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Graeme Livingstone

Age: 28

Occupation:Community Worker

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Island Cruises

Ship: Island Escape

Sailing Date: April 3rd, 2007

Itinerary: Western Mediterranean

This was our first experience of cruising we don’t have anything to compare our cruise holiday with except our other land holidays. We have to say that overall we really enjoyed our time aboard the informal Island Escape.

I would recommend going all inclusive on an island cruise holiday, that’s what we did and we saved ourselves a bundle of money. One thing that is a bit of a pain when going all inclusive, was still having to sign for all of our drinks when using our onboard swipe card – we soon got used to this though, and as we kept hold of our copies of all the receipts we now calculated that we have saved ourselves over £350 by going all inclusive.

The range of drinks available on all inclusive was also really good which included cocktails of the day (I recommend the ‘Tom Collins’!) and branded spirits (Smirnoff etc) being included and not having to drink some locally produced strangely named rubbish as part of your all inclusive deal.

The food was excellent, the 24 hour beachcomber is kind of like the lowest classed onboard and is a buffet style restaurant. The food was as good if not better than any of the hotels we have previously stayed in. The Island Restaurant was a bit classier with waiter service etc but the food was maybe only a little better. There was a £9.95 supplement to eat in the Oasis Restaurant but this was well worth it and the 4 course meal including wine, etc was out of this world – as good if not better than any city center top restaurant.

Something we also liked was the service in all of the public areas of the ship which was exceptional – nothing was too much trouble and as far as the restaurant and bars were concerned, we as the customers, were made to feel extremely welcome. The staff seemed fully committed to making sure we enjoyed our holiday. Table service in all areas of the ship was great. We hate queuing for drinks in pubs. The bar waiters come to you for your order then deliver your order to your table.

We stayed on the bronze deck (level 4) and we really liked our outside cabin. It was perhaps a little bit dated. Our cabin had more room and was much nicer than we were expecting prior to arrival. The TV had about 15 channels including a ship info channel which was informative and there were also 2 movie channels with films that are not even out on DVD yet in the UK. The cabins were immaculate and were cleaned twice a day and every now and then we came back to some towel origami with dogs and monkeys etc which we felt was a little bit of a special touch.

We didn’t really have time to watch the films however, but there were plenty other better things to do. The off-shore excursions were excellent. In order of ports we visited Olbia in Sardinia (half day), Rome (full day), Pisa (half day), Monaco and Monte Carlo (full day) and Mahon (day off!) in Menorca. I am glad we decided on the half day, full day half day full day, day off formula as the excursions were quite full on and involved quite a lot of walking and it just seemed like a good way for us to see what we wanted to see whilst also having time to relax onboard. Mahon in Menorca was a little disappointing but I think this was really in comparison to all the amazing and beautiful sights we had seen previously in the week and not a fair reflection of what was actually a really nice port.

This ocean theatre was ok with shows from the onboard show team, and some acts being brought in. This included Robin Williams tribute act and comedian Peter Piper who was quite funny. We spent a lot of time in the Bounty Lounge which we enjoyed a lot more. Russell the Bounty Lounge Host was hilarious and an extremely talented presenter/host and more than any one person onboard made our holiday as good as it was. With nightly quizzes and bingo the bounty lounge also had the Island Escape’s versions of TV game shows including The Weakest Link, Mr. and Mrs. Play Your Cards Right, and Deal or No Deal, and there was also a Passenger Talent Show all of which gave people the option of taking part in the fun rather than just watching it which was great. There was also a casino onboard but we found that we ran out of time and didn’t really get a chance to go in there – just as well!!

We don’t have children but we did notice that there seemed to be loads for kids to do including a kids club with brilliant staff and activities with different things aimed at kids and teenagers etc which gave the parents some of what I am sure would have been some much needed time to themselves to relax and enjoy their holiday.

From reading other reviews and watching the program 'Cruise Ship' on Sky travel channel I can only assume that Island Cruises seemed to have 'their ship in order' (excuse the pun!) and as a reasonably new company have sorted out all their teething problems.

All in all an Island Cruise does exactly what it says on the tin. An informal specialist it does not claim to be a floating 5 star hotel in fact it was our opinion that perhaps they actually don’t give themselves enough credit for what they do. If you consider yourself upper class and are slightly snobby/pompous don’t go – it’s not the QE2! All I can say is that as a young professional couple,  we had an excellent time with lots to do. Both onboard and excellent excursions, with good cabins, excellent bars and restaurants and even better staff, we would definitely go on another Island Cruise. We would recommend it to anyone especially if you are a first time cruiser.


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