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Credit: P&O Cruises

'I’m so proud of Iona': P&O Cruises boss on Gary Barlow shows, what to expect & what's next

Author: Vicky Mayer

Published on:

Updated on:

P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow shares his happiness at the launch of British super ship Iona and explains how to make the most of your time on board.

P&O Cruises celebrated the maiden sailing of Iona this summer - and the cruise ship has plenty to shout about.

World of Cruising spoke to boss Paul Ludlow to find out more.

Why are you so proud of Iona?

Iona is a new type of ship for the UK. The ship sets a precedent for a new type of holiday packed full of exciting firsts – we have Gary Barlow as music director of The 710 Club, Iona is Britain’s most environmentally-friendly cruise ship powered by liquefied natural gas, and we have the first gin distillery at sea.

Our guests will also enjoy more than 30 places to eat and drink. We have collaborated with Spanish chef José Pizarro and Norwegian chef Kjartan Skjelde to create menus inspired by Spain and Norway, the countries Iona will visit.

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What does it feel like to be on board?

I’m delighted that the ideas we saw on our plans for the last couple of years have come to fruition. We’ve achieved our mission of bringing the outside in and have created spectacular areas for viewing the destinations Iona will visit, including our SkyDome with its glass roof and pool and three deck atrium at the heart of the ship.

- READ MORE: From cabins to dining what's onboard Iona? -

What Covid safety measures are in place?

All guests and crew are required to follow enhanced health and wellbeing measures to protect everyone on board. We're operating a 'Hands, Face, Space' system onboard reminding guests of the importance of thorough hand washing, wearing a mask when moving around communal areas and within the theatre and continuing to social distance.

Currently, all guests are double vaccinated and from September 25 this will remain a requirement for all guests over 18 years old. Guests 17 years old and below will need to have completed their vaccination course a minimum of 14 days prior to sailing or will require a negative PCR test within 72 hours prior to travel.

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Iona: The SkyDome with its glass roof and pool is one of the ship's spectacular features. Credit: P&O Cruises

Will you carry on using Gary Barlow and other celebrities as ambassadors for Iona?

There’s so much in store for our partnership with Gary Barlow. He is the music director of Iona’s 710 Club with the venue dedicated to providing the opportunity for up-and-coming musicians to get their break. Soon we’ll be revealing the cruises that Gary will be performing on in 2022 so stay tuned.

- READ MORE: Review of P&O Cruises ship Iona -

She’s a big ship – do you expect P&O Cruises new ships to all to be this size?

Following the arrival of Arvia next year we’ll have seven different sized ships from Aurora welcoming approximately 1,800 guests through to Iona welcoming 5,200 guests. We want variety across our fleet - there’s not a one size fits all approach.

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Iona: "Soon we’ll be revealing the cruises that Gary will be performing on." Credit: P&O Cruises

Why do you think your guests like big ship cruising so much?

Our largest ships offer the opportunity to provide best in class facilities for our guests whether this is the high ropes experience that will be on board Arvia next year or Iona’s four-screen cinema.

- READ MORE: P&O Cruises to return to Caribbean as more cruises added -

What sort of entertainment can we expect to see onboard?

Spectacular aerial shows, the brainchild of Canadian entertainment company Creativiva, up and coming acts in The 710 Club, performances from Gary Barlow, the four-screen Ocean Studios cinema and children's activities are just some of the entertainment guests will find onboard Iona.

Guests on Iona can also watch the premiere season of new show Festival, created and produced by Jonathan Wilkes and creative director Paul Domaine. The show charts the experiences of two groups of friends who meet at a summer festival and features feel-good anthems, stomping wellies, arresting choreography and the latest LED technology.

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Iona: Our largest ships offer the opportunity to provide best in class facilities. Credit: P&O Cruises

Now Iona has been launched, what are your plans for her sister ship Ariva next year?

Arvia will feature Altitude Skywalk a unique high ropes experience, a swim-up bar and a new restaurant Green & Co featuring Mizuhana serving a plant and fish-led menu. We have so much in store for guests on this ship and are really looking forward to revealing more in the coming months.

- READ MORE: The world's largest ocean cruise ships from P&O Cruises to Royal Caribbean -

What’s the best way of making the best of a cruise on Iona?

Guests can come back repeatedly and experience a different holiday every time on Iona as there's so much to see and do. Once onboard using the My Holiday app is an easy way of planning your cruise. Dining and entertainment can be booked from the comfort of a cabin, sun bed or anywhere else from a mobile phone or tablet.