New ship Iona ‘a very positive signal’ for cruise industry

P&O Cruises has taken delivery of the largest cruise ship built for the UK market.

Iona weighs 185,000 tonnes, is 345 metres long and has 17 passenger decks.

It has a maximum capacity for 5,200 holidaymakers, before social distancing measures are taken into account.

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Features include a glass dome roof above a dining and entertainment venue, and a gin distillery.

The ship was due launch in May but that was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Passengers will have to wait even longer to experience Iona, as P&O Cruises has suspended its operations until early next year because of travel restrictions.

Iona is the first British liner powered by liquefied natural gas.

Speaking at a handover ceremony at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany, P&O Cruises president Paul 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.”