Last week, I was really lucky to be invited to a very clever virtual ‘day on board’ P&O Cruises’ exciting new ship, Iona, arriving May 2020. Sadly, there were no phones allowed so I don’t have any pics, but it was a wonderful evening, hosted by the adorable Olly Smith, and I have a ton of information to share with you. Iona is going to be an absolute beauty: the largest ship built for the UK market, holding 5000 guests, accommodated in 7 different cabin types (including the exciting new conservatory cabins – an industry first) across 17 decks, with a breathtaking new glass SkyDome, and a chic, Scandinavian feel. Read on to find out what to expect on board P&O Cruises’ newest ship, Iona.
What’s P&O Cruises Iona like inside?
There’s a definite sense of Scandinavian design on board P&O Cruises’ newest ship, Iona, which is very much in line with it inaugural season spent sailing the Norwegian Fjords. You’ll find natural colours and textures, a connection with nature and the outdoors and Iona will give you plenty of opportunity to gaze out to sea or up into the night sky. The incredible Grand Atrium will offer three decks of uninterrupted panoramic sea views, each with a slightly different feel, but all with that beautiful view. The brand new SkyDome, designed by award-winning British engineers Eckersley O’Callaghan and spanning decks 16 and 17, will create a multifunctional space. In the daytime, this means lazy days by the pool, with multiple casual dining options, ice cream and sun loungers. By night, the mood in the SkyDome changes as it becomes a dazzling entertainment venue, with the swimming pool transforming into a stage, and stunning audio/visual effects, aerial acrobatic shows and, afterwards, dancing under the stars with DJs playing music into the night.
What will the cabins be like on board Iona?
In keeping with the Nordic theme, the range of cabins on board Iona are all designed with a palette of natural colours: whites, sands and neutrals, complemented by accessories and soft furnishings in a nautical theme of blues and golds, with touches like porthole mirrors. The biggest news is the launch of the conservatory mini suite, giving guests the opportunity to stay connected with the sea, even in inclement weather. The extra room can be closed off so that guests can enjoy the extra space and light while still inside, or the bifolding doors can be opened out to connect with the balcony to form a versatile addition to the outside space.
What are the dining options on board?
Marco Pierre White, presenting the dining on board Iona, summed it up by saying ‘there’s just so much choice – sometimes you want to dress up, other times you want to be casual. We remember that it’s your choice, your holiday’. As well as the return of much loved classics like classic pub grub in Brodie’s; modern Indian restaurant, Sindhu; the fine dining Epicurean; and The Glass House (which Olly assured me will the the biggest and best yet, with new wine choices including 40 wines by the glass and more of those delicious, creative small plates, charcuterie and cheeses) there are plenty of new and exciting dining venues on board Iona.
The relaxed feel continues with freedom dining in all the main restaurants, and there’s also The Quays piazza, offering a range of self service and takeaway venues from Asian street food to American classics, with a relaxed, buzzy atmosphere. The brand new Keel and Cow will feature a glass fronted dry ageing fridge to showcase its classic steaks and will offer British Gastropub fare, as well as serving quick breakfasts (a must for those keen to disembark quickly on a port day).
What about bars and entertainment?
Jonny Wilkes was on hand to tell us all about Iona’s entertainment offering (but was tight lipped about whether Astonishing, or even something new, would feature on board). As well as dancing the night away under the gorgeous SkyDome, there are plenty of places to enjoy a tipple (I think I counted 30 food and drink venues altogether). There’s the Limelight Club, Anderson’s Private Club, the Grand Atrium, the Emerald Bar, the Crow’s Nest, the Aft Lounge and of course The Glass House. I loved the idea of the 710 Club, Iona’s best kept secret. With décor reminiscent of a Covent Garden nightspot, the 710 Club is the best place to go for intimate evenings: cocktails, live music from jazz to swing, Rat Pack covers and special guest stars.
If, like us, you’re movie mad, you’re going to adore Ocean Studios: a boutique cinema with comfy seats and four screens showing films throughout the day and evenings – with everything from classics to new blockbuster movies, all with incredible surround sound.
In another first, Olly announced that Iona will feature her very own gin distillery on board, plus a gin bar showcasing a huge range of British gins (as he announced that, we were all served our very own delicious gin and tonic with elderflower syrup – yum).
Where can I sail on board Iona?
Iona will sail the Norwegian Fjords in her inaugural season, summer 2020, the perfect place to make the most of all those panoramic views. Of course there’ll be suitably Scandi excursions too, from fishing, whale watching, walking, biking and skiing to rib boats and ziplines; opportunities to explore glaciers and mountains and the chance to immerse yourself in the life of charming villages and towns and discover traditional food, drink and crafts too. From ziplining in Bergen, to discovering the ‘cradle of the Vikings’, Stavanger, to flying over one Norway’s largest Fjords, the Sognefjord, by helicopter, the excursions sound varied and exciting.
It sounds great – sign me up!
Iona will offer seven day holidays to the Norwegian Fjords from May 2020, each leaving from and returning to Southampton. Iona will go on general sale from September 12th, 2018.