson website. The price was great and there were lots of places on the list of ports that we had always wanted to visit. Having read the reviews we knew that ... Read More
We are a couple aged 27+32 and booked this cruise very last minute on the Thomson website. The price was great and there were lots of places on the list of ports that we had always wanted to visit. Having read the reviews we knew that it wasn't a fancy cruise and this was true, however everything was spotlessly clean and well maintained. Some of the decor was a little old fashioned but it had a lot of charm. The cabins (we had an outside one) were small but the beds were comfy and the shower was good, there was space to hang clothes and the bathroom was ample. We were close to the stairways, but heard very little noise. The ships' entertainment was pretty good. There was something for everyone in the evenings and we really enjoyed the casino. There were quizzes and game shows if you didn't want to go to the musical theatre shows. The drinks weren't included in the price, but were just standard pub prices. The food was great, plenty of choice and different themes and selections each day. The service was wonderful and they couldn't do enough for you in the restaurants. We mostly ate in the Island restaurant as it felt more special than the Beachcomber. We ate one night in the Oasis and it was such a treat, and at an extra 10 pounds per head was such amazing value for a super three course meal and impeccable service. We called at Ajaccio, Corsica and this was worth a stroll around without the need for an excursion here. There was lots to see and do around the port and had a lovely time here. We also called at La Spezia, where we visited Pisa, and Toulon were we visited St Tropez. Both excursions were good. We called on the last day at Barcelona, and we loved this place. It was a beautiful day and we didn't need an excursion, we just hopped on and off the metro, which was cheap and very easy. For the amount of money we paid this cruise definitely met my expectations, and has given me a good taste for cruising. Would recommend it for a first time cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
We set out from Exeter Airport on 18th Sept, flight was good, Palma airport was a nightmare, long queues, very hot (no air con??) too many persons on escalator and no room at the top for people to move out of the way, one lady fell over. ... Read More
We set out from Exeter Airport on 18th Sept, flight was good, Palma airport was a nightmare, long queues, very hot (no air con??) too many persons on escalator and no room at the top for people to move out of the way, one lady fell over. Coach transfer simply and quick - then the 5* service began we had to check in on the port side, and this was quick efficient well organised, friendly, all the entertainment team were there to help with the check in, we were on board and in our cabin within a very short time. The lock for the safe was fetched from the reception desk on deck 5, quickly and efficiently obtained. We then went into the Island Restaurant for lunch - this was buffet service with waiters seating customers, clearing tables, fetching drinks etc. and assisting people in carry plates to tables, the service here was first class plus!! The food was a good range, soup, salad bar, various hot dishes including vegetarian, and well marked up for persons who required gluten free, OK this is not top of the range food, but nor are you paying top of the range prices, it is good and well acceptable unless you are super fussy. Our cabin inside, smallish, curtains over hanging space, but sufficient handing space and drawer space, bathroom of course small, but shower was efficient, and the whole lot very clean and kept in good order by our brilliant stewardess Daisy. The whole ship is clean, clean, clean. Pool area very small, selfish persons reserving sun beds, but you get that everywhere, Drinks service is good, (was a little slow in the Ocean theatre, but when this was mentioned to the celebrations hostess the following night a big improvement, so they do listen to the customer) The 24 hour buffet is good same food as the Island Restaurant., but no table clothes, and this is where you get the afternoon tea food. Plenty of hand gels everywhere (wonder how many they use each cruise) so every effort is made by the ship to prevent infections. The entertainment is good and varied, with a wonderful singer Benjamin and a brilliant cruise director Ross. The Oasis restaurant is an extra charge, but if it is a special occasion (we had 2 birthdays to celebrate) well worth the extra, food is lovely. We do not do the trips, just look around the local ports and towns - general comments heard re the trips was expensive and not enough time. We met some lovely people on the two week back to back cruise, had a lovely time in spite of some rough weather and a non visited port as a result of the bad weather. The ship is not modern, high class, but the service is wonderful, a lot of companies could look at the service provided on this ship and lean a few lessons in really making the customer their priority. Well done everyone on board. Would have liked a wrap around deck, a hot tub,a self service laundry, waiter served evening meals, and better policing of the reserved sun beds, but these are personal preferences. Transfer from the ship to the airport was very efficient - then totally down hill at Palma airport, they have adopted this all queue together for Thomson flights, which results in long queues with Thomson reps trying to direct people and having no idea of what they are doing, we arrived at the airport at 9 am for an 11.15 flight which we just managed to catch - no time to even visit the loo before we left the airport. Please Thomson go back to dedicated named airport queues - the one size fits all only works for budget airlines!! Would I travel again on Island Escape Yes YES YES but not thro Palma airport. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
I booked this cruise based on one I took 4 years ago on the Island star. I was really excited as I knew what to expect and It didn't let me down. Great food,Great service, Great entertainment and loads to see and do. Cabin: We had ... Read More
I booked this cruise based on one I took 4 years ago on the Island star. I was really excited as I knew what to expect and It didn't let me down. Great food,Great service, Great entertainment and loads to see and do. Cabin: We had an inside cabin on deck 6 which was ok. It was a little dated but comfortable and very clean. Our steward cleaned and turned down our cabin at least 3 times a day. Electrics: You need a US adapter NOT european, I found that Our mobile phones (all Samsung)charged with no problem, so did the Advent netbook. The i pod did not charge so we charged this via USB off the netbook. My wife bought straighteners that use universal voltage and they worked fine. Last time we had an outside cabin but didn't miss having a porthole this time. Food: There were 3 main places to eat, The beachcomber, buffet style with counter service, Plastic plates and cups, great selection of food, open 24/7 great for getting a bite to eat when you don't want to make a big deal of it. The Island restaurant, The same great food as the beachcomber but more like a carvery with silver service waiters, sounds a bit of a contradiction I know but it works, we ended up having breakfast and evening meals here as it felt really special. for evening meals arrive between 18:30 and 18:45 so as not to queue for a table. Oasis restaurant is similar but with an al a caret menu. We did not use this as it was extra cost and we did not feel the need as the Island was so good. Entertainment: There is lots going on and we did not do it all. We went to the 2 theatres a couple of nights and watched the band & comedian, both were very good the rest of the time we went to the sundowner lounge and watched 20/20 & Chris Guerero (Chris was really good) Didn't use the kids club but those that did seemed to be having a great time. On deck: Loads of deck space and you can go lively by the pool or find somewhere secluded and quiet you generally get a wonderful sea breeze up on the higher decks Pool: Was a bit small and filled with salt water no good really for swimming but great for cooling down. Drinks package: I didn't have it but my mates family did, there was lots more included than we thought (stella and cocktails). I drink cider which isn't included however I would have made do had I realised. There package was £420 I spent £460 and they probably drank a little more than us. Cider was £3.85 (strongbow) Bulmers bottle was £5 Stella was £3.85, San miguel was £3.55, cocktails of the day were £2.85 and they were strong. Coke was £1.85 Crew: Very helpful, treated us like royalty Ports: Palma: Didn't look around saw it from the coach nothing special Ajaccio: Nice place get off the boat turn left 1/4 mile great beach shops and bars. La Spezia great to walk around great architecture loads of shops lovely palm tree lined promenade Villefranche: nice but do not miss Monaco and Monte Carlo Brilliant! Toulon: Not much there nice harbour Barcelona: did the nou camp (not impressed 100,000 seater dump) shirt for my son cost 100 euros, Barcelona was ok but a lot of litter and gangs of Africans getting chased by the police really made this an uncomfortable visit. If you are used to cruising this is the bottom end of the market. If you have not cruised before this will blow you away as it is so much better than a beach holiday. You are pampered from start to finish enjoy great food drink and entertainment and wake up in a new place every day. Check my video review here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSZ-H9LfzOw&feature=plcp Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
We wanted something relaxing and informal as this was our first cruise. The Island Escape is an excellent ship for a first cruise. The cabin was fairly big with plenty of space for your clothes and possessions. The bed was not ... Read More
We wanted something relaxing and informal as this was our first cruise. The Island Escape is an excellent ship for a first cruise. The cabin was fairly big with plenty of space for your clothes and possessions. The bed was not particularly comfortable and we had an inside cabin, which is not ideal for someone who suffers from claustrophobia. However, you don't spend too much time in your cabin. The cabin steward was excellent and every day we came back to clean towels wound into the shape of various animals - swans, rabbits, elephants and the best of all, a monkey hanging from a coathanger! The food - we only used the Beachcomber Restaurant where you could enjoy buffet meals 24 hours a day. There is also free coffee and tea available 24 hours a day. The food selection was excellent - something to suit everyone. The entertainment was far better than we expected. We did expect Butlins afloat, but the entertainment was excellent. Really professional dancers and singers. There was the usual bingo, games shows, karaoke, etc. Again, there was something for everyone. However, at no time is anyone forced to join in with any activities. It is there if you want it. You can join in as much or as little as you want. The ports of call were excellent. The shore excursions were a little expensive at £36-£38 for a 4 hour excursion. However, they did seem worth it if you hadn't been to that particular port of call before. We especially enjoyed the Monaco trip. The guide, Monique, was excellent. Overall, this is an excellent ship for a first time cruise. The only downside for me personally was the two nights of extremely rough sea crossings. The two crossings between La Spezia and Villefranche and Toulon and Barcelona were very rough, the one between Toulon and Barcelona produced a 3m swell and the ship was rocking and rolling making me feel ill and this has rather put me off cruising. Apparently, if you request an outside cabin midships in Decks 5 or 6, you don't feel the rocking so much. For me, I feel this cruise was excellent value for money. We did not expect too much from it and quite honestly did expect it to be a bit noisy and before we went referred to it as "Butlins afloat", but it was lovely (apart from the rough sea). I would recommend this cruise to anyone, but not those who might be seasick! However, I do not really think cruising is suitable for people with young children. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
Embarkation at Palma was great with no faults. We had read the scary reviews but decided to take the ship on face value. I can only say that having never cruised before I was not expecting the ship to be perfect but it is definitely ... Read More
Embarkation at Palma was great with no faults. We had read the scary reviews but decided to take the ship on face value. I can only say that having never cruised before I was not expecting the ship to be perfect but it is definitely showing its age, both in the cabins where the bathrooms need replacing and the furnishings also need replaced or upgraded. We pushed the boat out, so to speak and booked a deluxe balcony cabin on the 9th floor (one of the five cabins at the rear of the ship). On first view we were delighted, the cabin was large and there was a small tv corner next the double doors which lead out to the balcony. We met our cabin steward Raja, who couldn't do enough for us throughout our trip. We enjoyed our first day getting to know the staff at the sailaway bar, Rommel was extremely helpful and friendly and my hubby had some great banter with him. Everything was fine until the the fist port of call, Corsica, 5.45am to be exact, we thought there was something wrong with the ship, the vibrations were horrendous, my husband thought i was having a fit in bed, but no it was the ship being manoeuvred into port. This went on for at least two hours every morning. Apparently these cabins are directly above the propellers. With the vibrations from them and the constant scraping of chairs on the deck from the beachcomber restaurant above the cabin. We did not get any lie ins. Getting from this the excursions are a little on the expensive side but well worth the journey and getting to see the attractions. We did easy Pisa at £34 per person and Barcelona explorer at £22 per person which were within reason and both very good. The food is bog standard buffet fare for the masses. No complaints about any of the staff, they are extremely hard working and very friendly. The resident band 'Rock the Boat' should be looking for a better class of gig as they are absolutely fantastic, the lead singer has a fantastic voice and they need to be looking at recording something. Apart from the above, we had an ok week, met some lovely people and made a couple of new friends, special thanks to Dierdre and Terry for their company, we had a few laughs. If you are willing to put up with the vibrations and very basic food and entertainment, then the Island Escape is for you. It has been an experience, one we will cherish and remember but we will not be back. Good luck to all who sail in her and remember be kind to all the staff. They made our trip much better than it was. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
Island Escape Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 3.2
Dining 3.0 3.8
Entertainment 3.0 4.0
Public Rooms 3.0 3.9
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.4
Family 3.0 3.4
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.7
Enrichment 3.0 3.3
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 4.0 3.5

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