P&O’s Iona to visit Madeira

P&O Cruises’ latest cruise ship named

Iona arrives in Southampton. Picture: Christopher Ison
Iona arrives in Southampton. Picture: Christopher Ison

Thanks to Jaime for a link to a report on the landmark arrival of P&O Cruises’ Iona in the Port of Southampton, which has provided a ray of light in an extremely turbulent period for the industry. She is the largest cruise ship ever built for the UK market. (video below)

The new vessel was welcomed to her home last weekend ahead of the naming ceremony on Sunday evening, which came just hours before the Covid restriction banning on cruising was lifted.

The Iona due in Funchal on October 13th as part of a 14 night Canaries/Spain/Portugal round trip from Southampton which will be her second “foreign” voyage after a summer of 7-day “home waters” cruises.

Many Southampton residents, undeterred by the damp weather last weekend, made their way to the water’s edge to watch the cruise ship make her way up Southampton Water before laying anchor.

She is the first British liner fuelled by liquefied natural gas, which P&O president Paul Ludlow claimed makes it “Britain’s most environmentally-friendly cruise ship”. Vessels of her size are normally powered by diesel engines which emit nitrogen oxides, affecting air quality.

Iona will be used by the operator for its summer season of domestic sailings. The firm suspended operations in March last year due to the outbreak coronavirus pandemic.

At Iona’s naming ceremony yesterday evening, Mr Ludlow said: “It is 427 days since we have been able to do what we do best, welcome our guests onboard and give them unforgettable, joyous holidays, where they make memories on board and see the sights of the world.

“That world as a whole, and the travel industry in particular, has been paused, and it has felt like being suspended in limbo for almost 14 months. But today heralds a new beginning and new hope for the industry. Anticipation of a new ship is always momentous but never more so than here tonight with Iona.”

P&O president Paul Ludlow

The ceremony featured a performance by Take That star Gary Barlow, who is music director of an onboard entertainment venue on the vessel. Dame Irene Hays, the owner of travel agent Hays Travel, is the Iona’s godmother. There is a video of the naming ceremony here.

Facts and figures

  • Tonnage – 185,000
  • Length – 345 metres
  • Breadth – 42 metres
  • Speed – 17 knots
  • Guest capacity – 5,200
  • Crew – 1,800
  • Guest cabins – 2,614
  • Largest ship ever to fly the UK flag
  • Built at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany
  • The largest ship built to serve the UK market
  • More than 30 places to eat and drink
  • Four swimming pools including an infinity pool and 18 whirlpool spas
  • The first gin distillery at sea in partnership with Salcombe Gin
  • Powered by liquefied natural gas – no sulphur/nitrogen emissions and a 20 per cent reduction in carbon
  • 26 suites, 95 conservatory mini-suites, 1,486 balcony cabins, 174 sea view cabins, 811 inside cabins and 22 single occupancy cabins
  • Maiden cruise departing from Southmapton to the Scottish island she was named after on August 7

A new tab has been added to the top of each page with a link to resources dealing with COVID-19 in Madeira – this covers the latest government regulations on travel to the island, how to get a PCR test, and many other links that will be useful to people wanting to travel to and from Madeira

COVID-19 in Madeira: previous daily updates can be found on an earlier post

Vaccinations in Madeira: updates can be found on an earlier post.

3 thoughts on “P&O’s Iona to visit Madeira”

  1. Floating block of flats, doesn’t appeal to me sorry, although fingers crossed we will be in Madeira when she arrives so we will be able to see just how big !

      • Me too, I prefer the smaller ships. But in my opinion this ship is enormous, after all 7000 people on board😱, seems to me much bigger as the Aida cruise ships. Coming down to the harbor sometimes we don’t see the sea because these big ships appear like skyscrapers 🏙


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