Iona Review and Specifications
Specifications of Iona
|Year built||2020 new ship|
|Builder||Meyer Werft (Papenburg, Germany)|
|Building cost||EUR 700 million (USD 950 million)|
|Owner||Carnival Corporation & PLC|
|Operator||P&O Cruises Australia|
|Speed||23 kn / 43 kph / 26 mph|
|Length (LOA)||337 m / 1106 ft|
|Beam (width)||42 m / 138 ft|
|Gross Tonnage||184700 gt|
|Passengers||5200 - 6600|
|Decks with cabins||11|
|Sister-ships||AIDAnova, Costa Smeralda, Costa Toscana, Carnival Mardi Gras|
Review of Iona
Iona cruise ship is P&O UK's newest liner scheduled for delivery in 2020. The vessel has a sistership (still unnamed) of the same design, with scheduled delivery in 2022. MS Iona is the largest newbuild for the Southampton-based subsidiary of Carnival Corporation. Other Excellence-Class liners (Iona sisterships) are Carnival Mardi Gras (2020), Costa Smeralda (2019), Costa Toscana (2021), AIDAnova (2018).
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. PandO is the world's oldest cruise company, starting passenger shipping operations in 1822 on the routes connecting England with Iberia.
In October 2017, P&O Australia announced its plans to replace company's existing fleet (5 boats) 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 in-cabin beverage service by a dedicated butler.
Ship's deck plan shows as main facilities 17 dining venues (including 9 breakfast-serving, 7 coffee-serving, 5 afternoon tea-serving, 8 speciality restaurants, 4 dining rooms), 12 bars/lounges, 4 swimming pools (3 outdoor, 1 indoor), 18 whirlpools, 13 entertainment venues (including adults-only), kids-dedicated areas, 22 elevators (passenger lifts located forward, midship and aft), 8 laundrettes (self-service laundry rooms for passengers, located midship on decks 4-5-9-10-11-12-14-15). Ship's largest staterooms are the 3-Room Sky Suites.
Cruise itinerary program
Iona ship's itinerary program is based on 7-day Norwegian Fjords cruises roundtrip from homeport Southampton (England), visiting in Norway ports Stavanger, Olden, Hellesylt (or Alesund), Geiranger, Bergen. The inaugural season starts on May 14, 2020 (maiden voyage) and includes only no-fly cruise itineraries roundtrip from the UK. Bookings for the new liner were opened on September 7, 2018.
P&O's Norway Fjords cruise excursions include sea kayaking, river rafting, zip-lining, fishing (crayfish), high-speed boat tours (RIB), helicopter and plane tours.
During 2020-2021 winter season (October through March), the liner offers Southampton-based roundtrips to Iberia (Spain-Portugal), Canary Islands and Northern Europe. Itineraries (7-day and 14-day) include longer port stays (with late-night departures) allowing passengers to sample the local nightlife. The list of 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).
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, PandO debuts a new "food market" 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 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" (PandO's first ever ‘gastro pub) 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 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.
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 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 largest onboard entertainment hub. SkyDome is named the pool deck (16) which is covered with retractable glass roof and consists of a large swimming pool (with retractable stage) and whirlpools, SkyDome also serves a unique live entertainment program with performances and DJ-led deck parties, regardless the weather. During the day, The Dome serves as entertainment, casual dining and relaxation area. The night entertainment includes on-roof media projections, laser shows, aerial acrobatics performances, DJ disco parties. Note: SkyDome actually sits on two decks - deck 16 (swimming pool with food and drink options) and deck 17 (mezzanine level with a bar and outdoor seating).
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 PandO, 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, stand-up comedy, and cabaret performances.
- "The 710 Club" has a stylish cocktail bar (professional mixologists) and offers live acoustic music by top quality performers.
- "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 multi-purpose indoor/outdoor space for families to enjoy afternoon entertainment and play fun games. In the evening, it becomes 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 - venue for weddings and vow renewals.
- Ship's Kids Clubs are on Deck 17. "The Reef" is PandO'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-2 years), 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 high peak season. During low season, the Scene teen club functions as an adults-only entertainment venue.
- P&O Iona ship also has a 0,5 ml (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.
On April 25, 2018, at Meyer Werft Papenburg shipyard was held the steel-cutting ceremony, with which officially started the vessel's construction. Iona is PandO's largest vessel ever constructed - with GT tonnage 180,000 tons and max passenger capacity 6,600. It is also the biggest Australia-based passenger ship (permanently homeported in Australia) and also the AU market's first newbuild powered by LNG (liquefied natural gas). The liner has Wartsila LNG engines that provide electricity for the propulsion system both in ports and the open sea.
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 Cruises fleet to have names ending with "A". The ship name was chosen via an online contest with received over 30,000 submissions.
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 vessel's bow section and has weight 461 tons, length 21,5 m, width 19,4 m, and 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 consists of 340 pieces and weighs 105 tons. For its mounting was used a 750-ton Liebherr LTM1750 crane.
Iona - user reviews and comments
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Other P&O Cruises cruise ships
The below listed Iona cruise prices on itineraries are only indicative and Per Person (in US dollars, based on double occupancy). These are the cheapest P&O Cruises fares on the ship’s lowest category cabins available for booking. Cruise fares typically change with departure dates approaching, last minute deals, discounts, promotions, independent travel agency offers.
|Date||Cruise Name||Departure Port||Price from|
|2020 May 23||7 days, round-trip Norwegian Fjords||Southampton|
|2020 May 30||7 days, round-trip Norwegian Fjords||Southampton|
|2020 Jun 06||7 days, round-trip Norwegian Fjords||Southampton|
|2020 Jun 13||7 days, round-trip Norwegian Fjords||Southampton|
|2020 Jun 20||7 days, round-trip Norwegian Fjords||Southampton|
|2020 Jun 27||7 days, round-trip Norwegian Fjords||Southampton|
|2020 Jul 11||7 days, round-trip Norwegian Fjords||Southampton|
|2020 Jul 18||7 days, round-trip Norwegian Fjords||Southampton|
|2020 Jul 25||7 days, round-trip Norwegian Fjords||Southampton|
|2020 Aug 01||7 days, round-trip Norwegian Fjords||Southampton|
|2020 Aug 08||7 days, round-trip Norwegian Fjords||Southampton|
|2020 Aug 15||7 days, round-trip Norwegian Fjords||Southampton|
|2020 Aug 22||7 days, round-trip Norwegian Fjords||Southampton|
|2020 Aug 29||7 days, round-trip Norwegian Fjords||Southampton|
|2020 Sep 05||7 days, round-trip Norwegian Fjords||Southampton|
|2020 Sep 12||7 days, round-trip Norwegian Fjords||Southampton|
|2020 Sep 19||7 days, round-trip Norwegian Fjords||Southampton|
|2020 Sep 26||14 days, round-trip Spain And Portugal||Southampton|
|2020 Oct 10||14 days, round-trip Canary Islands||Southampton|
|2020 Oct 24||7 days, round-trip Western Europe||Southampton|
|2020 Oct 31||14 days, round-trip Spain And Portugal||Southampton|
|2020 Nov 14||14 days, round-trip Canary Islands||Southampton|
|2020 Nov 28||14 days, round-trip Spain And Portugal||Southampton|
|2020 Dec 12||7 days, round-trip Western Europe||Southampton|
|2020 Dec 19||14 days, round-trip Canary Islands||Southampton|
|2021 Jan 02||14 days, round-trip Spain And Portugal||Southampton|
|2021 Jan 16||14 days, round-trip Canary Islands||Southampton|
|2021 Jan 30||14 days, round-trip Spain And Portugal||Southampton|
|2021 Feb 13||7 days, round-trip Western Europe||Southampton|
|2021 Feb 20||14 days, round-trip Canary Islands||Southampton|
|2021 Mar 06||14 days, round-trip Spain And Portugal||Southampton|
|2021 Mar 20||14 days, round-trip Canary Islands||Southampton|
|2021 Apr 03||7 days, round-trip Western Europe||Southampton|
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