This was my partners first cruise and as we would be celebrating our 2nd wedding anniversary and my birthday while away thought it would be a nice "Taster" cruise for him. I have cruised before as i used to work for P & O years ago, and although i realised it would not be luxury cruising standard i thought that Ian my partner would feel at ease with the relaxed cruising experience. We had read some terrible reviews on here about this particular ship so to be honest we were hesitant what we were letting ourselves in for. Our flight was good and the seats realy comfortable although Ian did find the legroom tight we did manage to dose off, the transfer from airport to embarcation was easy and professional and before we knew what was happening we were boarding the Island Escape - In the dock she looked a glowing white and very welcomeing, the registration process was easy & efficient. We were on deck 4 in an outside cabin with two portholes, standard twin room whih was converted to a double for us - on entering our cabin we were greeted by the chocolate dipped strawberries, Moet & Chandon, and a huge beautiful basket of fresh flowers as we had gone for the "Celebrate in Style" package and it was well worth it. The cabin was standard and in desperate need of refurbishment, i would call it tired but it was exceptionally clean, had ample storage and the en-suite was adequate for our needs, i am by profession an Executive Housekeeping Manager for Hilton Hotels so do know the difference between tired and dirty. We then went around the ship to get our barings and popped into the Beachcomber restaurant for some well deserved lunch while awaiting the arrival of our suitcases - lunch was lovely and plentiful and we were inpressed by the choice on offer. we returned to our cabin after and our cases had been left in the corridoor outside so we unpacked and showered then went for another mooch to get our barings. The public areas are similar to the cabins needing refurbishment but were clean we found a nice seat on deck to have a drink and the weather was lovely, so nice to feel the sun after the snow in England. Hilda served us and was very friendly and professional she called us by our first names after delivering our drinks and did so throughout the rest of the cruise - we both commented on the fact that this was "Good Customer Service". Afternoon tea was served 4 till 5 and again was as delicious as lunch with cakes, biscuits, scones & jam with cream and sandwiches. Restaurant service was efficient and friendly & after afternoon tea we went back to our cabin for a snooze as it had been an early start that morning, we slept very well although i am not a lover of Foam Duvets and pillows as i tend to find they make you over perspire. The shower in our en-suite was great and very powerful so then off to dinner which like our other experiences of The Beachcomber restaurant we were not disapointed, We then attended the sailaway party and had a great time. The day after we tried the Island Restaurant for all our dining and found this as good as the Beachcomber although the fact of sitting at large tables with complete strangers is not realy our thing, the standard of food was great and plentiful. The time on board seemed to fly by with so much to do, and we did book two excursions: 1st was Funchal, Madeira which we thoroughly loved and it was money well spent and everyone that we spoke to on it agreed, the guide was knowledgable and we could have listened to her all day. 2nd excursion was Lanzarote and although informative the guide did not stop for breath and it did your head in after a time. We did get off for an hour at Agadir and made our own way into town but did not stay that long as the place is a shithole and your mithered from start to finish - thank god we got back on board to our home from home, Island Escape. All the other ports of call we did our own thing in but loved the experience. The 9th February was our Anniversary and my birthday and we had recently booked to eat in the Oasis Restaurant this night via Clair at the Celebrations Desk, The food well there is only one word for it and that is "Outstanding", Service was 2nd to none and anyone celebrating was at some time during the evening serenaded at there table by the staff (and although this sounds corny they do have good voices and can hold a tune)- Anyone going on the Island Escape has got to try the Oasis Restaurant, a huge thumbs up..... The rest of the cruise went to fast but we enjoyed enery minute or should i say highlights were: 1) Friendliness of staff, these people cannot do enough to please 2) If your a fussy eater there is something here for everyone 3) Island Chat Magazine very useful for all daily activities 4) The Pub / Sundowner bar on deck 7 has great caberet every night, we loved it in here
Downsides were: 1) Resident group "Increase" were terrible and would not even be allowed on Britains got talent 2) Very Small swimming pool 3) Internet access very slugish and slow 4) Not being a lover of haveing credit cards i found it strange that there system does not allow you to use your Visa Electron Card 5) A lot of the retired passengers on board seemed to find it necesary to try and single handedly demolish and eat the entire buffet at every meal time - but failed miserably as the staff replenished it too quickly
Cabin 4070 is in need of refurbishment yes but Aileen our cabin attendant kept it beautifully clean, Although it is small there is adequate storage space and just haveing a shower and no bath suits us to a tee.
The towel folding was lovely here, everything from swans to dogs - a beautiful touch