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Paul Ward

Age: 36

Occupation:Computer Consultant

Number of Cruises: 3

Cruise Line: Island Cruises

Ship: Island Escape

Sailing Date: n/a

Itinerary: Mediterranean Essence

Departure Port: Palma, Majorca Duration: 7 nights Booked direct with Island Cruises Cabin number: 8038, Premium Outside Cabin, Deck 8 (Diamond)

Previous cruise experience: Little – one two-night Party Cruise on QE2

Registration at Port: OK. They had six desks operating, and there was a 30-minute wait in the queue (Cruise veterans – is this normal?). They took a swipe of our credit card and took a digital photo using a webcam.

Cabin: First impressions were mixed. The soft furnishings were new, but the rest of the furniture wasn’t. We had two chairs and a small table. We had a major problem with the bathroom. The floor is made up of small mosaic tiles. Four or five of these were missing in front of the washbasin. I was not happy…The floor was fixed, that evening, but I never got an answer as to why it hadn’t been spotted previously. (Speaking to other passengers, it seems that a number had similar problems). Cabin Steward was poor. Sometimes she would clean properly, sometimes not. Our glasses were not changed for 2 days until I complained.

Public areas: These were very pleasant and looked new.

Food: A big disappointment. There are three restaurants. Beachcomber is open 24 hours and offers a ‘hot’ and cold buffet. The Island Restaurant opens for lunch and dinner and offers a choice of waiter service or self-service. The Oasis Restaurant is a la carte and is open for dinner (bookings only). Food at the Beachcomber is basic, with most meals including fries. Selection is limited to 2-3 hot main courses. Desserts were simple and basic (and unlabelled). Food here is kept warm and was never actually hot. Food quality was average.

The Island Restaurant offers 4 main courses plus a carvery. The menu is very similar to that in Beachcomber. You have the choice of self-service or waiter service. You get more choice with self-service. Again, the food here is kept warm and wasn’t piping hot.

The Oasis Restaurant again has a similar menu to the Island Restaurant with some (chargeable) extras, for example Filet Mignon. We didn’t eat there so I can’t comment…

Overall, the food was disappointing – average quality, never hot and a lack of selection.

The informal dining concept (no sittings - dine when you like) seemed to work pretty well, with no queues.

Bars: There are number of bars, from an English Pub to the relatively sophisticated Lookout Lounge. All were pleasant and looked new. Prices for soft drinks (we are tee-total) seemed high (£1.25 for a can of Pepsi). We had a problem with a couple of the bars ‘running out’ (i.e. not being re-stocked from stores) of mineral water and other soft drinks during the week. I had a couple of discussions with the Head Bartender and the situation seemed to improve.

Service: Average. No more, no less.

Itinerary: Good. We did the Mediterranean Essence (Palma-Tunis-Civitavecchia-Portofino-Nice-Barcelona-Palma).

Excursions: Generally good. There is a good selection of excursions at each port. Cost is approx £22-£25 for half-day, £45-£50 for a full day.

Entertainment: Good. There was a show every night in the Ocean Theatre and a live band and disco elsewhere on the Ship. Standards were pretty good. Daytime activities were a bit basic – lots of quizzes and bingo every day…

Overall rating: OK+, ship was generally pleasant, cabin was OK (once the bathroom was fixed). Food was the major disappointment.

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