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I understand that from 2013 Island Cruises’ ship Island Escape will go all-inclusive. That is all food, drink, tips and service charges will be included in the ticket price.

I didn’t actually know that Island Cruises would still be in business in 2013 – I had understood that they had been closed down at around the same time that Ocean Village did. Both Island Cruises and Ocean Village featured informal cruises; indeed one of them (I can’t remember which one) had the slogan “the cruise line for people who don’t do cruises”. It seems however that Island Cruises is still in business, though now down to just one ship – at one time they had the former Horizon of Celebrity Cruises sailing as Island Star, but I think that arrangement stopped some time ago.

So that leaves Island Escape, which does fly-cruises from Palma and, I think, Limassol (Cyprus). This ship was originally a ferry – the Scandinavia – and was launched in 1982. However her ferry days did not last long – she was transferred to cruising (in North America) just a couple of years later and sailed for several companies before switching to Royal Caribbean in 1990, as the Viking Serenade. After just over a decade with them she was moved to Island Cruises (owned by RCI, I believe) and further modernised and tailored to her new role and style. For example there is no ‘main restaurant’ of the type that cruise passengers are familiar with; all meals on board Island Escape are purely buffet-based, I understand. So this is informal cruising with a vengeance.

Island Cruises say that their aim is to attract ‘new to cruising’ customers, which I can understand. When we were researching our first cruise one of the things that bothered us a bit was this whole mysterious ‘gratuity’ thing, and I suppose some potential customers might be put off the idea by this, or perhaps by the uncertainty around it. Including gratuities in the price, along with the other things, will remove that uncertainty. Another way they aim to attract new customers is by pairing a 7 night cruise with a stay ashore in a hotel, to make a 14-night or so holiday altogether. The whole package can be bought as a single transaction, including flights. As I say, it will be interesting to see if this change makes a difference to their business.

2 Responses to “Island Escape to go 'all-inclusive' in 2013”

  1. iain1873 says:

    Island Escape is run by and operated by Thomson Cruises and has been for the last couple of years , not sure if they own or lease here , more details can be found in the Cruise section of Thomson Cruises.

    • Tom says:

      Thanks for that, Iain. I think I’d assumed that they were a subsidiary of RCI. This was probably because of the career of Horizon – from an RCI company (Celebrity) via a couple of smaller operators, including Island Cruises, then to Pullmantur, which I know is an RCI subsidiary.

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