P&O Cruises is gearing up for the launch of its new ship Iona, and ahead of the launch in May has given us all a sneak preview…

The spectacular new ship floated out of the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenberg, Germany last Friday (on Valentine’s Day, no less), marking a huge milestone in the vessel’s journey.

The float-out is when the ship first touches the water and in-keeping with maritime tradition is when the ship officially has a name.

With a gross tonnage of 183,900, the ship is the largest ever to enter service for P&O Cruises, and for the British market. It will carry 5,200 passengers and sail around the Norwegian fjords, Spain & Portugal, Canary Islands and the Mediterranean.

Iona is now off to have her shiny new interiors fitted, including the world’s first at-sea gin distillery, a dazzling SkyDome and restaurants by the likes of Jose Pizarro, Marte Marie Forsberg and Kjartan Skjelde.

Following her fit-out, she will make her way along the River Ems to the open ocean, where she will complete her sea trials.

Posting the clip of the gleaming new ship, P&O Cruises tweeted: “Iona on her float-out is giving us all the feels. Who’s feeling the love for Iona? #HolidayLikeNeverBefore.”

Buzzing with excitement, P&O fans were quick to show their appreciation for the ship, with one replying: “what a beautiful ship! congratulations, @pandocruises [sic]”.

Another added: “WHAT A SHIP! congratulations! Looking forward to exploring her and more than likely getting lost on her maiden voyage in little over 12 weeks”.

Gary Barlow P&O Cruises
Gary Barlow is also joining the IonaFest festivities

 

A third joked: “Looks beautiful and even more so when @GaryBarlow is on board.”

With a capacity of 5,200 passengers, Iona will enter the market in May this year, throwing a star-studded naming party in July. Dubbed ‘IonaFest’, the naming ceremony and general celebration will kick off on 4 July, followed by a week-long cruise around the Norwegian fjords.

Taking part in the festivities are British acts Pixie Lott, Clean Bandit, Trevor Nelson MBE, Alex James and Diversity, along with Irish band The Script.

The glittering naming ceremony will include a special performance from P&O Cruises’ new brand ambassador, Gary Barlow. Other entertainment during the cruise will include street-food pop-up bars, silent discos, live screenings and aerial displays in the ship’s SkyDome.

Returning to Southampton on 11 July, the cruise will visit Olden, Innvikfjorden, Nordfjord, Hellesylt, Geiranger, Geirangerfjord, Sunnylvsfjorden, Storfjorden and Bergen.