Having read a number of negative reviews about the Island Escape, we felt it appropriate to let readers know of the great week that we've just had on their “Escape to the Mediterranean” cruise. We chose this particular cruise ... Read More
Having read a number of negative reviews about the Island Escape, we felt it appropriate to let readers know of the great week that we've just had on their “Escape to the Mediterranean” cruise. We chose this particular cruise because of its itinerary. My wife and I travelled with our adult son who is in his 20s and has a disability which requires him to use a stick to help him walk.
We flew to Majorca from Birmingham on the 6am flight, arriving in Palma at around 9.30am. Staff from Thomsons were at the airport to direct us to coaches waiting to take us to the terminal. Processing at the terminal was much smoother and quicker than we've experienced elsewhere and we were able to board the ship and go to our cabin straight away. We had chosen an outside cabin, with my wife losing the toss to sleep on the top bunk. Although on previous cruises with other lines we have had balcony cabins, the cabin we had was roomier than expected and perfectly comfortable and adequate for a week's cruise.
After a quick exploration of the ship and its facilities we disembarked and had a lovely day exploring the sights of Palma. We returned for a very thorough safety drill and then had our first dinner in the Beachcomber restaurant which seemed to us to be up there with other self service style restaurants on other cruise ships that we've been on. The choice of the food was very good, and the staff were very pleasant. However, with people up and down all the time, it wasn't a particularly relaxing atmosphere. We then joined the customary leaving party on the pool deck and thoroughly enjoyed listening and dancing to the 'Groove Kats' as we left Palma.
Our second day was at sea and gave us a chance to explore the ship in more detail. The Island Escape was a much smaller ship than others we had been on (1500 passengers compared with 3000+) and this made it easier to get around. However, the facilities were very good and we didn't find anything that was missing that we had previously enjoyed on the larger ships. We tried the pool, which although small, was perfectly adequate. We particularly enjoyed the fact that this was an all inclusive ship, the first we had experienced. Not having to think about how much our drinks bill was going to be at the end of the week was a real bonus.
Our first port of call was Trapani in Sicily. We hadn't arranged a tour here but decided to explore the town and then, time permitting use the cable car to go up to the medieval town of Erice close by. The first thing we noticed was how easy the disembarkation procedures were compared with the larger ships. The only criticism we had was that the Port Authorities hadn't put on sufficient buses to cater for the initial rush of passengers disembarking the ship who wanted to go into town. As a consequence, we had a wait of about 20 minutes in the hot sun and during which time all queueing procedures seemed to break down! However, this apart we had a lovely day. We used the bus to get us to and from the cable car and thoroughly enjoyed our time exploring Erice. The shuttle bus back to the ship was fine.
Having tried the Beachcomber restaurant on the first day we decided to try the Island restaurant on Day 2. This was much more to our taste. Although still a self service style restaurant, waiters showed us to our table, took our drinks orders and were generally extremely kind and helpful to any guests, such as our son, who needed help in carrying their food back to their tables.
We then went to the Ocean theatre to see a show. We were again very impressed with the quality of the performance and the overall experience. The quality of the show was certainly amongst the best we have seen when compared with other cruise ships we have been on. The only criticism of the theatre was the relaxed seating layout which meant for popular shows, guests had to stand at the back. Most evenings, including this one, were rounded off with drinks and dancing to the fabulous Groove Kats in the Bounty lounge.
The rest of our week pretty much followed this pattern. We had booked the tour for Pompeii and Herculaneum though Island Cruises before we left as this was the focal point of the holiday for me. The tour guide was excellent and we had a most enjoyable time exploring the two sites. The only other organised trip we did was to Rome, where we did 'Rome on your own' as this was one of our favourite European cities which we had visited a few times previously. One point to mention here was that our 'guide' gave us a really full day to explore Rome, leaving just enough time to get back to the ship. We had another wonderful, long day.
After Rome, our next port of call was Calvi in Corsica. This was such a beautiful spot where having climbed to the top of the old town and done a little exploring, we spent the rest of the day on the beach enjoying the beautiful sand and sea.
A key benefit of being on a ship like the Island Escape is that it is small enough to get where others can't go and this was exemplified as we sailed up to the town quay in Mahon, Menorca, where we enjoyed our final day exploring the island's capital.
And finally we returned to Palma where coaches were waiting to take us to the airport and our flight home. Disembarkation again was just as easy as getting on the vessel and we were back home by lunch time after a wonderful week away.
In summary, this is a very relaxed ship and although its been around for a while, it's still very comfortable and well appointed. Without exception, we found the staff to be extremely helpful and friendly. Th equality of the entertainment was excellent and we can only assume that the Groove Kats will go on to even bigger and better things. All in all, we had a super week. Read Less