MS Iona is an Excellence-class cruise ship in service for P&O Cruises, a subsidiary of Carnival Corporation & plc. Built by Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany, she was delivered in October 2020, becoming the line's new flagship. At 184,089 GT, the ship is the largest to ever operate for P&O Cruises, and to operate specifically for the British market. She is the first of two identical ships built by Meyer Werft for P&O Cruises, with... Read more
MS Iona is an Excellence-class cruise ship in service for P&O Cruises, a subsidiary of Carnival Corporation & plc. Built by Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany, she was delivered in October 2020, becoming the line's new flagship. At 184,089 GT, the ship is the largest to ever operate for P&O Cruises, and to operate specifically for the British market. She is the first of two identical ships built by Meyer Werft for P&O Cruises, with the second, Arvia, due to enter service in 2022.
Iona has 17 different eateries, including eight restaurants designated as 'select dining', and 12 different bars. She also has 16 whirlpools and 4 swimming pools, one of which is housed under SkyDome, an entertainment venue topped by a 105-ton, 340-pane, 970-square-meter glass dome with a retractable stage for shows. The ship's center also includes a three-deck atrium flanked by triple-deck glass panels projecting outwards.
Iona has 18 total decks, a length of 344.5 metres (1,130 ft), and a beam of 42 metres (138 ft). Maximum power is rated at 61.7 megawatts (82,700 hp). Total propulsion power is rated at 37 megawatts (50,000 hp). Together, the power system gives the vessel a service speed of 17 knots (31 km/h; 20 mph). Iona will have a passenger capacity of 5,206 guests and 1,762 crew. Powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG), Iona is designed to not emit sulphur dioxide emissions and soot particles.
On 6 September 2016, Carnival Corporation announced that it had signed an agreement with Meyer Werft for a 5,200-passenger vessel for P&O, scheduled for a 2020 debut. The vessel, planned to be the largest in P&O's history, at approximately 180,000 GT, would also be powered by LNG, making her the first LNG-powered ship dedicated for the British market. It was later reported that the engine room unit for the LNG tanks for Iona was constructed separately at Meyer Werft's sister yard, Neptun Werft, in Rostock. On 27 October 2016, P&O announced that the public would be invited to name the new ship. On 24 May 2018, it was announced that the name Iona, after the Scottish island of Iona, had been chosen from 30,000 submissions.
On 25 April 2018, construction for the ship began with the steel-cutting ceremony in Papenburg. On 29 May 2019, the ship's keel was laid to mark the official assembly of the hull. At the ceremony, a bronze coin from Iona Abbey and a piece of green marble from Iona was laid under a keel block that measured 21.5 metres (71 ft) long, 19.4 metres (64 ft) wide, and 9.8 metres (32 ft) high, and weighed 461 tonnes (1,016,000 lb). The block was then lowered into the building dock. In August 2019, the 105-ton, 340-pane glass dome set to become the "Skydome" was raised onto the ship. By the end of the month, the bow and midsections were joined together.
Iona was floated out of the dry dock on 14 February 2020. She went through final outfitting in wet dock before her River Ems conveyance to Eemshaven on 18 March 2020 and her sea trials in the North Sea were set to follow shortly after. However, on 20 March 2020, Meyer Werft announced that the ship had been moored in Bremerhaven and all interior work and trials would be halted, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Later, on 26 March 2020, following discussions with Bremerhaven port and medical authorities, Meyer Werft explained that work would resume, but at a reduced pace, given the reduction in crew and resources. On 30 May 2020, Iona departed from Bremerhaven for Rotterdam for a sea trial and entered dry dock at Damen's Rotterdam shipyard on 2 June for continued inspection work. A second round of sea trials was later performed along the Norwegian coast following the dry dock. Originally scheduled for spring 2020, the delivery date was further postponed to June 2020 and August 2020 before Iona was ultimately delivered on 9 October 2020.
Iona was originally scheduled to perform her maiden voyage on 14 May 2020. The nine-night round-trip voyage from Southampton was to sail to the Norwegian fjords, calling in Stavanger, Olden, Hellesylt, Geiranger, and Bergen. The ship was scheduled to be christened on 4 July 2020 in Southampton before inaugurating a week-long celebration on the ship. However, on 23 April 2020, P&O announced that the pandemic forced the suspension of its operations and postponed the ship's debut and inaugural festivities. A year later, Iona was christened by Dame Irene Hays on 16 May 2021 in Southampton at a ceremony led by Gary Barlow and Jo Whiley.
Last week we already talked about P&O Iona, the newest member of the P&O Cruises fleet (you can check the story via this link). This new cruise ship was originally expected to enter service in May 2020 but the momentous event was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. No matter what, P...