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Pete and Les Penfold

Age: 53

Occupation:Facilities Manager

Number of Cruises: one

Cruise Line: Island Cruises

Ship: Island Escape

Sailing Date: n/a

Itinerary: Western Mediterranean

A Brilliant Budget cruise with friendly staff, excellent food, good entertainment, a clean and tidy ship, interesting itinerary, varied and entertaining facilities all washed down with a pint or two of Boddingtons Bitter or a glass of wine. More than worth the #780 we paid for a weeks stay half board in a lovely hotel, the Duva Apartments in Puerto de Pollensa followed by the week on board the Island Escape. Incredible value for money and recommended to all who would like a relaxed holiday with a cruise that has none of the snobbery that so often puts people off cruising.

Light and airy, tastefully decorated and immaculately clean. Comfortable furniture. Pool a little on the small side but adequate for a dip. Empty sun loungers and deck chairs sometimes difficult to find, would have been nice if people had obeyed the signs and not left their towels on them for long periods of absence (No Germans on this ship!). Plenty of deck space to walk around, didn't feel like 1500+ passengers on board. Cheerful friendly staff always available to clean up or serve more drinks.

Didn't try the Casino but it was well attended including classes to teach you how to part with your money! Five bars and three restaurants on board all clean and tidy. The large Ocean Theatre provided very comfortable viewing for the nightly shows as did the bounty lounge as a smaller, more compact entertainment venue. The lookout lounge provided a great view at the top of the ship and also the disco which was mainly playing 60's-80 music at a reasonable volume. Toilets clean and functional. Occasional problems probably due to items being flushed down that should not be there. There was also a reasonable gym with all the modern torture machines under the watchful eyes of a qualified personal fitness trainer, a hair and beauty saloon, which was well, attended, a cyber cafe where I was able to send Emails home. If you have a web based Email service then it is much cheaper (#0.17p per minute) to use it to send multi addressed Emails than to use the ships own email service at #2.50ish for EACH Email.

There are three restaurants on board. The Oasis has an a la carte option and is fully waiter served. We used the Island Restaurant for all our main meals. There is a choice of waiter service or self-service, the only difference in the food is a smaller selection for waiter service. We always went self-service and were always surprised at the range of choice on offer. The food was well cooked, tasty and delicious and was well displayed. The waiters could not be more helpful and their English was very good. They served with a smile and a helping hand and were a delightful crowd. The Beachcomber was a 24-hour self-service cafeteria and served hot and tasty meals and snacks. If you came back from shore or got up in the middle of the night you could be sure to get a cuppa and a meal at the beachcomber.

We had a double outside cabin on deck 7 (Emerald) located at the front left (port) side of the ship. No engine noise or noise from any of the bars or clubs, in fact the only thing we could here was the gentle lapping of the sea and the occasional sound of other vacuum toilets flushing!!!  It was quite roomy and there was plenty of storage and hanging space with two sets of draw units. There was room under the beds for empty cases but ensure you don't take very deep cases, as they may not fit. There was cold drinking water, which was kept in ice buckets and topped up by your cabin chambermaid. The WC and shower were clean and tidy and towels changed twice a day. Beware that the rooms are air-conditioned and drying washing is not possible in the cabin, we tried hanging it out the window but for some reason it wouldn't open...... There is a laundry service on board but not sure of the cost.  There are a couple of European style electrical power sockets in the cabin. One is 115 volts, the other 220volts. I took an adapter and a British 4 way socket unit and was able to charge my video batteries, mobile phone and run the CD player with no problems. Remember mobile phones don't work when you are out at sea!!! There was a TV in the cabin that had various satellite channels, a couple of video film channels, a sports channel, a channel dedicated to the camera looking out to the front of the ship which was great each morning for waking up and seeing the view as we approached each new harbor and for watching the thunder and lightning on the horizons at night. The twin beds were very comfortable and the sheets changed daily.

We saw most of the shows on board and for a small ships entertainment company we thought they were very good. I won't go into detail, as it would spoil the surprises that might be had. We had a good comedian who could be rude but not crude and the singers and dancers were first class. Look out for "Gladys" at the 70's pool party.

There were plenty of activities on board including bridge clubs, quizzes, Yoga classes, Aerobics, Line dancing, Bingo and happy hours. You can try to become the "Island Star" if you have any talent as selections and rehearsals go on throughout the week and a finals night is held before a packed audience on the last night of the cruise.

Our cruise called in at Valletta Malta, Naples and Livorno in Italy, Toulon France and Mahon Menorca before returning to Palma Mallorca. We did not go on any organized tours but preferred to go it alone. Those who did do the main tours seemed to find that were not given enough time at each of the attractions to explore on their own. We went to Pompeii and Sorrento by taxi and toured the mountains behind Toulon also by taxi, much cheaper if there are four of you. The rest of the ports we just walked around the local areas visiting the shops and markets. Valletta is a must to see.

There seemed to be all types on board, those that were use to cruising and got dressed up to the nineties each night and those who were more relaxed and dressed in smart casuals. There were only 12 children on our cruise and there was a kids club to look after them. Most people were from the 50's to older group. There were a few young couples and I think there was plenty on board to cater for all ages and tastes.

Everyone we talked to was friendly and we didn't see any drunken and obnoxious behavior by anyone. 

We met some nice people on the first night who turned out to come from the next town to us and the wife turned out to work for our next door neighbor.! Small world isn't it!

Well after all that I hope anyone who goes on this ship has as great a time as we did, and don't believe all that you see on the telly!.

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