The British cruise line P&O Cruies, part of the Carnival Corporation group, has taken delivery of its first Excel-class LNG-powered mega ship, Iona, at a ceremony at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany.
P&O Cruises took delivery of the largest cruise ship ever built for the UK cruise market at the scaled-down handover ceremony on Friday.
At 185,000 gross tons, 345m in length and carrying 5,200 passengers, Iona is a true behemoth of a cruise ship, a full 40,000-gross tons larger than its next-largest cruise ship Britannia.
To put that in perspective, that’s just a little less than the gross tonnage of SS Oriana, the cruise line’s 1950s ocean liner, or SS Canberra, its 1960s flagship.
All that extra space has been put to good use. Iona features 17 guest decks, eight specialty restaurants, 13 entertainment venues, four swimming pools (including a spectacular infinity pool at the aft of the ship) and 16 whirlpools.
She sets new ground for guest experiences and is the first British cruise ship to be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG, a cleaner, more environmentally-friendly fuel as its contains fewer particles and emissions.
P&O Cruises president, Paul Ludlow, was present at the event in Papenburg and signed the Protocol for Delivery and Acceptance.
“Iona’s delivery is a very positive signal for the future of cruising,” he said. “She is now officially part of the P&O Cruises fleet and we are focused on readying her to welcome guests during her new maiden season to Northern Europe, Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands from our home port of Southampton.”
“Already eagerly anticipated by our guests, crew and the communities we visit, events this year have increased the sense of anticipation even more,” he added. “Whilst our operations are currently paused until early 2021 Iona will not be sailing for the moment but we look forward to our guests experiencing this game-changing ship…”
Iona will herald a new era in cruise holidays for the UK market, with many first of their kind features including the unique two-deck SkyDome, which offers relaxing and unrivalled views of the surrounding sky and sea.
SkyDome is a tranquil pool environment by day with dining and entertainment by night, including stunning specially commissioned aerial entertainment shows under the stars.
Guests can also craft individual gins at the first ever gin distillery at sea or unwind in the Oasis spa featuring a range of destination-themed treatments.