Because of the advice of the public health authorities about avoiding crowds in order to stem the transmission of Coronavirus (COVID-19), Meyer Werft encouraged people to 'stay home this time.' They were invited to watch Iona's progress via the social media channels of the shipyard.
The LNG-powered ship is scheduled to arrive in Eemshaven Thursday evening (March 19). Iona will then go through technical and nautical tests during the sea trials in North Sea (Baltic Sea).
Iona is P&O UK's newest liner. The vessel has a sistership (still unnamed) of the same design, with scheduled delivery in 2022. PO Iona is the largest newbuild for the Southampton-based subsidiary of Carnival Corporation. Other Excellence-Class liners (Iona's sisterships) are Carnival Mardi Gras (2020), Costa Smeralda (2019), Costa Toscana (2021), AIDAnova (2018), AIDAcosma (2021), AIDAtbn (2023).
In October 2017, P&O Australia announced its plans to replace the company's existing fleet (5 vessels) with newbuilds and also with newer ships transferred from the sister-brand Princess Cruises. The old P&O AU ships will be transferred to Carnival Corporation brands or sold to outside shipping companies.
Iona liner's design was developed in collaboration with renown maritime companies and interior design firms, including Meyer Werft (German shipbuilder), Jestico+Whiles (London-based hospitality design studio), Richmond International (London-based hotel architecture), Partner Ship Design (Hamburg-based maritime architecture specialist with several Carnival Corporation projects - including AIDA, Costa, P&O, Carnival).
For cruise liner's hotel facilities and amenities were contracted the companies Richmond International (London UK), The Four Seasons Moscow, Langham Hotel, and Sandy Lane Hotel (Barbados). Passenger cabins were designed by Partner Ship Design (Hamburg Germany). The ship also introduces the fleet's first "Conservation Mini-Suite" cabin category. The stateroom features a separate, conservatory-style area as a cabin extension. Offering more flexibility, this lounge room is furnished with an L-shaped sofa and can be left open or closed off. The conservatory opens out fully and leads directly onto the suite's balcony. It also can be used for private parties and celebrations with an in-cabin beverage service by a dedicated butler.