P&O Cruises took delivery of Iona, the largest cruise ship ever built for the UK market, at an official handover ceremony with the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany
The newest addition to the P&O Cruises fleet, the 5,200-capacity,185,000-tonne, 345-m long vessel, features 17 guest decks and becomes the first British cruise ship to be powered by LNG.
At the ceremony, P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said Iona will herald “a new era” in cruise holidays and is a "is a very positive signal for the future of cruising". The vessel was originally slated for debut in April but delivery timings were delayed due to the ongoing pandemic.
The vessel offers many firsts in its list of features including a two-deck SkyDome – a glass dome designed by British engineers Eckersley O’Callaghan with natural light offering guests views of the surrounding sky and sea.
SkyDome is a pool environment by day with dining and entertainment by night, when it will feature specially commissioned aerial acrobatics shows. Other luxury features include an onboard gin distillery and the Oasis spa featuring a range of destination-themed treatments.
Iona will have eight specialty restaurants including some yet-to-be-unveiled concepts, 13 entertainment venues, four swimming pools including an infinity pool at the aft of the ship and 16 whirlpools.
“Iona is now officially part of the P&O Cruises fleet and we are focused on readying it to welcome guests during its new maiden season to northern Europe, Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands from our home port of Southampton," Mr Ludlow said.
"Already eagerly anticipated by our guests, crew and the communities we visit, events this year have increased the sense of anticipation even more.”
P&O Cruises has cancelled all cruises until 2021 as a result of the global pandemic, with a notice on its website saying "We’re extending our pause with all sailings cancelled until early 2021. We are currently forming an approved framework of health protocols in light of COVID-19 and looking at how these may affect your cruise.
Mr Ludlow said “Iona will not be sailing for the moment but we look forward to our guests experiencing this game-changing ship as we will continue to offer unparalleled holidays at sea while also upholding the latest approved travel protocols."
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