Island Escape Cruise Review by IloveWales
- Sail Date: August 2013
- Destination: Western Mediterranean
This was our first cruise and I have to say it was a superb holiday and comes a very close second to my favorite holiday of all (Florida).
What follows is some hints and tips for readers and general advice. Some may appear negative but I just want to reassure you all that the whole trip was superb and I would definitely do it again.
Like most on here I have read the reviews and most of the negative ones seem to be centered on the incident in May. Well, because of this I went on the boat fearing the worst which was probably a good thing as I was pleasantly surpised. There were no repeat incidents although the sea did get choppy the one night resulting in travel bands and sea sick tablets but no actual listing of the boat and certainly no Norovirus.
The boat operates a cashless system which is good as you don't have to carry any cash however you can get carried away and not realise how much you spending. I advise checking your bill every morning.The boat mainly deals in sterling which can be a pain if you cruise and stay and have euros abundant. Their exchange rate is crap!
Each night you would have a leaflet put through your door about the next port of call and day time activities etc. Very informative and a good read.
Boarding was smooth. We were met at the Palma Port by reps and crew who quickly got us onto the boat. Hand sanitisers everywhere and the process was easily explained. Gave my card details etc and everything went smooth. We were on the boat and in our room within 10 minutes. Bags were taken off us and were by our room within 20 minutes.
First impressions of the boat was good although needed upgrading / modernisation. Staff were very friendly and helpful. Hand sanitisers everywhere and very well policed.
We had an inside cabin on the 6th floor and it was tiny. There were 4 of us in there and not much room to manouevre however there was enough room to hang 4 cases worth of cloths and plenty of drawer space. Other nooks and crannys were present to store stuff. The room was clean and the bathroom was ok. The vacuum toilet took some getting used too but the shower was absolutely superb. Powerful and hot. One of my criticisms is there is no drying space for any wet items. Air conditioning was in the room and worked well and was a welcome relief from the hot Mediterranean sun. The beds were comfortable and changed daily. There was no window but we didn't need it as the TV showed a live view of the outside. The TV also had a variety of channels and showed modern films. There is a mixture of drinks and snacks in the room that you have to pay for if you use them. Quite expensive. Rooms could have done with a few more extra sockets for all the chargers we needed. There are safes in the room which you have to pay for. The boat provides pool towels which are changed every day as are the room towels. There was no sign whatsoever of the Industrial floor driers.
Room service was good. The room was made up twice, sometimes three times a day and every evening we would come back and there would be a different animal made out of towels on display. I needed and extra pillow and this was quickly resolved by the steward. Towels replaced every day.
The food was brilliant. A choice of 3 restaurants. One you pay for (15 per person) but it is 5 course Ala Carte waiter service and is absolutely amazing. One is sit down waiter service for drinks but pick your own food etc. The last is 24hrs where the food is served up to you. Plenty of choice. Always hot. Pleasant staff and they cater for all kinds of different tastes. If you need sugar free / gluten free etc they do it all and are more than happy to cater to your needs. I am diabetic and needed sugar free and there was no problems at all. Just ask! Never a problem getting a table.
Casino is brilliant although I did lose a bit of money. All they do is Roulette, Blackjack and Stud Poker where you take on the dealer. I would have liked the option of setting up your own table to play your own game but there was no opportunity.
Pool is desalinated salt water. Takes some getting used too. There is a shallow bit sealed off for the kids and then a deep bit which was over my head (at least 6 foot). My only gripe was that it was far too small for everyone and even when it was supposed to be adult only swim, the kids were still in it. Lots of sun beds around the deck and never any problem with availability. The Sun bed police did their job well, marking up those beds that were reserved and no one ever turned up. My kids loved the pool and the area around it. They even set up a BBQ in the are for burgers etc which is very convenient. Always lots going on around the pool including Bingo and Quiz and live music. Every time we left a port, the cruise director would have a party and get everyone up dancing. It was great! There is a bar at the Pool however when it was busy it was very difficult to get served and on a few occasions, despite qoing for ages, I kept getting overlooked by the bar staff and the kids didn't stand a chance of getting served.
Gym is OK. Equipment could do with modernising but serviceable enough. There's 3 running machines and 3 cross trainers and then a load of weight machines. Gym looks directly out onto the ocean / port. The gym is in the same area as the Beauty Therapy bit but cant comment on this as we didn't use it. We did have every day a note through our door offering the beauty services which appeared quite expensive.
WIFI is available but you have to pay for it and to be honest it is crap. Hardly ever worked and not worth it it all. Avoid if you can do without it. Also avoid making any texts or telephone calls on the boat. Very expensive. Wait until you get to shore.
The shops are ok. Mainly jewelry and fragrances. I wouldn't bother with them as the prices are cheaper back home. The main shop has the basics you may need sun cream, adaptors, pringles etc.
Plenty of watering hotels. All good. Service can be a bit slow in some places (Bar, Pool). Our favorite place was the Bounty lounge which had Bingo, quiz, family games, Karaoke and The Switch, the resident band. They did cover songs and were brilliant and so supportive of the kids. Special mention goes to Carlo who works behind the bar. He is superb. He really looked after my son and my nephew and treated them like adults. He remembers your drinks and will always make a bee line for you. We took part in all the games and shows and thoroughly enjoyed our time in there.
Me and the wife only got to see the main show once but I have to say it was fantastic and better than some West End shows I've seen. Those guys work so hard.
The booze is all local stuff but is strong enough to get you drunk if that's what you want. You have to pay for the named brands but to be honest, you don't need too. Cocktails were excellent and did the trick. It did tick me off when you had to pay for things like Sangria and Ice Cream.
Excursions are well advertised and having walked ashore and tried to do things myself I would probably do the boat excursions in future. We stopped at Sardinia, Naples, Civitavichia (Rome), Corsica and Mahon.
Sardinia was nice and on getting off the transfer bus were met with loads of touts selling their trips and were overwhelmed. Could have done this independently of the boat, no problem at all.
Naples was a pit and I didn't feel safe walking around the town. Wanted to go to Pompeii and Vesuvious but was advised not to do the Boat excursion as we could get it cheaper outside the boat. Load of Tosh! I recommend if you want to see Pompeii etc do it through the boat.
Rome do it through the boat. Well worth doing the guided tour if you've never done it before. Would love to go back there.
Corsica is beautiful and can be done independent of the boat. Lovely beach just 10 mins walk up the road with watersports.
Mahon was my favourite. Beautiful place and well wort getting up early to see the boat going in to harbour. The ship wanted 23 per adult and 15 per child to go to Son Bao beach. We did it for 25 euros with a booked taxi. Only 20 mins away and a cracking beach.
As stated this was my first cruise and I loved it and would 100% do it again.
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