P&O Cruises has some exciting news today, as its highly anticipated mega-ship Iona has been welcomed into the P&O fleet.

The brand new ship was originally scheduled to join the P&O cruises fleet back in April, but was delayed due to Covid-19.

Finally, after months of waiting, the stunning new ship has been handed over to the cruise line in an official handover ceremony with the Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany on Friday (9 October).

The new ship is the largest ever built for the UK market, at 185,000 tonnes, 345m in length and with 17 passenger decks.

On hand to receive the ship was P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow, who was present at the event in Papenburg and signed the Protocol for Delivery and Acceptance.

Brimming with positivity, Ludlow said: “Iona’s delivery is a very positive signal for the future of cruising.

“She is now officially part of the P&O Cruises fleet and we are focused on readying her to welcome guests during her new maiden season to Northern Europe, Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands from our home port of Southampton.

“Already eagerly anticipated by our guests, crew and the communities we visit, events this year have increased the sense of anticipation even more.

“Whilst our operations are currently paused until early 2021 Iona will not be sailing for the moment but we look forward to our guests experiencing this game-changing ship as we will continue to offer unparalleled holidays at sea whilst also upholding the latest approved travel protocols.”

Iona will carry 5,206 guests in stylish modern surroundings, which includes a unique two-deck SkyDome.

The SkyDome – one of the ship’s new major selling points – will be a tranquil pool area by day filled with natural light, transforming into a dining and entertainment zone by night with aerial shows.

On board, guests will also get to experience the first actual gin distillery at sea, in collaboration with Salcombe Gin, and a fantastic new spa with destination-inspired treatments.

Also on offer, 13 entertainment venues, four swimming pools, one incredible infinity pool overlooking the waves and 16 whirlpools.

Bookings for sailings on Iona are currently open, with guests able to choose from Spain and Portugal, Canary Islands, Northern Europe and the Norwegian Fjords.