Iona current position
Specifications of Iona
|Year built||2021 new ship|
|Flag state||United Kingdom|
|Builder||Meyer Werft (Papenburg, Germany)|
|Building cost||EUR 700 million (USD 950 million)|
|Owner||Carnival Corporation & PLC|
|Operator||P&O Cruises Australia|
|Speed||17 kn / 31 kph / 20 mph|
|Length (LOA)||345 m / 1132 ft|
|Beam (width)||42 m / 138 ft|
|Gross Tonnage||184089 gt|
|Passengers||5206 - 6264|
|Decks with cabins||11|
|Sister-ships||P&O Arvia, AIDAnova, AIDAcosma, AIDA 2023, Costa Smeralda, Costa Toscana, Carnival Mardi Gras, Carnival Celebration|
|Christened by||Irene Lucas-Hays|
|Date||Itinerary||Departure Port||Price from|
|2021 Aug 07||7 days, round-trip British Isles||Southampton|
|2021 Aug 14||7 days, round-trip Southern Short Break||Southampton|
|2021 Aug 21||7 days, round-trip British Isles||Southampton|
|2021 Aug 28||7 days, round-trip Southern Short Break||Southampton|
|2021 Sep 04||7 days, round-trip Southern Short Break||Southampton|
|2021 Sep 11||7 days, round-trip Southern Short Break||Southampton|
|2021 Sep 18||7 days, round-trip Southern Short Break||Southampton|
|2021 Sep 25||14 days, round-trip Spain And Portugal||Southampton|
|2021 Oct 09||14 days, round-trip Canary Islands||Southampton|
|2021 Oct 23||7 days, round-trip Northern Europe||Southampton|
|2021 Oct 30||14 days, round-trip Spain And Portugal||Southampton|
|2021 Nov 13||14 days, round-trip Canary Islands||Southampton|
|2021 Nov 27||14 days, round-trip Spain And Portugal||Southampton|
|2021 Dec 11||7 days, round-trip Northern Europe||Southampton|
|2021 Dec 18||16 days, round-trip Canary Islands||Southampton|
|2022 Jan 03||12 days, round-trip Spain And Portugal||Southampton|
|2022 Jan 15||14 days, round-trip Canary Islands||Southampton|
|2022 Jan 29||14 days, round-trip Spain And Portugal||Southampton|
|2022 Feb 12||7 days, round-trip Northern Europe||Southampton|
|2022 Feb 19||14 days, round-trip Canary Islands||Southampton|
|2022 Mar 05||14 days, round-trip Spain And Portugal||Southampton|
|2022 Mar 19||14 days, round-trip Canary Islands||Southampton|
|2022 Apr 02||7 days, round-trip Northern Europe||Southampton|
|2022 Apr 09||7 days, round-trip Norwegian Fjords||Southampton|
|2022 Apr 16||7 days, round-trip Norwegian Fjords||Southampton|
|2022 Apr 23||7 days, round-trip Norwegian Fjords||Southampton|
|2022 Apr 30||7 days, round-trip Norwegian Fjords||Southampton|
|2022 May 07||7 days, round-trip Norwegian Fjords||Southampton|
|2022 May 14||7 days, round-trip Norwegian Fjords||Southampton|
|2022 May 21||7 days, round-trip Norwegian Fjords||Southampton|
|2022 May 28||7 days, round-trip Norwegian Fjords||Southampton|
|2022 Jun 04||7 days, round-trip Norwegian Fjords||Southampton|
|2022 Jun 11||7 days, round-trip Norwegian Fjords||Southampton|
|2022 Jun 18||7 days, round-trip Norwegian Fjords||Southampton|
|2022 Jun 25||7 days, round-trip Norwegian Fjords||Southampton|
|2022 Jul 02||7 days, round-trip Norwegian Fjords||Southampton|
|2022 Jul 09||7 days, round-trip Norwegian Fjords||Southampton|
|2022 Jul 16||7 days, round-trip Norwegian Fjords||Southampton|
|2022 Jul 23||7 days, round-trip Norwegian Fjords||Southampton|
|2022 Jul 30||7 days, round-trip Norwegian Fjords||Southampton|
|2022 Aug 06||7 days, round-trip Norwegian Fjords||Southampton|
|2022 Aug 13||7 days, round-trip Norwegian Fjords||Southampton|
|2022 Aug 20||7 days, round-trip Norwegian Fjords||Southampton|
|2022 Aug 27||7 days, round-trip Norwegian Fjords||Southampton|
|2022 Sep 03||7 days, round-trip Norwegian Fjords||Southampton|
|2022 Sep 10||7 days, round-trip Norwegian Fjords||Southampton|
|2022 Sep 17||7 days, round-trip Norwegian Fjords||Southampton|
|2022 Sep 24||14 days, round-trip Spain And Portugal||Southampton|
|2022 Oct 08||14 days, round-trip Canary Islands||Southampton|
|2022 Oct 22||7 days, round-trip Western Europe||Southampton|
|2022 Oct 29||14 days, round-trip Spain And Portugal||Southampton|
|2022 Nov 12||14 days, round-trip Canary Islands||Southampton|
|2022 Nov 26||14 days, round-trip Spain And Portugal||Southampton|
|2022 Dec 10||7 days, round-trip Western Europe||Southampton|
|2022 Dec 17||16 days, round-trip Canary Islands||Southampton|
|2023 Jan 02||12 days, round-trip Spain And Portugal||Southampton|
|2023 Jan 14||14 days, round-trip Canary Islands||Southampton|
|2023 Jan 28||14 days, round-trip Spain And Portugal||Southampton|
|2023 Feb 11||7 days, round-trip Western Europe||Southampton|
|2023 Feb 18||14 days, round-trip Canary Islands||Southampton|
|2023 Mar 04||14 days, round-trip Spain And Portugal||Southampton|
|2023 Mar 18||14 days, round-trip Canary Islands||Southampton|
|2023 Apr 01||7 days, round-trip Western Europe||Southampton|
Review of Iona
The 2020-built/2021-inaugurated MS Iona cruise ship is P&O UK's newest liner delivered in October 2020 and planned for inauguration in August 2021. P&O Iona and Arvia ships are currently the largest cruise liners designed and built for the UK source market. Excellence-Class liners (Iona sisterships) include P&O Arvia (2022 December), Carnival Mardi Gras (2021), Carnival Celebration (2022), Costa Smeralda (2019), Costa Toscana (2021), AIDAnova (2018), AIDAcosma (2021), Carnival tbn (2023).
History - construction and ownership
P&O Cruises is a subsidiary company and two brands owned by Carnival Corporation - P&O UK and P&O Australia. In 2000, P&O Cruises became subsidiary of P&O Princess Cruises, which in 2003 merged with Carnival Corporation. P and O is the world's oldest cruise company, starting passenger shipping operations in 1822 on the routes connecting England with Iberia.
P&O Iona and Arvia ships are from the Carnival Corporation's Excellence Class (aka "Helios", and "Carnival XL"). The vessel design was developed in collaboration with renowned 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.
Decks and Cabins
MS Iona has 18 decks (16 passenger-accessible, 11 with cabins), a total of 2610 staterooms for 5204 passengers (lower berths/max capacity is 6264) served by 1762 staff-crew, 17 dining venues (11 restaurants plus 6 food bars, including 9 breakfast-serving, 7 coffee-serving, 5 Afternoon Tea-serving, 8 specialty restaurants, 4 MDR-dining rooms), 12 bars and lounges, 4 swimming pools (1 indoor plus 3 outdoor/2 infinity), 18 outdoor Jacuzzis (large whirlpool hot tubs), 13 entertainment venues (including adults-only), kids-dedicated zones (indoor-outdoor facilities and sundecks/playgrounds), 22 elevators (passenger lifts located forward-midship-aft).
The boat has 8 laundrettes (self-service laundry rooms for passengers). The largest passenger accommodations are the 2-Room Sky Suites (400 ft2 / 37 m2 plus 110 ft2 / 11 m2 terrace/step-out balcony). Staterooms include 121 Suites, 1496 Balcony, 174 Oceanviews/Seaviews, 819 Interior. P&O Iona has a total of 32 studios (single-occupancy cabins) and 55 wheelchair-accessible/handicap cabins (for disabled passengers). Most cabins are sized between 135-170 ft2 (13-16 m2). Excepting the Suites, all cabin balconies are very small - sized just 20 ft2 (2 m2).
Shipboard dining options - Food and Drinks
With a choice of 30 venues, many of which open from early morning until late at night, guests enjoy the widest ever selection of spots to eat and drink onboard a ship built exclusively for the British cruise market. The new venues join P&O Cruises favorites, such as The Glass House, Epicurean, Sindhu and Brodie’s among a long list of cafes, bars, self-service choices, and restaurants. Not traditionally for P&O Cruises, Iona offers exclusively "Freedom Dining" (aka "Flexible Dining") in all main restaurants. The policy allows passengers to choose where, when and with whom they prefer to eat.
On Iona ship, P&O debuted the "food market" dining concept. "The Quays" piazza (Deck 8) has a great number of takeaway and self-service food bars. The Quays restaurants and eateries offer international food, including American diner classics, Asian street food, Mediterranean sharing platters, fish & chips, Italian gelato, plus the new "Olive Grove", "Hook Line and Vinegar", "Boardwalk Diner", "Fusion".
- "The Olive Grove" is an intimate restaurant serving lunch and dinner, with a menu focusing on traditional Mediterranean dishes and sharing platters.
- "Hook Line and Vinegar" is a self-service, all-day restaurant for traditional British seafood specialties - battered fish, fish burgers, scampi, calamari, crab cakes.
- "The Boardwalk Diner" is self-service, all-day food bar for classic American cuisine, which menu includes burgers, hot dogs, fried chicken, eggs over easy,
- "Fusion" is a takeaway, all-day Asian food bar.
- The cruise liner has four Main Dining Rooms (MDRs) named Aqua, Coral, Opal, Pearl. Located on decks 6-7, all main restaurants offer "Freedom Dining" (open-seating) breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea service, and dinner. Gala Nights (formal dinner events) are also hosted there, with a special dinner menu by celebrity chef Marco Pierre White. The largest MDRs (Pearl and Coral) are located aft on decks 6-7 and interconnected, to make one large 2-level restaurant.
- "Horizon Restaurant" (Pool Deck 16) is the ship's Lido Buffet with all-day self-service. The Lido restaurant is casual (as dress code), with flexible dining and a wide range of dishes - from traditional British to world foods. It also caters to various dietary needs, including gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian and healthy food options.
- "The Beach House" is an informal Select Dining venue which in the evenings comprises Horizon buffet's forward section. The menu is inspired by British, American and Caribbean cuisines, offering steaks, grills, ribs, hanging kebabs, burgers, sharable sides, gourmet desserts.
- "The Limelight Club" (Deck 6) combines gourmet food with top-quality entertainment, exclusively for adults. The lounge offers live performances by popular guest entertainers, as well as by ship's resident performers, accompanied by Iona cruise ship's own music band. Here are also hosted daily dancing classes and music events. The club lounge is served by its own full-service Bar. After the evening show, Limelight Club transforms into Disco Nightclub.
- Deck 6 (Grand Atrium area) houses "The Vistas Cafe Bar" (patisserie with a menu by Eric Lanlard), "Emerald Bar" (living-room-like premium cocktail bar), live pop-up entertainment in mid-morning (musical performances, buskers) and early evening starting aerial acrobatics (circus performances).
- "The Glass House" (Deck 7, Atrium area) is via a partnership with Olly Smith. Premium wines are served here by the glass. The Cellar Door at the Glass House offers tastings, wine talks, and wine-pairing dinners. Passengers can relax and watch aerial and circus performances in the unique 3-story high space.
- The all-day open "The Keel and Cow" (P&O's first-ever gastropub) is on Deck 8, overlooking the Atrium and also with ocean views. The menu has traditional favorites, sharing platters, aged steaks.
- "Andersons" (gin bar lounge on Deck 6) doubles as Library/relaxation lounge. In the evening, Andersons serves with alcoholic drinks the nearby MDR restaurants. Lounge's focal point is the Marabelle Gin distillery (via partnership with Salcombe Distilling Co Ltd), gin tastings, and workshops (master classes).
- "Brodie’s and Casino" (Deck 7) is a classic British pub bar with ship's largest selections of UK and international bottled beers, ales and ciders, drafts (draught beers), extensive wine menu, traditional British pub snacks (pork scratchings, crisps, peanuts). During the day, the pub offers live sporting, bingo, quizzes. By night, here are offered live entertainment, quiz games, game shows, karaoke. The adjacent Casino features the latest gaming technologies and various gambling games, for novices and experts alike.
- "The Sunset Bar" (Deck 8, Promenade's aft) provides easy access to The Club House. By day, it provides canopies (shaded seating) to relax with a drink and enjoy the sea views.
- "The Gelateria" (Atrium's top-level on Deck 8, at the entrance to The Quays) provides access to Promenade Deck. here are offered scoops of Italian gelato ice-cream, premium teas, and coffees.
- "Sundaes" (Deck 16, in the SkyDome) offers complimentary ice creams.
- "Eric Lanlard’s Afternoon Tea" (Deck 17) is the ship's classic British tea bar.
- "Beachcomber Bar" (Deck 18) serves with beverages the Beachcomber swimming pool and offers plenty of sunbathing space and shaded seating.
- "Crystal Bar" and "Laguna Bar" (Deck 16, in the SkyDome) are outdoor poolside bars offering non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks. Fun activities here include the traditional sail-away deck parties.
- "Sindhu" restaurant (Deck 8) offers authentic Indian food.
- "SkyDome Pizzeria and Grill" (Deck 16) offers complimentary fresh oven-baked pizzas by the slice, as well as grilled food (top-quality burgers, classic fish and chips), worldwide street foods.
- "The Crow’s Nest" (Deck 17) is an observation lounge with floor-ceiling windows and comfortable seating, In the evenings it transforms into a cocktail lounge with live grand piano performances.
- "The Epicurean" restaurant (Deck 17, adjacent to Crow’s Nest) is a specialty / fine dining venue with Select Dining, impeccable service, top-quality dining amenities, gourmet food, and premium wine list. Dishes are prepared with freshest and finest local produce. A private dining area and "Chef’s Table" (capacity 8 guests) provide options for private parties and special celebrations.
Through the partnership with Salcombe Distilling, P&O Iona ship guests can purchase and even create their own Marabelle Gin (42% ABV/alcohol by volume). The exclusively created for P&O Cruises alcohol is produced on the Iona ship only. For the unique gin recipe are used 18 herbs - including Iona Island's heather (calluna vulgaris), mint, citrus, blackberry, green apple, rose petals, kelp (seaweed). Since MS Iona's inauguration, Marabelle Gin (trademarked brand) is also available fleetwide - served across P&O UK's fleet. The produced on the cruise ship gin is bottled and labelled, with bottles available for purchase.
Via partnership with three celebrity chefs (Marte Marie Forsberg, Jose Pizarro, Kjartan Skjelde), P&O UK upgraded Iona ship's dining to offer fleet's most diverse culinary experience. Chef Forsberg designed the menu of "Taste 360" (street-food-style dining) and MDR's (dining room's) Norwegian-inspired dishes. On itineraries to Iberia (Portugal, Spain) and the Canaries, tapas dishes-based menus are specially created by Chef Pizarro for the restaurants "The Glass House" and "Taste 360". On Norwegian Fjords itineraries, the menus are upgraded by chefs Skjelde and Forsberg. Skjelde developed a special 6-course Norwegian food tasting menu for "The Epicurean" restaurant.
Shipboard entertainment options - Fun and Sport
SkyDome is one of the cruise liner's signature attractions and the largest onboard entertainment hub. SkyDome is named the pool deck which is covered with a retractable glass roof and consists of a large swimming pool (with retractable stage) and Jacuzzis (whirlpool hot tubs), SkyDome also serves a unique live entertainment program with performances and DJ-led deck parties, regardless the weather. During the day, SkyDome serves resort-style leisure activities and offers entertainment and casual dining. The night entertainment includes on-roof media projections, laser shows, aerial acrobatics performances, DJ disco parties, theatrical productions, movies (on a large LED screen).
Note: SkyDome actually sits on two decks - Deck 16 (midship resort-style swimming pool with food and drink options, aft-located Infinity Pool/resistance swimming pool with stern views and Infinity Bar) and Deck 17 (mezzanine level with a bar and outdoor seating). A second Infinity Pool is located aft on Deck 18.
On March 6, 2020, P&O announced three aerial acrobatic shows (designed specifically for MS Iona) - Rise (birds-themed), Triboo (battle between two tribes - of the Moon and of the Sun) and Dream (magic-themed). Rise and Triboo are performed at the SkyDome, while Dream is at the Atrium. Two new aerial shows (Virtuosi, Spark) are scheduled for Iona's inaugural season 2021.
The 3-deck high Grand Atrium is located midship and has an open-floor design. All Atrium levels have natural light and offer floor-ceiling sea views. Iona's Grand Atrium is a new concept for P&O, created by architecture and interior design practice Jestico+Whiles, the creators of The Yas Hotel (Abu Dhabi), W Hotel (London) and Aqua Shard (restaurant in the Shard). Grand Atrium is the ship's key entertainment space that hosts from morning coffee to evening drinks.
- "Headliners Theatre" (decks 6-7) is the ship's main show lounge for grand-style music and dance productions in the evenings. The theater has comfortable plush seating and the latest LED and sound technologies. The 2-deck-high auditorium during the day serves as a complimentary Cinema and also offers matinee performances and fun activities (Q&As, port talks, lectures). In the evenings, full-scale productions offer West End-style shows (including "Festival"), stand-up comedy, and cabaret performances.
- "The 710 Club" has a stylish cocktail bar (professional mixologists) and music bar offering live acoustic performances by top-quality artists.
- "Ocean Studios" is a boutique cinema with comfortable seating and 4 screens running throughout the day classic movies and recent blockbusters. The Cinema is fitted with the latest surround sound technology.
- "The Club House" (Deck 8) is a multi-purpose indoor/outdoor space for families to enjoy afternoon entertainment and play fun games. In the evening, it becomes a late-night "music hall" for dancing and live performances by the Iona ship’s band (named "Pulse").
- "The Ivory Suite" (Deck 17, adjacent to Crow’s Nest and Epicurean) is the ship's chapel - a venue dedicated for weddings and vow renewals at sea.
- Ship's Kids Clubs are on Deck 17. "The Reef" is P&O's complimentary onboard program for children, served by a crew of qualified Reef rangers and offering age-specific activity entertainment. The program is divided into Nursery (toddlers 6-months to 2-years-old), Splashers (ages 2-4 years), Surfers (ages 5-8 years) and Scubas (ages 9-12). A secure outdoor playground area and splash pool park are available for all age groups. Parents benefit from the company's complimentary "Night Nursery" (for kids ages 6 months to 4 years, opening hours between 6 pm through 2 am each night).
- "Scene" (Deck 6) is the ship's teen club - hang-out lounge for teenagers 13-17 yo, separated from the kids' club. It operates only during the high-peak season. During low season, the Scene teen club functions as an adults-only entertainment venue.
- Oasis Spa & Health Club (2-level wellness complex forward on decks 5-6) has a Thalassotherapy Pool, Cool Therapy Room, Salt Sauna, Steam Rooms, Treatment Rooms, Beauty Salon, Spa Shop, Oasis Villa (spa lounge), 2x Thermal Suites for couples (each with Steam Room and Hammam Room/Turkish bath). New (Arvia ship exclusive) treatments including Kneipp Walk (pebble foot massage combined with hot-and-cold water treatments).
PO Iona ship also has a 0,5-mi (800-m) long outdoor Promenade Deck (named "Lanai Deck"). It is much wider than the industry's standard and lined up with open-air bars and casual al-fresco dining venues.
P&O Iona ship's itinerary program was originally planned to be based on 7-day Baltic (Northern Europe and Norwegian Fjords) cruises roundtrip from homeport Southampton (England) and visiting in Norway ports Stavanger, Olden, Hellesylt (or Alesund), Geiranger, Bergen. P&O's Norway Fjords cruise excursions offer experiences like sea kayaking, river rafting, zip-lining, fishing (crayfish), high-speed boat tours (RIB), helicopter and plane tours.
MS Iona's inaugural season was planned to start on May 14, 2020 (Maiden Voyage) with only no-fly cruise itineraries roundtrip from the UK (Southampton). Bookings for the new liner were opened on September 7, 2018. However, due to the ongoing Coronavirus-related travel restrictions, in mid-September 2020 P&O UK cancelled all scheduled voyages (fleetwide) through early-February 2021 (Caribbean fly-cruises) and through mid-March 2021 (ex-UK cruises). As for the cancelled 2020-2021 winter season (October through March), the liner was rescheduled (2021) with Southampton roundtrips to Iberia (Spain-Portugal), Canary Islands and Northern Europe.
In February 2021 P&O UK cancelled more summer departures. In early-March were announced major itinerary program changes with only Britain Coastal mini-cruises and 7-day roundtrips from Southampton. MS Iona's Inaugural Cruise was rescheduled for September 25 (14-day to Iberia/"Spain And Portugal"). The new ship's entire Norwegian Fjords 2021 program was cancelled.
Iona ship's Maiden Voyage was eventually rescheduled for August 7, 2021 (7-night "British Isles"/Cruise to Nowhere itinerary roundtrip from Southampton, booking code G126N) and priced from GBP 950 per person (~EUR 1100 pp / ~USD 1320 pp). The portless itinerary featured scenic cruising along Cornwall's coast, anchoring off Isle of Iona (for a fireworks show on the island), three days of Scottish coastal cruising - the islands Colonsay, Mull (Lochbuie, Duart Castle, Tobermory), Bac Mor, Staffa (Fingal’s Cave), Jura, Islay (Claggain Bay), Kintyre Peninsula (Mull of Kintyre), Sanda Island.
Iona's cruise itineraries are 7-day and 14-day in length and include extended port stays (with late-night departures) that allow travellers to sample the local nightlife. The list of visited countries and call ports include Portugal (Lisbon, Funchal-Madeira), Spain (Cadiz, Alicante, Barcelona, Malaga, Valencia, Vigo), Gibraltar, Canaries (Fuerteventura, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote), Holland (Rotterdam-Amsterdam), Belgium (Zeebrugge), Germany (Hamburg).
Iona - user reviews and comments
Photos of IonaAdd Photo
Iona ship related cruise news
- Cruise Industry
A spectacular fireworks display, from the vessel’s namesake island (Isle of Iona Scotland), is to be the pinnacle of the entertainment...July 7, 2021
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P&O Cruises UK announced its expected deployment and phased restart plan for the remainder of the year and into early 2022. MS Britannia will...June 23, 2021
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P&O Cruises UK is offering FCC (future cruise credit) or cash refund to customers booked on early summer 2021 sailings on MS Britannia to try to...June 22, 2021
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Dame Irene Hays (owner of Hays Travel Group) officially named P&O UK's newest cruise ship Iona in an official ceremony in ...May 17, 2021
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ABP Southampton announced plans to install a second shore-to-ship power connection at Port Southampton England, continuing to support sustainable...May 16, 2021
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Dame Irene Hays, chairwoman and owner of Hays Travel Group, will name P&O UK's newest cruise ship Iona in an official ceremony in Southampton UK...April 27, 2021
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P&O Cruises UK announced it will restart domestic holidays this summer, but only for residents of the United Kingdom who have been fully...March 18, 2021
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P&O Cruises UK announced its newest liner Arvia will boast an ‘Altitude Skywalk’ high ropes experience, a restaurant serving plant...March 10, 2021
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P&O UK announced it is cancelling all international itineraries on 4 cruise ships (Aurora, Arcadia, Azura, Ventura) through the end of August...March 3, 2021
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With the steel cutting ceremony at MEYER WERFT (shipyard in Papenburg Germany) started construction works on the P&O Cruises UK's newest ship...February 23, 2021
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Other P&O UK cruise ships
On April 25, 2018, at Meyer Werft's Papenburg Shipyard was held the steel-cutting ceremony (hull S-715), which officially started the vessel's construction (Meyer Werft's 50th cruise liner). On February 22, 2021, started the construction of the sistership Arvia (2022).
In January 2018, the shipbuilder contracted ALMACO Group (1998-founded, Finland-based company) to provide catering solutions for the newbuild. The deal included turnkey deliveries and installation of cold- and freezer rooms (total area ~1900 m2 / 20450 ft2).
Arvia and Iona are P&O UK's largest vessels ever constructed - with GT tonnage 180,000 tons and max passenger capacity 6600 (plus 1800 crew). They are also the biggest UK-based passenger ships (permanently homeported in Southampton England) and the UK cruise market's first LNG-powered newbuild (followed by Arvia). These liners have Wartsila LNG engines that provide electricity for the propulsion system both in ports and at sea.
Like most large-sized newbuilds, the P&O ship Iona is LNG-powered, with 4x Wartsila LNG engines generating combined output 57,2 MW (76706 HP). The propulsion system is based on two Azimuting thrusters with combined power output 37 MW (49618 HP). The vessel has 3x LNG tanks (cryogenic steel) with total capacity ~3200 m3. Two of the tanks are larger (length 35 m / 115 ft, diameter 8 m / 26 ft, gas capacity 1525 m3), while the 3rd tank has length 28 m (92 ft), diameter 5 m (16 ft), and gas capacity 520 m3.
P&O Cruises revealed the "Iona" name for the new build on May 24, 2018, naming it after Iona Island (Inner Hebrides) located off Scotland's coast. The name also keeps the tradition all boats in the P&O UK fleet to have names ending with "A". The ship name was chosen via an online contest with received over 30,000 submissions.
The vessel's keel-laying ceremony was held on June 14, 2019. During this traditional event, under the keel (first hull block, where the bow thrusters are mounted) was placed a bronze coin (from Isle of Iona's Abbey) and a slice of green marble (also from the island). Then a 600-ton gantry crane lowered the steel block. This block (#18) is part of the bow section and has weight 461 tons, length 21,5 m, width 19,4 m, height 9,8 m. The "coin ceremony" was attended by Paul Ludlow (P&O Cruises UK's President), Stephan Schmees (Meyer Werft's Executive Board Member / Project Management) and Jurgen Storz (Meyer Werft's Project Leader). Like on all new passenger liners, Iona's construction blocks (hull and superstructure) are pre-fabricated then floated out to the shipyard for assembling.
On August 2 (2019) the vessel received its iconic SkyDome. The 970-m2 (10440-ft2) glass roof cover consists of 340 pieces and weighs 105 tons. For its mounting was used a 750-ton mobile crane (Liebherr LTM1750-9.1).
The vessel was launched (floated out from drydock) on February 14, 2020. Its Ems River conveyance (Papenburg Shipyard to Eemshaven) was conducted on March 18-19. Followed the sea trials in the North Sea (Baltic Sea) for testing the vessel's machinery and nautical equipment.
MS Iona was officially delivered to P&O UK on October 9, 2020, in Papenburg. The documents were signed by Paul Ludlow (P&O's President) and Jan Meyer (Meyer Werft's Managing Director).
MS Iona is UK-flagged (MMSI 232025845). Next is the P&O UK's timelapse video of the cruise ship's construction.
In late-April 2021 P&O UK announced the name of MS Iona's godmother - Dame Irene Lucas-Hays (1954-born British businesswoman). "Dame" (a title equivalent to lady) signifies that she was DBE-rewarded ("Most Excellent Order of the British Empire"/order of chivalry/knighthood). Irene Lucas is the current Owner and Chairwoman of Hays Travel Ltd (1980-founded by John Hays, Sunderland England-based travel agency group) - the UK's largest independent travel agent with ~1500 employees and ~GBP 1 billion in annual sales.
- In October 2019, Hays Travel Ltd purchased all Thomas Cook Group's stores in the UK, which were to be closed after Thomas Cook entered liquidation in September. With this deal, Hays Travel took over Thomas Cook's 550 retail stores, almost trebling the number of its existing shops across the UK and doubling its workforce.
- In September 2020, Hays Travel Ltd acquired Tailor Made Travel (Wales-based travel agency chain).
The boat's christening ceremony was on May 16th, held in Port Southampton. The pier-side event was led by Jo Whiley (Joanne Whiley-Morton/1965-born DJ and TV presenter). It was broadcasted live and included a short performance by Gary Barlow (1971-born English singer, songwriter, actor, TV personality). Traditionally, to bring the ship good fortune, Dame Irene Hays smashed against the hull a large bottle of Alex James Blur (cask-strength apple and pear cider/distilled spirit).
For the Maiden Voyage (August 7, 2021), P&O planned several special events, including a fireworks show (from Isle of Iona) and onboard entertainment featuring live performances by Tony Hadley, aerial shows (designed by Creativiva Inc, Canada), cooking masterclass (by celebrity chefs Marco Pierre White and Olly Smith, also creating a unique Chef’s Table menu), special dining menus (smoked salmon, regional cheeses, Cranachan/Scottish dessert with whisky).
Ship christening cruise "Ionafest 2020" (CANCELLED)
The vessel's naming ceremony was initially scheduled for July 4, 2020 (Southampton) and planned as part of the themed "Ionafest cruise" (itinerary July 4-11) starting with the pierside naming event. Prices for the special voyage started from GBP 1300 pp (double-occupancy Inside cabin rates). However, due to the Coronavirus crisis, this special voyage was cancelled.
- Ionafest was based on numerous pre-scheduled onboard events (taking place simultaneously and at different locations/venues) including live performances (music and entertainment) and street festival-like celebrations - all on a first-come-first-served basis.
- The Southampton-roundtrip itinerary (Norwegian Fjords) was planned to visit Olden, scenic cruising (Innvikfjorden, Nordfjord), Hellesylt, Geiranger, scenic cruising (Geirangerfjord, Sunnylvsfjorden, Storfjorden) and Bergen.
- Among the confirmed British performers acting live on the liner during the Ionafest Cruise were Clean Bandit (electronic music band), MBE (Trevor Ricardo Nelson / DJ), Jo Whiley (Johanne Morton Whiley / radio DJ and TV presenter), Chris Ramsey (stand-up comedian and actor), Sara Cox (Sara Joanne Cyzer, DJ, radio broadcaster and model), Alex James (Steven Alexander James, DJ, musician and songwriter).
In February 2021 P&O UK cancelled more summer departures. In early-March 2021 were announced major itinerary program changes with only Britain coastal mini-cruises and 7-day roundtrips from Southampton. MS Iona's Inaugural Cruise was rescheduled for September 25 (14-day to Iberia/"Spain And Portugal").
The new ship's entire Norwegian Fjords 2021 program was cancelled.
7-day "Norwegian Fjords" itinerary 1
|Days / Time||Port|
|Day1 18:00||Departing from Southampton, England|
|Day3 09:00 - 17:00||Stavanger, Norway|
|Day4 09:00 - 18:00||Olden, Norway|
|Day5 08:00 - 18:00||Alesund, Norway|
|Day6 09:00 - 17:00||Haugesund, Norway|
|Day8 07:00||Arriving in Southampton, England|
7-day "Norwegian Fjords" itinerary 2
|Days / Time||Port|
|Day1 18:00||Departing from Southampton|
|Day3 09:00 - 17:00||Stavanger|
|Day4 09:00 - 18:00||Olden|
|Day5 06:30 - 07:15||Hellesylt|
|Day5 09:00 - 17:00||Geiranger|
|Day6 09:00 - 17:00||Haugesund|
|Day8 07:00||Arriving in Southampton|
Inaugural cruise itineraries 2020-2021 (CANCELLED)
MS Iona's inaugural season was planned to start on May 14, 2020 (maiden voyage) and included only no-fly cruise itineraries roundtrip from the UK. Bookings for the new liner were opened on September 7, 2018.
However, due to the ongoing Coronavirus-related travel restrictions, in mid-September 2020 P&O UK cancelled all scheduled voyages (fleetwide) through early-February 2021 (Caribbean fly-cruises) and through mid-March 2021 (ex-UK cruises). As for the cancelled 2020-2021 winter season (October through March), the liner was rescheduled (2021) with Southampton roundtrips to Iberia (Spain-Portugal), Canary Islands and Northern Europe.
P&O Iona's maiden voyage was rescheduled first for October 24, 2020 (7-night Western Europe), later for March 6, 2021 (14-night "Spain and Portugal"), April 24 (7-night Norwegian Fjords), and finally for August 7 (7-night "British Isles"/Cruise to Nowhere).
Next tables show the ship's inaugural voyages by destination. All itineraries are roundtrips from homeport Southampton England.
(CANCELLED MAIDEN VOYAGE 2020) 7-day "Inaugural Cruise" (Western Europe itinerary)
|Date / Time||Port|
|24 Oct 18:00||Departing from Southampton|
|26 Oct 07:00 - 23:00||Hamburg, Germany|
|28 Oct 08:00 - 29 Oct 19:00||Rotterdam, Holland|
|30 Oct 07:00 - 17:00||Zeebrugge, Belgium|
|31 Oct 06:00||Arriving in Southampton|
(CANCELLED MAIDEN VOYAGE 2021) 7-night "Norwegian Fjords" itinerary (booking code G111) - from GBP 700 pp
|Date / Time||Port|
|24 Apr 18:00||Departing from Southampton|
|26 Apr 09:00 - 17:00||Stavanger, Norway|
|27 Apr 09:00 - 18:00||Olden, Norway|
|28 Apr 08:30 - 18:30||Haugesund, Norway|
|29 Apr 09:00 - 19:00||Kristiansand, Norway|
|01 May 07:00||Arriving in Southampton|
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