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54 Island Escape Cruise Reviews

we set sail on the Tapas & Tagine cruise from Palma 6 October 2015. All the travel arrangements were well arranged by Thomsons. The ship itself is quite dated and does need updating but was always clean and tidy. The cabin (9500) ... Read More
we set sail on the Tapas & Tagine cruise from Palma 6 October 2015. All the travel arrangements were well arranged by Thomsons. The ship itself is quite dated and does need updating but was always clean and tidy. The cabin (9500) was adequate and reasonably comfortable. The housekeeping staff did a fine job every day. The food was varied, well presented and tasty. We went to all 3 restaurants over the week. The Beachcomber is self service and is available all day. The island ? Restaurant requires you to be seated and given drinks by waiters but is still self service but you get table clothes etc. the third restaurant, for which you need to book and also pay an extra cover charges well worth it. The food is delicious and is all served by excellent waiters/waitresses who would do any restaurant proud. The Entertainment team, led by Ross, were fabulous. The Bounty lounge team were hilarious. So much fun. We went on a few trips arranged by Thomsons - alameda Gardens and cable car in Gibraltor. The only complaint is that we only has 5 minutes free time on the Rock to look around ourselves. Tetuoan in Tangiers was classed as an active trip but our guide was an old man who used (and needed) a walking stick. He then passed us over to a local guide who spoke English but was deaf. Not really ideal but we saw good scenery. Alhambra (from Almeria) was a good trip but once again there was no free time, we had to beg for 5 minutes to look in a shop to buy a souvenir. It is a shame that Island Escape cruises finish in a couple of weeks because we would definitely go on another cruise with them. Thank you Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
This was our second time on Island Escape as wanted to go again before her retirement . The weather wasn`t as kind to us this time and some ports were changed however this didn`t stop us enjoying ourselves. Ship was spotlessly clean ... Read More
This was our second time on Island Escape as wanted to go again before her retirement . The weather wasn`t as kind to us this time and some ports were changed however this didn`t stop us enjoying ourselves. Ship was spotlessly clean like last time and our cabin was more than adequate .Food was plentiful and we also chose to dine at the Oasis restaurant for some fine dining. Drinks included we found to be perfectly fine and didn`t feel the need to upgrade. We are not into the Butlins style shows/entertainment but there are other bars and places to get away from that type of thing . We liked to have a little flutter then sit and listen to the music in the sundowners bar ,John on guitar was the highlight of our evenings . We will miss the island escape and her laid back appeal but will be trying the Spirit out next year. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
This was our second cruise on Island Escape ,we wanted to spend another week aboard before her retirement. Food again adequate ,lots of choice and themed evenings also it was nice to dine at the Oasis for a change one evening. We found the ... Read More
This was our second cruise on Island Escape ,we wanted to spend another week aboard before her retirement. Food again adequate ,lots of choice and themed evenings also it was nice to dine at the Oasis for a change one evening. We found the inclusive drinks to our taste and didn't feel the need to upgrade . Although the ship is tired in places we found it clean and our cabin spotless . This time we weren't as fortunate with the weather and some itineraries were changed however this did not stop us enjoying ourselves and all the ports. We don't really like the ' butlins' style entertainment/activities and shows etc but there were plenty of places to get away from all of that . After dinner and a flutter or two we spent our evenings in Sundowners bar enjoying the very talented John on guitar. We will miss this laid back ship but have happy memories from our time onboard. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Just returned from a week away with my wife and two teenage kids aboard the Island Escape, and despite the sometimes bad reviews, can well and truly say that a good time was had by all. We chose this cruise because of the stops at ... Read More
Just returned from a week away with my wife and two teenage kids aboard the Island Escape, and despite the sometimes bad reviews, can well and truly say that a good time was had by all. We chose this cruise because of the stops at Civitaveccia for Rome and Naples for Pompeii, and these were both great places to visit. Olbia and Calvi were a bit disappointing though. The highlight for us all was the onboard entertainment and the food, which were both of a good standard. The organised trips were a bit expensive, but were well organised. The ship is a little tired, but the crew worked hard to keep it shipshape. If you have sailed with one of the more upmarket cruise operators, you may be a bit disappointed, but the relaxed atmosphere and dress code was great for families, especially those with children. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Spent 7 nights on this ship. Food and service excellent. Cabin had everything needed for time spent in it. Entertainment brilliant. First experience of cruising. Had to use medical facilities which were excellent. Treated promptly and ... Read More
Spent 7 nights on this ship. Food and service excellent. Cabin had everything needed for time spent in it. Entertainment brilliant. First experience of cruising. Had to use medical facilities which were excellent. Treated promptly and professionally. Nothing left to chance. Great selection of trips but a little expensive. Very good entry level cruise and great value for money. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
We have just returned from a seven night cruise on the Island Escape starting from Palma and visiting Ajaccio, Livorno, Villefrance, Toulon and Barcelona. This was our first time on the Island Escape and indeed was our first cruise. So ... Read More
We have just returned from a seven night cruise on the Island Escape starting from Palma and visiting Ajaccio, Livorno, Villefrance, Toulon and Barcelona. This was our first time on the Island Escape and indeed was our first cruise. So what is there to say about the ship and the experience. Well it's a tale of many parts, some good some not so good. The ship itself is an ageing refurbished car ferry. Although clean and functional it has reached the point of no return really. There are numerous areas where the accommodation is worn and damaged. So it most definitely is not plush. In a way we didn't mind that so much. But we did object to the fact that the main cafeteria called the Beachcomber was too cold. We saw quite a few older passengers huddled against the cold that was caused we were told by the fact that the air-conditioning could not be controlled to particular zones. The next part of our tale which was the very friendly staff. They were kind and helpful. The service in the dining rooms and bars was excellent. If you put a plate down or finished your drink the plate or glass was gone and staff offered to get you something else. Another part of the tale was the catering. There was a constant supply of freshly cooked food all day. I really do mean all day. The range of meals can best be described as basic English fayre. But it suited us and we had no concerns about that at all. I am very fond of custard and crumble and was pleased to see it served every day, The dining rooms were spotlessly clean. Yet another part of the tale was the entertainment. This was very popular each night with the theatre being full for a range of shows such as games, comedies, musicals and reviews. To be honest and not to be unkind the shows reminded me of well meaning and earnest sixth form presentations - they lacked any real merit or content but the staff tried hard. We only managed to ensure about 10 minutes before the experience was too unbearable. The captain tried his best to shake hands with passengers and to grin his way through painful photographs with passengers ... It must be hard to remain enthusiastic each week. I felt a bit sorry for him having to do the rounds and to profess an interest in people's life-stories .. I think that on board prices were expensive and there was a feeling of Thomson always wanting you to spend money on something or other. The wife said that the hairdressing prices were well above high street rates. To be frank they must have been high for her to notice. We thought that the excursions were unreasonably expensive. Our advice is to avoid them and make your own arrangements. So overall would we travel on the Island Escape again. Well the answer is yes ... if ... if the main package prices were competitive and if the destinations suited us .. So, we can sort of give the Island Escape our endorsement .. it's worth a try but don't expect a plush cruise ship ... which is okay for us ... Hemster Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
For years I've wanted to cruise somewhere glamorous & warm, I was persuaded by my partner to sail on the Island Escape. As he had travelled with Thompsons many times on other cruise ships I trusted his judgement so not his fault I ... Read More
For years I've wanted to cruise somewhere glamorous & warm, I was persuaded by my partner to sail on the Island Escape. As he had travelled with Thompsons many times on other cruise ships I trusted his judgement so not his fault I was disappointed. I read the reviews & was slighted put off but I just thought that maybe other cruisers just wanted something to moan about. WRONG..... All Inclusive it said.... WRONG again, its not...If you want premium drinks like Baileys. Bacardi. Heineken Lager or even coffee at some of the bars there's a charge even bottled water has to be paid for but not cash it goes on your boarding card & your billed at the end of the week but check invoice & you'll find there's a £7 charge for admin on your card plus £1 for a charity which is not mentioned at any time. Beachcomber & Island Restaurant serve the same food which is all buffet style and mostly just warm. The difference between the 2 is The Island has table clothes & cutlery, proper wine glasses/crockery. You are served alcohol/soft drinks/tea/coffee at your table but you have to sit with strangers whether you like it or not its very often they'll give you a table for 2 even though they are available. The Beachcomber is like the school/works canteen. Everyone rushing around with hot (supposedly) food scrambling for a table & waiters clearing away before you've hardly finished your food. You can eat in the Oasis Restaurant for £15 for a 3 course meal or eat in the Black Rock & cook your own food on a hot stone which was a joke really as it was just a curtained pulled round a few tables in a corridor & not really a restaurant at all, that too was an extra charge so don't be fooled by the ALL INCLUSIVE offer. Sunbeds were a night mare to get especially on sea days as the towels provided by the ship were placed on sunbeds & left their while folk went off for breakfast. Information leaflets state if sunbeds are left longer than 45 minutes towels will be removed this wasn't adhered to often enough as sunbeds were left for hours with out anyone checking which left many (including us) to find other places out of the sun to sit. The ship is at least 40yrs old & doesn't travel well on rough sea it creaks & groans plus double glazed seal was damage in our cabin on deck 7 so condensation has leaked in. We found the reception staff were sullen & staff in the Mirage Bar rude, maybe that was because we weren't your regular drinkers on a daily basis. The ship was spotless so was our cabin even though dated our housekeeper Francisbelle was just fab. She was always smiling & found time to chat plus telling us places of interest to visit on excursion's.Our beds were turned down & lights on when we arrived back in the evening. When going off ship don't be put off going it alone the ships tours are expensive & sometimes not worth it. I'm not put off cruising but next time I'll try another better ship Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
Just back from our cruise and stay holiday on island escape, we did the escape to the med cruise loved the port of calls, also we loved the ship, good fun and very friendly staff, thanks William our room steward, kept everything spotless ... Read More
Just back from our cruise and stay holiday on island escape, we did the escape to the med cruise loved the port of calls, also we loved the ship, good fun and very friendly staff, thanks William our room steward, kept everything spotless nothing too much trouble, we loved the towel arrangements, also great table staff in the island restaurant,Victor and Myn, again nothing too much trouble, good food all round plus the drinks and entertainment was really good, no complaints about anything really, ok, cabins not the plushest on the seas but were better than expected, everything ran smoothly from flying out to returning back to the uk well done Thompson holidays, we have been on a cruise before with another company and we were not that impressed so faith restored in cruising, cannot wait until our next one, we travelled with friends and we all agreed it was excellent value for money. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
For a first timer this is an ok cruise. Must admit though that even though Thomson advertise this as all inclusive it isn't. Not being big drinkers we were more than happy with the selection of drinks available. However, if you want ... Read More
For a first timer this is an ok cruise. Must admit though that even though Thomson advertise this as all inclusive it isn't. Not being big drinkers we were more than happy with the selection of drinks available. However, if you want branded drinks then you will be charged extra. They also do a premium drinks package at £10.95 per person per day. Food is to a generally good standard. Again though, if at breakfast you want something a little different (eggs benedict) you will be charged extra. We did book into the Ocean restaurant which we must admit was brilliant. Good choice of food and drink. We also ate in the new 'Black Rock' which is situated on deck 10. Again the food was good even though our waiter managed to drop the lobster into my wifes lap! Only thing we didn't enjoy about this was the location. The enterance is covered with a simple net curtain and at time you feel as if you are in a goldfish bowl with people looking in. Thomson need to move this to a better area (perhaps at the back of the Oceran restaurant). Overall a pleasent experience but wouldn't do it again. We did hear one passenger calling home who described as 'Butlins at Sea'! Stars of the Cruise are Max from housekeeping and Mary from the sports.casin bar. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
As this was our first cruise, we were a little apprehensive as it generally seems that people either love cruising or hate it. Anyway, we plumped for informal, cheap and cheerful, and booked this cruise at a good discount. In summary, the ... Read More
As this was our first cruise, we were a little apprehensive as it generally seems that people either love cruising or hate it. Anyway, we plumped for informal, cheap and cheerful, and booked this cruise at a good discount. In summary, the whole experience was very positive, exceedingly good value for money, and we will most probably be booking further cruises on the strength of this one. Transfers to and from the ship at Palma were carried out fast and efficiently. The ship is an old lady, and has been modified a number of times in its history to suit different requirements for functionality/market conditions. That said, even though it was not originally designed so, it serves perfectly well as a cruise ship. It is kept spotlessly clean by a hard working crew who are courteous and friendly. Our cabin on Deck 4 (did this used to be called steerage?) was on the small side (as was the shower/toilet cubicle) but we found it manageable. On this level there is no noise from entertainment/bars but there is some noise/vibration from the ship's engines, although this did not bother us. The all inclusive buffet-style meals were good, with plenty of choice, even for people with dietary needs eg gluten-free, vegetarian. Similarly we found there was a good selection of drinks as well. The seating in the main restaurant is mainly arranged for large groups (6 or 8), so discreet dining is unlikely to be achieved. Entertainment in the main Ocean theatre was outstanding, with the main team of ten singers/dancers providing West-End quality performances (not forgetting the Director and Assistant Director of course). There is a wealth of talent here. We pre-booked excursions at all ports; these were in the main very good and informative, if not necessarily that good value for money. Be aware that full day excursions generally leave quite early in the morning. All in all, a most enjoyable introduction to cruising. Many thanks to Thomson/ Island Cruises. Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
Never been on a cruise before so nothing to compare it to. Embarkation was swift and cases were delivered to the cabin within 15 minutes of being on board. The ship and cabins are dated but having read previous reports I was aware of this. ... Read More
Never been on a cruise before so nothing to compare it to. Embarkation was swift and cases were delivered to the cabin within 15 minutes of being on board. The ship and cabins are dated but having read previous reports I was aware of this. We were on deck 5 in an outside cabin which was cleaned daily and beds were really comfortable. We ate mostly in the Island Restaurant where there was a lot of choice and the food was fine most of the time. A couple of times the fish was quite dry and hard and the curries on the Asian day were only lukewarm considering that we went just after it had opened. Never ate at the pool bar but had breakfast at the Beachcomber on the last day as the Island restaurant didn't open until later. I was so glad that we didn't eat here beforehand as the food was cold and it was difficult trying to carry your breakfast without a tray and get through the scrum to find somewhere to sit... Horrendous! Never used the pool as we were off the ship most of the time. On the day at sea, you had no chance... the usual putting down of the towels and leaving them there all day was in operation. Same around most of the ship's sunbeds to be honest. The entertainment was OK, if a little cheesy. The show bars were busy and to get a seat you had to get there well in advance. Drinks were quite weak especially inside the show bars and sometimes it was difficult to get the waiters' attention. Best to get a drink from the Sailaway bar - always stronger and usually quiet during the evening. Took part in a few 'dance' classes but rather rushed and in my opinion not enough. Only 3 throughout the week. They could also do with other things to do during the day as not everyone likes/gets the chance to have a swim or sunbathe. Excursions are expensive so we only went on 3. The Monaco/Monte Carlo was lovely but rushed at times. Pisa was quite boring and hassled by immigrants trying to sell umbrellas/sunglasses etc. Rome was a nightmare. Never go at Easter. We were rushed around the sights, pushed and shoved here and there. Was quiet scary and never felt safe. Which is a shame as I love Italy... Met some very nice people and others not so nice. Was absolutely shattered at the end of the cruise and would love to go on another. On the Island Escape? Not so sure. Might try another ship or different company next time to get other experiences.   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
The check in process was well organised and efficient. The plus side to this ship in attention to cleanliness and hygiene lots of hand sanitisers around which staff ensured everyone used, also rooms and staircases, hand rails cleaned ... Read More
The check in process was well organised and efficient. The plus side to this ship in attention to cleanliness and hygiene lots of hand sanitisers around which staff ensured everyone used, also rooms and staircases, hand rails cleaned throroughly. This is a totally informal cruise, definitely no need for a suit or posh dress, in fact everyone was rather underdressed which we personally found a little disappointing. There are three restaurants - the beachcomber is more like a canteen but open 24 hours and very casual, the island restaurant much better, still buffet but waiters on service and much nicer in here, tables set up and drinks offered frequently. The entertainment was good, bingo and quizzes with gameshows along with shows. We found the resident band, although good were too loud. Actitvities are on throughout the day. The ship is very well run and shore excursions were excellent. Some ports there is plenty to do in surrounding area but naples and rome ithink did really benefit from going on the tour. Although this cruise is a good introduction to cruising and all inclusive helps, if you want glitz and glam and formality this would not be the cruise for you, but all in all a good experience. We had a suite which was huge with a comfy king bed and loads of room. The ship itself is in need of some redecorating and the restaurants need some formality as some people made no effort. Shows should be better organised too as people who have already seen the show remain seated as it is a lounge type set up thus not enabling others the opportunity to see the shows. Good trip but a few points would make it much better. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
Like many people I read reviews about this cruise after I'd booked the trip and as a result of people's awful comments, I was very close to cancelling. Now I'm back, I'm very glad I didn't. I'd cruised once ... Read More
Like many people I read reviews about this cruise after I'd booked the trip and as a result of people's awful comments, I was very close to cancelling. Now I'm back, I'm very glad I didn't. I'd cruised once before with Thomsons and was very aware that this was the least plush of their ships but, I'll admit I was sold on the all inclusive package, which would have cost me a further £200 per person if we'd gone on one of the other ships. So, in a nutshell, I agree the ship is dated - but I knew that from other reviews, and I totally agree in that it was spotless and the staff were really helpful and friendly. The food - well it wasn't brilliant, but it was fine. Plenty of choice (and I'm even one of those fussy vegetarian types!) and my only gripe is that it could have been warmer. We paid to go to the posh restaurant one evening which was good value for money and we booked to go again, however when we realised it was the same menu on offer all week in there, we cancelled. There was more choice for us in one of the other 2 restaurants. The entertainment was as you'd expect on a cruise, tongue in cheek with a cruise band and game shows. A bit old fashioned for us, a couple in our 30's, but saying that, there were plenty of bars to go and choose from so if you didn't want to indulge, you didn't have to. The excursions weren't cheap, we chose 2, Rome and St Tropez. That was nearly £100 each. We decided to give Pisa/Florence a miss and went to Livorno for the day, and realised there that you could get excursions off the boat for a fraction of the price. All in all, the excursions are well organised and you have the safety of knowing the boat wont go without you at the end of the day, but you can do themselves much much cheaper. All in all I'd say the cruise was good value for money and I'd recommend adding a couple of days stay at the end to actually relax. If you are a seasoned "P&O cruiser" and want a formal, fancy, dressed up cruise, then stay on P&O. Don't go on this cruise which is informal, fun, down to earth, and essentially a nice way to see a lot of the med without packing your bag and travelling every day. Some of the reviews on here are very unfair and seem to be written by people who expect 5* for 3* prices. If you go with an open mind and aren't a massive snob, then don't be put off this cruise. You'll have a great time. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
I had my doubts about cruising and I'm still not entirely convinced but passed an enjoyable week on the Island Escape Souks and Sangria cruise. Personally I would prefer a beachand snorkelling etc. Certainly more positives than ... Read More
I had my doubts about cruising and I'm still not entirely convinced but passed an enjoyable week on the Island Escape Souks and Sangria cruise. Personally I would prefer a beachand snorkelling etc. Certainly more positives than negatives once we'd found our feet. Had read reviews, but you have to read between the lines. After all this is the budget end of the market and you don't get 5 star luxury and three star prices. The ship was quite good and well fitted with comfortable lounge and bar areas. We paid a supplement for a superior cabin and were satisfied with it apart from the uncomfortable beds. Food was generally very good. The Beachcomber restaurant is a shambles though, more like a works canteen free-for-all. There are two more restaurants, one serving exactly the same menu as the Beachcomber but with set tables with tablecloths etc. The a la carte carries a small supplement (15 pounds for a fillet steak or lobster menu etc) with waiter service. Why anyone would want to eat regularly at the Beachcomber is a mystery to me, but plenty did. One complaint of mine was the "Sports Bar" Champions Bar. Sorry, but having a dozen signed football shirts and Eurosport in German does not make a sports bar. On the night of our departure a "Champions League" Football night, what were they showing? - weightlfting! Entertainment was of a generally good standard, unfortunately the theatre was quite small for the 1500 on board and needed queueing to ensure a seat. We spent most of our evenings in the Lookout Bar, with the excellent Stratford and Borrell, a duo with a seemingly endless and varied repertoire, virtually everything except opera and rap. Very capable musicians with Paula on flute and sax and Mark on guitar and vocals. Their rendition of Gerry Rafferty's Baker Street will be a long-standing memory of our first cruise. Paula's saxophone is a tremendous experience. Thanks guys. The ports of call were pretty good (with the exception of Gibraltar, a little like Royston Vasey in the sun). If all you want is somewhere with English as a first language and M&S and Morrisons, then this is the place for you. Cartagena and Tangier were my favourites. Very friendly staff always with a good day and a smile. All in all a good experience. Would I do it again - possibly, but still prefer the beach   Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
We joined the ship on 24th September an all inclusive trip x 7 days. Busy day for the crew on change over day. Is was a full complement of passengers . We were also on this ship in 2009 . Allocated cabin 5528 small but functional ... Read More
We joined the ship on 24th September an all inclusive trip x 7 days. Busy day for the crew on change over day. Is was a full complement of passengers . We were also on this ship in 2009 . Allocated cabin 5528 small but functional chipped salmon pink wash basin shower cubicle was OK for average build of passenger , mattress a bit worn ,no hair-dryer for my partner.(you can hire one from reception) have to pay to use the cabin safe . We used the very popular Beachcomber self service restaurant for breakfast and lunch ,melamine plates and cups supplied most food hot food was served to you from the hot plate (cuts down on food waste ) help yourself to anything else , you could order an omelette . We used the Island restaurant in the evenings a bit less of a crush and exchanged cruise experiences with fellow passengers (,vibrations from ships engine room when docking or anchor chains sounds ) .Food was of very good quality. Public areas were clean but well worn ,whole ship in need of refurbishment. As the company are making money there is there need to up grade ? The entertainment team worked very hard and most passengers had positive comments . Most ships crew Officers and men were polite or friendly . The PUB could very busy and it was quicker to go to the bar to be served which I prefer rather than being hassled to buy another drink as happens other cruise ships . Invited to the Captains Cocktail party along with another 150 people , offered glass of wine or soft drink ! Learned the one passenger had sailed on the ship 17 times ,a waist of time attending this party. We took this cruise because of the ports call , Cavil, Livonia , Nice ,Toulouse, Barcelona I am aware of negative reviews , some are a bit unfair . Overall we enjoyed this cruise and would sail on the ship depending on the itinerary. Value for money probably not. Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
Whilst the captain may refer to this ship as the White Lady of the sea, a more apt reference would be the White Great Grandmother of the Sea. Negatives Do not pay for a balcony cabin if you wish to be able to sleep either entering or ... Read More
Whilst the captain may refer to this ship as the White Lady of the sea, a more apt reference would be the White Great Grandmother of the Sea. Negatives Do not pay for a balcony cabin if you wish to be able to sleep either entering or exiting port. We were in 9584 and the first shock came when we were about to leave Palma on day one, approximately 20 mins before departure when the ship is preparing for departure everything in the room vibrates so loudly that you can't hold a sensible conversation, and hold onto your drink if it is on the glass table in your room as it won't be there when you want to drink it as the vibration moves everything. This cabin is one of the most expensive on the ship, and is not really suited to more than two people, if you have even one child the cabin becomes very crowded when the sofa bed is made up. In the morning and late evening when the tables and chairs are put out on the upper deck, the crew drag these across the floor, this is also loud enough to wake you up. Why pay for the circle when you get stalls seats!!! The day at sea, is a great day to get to know your surroundings however, be warned you may need your sea legs. The crossing from Palma to Corsica can be choppy and those of you that are not good sailors may find that you spend this day lying down. It may not get your holiday off to a great start. Positives Look out for Carlos M in the Beachcomber restaurant, he makes eating a fun experience. The food on this cruise is to a good standard and there is always plenty to eat ( small niggle, someone needs to learn to cook the bacon, okay if you like it burnt and very crispy) The itinerary for this cruise is second to none. The ports visited are well worth seeing and if you are able to go on any of the planned excursions then you will have a great day out. Most of the excursions are well organised and there is no queuing to get off the ship, except Barcelona where all the trips leave at the same time and the mid ship staircase becomes a car park as you wait to exit the ship! The onboard entertainment seems to cater for all tastes, no personal experience as too tired from the lack of sleep due to the external cabin noise! Drinks package is plenty to cater for the average taste, if you want to vary your drinks then you may have to pay, but bar prices are fair. The photographers on board are there at every opportunity taking photos of your cruise, a great way to remember not only the ports of call but you can also have that special family portrait taken. Prices can be a little on the high side but a great memory of the places you have visited. The crew that run the photo shop work really hard and are always friendly and approachable. The cabin stewards who keep your cabin clean and tidy, are in twice a day, and they are always on the go, look out for the towel art, it will put a smile on your face when you return from that excursion off the boat. Think the monkey was my favourite! Shopping Onboard Onboard shops are typical of most cruise ships, I can highly recommend the watch shop and the attentive, enthusiastic gentleman who looks after this shop. The prices are good with some great discounts to be had on certain promotions. Watch out for the overall manager of the shop section as he is not the most well mannered of people. He is in need of some customer service training, perhaps from the staff under him! Guest Customer Survey The general crew members are great, they all look to try and make your cruise experience a great one, nothing is too much trouble for them. Service is excellent. The night before you leave watch the senior officers come out of the woodwork, funny this, as it is right before you fill in your cruise feedback form, for the rest of the cruise you have not seen hide nor hair of them! Overall If you treat the ship as a poor three star hotel with four star food and try to ignore the ship itself and concentrate on the ports called at, then I can highly recommend this holiday, as it is a great way to see a lot of places in a short time. However, please do not waste your money on a Deluxe Balcony cabin as you will definitely not get your monies worth with this cruise line!!!   Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
Having cruised before on the 19 deck Ventura we were skeptical about this smaller ship. The journey via Cardiff Airport-Thomsons flight-Palma-coach to port was smooth and easy. The only slightly negative point for us was that this was ... Read More
Having cruised before on the 19 deck Ventura we were skeptical about this smaller ship. The journey via Cardiff Airport-Thomsons flight-Palma-coach to port was smooth and easy. The only slightly negative point for us was that this was first we had flown in 20 yrs and the only time with kids. We just followed every else and made out most of the signs. We would have appreciated a rep to guide us from arrivals to baggage and coach. The ship is slightly worn internally in places but this is expected on an older ship. I woulds argue that it is budget as it was much more expensive than P&O; it was summer hols but P&O do free and cheap kids places.It is of course more relaxed than other ships as there is no formal dining or dress code. The weather was scorching!! The pool was small though! one section was 6/7 ft deep and then a smaller section was 2/3 ft deep. As there were a lot of kids, swimming was out most of the time. it was mostly splashing kids; my son included. It is a salt water pool. Sunbeds were awful. Although the staff and daily news letters asked people not to hog sunbeds with towels for longer then 45 mins or you'd get a "ticket" they were not checked and many selfish people left them empty for over an hour. I was not brave enough to remove any towels that had been there a long time so so had to sit on the poolside many times. It is quieter in the morning and after 4pm. The inclusive beers, vodka, cocktails are great. The Cabin was an average inside size but had more storage options than we had had before and with 4 sharing for 2 weeks this was important. The room was clean and comfortable. The only negative was that i wasn't aware that there were no free ironing facilities on board. Unfortunately and lazily i just thew my clothes in expecting to iron them when needed on board.I was gutted on arrival to find no laundry room and irons allowed in rooms. We hung our clothes up straight away and many were fine but we paid for some things to be ironed for the last few days of our holiday. it averages about a 1 a item but always ask you room steward to get the best price i.e kids clothes aren't priced and i didn't want to pay the same as an adult shirt. don't forget European plug adapters. The food was excellent, plenty of choice, although not always the healthiest,(sauces, roasted, dressings) then again i could probably asked the chef for things without butter or dressing but chose not to. There was always plenty of fruit, a simple salad and a carved meat available. You could also order a variety of children's meals from the waiters in all restaurants, nuggets, fish fingers, spag bol, pizza etc. There was breakfast, dinner, afternoon tea dinner and midnight buffet and hot food served lunch time by the pool(burgers etc).The food changed daily with plenty of choice. The staff were excellent, from room, bar, restaurant, entertainment and childcare.My 15yr old went the teen meet and we hardly saw her for 2 weeks and my 9yr old went to the 8-12 club and had lots of fun. I wish it was on for longer periods as we found some times one of us had to leave some of the shows a little too early to fetch him as the end of show and end of club collided. The cruise was run on the same standard format as P&O with talks from the beauticians, dance classes, sports etc our favorites were the animal towel folding and cake decorating. We enjoyed all of our animal towels, they are great fun, my son has learnt some and thoroughly enjoyed practicing them. Most ports were fine. We only booked trips through the boat to Pompeii and Pisa as with 4 of us these become quite expensive. Sometimes locals offer cheaper trips but most ports didn't this time. Pisa was great but Pompeii was disappointing as there are no artifacts there anymore; they are in Naples Museum or the touring display in the National History Museum London.There are only 2 body casts there so we were disappointed (my daughter is studying volcano's in GCSE Geography).Be warned Pompeii is hazardous to walk on if you have mobility problems; 2 people off our ship ended up in hospital with broken leg and arm so the boat was late sailing. If your not going to ST Tropez, Nice or Monaco ect then Vilefracnce and Toulon have nothing much there. There is nice beach and park play area in Toulon; we took the tourist train that picks up from the boat (20 euros for 4 people). Villefrance and Calvi have tenders to shore which are great if calm but lookout if it is windy!! coming back from Calvi was like a ride at Alton Towers!! All the entertainment was good, Tony Mac and Ross were stars and all the show team were amazing singers and dancers. Overall i would go back on board again and recommend it to others. Is it Butlins on the sea? Maybe, but then i like Butlins. It's not as refined as some boats with the casual attitude but it is the friendliest ship i have been on. When ever we went to the sit-down Island rest. other customers on our table always chatted away, it was lovely. Thank you Thomsonsxx   Read Less
Sail Date July 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
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
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 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
This is probably not a ship for those of you who like the finer aspects of the cruising experience.However it did seem to fit the bill for the vast number of passengers that we spoke to,most of them first time cruisers. The vessel itself ... Read More
This is probably not a ship for those of you who like the finer aspects of the cruising experience.However it did seem to fit the bill for the vast number of passengers that we spoke to,most of them first time cruisers. The vessel itself is less than glamorous ,and the cabins are in need of refurbishment (we were on 6 deck 6012),the bathrooms are in need of replacement as are the cabin windows ,which are covered in sealant and rust. On embarkation you could spot those who had cruised before ,they were the people walking around looking shell shocked having just visited their cabins. On a positive note the crew were friendly and diligent and,the service was always good.Interestingly we found this ship to be not too crowded in public areas (it was full on our cruise),give or take the odd shenanigans with sunbeds around the pool.If you are the type that really must have your toes on the pool edge each day you may need to get up early. The food is basic buffet done to a good standard,with open sittings in the restaurant,there is also a twenty four hour buffet at the pool end of the ship.We saw plenty of passengers in shorts and tee shirts in the restaurant in the evenings ,as well as couples and family's who had made a little more effort. The tours were done well ,but you will need to think about the cycling tours as these are grueling,i would not advise children to undertake any of these as there is a lot of riding on duel carriageways.These are not tours for sight seeing one girl was sick with exertion going up hill,and our daughter was scared at major roundabouts in Italian cities.Think Tour de France not secret seven. The entertainment was of a good standard for this type of vessel,Rock the Boat should get themselves a better agent,they are wasted on cruise ships. This ship will become an all inclusive holiday for 2013 and you cannot help but wonder of it was decided it was cheaper to keep the passengers drunk ,than refurbish the cabins. So if your looking for a value cruise with good ports ,reasonable food ,and a friendly atmosphere this is the one for you,just remember to pack the bleach. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
I just wanted to write a review to say what a good time we had on the Glitz and Glamour cruise as I had read loads of really negative comments throughout the net before we travelled. Between the adults in our party we have been on 4 ... Read More
I just wanted to write a review to say what a good time we had on the Glitz and Glamour cruise as I had read loads of really negative comments throughout the net before we travelled. Between the adults in our party we have been on 4 cruises all of which were with the top end, more luxury cruise lines and all three of us felt that this cruise was equally enjoyable. Yes it's reasonably basic and yes it's quite "Butlins-esque" on the entertainment front BUT you do have to factor in the price difference. Four of us paid pretty much what one person would pay for a "P&O" type cruise. The only thing that I think may put some people off is that the swimming pool is VERY salty water (more so than the sea water at the beach we went to, this is very unpleasant when you inevetably get it in your mouth and eyes but to be honest I don't know if this is the same for all pools on cruises. The four of us all stayed in one outside cabin with two bunk beds and I felt that the room was actually more spacious than I expected. We eat the whole week in the self service buffet and whilst the food is obviously not always scorching hot (I don't think I've ever had a self sevice buffet that was)it was VERY good and we all commented on how well ALL the meats were cooked every day. They were really very nicely cooked, NOT dry, NOT tough, NOT undercooked. Plenty of choice of food with a few themed nights (Chinese, Indian, Pasta). You can help yourself ALL day to Tea and Coffee and cold water and during the breakfast service there's fruit juice. There is a sign saying that you can't refill water bottles due to health reasons but if you take the glasses of drink to a table and then decant them into a bottle this is a simple way to keep hydrated if you don't want to purchase drinks from the bar. The kids club (4yr old girl) was also a big hit. All in all, our 4 generation family had a really lovely holiday at a cost of about £600 each and I will definitly be looking to do it again next year. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
This cruise was our first with Thomson's. We chose the cruise to coincide with my wife's birthday in late August. We were looking for a cruise itinary which included Rome , Naples, and La Spezia for Florence. In total we visited ... Read More
This cruise was our first with Thomson's. We chose the cruise to coincide with my wife's birthday in late August. We were looking for a cruise itinary which included Rome , Naples, and La Spezia for Florence. In total we visited 11 destination ports with 2days at sea with Palma being start port for both weeks. The Island Escape is a relatively old ship at 30, and is comparatively small. All the eating places and bars were easy to find. The food was OK as was the atmosphere. The cabins were comfortable if a bit basic. The TV service was very poor with only news channels and two movie channels which repeated the same film each day over a 7 day cycle, thus shown again on week two. The key strength of the Island Escape are the live entertainment with some exceptional individuals combining to form a great team, credit to the Cruise Director. This really offset the poor in cabin entertainment. However should you be cruising with children or with individuals who do not care for live shows there's not much to do at night other than visit one of the many bars on board. I was particularly impressed by the quality of the cabin stewards who really were friendly and efficient, as well as being well turned out and impeccably mannered. The weaknesses were really minor compared to the strengths mentioned above and centred on the inconsistent service offered by the waiters. Some were very hard working and polite but some were plain rude. Some of the behaviour of the waiters would not be tolerated on other cruise lines. My impression was since this ship attracts a lot of first time cruisers some of the waiters take liberty's. My overall impression is that this ship gives entry level cruising with an informal atmosphere at entry level prices. The ports of call were excellent and the sailing experience was pleasant. However I doubt if we will sail with Thomson's again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
Island Escape -- July 24th to August 7th 2012 (2 adults, 2 children aged 15 and 7) Back-to-back cruises on the Island Escape (Escape to the Med, followed by Souks and Sangria). Last time we were on the Island Escape I was pregnant with ... Read More
Island Escape -- July 24th to August 7th 2012 (2 adults, 2 children aged 15 and 7) Back-to-back cruises on the Island Escape (Escape to the Med, followed by Souks and Sangria). Last time we were on the Island Escape I was pregnant with daughter and son was 7 we had a great time then and couldn't wait to get back. Again we chose an outside cabin on Diamond deck and I had pre-selected it by working out which was the most central cabin and prebooking it. We knew the cabins were small but with four of us in it (son is well over 6 foot) it was a squash. Not really enough clothes storage space for four of us or places for our luggage but we worked around that. Shower room small, compact and did the business. TV in room with BBC world news, Eurosport (in German) and two film channels (plus various ships channels). We took a kettle for early morning drinks and be warned one of the two main sockets near the mirror is a 110V socket so if you plug a kettle in there it will take ages to boil. Cabin satisfactory but could do with a spruce up. Cabin steward very good and we did get a few towel animals but not that many. We had two days at sea, one in each week, then different ports of call with a day at Palma (where we embarked) in the middle. Was very impressed with speed and efficiency of embarkation process much better than our last cruise on Ocean Village) in fact everything about the travel to there from Exeter was fine (except Thompson had moved our flight from a reasonable 9am to a rather early 6:50am!). First port of call was Olbia in Sardinia. Was not impressed. We went for a walk through the town, bought some bottled water for excursions (€1.50 for six bottles as opposed to £2 a bottle on board), tried to buy some drinks in a cafe but the service was so appalling we moved to another one and got some ice creams. Then got shuttle bus back to ship. In retrospect we should either have done a ship's excursion or taken a taxi (we were quoted €25 one way) to the beach. Sardinia looked lovely when we were leaving but I really couldn't recommend Olbia as a port. Next stop was Naples. We had visited there last time on our Island Escape cruise when we had done a Pompeii excursion, so this time we went to Herculaneum. A very interesting trip, daughter who had done Romans at school found it very interesting and even taciturn 15 year old son seemed to enjoy it. It was very hot and near the end had to take daughter into the shade. Note there was no cafe at the site just a vending machine so take some coins. Some tourist stalls were set up outside in the car park and there was a stall selling drinks and ice cream. The best thing about the organised excursions are the tour guides, they are so well informed and expert in their field that it makes the trip really worthwhile and interesting. Next stop was Civitavecchia for Rome. Another excursion, this time an early start for Rome and the Colosseum (the only organised tour which takes you into the Colosseum). Again guide was excellent, Colosseum tour was very good. Roman forum trip interesting but so hot (35 deg plus) children and I just moved from shadow to shadow. After this taken on a coach tour ending at the Trevi fountain where we were left for free time. Went to a local restaurant for a meal (very good) then did some shopping before being walked over to Spanish Steps . More free time then arranged to meet at the Piazza de Popolo -- be warned we went to a cafe there and each had a can of coke and it came to €24!! One of our tour party did not arrive at the pre-arranged meeting point and the guide had to retrace our steps and found him waiting at the last meeting point. This was a very expensive tour (especially for four of us) but we did cover a lot of Rome and saw all the major sites (apart from the Pantheon). Fourth stop on this cruise was Propriano in Corsica. I'd done my homework here and knew there was a beach near the port so we had a beach day. Lovely weather, sea gets deep quickly so be warned and sand quite coarse but a really great time. Don't forget your suncream -- I burned dreadfully - remembered to cream the children and forgot myself! Very pretty port and a lovely stop. Final port of call on this stage, Mahon in Menorca. We'd done a family holiday in Menorca many years ago and had visited Mahon before. We went up the steep steps to the town, had an ice cream and visited the shops then, after lunch on board, we did a glass-bottomed boat trip around the harbour. At €11 per adult and €5 for daughter it was good fun. End of the first cruise so back to Palma. I really liked the look of the excursion to Soller, so whilst other people were leaving or arriving on board we went to Soller by coach with a brilliant guide, who was very interesting. Free time in Soller then back on the electric train to Palma. Island Escape had a private carriage so we weren't cramped and it was the end one so we stood out the back for a lot of the trip. Going through the tunnels was exhilarating especially the two mile long one! We all enjoyed this trip -- son says it was his favourite of the cruise. Following another day at sea next port of call was Tangiers. Started with coach tour through city and out to the Cave of Hercules, not the most impressive cave I've been in! Be warned do not use the toilets here, daughter wanted to do so was directed to a hole in the ground and given a bottle of water....... Next sop is the lighthouse at the point where the Atlantic and Mediterranean meet and there is a cafe where you are given either a soft drink or a cup of mint tea and there are proper toilets. Following this back into Tangiers to the Kasbah and then a walk through the Medina and the markets. A brief stop to see a snake charmer before free time. You are approached all the time by people trying to sell you things, they are very persistent and don't like no. It was hot, smelly but the culture so different a real experience. From Tangiers across the Straits of Gibraltar to Gibraltar. My favourite stop, we had a brilliant day here. Started off walking through the town to the cable car station via the Main Street -- really strange to see BHS and Marks and Spencers. Duty free alcohol and tobacco a bargain here. Walked by Trafalgar cemetery to the cable car (£34 for all of us on return tickets) and up to the top. Plenty of Barbary Apes and photo opportunities up there, also some military ruins. We stayed up there for a good hour before heading down and having a picnic in the Alameda Botanical Gardens. Husband then went off to the WWII tunnels. Children and I met up with a friend whose husband had been stationed there this March and she took us out to Europa Point before taking us back to ship and we got on with two minutes to spare! After Gibraltar we went on to Malaga. I have always wanted to go to Nerja and have often thought about a holiday there so we took the opportunity to do the excursion to the Nerja Caves. The day was very overcast and visibility was not great which was a shame as the Balcony of Europe in Nerja was a very scenic spot. We were given 45 minutes free time in Nerja and my criticism of this tour was that it wasn't long enough, I think you really needed at least 90 minutes here. Went from the town to the caves. These were much more impressive than in Tangiers -- can't believe that there is another cave three times larger not yet open to the public! Well worth a visit. Cartagena was our penultimate stop. It was a Sunday and there wasn't much to do so we took the beach transfer option over to La Manga. It was a 30 minute drive so we guessed that the cost of the ship's tour was not too dissimilar to a taxi. La Manga is a thin strip of land where one side is the Mar Menor a lagoon of shallow warm water, ideal for children and the other side the Mediterranean. Daughter loved both, son was not too impressed with the lagoon and ended up going for a kebab roll instead which he really enjoyed! Final stop was Valencia. Bit disappointed at first as the city was 6km from the port and didn't look that interesting for the children. Went to tourist information in the port and got directions to the beach -- a 20 minute walk. Absolutely brilliant beach, which all the family loved, masses of flat, golden sand, warm sea and big breakers. We had a fantastic time there then went for a meal at a restaurant along the promenade. Ended up getting a taxi back to the port for €4. For children I'd really recommend the beach option. That's it for a review of the ports now on to more specifics about the ship: Dining: We ate either in the Island Restaurant or Beachcomber. There is the Oasis restaurant at a cover charge of £14.99 and waiter service but we like the informality of buffets and the chance to try some unusual combinations. At first we felt the food was a little luke warm but this improved during the two weeks. Especially liked theme nights and husband is still raving about the Wasabi during oriental night. Kids meals are good but if you order one it takes a long time to arrive. Drinks: We were lucky to have the free all-inclusive upgrade and really made the most of it. We all enjoyed the non-alcoholic cocktails -- Caribbean Delight and Roy Rogers being favourites. We did pay for a couple of frozen cocktails which were not included and one special coffee from Cafe Brasil. I worked out we must have saved about £300 by not having to buy drinks. Childrens club: Palmy's for 3-7 years, daughter loved it and was in tears when we had to leave. They run around three sessions a day at different times (but usually 4-6 and 8-10) and do things like making scrapbooks, chocolate challenge and spooky house. They also run a breakfast club three days a week where they pick your child up from the cabin and take them to breakfast. At the end of the week is the Kid's talent show which is hilarious and fun. It isn't a contest just a chance for them to sing, dance, do animal impressions.... My daughter loved the club. Teens Club: son was not so impressed. Went to a couple of things in the first week (card games and cocktail making) but was disorganised, not well attended and he didn't bother going the second week. He would not recommend it. Entertainment: Showteam lead by Ross Roberts excellent especially the two singers Ben and Macey. Went to three of their shows and thought they were brilliant. Ocean Theatre did fill up quickly so you had to be quick to get a seat. Also did some quizzes in the Bounty Lounge and Sundowner, all good fun. Staff -- all excellent, friendly, helpful and welcoming. Really make the cruise so special. Went to the returning passenger's cocktail party and can see why so many people keep coming back -- the winners had done 18 cruises on Island ships! Summary -- a brilliant holiday, would go again and will look out for some new and exciting itineraries. Read Less
Sail Date July 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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