’ Iona was designed as the largest cruise ship built specifically for the British cruise
market, and as such she offers plenty of space and innovative features, as well as maintaining the quaint British charm that P&O fans love. She can accommodate up to 5,200 guests and has been created in such a way that all guests have a wealth of choice when it comes to things to do and places to eat onboard.
The accommodation too has a lot to offer. On Iona there are seven different options of cabins and suites, each of which boasts comfortable, welcoming décor of warm creams and blue tones, which are complemented by natural furnishings and pretty porthole-style windows. The Conservatory Mini-suite is particularly special, with the option of outdoor seating on a balcony, or equally fabulous sea views from a generous conservatory-style space.
There are 15 different dining venues to try onboard Iona, meaning every mealtime can offer a new experience. Here are a handful of the options you’ll have;
- The Glass House – P&O Cruises’ Food Hero Olly Smith has helped to curate the meal and wine menus on offer in this popular restaurant. Learn about pairing your dish with the perfect wine, or attend tastings and talks here as well.
- The Quay’s Piazza – this casual option is akin to a marketplace, where you’ll find a number of self-service stalls offering international quick cuisine such as New York style pizza and Southeast Asian noodle dishes.
- The Keel & Cow – a cosy gastropub serving unfussy but delicious meals such as a good hearty steak dinner. This venue is great if you want to dine with loved ones in a comfortable and intimate setting.
- Vistas Café & Bar – pop here for a treat during the day, or after dinner to extend your evening just a little. Designed by P&O Food Hero and eminent patissier Eric Lanlard, you’ll find decadent cakes and delicate pastries served with tea and coffee.
Onboard Iona you’ll find various performances occurring in unexpected places and at unexpected times. Spend enough time in the central hub of the ship – the atrium – and you’ll soon find yourself being serenaded by resident musicians, or awed by aerial acrobats.
Another great place to find yourself is the SkyDome. This innovative space is located across decks 16 and 17 and is comprised of a high-roofed pool with retractable stage, with plenty of loungers and dining options nearby. Here, again you’ll find pop-up entertainment, including more incredible aerial shows.
In addition to these spaces, of course you have the theatre which is home to some grand productions, and the Ocean Studios cinema. Here you can order a drink and a box of popcorn and head into one of four screens to watch an exciting new blockbuster, or an old school classic.
For adults looking simply to socialise and enjoy a little tipple, there are a wonderful 10 different bars and lounges to choose from. The 710 Club is especially popular, with a range of live music acts appearing regularly.
Cruisers who enjoy keeping up with a personal fitness regime while on holiday will love the onboard facilities that will help them do so. As well as four swimming pools there is a well-equipped gym and a selection of fitness classes as well.
Additionally, make the most of the chances to enjoy some valuable me-time in the spa, and even indulge in a treatment such as a soothing massage or a rejuvenating facial. There are 16 whirlpools onboard too which can be great to chill out in.
As well as spending time enjoying onboard entertainment or time in the pools, there are plenty of other ways to pass the time at sea. Mini-cruisers will especially love the kids’ clubs onboard, of which there are five in appropriate age groups, each offering some fun activities and educational play.
Iona: The Story Behind the Name
The name itself has great significance for P&O Cruises, as senior vice-president Paul Ludlow explains, ‘it seems very fitting to highlight one of our most notable islands and celebrate the geographic diversity of the UK, especially as we can trace back our roots to the Scottish Isles’.
Not only this, but the significance of the sea to Iona was a big consideration when deciding on the ship’s name. It’s possible to see the vast waters surrounding the island from most locations, and islanders have long depended on it for trade and tourism. Paul remarked that P&O Cruises had a similar outlook when designing the ship, wanting the world’s seas and oceans to always be in primary focus.
Iona's Unique Design
Much attention has been given to ensuring the sea itself is a big focus, to ensure that guests don’t lose sight of the fact that they’re on a cruise holiday exploring the world’s magnificent oceans.
With guest experience at the height of concern, modern technology has also been greatly considered throughout the design of Iona. Much thought has been given to the best ways to make the most of today’s fast-paced technological developments, which has led to the addition of a number of exciting features; one of which is 'The Dome'. This venue is a pool area with retractable stage and roof, which will be used for poolside fun, entertainment, dining, and even aerial performances.
With an eye on environmental responsibility, P&O Cruises have ensured that Iona is designed to have a minimal impact in this respect. Using liquefied natural gas, she will be the cruise line’s most environmentally-friendly ship, giving fewer exhaust emissions than the rest of the fleet.
Who has been involved in the design of P&O's Iona?
To help develop Iona into the ship that P&O Cruises’ visualised, the nation’s favourite cruise line collaborated with some of the most highly-esteemed experts in the world;
Meyer Werft – a German shipbuilding company with ample respect in the industry, they are known for working on luxury ships for Disney Cruise Line, Saga, Celebrity Cruises, and more.
Partner Ship Design – also based in Germany, this company offer expertise in maritime architecture as well as developing the guest experience. Previous clients include Costa Cruises and Carnival Cruises.
Richmond International – this London-based firm are well-known for their interior design and architectural work for leading hotels, including Sandy Lane Hotel in Barbados, and The Four Seasons in Moscow.
Jestico + Whiles – also located in London, this company has been involved in the design of prestigious locations such as the Yas Hotel in Abu Dhabi, and London’s The Shard, Aqua Shard restaurant.