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David Jones

Age: 39

Occupation:Local Government Officer

Number of Cruises: 2

Cruise Line: Island Cruises

Ship: Island Escape

Sailing Date: n/a

Itinerary: Western Mediterranean

This was our second cruise, our first having been a couple of years ago on NCL's Norwegian Wind to Alaska.

I must admit that we set off with some trepidation. The cruise had been remarkably cheap compared to our NCL cruise even allowing for the fact that this was a relatively short flight to the Med. We had booked a budget cruise and frankly we thought that it would only be a step above a cross channel ferry. How wrong we were !

We arrived in Palma at about 10am. The embarkation process was a doddle and by 11am we were installed in our cabin and looking forward to the next seven days

The Cabin

We were on Coral Deck, about half way up the ship (near Reception ) in an outside cabin. Not the largest cabin in the world but it was clean and comfortable and had a good sized picture window - The two decks below have smaller portholes. Lydia, the cabin stewardess was efficient, friendly and unobtrusive. There was TV which had Sky News anongst other channels so it was easy to keep up with news from home if you wanted to

The Restaurants
Island offers "ad lib dining" which means that in theory you can eat where you want,when you want and with whom you want. My wife and I are fairly sociable people but we enjoy our food and always like to have our meals at a table for two. Afterall when we go out to a restaurant by ourselves we don't expect to be put on a table for eight. It was this aspect of the cruise that appealed to us

The ship has 3 restaurants

The beachcomber.
This offers 24 hour dining on a buffet basis with seating also available outside.The food was good and varied although could have been hotter. At popular times of the day particularly when the weather was not so good and the outside tables could not be used it was difficult to find a table

The Island Restaurant
This was the ships main restaurant and we didn't use it much. The tables were close together and as it was a buffet it meant having to squeeze past other people to get to the serving areas. It was difficult to get a table where you didn't have to share and this was the main reason why we went elsewhere

The Oasis
This restaurant was for dinner only and we ended up eating here every night but one. You needed to book but that was not a problem and there are two sittings (again not exactly "ad lib" )

The food was absolutely fabulous. There was a small supplement for some dishes but it was perfectly possible to have a 4 course dinner with no supplements and have a choice of atleast three items for each course. Wines were good and started at about £9

Not really our thing and while we planned to go to a show or two we were always too busy enjoying the food in the Oasis Restaurant.

The Itinerary
After leaving Palma the first day was at sea. Although everyone was on board and the ship was fully occupied it didn't seem crowded

First call was Valetta in Malta. I understand that for 2004 the ship will call in Sicilly instead. We only had a morning here and could have done with longer. We didn't go on an organised trip

Next morning was Naples and we took a half day trip to Pompeii, £32 each. Well worth it and very interesting

Other people we spoke to who hadn't gone on a trip but wandered around Naples on their own hadn't had such a good time and commented on the poverty in the City

By next morning we were in Livorno and took a half day trip to Pisa. Again very enjoyable but also very wet !

On to Toulon in the south of France. We didn't go on an organised trip but took a tour of the town on a very touristy looking "train" but on wheels not tracks. This was great fun, lasted an hour and only cost £3 each

On to Barcelona. Docked in the centre - great location, great City

Back to Palma next day

What else can I say. The ship exceeded our expectations and provided us with a great holiday. We are hoping to go to Brazil next year on the same vessel. The crew were really helpful and friendly, the ship clean and smart and I can thoroughly recommend going.

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