As I have only ever been on Thomson ships, I was expecting similar service onboard the Escape, especially as it was now owned by Thomson.
However, IT IS NOTHING like the Thomson Ships, although it was a really good holiday! I shall explain why now.
The only "Thomson" related parts of the holiday were the flight and coach transfers which were both "thomson" brands.
The showteam/entertainment team wear ORANGE polo shirts and the waiters wear flowery shirts. Although this doesnt detract from their service, it was a bit of a shock, as I was expecting to see the thomson colours all around the ship!
It took a while for our luggage to arrive at the side of the ship so we could label it and get it onboard, unlike Thomson, which had it ready by the time you stepped of your coach!
Once we boarded the ship, we were left to find our cabin ourselves which was a bit annoying as we had no idea where to go, except we knew the floor. Thomson show you to your room (maybe because Island are less formal?)
We explored the ship and although having read on here before we left England, it is an amazing ship! Lots of places to go and see, and I wouldnt say it was "falling to pieces" at all!
We purchased a key for the safety deposit box. It was £14 and you don't get that back! It was definitely worth it though for all your valuables.
We were on deck 7, inside, and had a very nice cabin steward Eldrage.
I will now focus on more specific aspects of the ship.
There were 3 places to eat on the ship.
Oasis Restaurant where you have to book a table and pay extra for waiter service, however we didn't eat here at all.
Island Restaurant - here you are shown to your seats and waiters remove your used plates etc, however it is a buffet service. We ate here for dinner every day and loved it!
Beachcomber Restaurant - Fully buffet!
At first I was a bit sceptical about the buffet service, because on the Thomson Ships, apart from the Lido areas, you are always served by waiters! However, We really enjoyed helping ourselves because you could have as much, or as little as you want, of whatever you want! Without feeling greedy or guilty for eating more of something and less of others! There was always vegetarian options, and a wide variety of traditional and more cultural foods!
All very helpful, especially guest relations. We also became very friendly with one of the photographers - Maria. As a couple who seemed to get lured into having their photos taken every night after dinner, we got friendly and we had some very proffessional photos taken (at a very reasonable price!).
This is where the Island cruises were better than Thomson in some respects...but a lot worse in others!
I will start with the showteam.
The showteam consisted of 5 english, 5 brazillian girls and boys. It was quite obvious that those not from England didn't know the words and so mimed, despite having head microphones on! As someone who carried on going back onto Thomson ships because of their amazing showteam, I was quite dissapointed.
It felt like the English girls and boys had to work even harder to make it sound like a great team. They also only performed THREE nights during our cruise, the rest taken up by guest acts. We were very dissapointed with this as we love seeing the showteam performing and Thomson Showteam pretty much sang and danced every night!
Simiarly, the deck parties were pretty poor, as the team seemed to be on "shifts". Half would sing and dance and then go eat, and the other half would come on. This wasnt as friendly an atmosphere as we hoped, although don't get me wrong - all of the team were very talented!
HOWEVER, the entertainment team, Corrin, Matthew, Justin, Adam and Hayley-Jane were AMAZING! Their daytime and evening entertainment was second to none, and the best I have ever seen! It wasnt the case of "now we have your lunchtime quiz", they made it their own and really got everyone involved. This surprised me, as usually on Thomson Ships, the Showteam steal the show, and the entertainment is just "ok".
Another special mention has to go to Ross Roberts - Cruise Director. What a fantastic guy!
Was it just me or are there NO clocks around the ship? We found that we had to take out clocks everywhere with us so that we could know what time it was! Especially with dining times (and scone time - 4pm!) we wanted to get there before they ran out!.
Comparing this ship to Thomsons they are pretty much TOTALLY DIFFERENT! Apart from the similar structure to the day, Island has a lot more going on during the day (including Darts, Wii Games, Dancing Lessons), but Thomson has a lot better Showteam singers.
We would definitely go on this ship again, and next time we would be more prepared for what we were going to get for our money, rather than what we expected from previous Thomson Ships.