With cruises on pause because of Covid-19, customers will have to wait until 2021 to experience P&O Cruises’ groundbreaking Iona - Britain’s largest cruise ship and first powered by LNG
Passengers looking to experience P&O Cruises’ groundbreaking newest addition to its fleet, 5,200-capacity Iona, will have to wait until 2021.
The UK’s largest cruise ship and first to be powered by LNG, Iona will not make its debut until 2021 due to the current pause in cruise shipping due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A video message by P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow broke the disappointing news to customers, saying P&O Cruises has cancelled all cruises until 2021 as a result of the global pandemic, with all cruises to the Caribbean cancelled up until the end of January; and all cruises from and to Southampton up to February. He says the cruise line was currently forming an approved framework of health protocols in light of Covid-19.
Mr Ludlow says “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.”
At the delivery ceremony in October prior to making the announcement of the cancellations, Mr Ludlow said Iona will herald “a new era” in cruise holidays and “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.
Built by Germany’s Meyer Werft, the 185,000-tonne, 345-m long vessel has 17 guest decks, highlighted by a two-deck SkyDome – a 105-tonne 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 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.
Central to the company’s green cruising concept in its Excellence-class ships, Iona’s diesel-electric propulsion power is supplied by four gensets each driven by 16-cylinder dual-fuel Mak M46DF engines supplied by Caterpillar Motoren, allowing the ship to operate on 100% LNG. The engines are certified to meet IMO Tier II emissions standards in diesel mode and IMO Tier III emissions standards in gas mode. Neptun Werft, Meyer Werft’s sister yard in Rostock, Germany, fabricated the floating engineroom unit, containing the complete engine compartment, the LNG tanks and all the systems.
The initial bunkering of Iona prior to its final outfitting took place in June, with the fuelling operation being undertaken by Gasum’s LNG bunkering vessel Kairos. It was the first ship-to-ship transfer of LNG carried out in the Port of Bremerhaven.
“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 says.
“Already eagerly anticipated by our guests, crew and the communities we visit, events this year have increased the sense of anticipation even more.”
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