It was with great excitement last week when we read P&O Cruises’ announcement that it would be taking delivery of its highly-anticipated new ship, Iona, before the autumn. 

Iona had originally been scheduled to launch in April this year, but sadly was postponed due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

The ship – which will be the largest cruise ship ever built for the UK market with a passenger capacity of 5,206 and crew of 1,800 – is currently under construction at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany, along with her sister ship, which is due to join P&O’s fleet in 2022.

Commenting on the news, P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said: “Whilst our operations as currently paused, we are delighted that we have more clarity on the arrival of these two new ships.

P&O Cruises Iona, cruise ship
P&O’s new ship Iona is set to be delivered this year after all

“The final outfitting of Iona is almost complete and is looking stunning and we will take delivery of her before the autumn. We also now know that her sister ship will join the fleet at the end of 2022.

“Both ships are eagerly anticipated by our guests and we are seeing strong demand for the future. The space on these two ships will allow for extraordinary experiences; visual entertainment displays; new dining concepts and many new areas for relaxation and indulgence.”

Guests booked on Iona’s maiden voyage will no doubt be desperate to know what delights are in store for them, so without further adieu, here are just a few of the things they can look forward to when they do get on board Iona:

She will arguably be P&O Cruises’ most glamorous ship to date.

Some of the world’s leading architects and designers have been brought together to create Iona’s glamorous and sophisticated aesthetic. The Grand Atrium will feature a sleek and modern design that spans three decks. Designed to make the sea the star of the show, floor-to-ceiling glass walls have been installed to maximise the views, while flooding the atrium with natural light. The contemporary design continues throughout the ship’s public spaces and cabins, which range from single-occupancy cabins to luxurious and spacious suites.

The impressive staircase in the Grand Atrium

Guests will get to party under the stars.

One of Iona’s most iconic features is undoubtedly the impressive glass dome, which sits atop the ship and has been designed to provide a unique entertainment venue. Located on decks 16 and 17, the SkyDome offers the perfect place to relax by the pool or enjoy a bite to eat, while at night, the pool transforms with the help of a retractable stage, providing the perfect platform for immersive shows, aerial performances, deck parties and more.

P&O Cruises Iona
The SkyDome will transform from a pool in the day to a stage in the evening

Gary Barlow is heading up the musical entertainment.

Multi-award-winning British singer, songwriter and former Take That lead Gary Barlow will be responsible for Iona’s entertainment in his role as musical director of the ship’s 701 Club. The intimate and stylish late-night venue will feature up-and-coming musicians, along with an eclectic range of performances.

Gary Barlow P&O Cruises
Gary Barlow is the man behind Iona’s musical entertainment

She features the first gin distillery at sea.

The British cruise line has collaborated with award-winning gin distiller, Salcombe Gin, to launch the first distillery at sea on Iona, producing exclusive gins that will be distilled, bottled and labelled on board. Bottoms up.

P&O Cruises: gin distillery
G&T, anyone?

Of course, many of you will also want to know how post-Covid-19 social distancing will affect the on-board experience. While the cruise industry has not yet unveiled the ubiquitous set of health and safety protocols that will be implemented, many cruise lines have revealed some of the changes cruisers can expect to find when they resume services, from screening programmes and social distancing to new dining arrangements and one-way systems in corridors and decks.

For the complete list of health & safety protocols released so far, please read our guide.

for more information on P&O Cruises’ Iona, Please visit pocruises.com/cruise-ships/iona.