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P&O Cruises Iona Overview. What’s it wish to vacation on the most important cruise ship ever constructed for the UK?

The maiden voyage of any new cruise ship is a really big day. You’re among the many first folks on the planet to expertise the ship, meet the employees and use the amenities so I couldn’t have been extra thrilled to have been invited onto the maiden voyage of Iona, P&O Cruises stunning new flagship final month.

Iona was initially scheduled to launch final yr, along with her maiden-trip due to soak up the fantastic thing about the Norwegian Fjords. The pandemic scuppered that plan however as a substitute on this journey, we might be taking in the fantastic thing about the Scottish islands with a cease at Iona’s namesake island within the Hebrides as a substitute. To me, the brand new itinerary and having the prospect to cruise in Scotland appeared a tad extra particular and distinctive which made being part of it appear much more momentous.

Iona is the most important ship within the P&O Cruises fleet and the most important ship ever constructed for the British vacation market. At full capability, she will be able to accommodate 5,200 friends and 1,800 crew and is fuelled by LNG fuel making Iona one of many greenest (and noticeably quietest) ships on the planet.

The maiden voyage departed from Iona’s dwelling port of Southampton and as I headed up the gangway and into the Grand Atrium, I used to be immediately struck by the huge sense of house and lightweight. Iona’s designers have ditched the normal and generally gaudy cruise ship atrium vibe for one thing trendy, minimal, and stylish. Either side of the house is flanked by enormous glass home windows spanning 3 decks which offer an ever-changing outlook.

The atrium is the hub of any ship and on Iona, that’s no completely different. It’s the place you’ll discover a number of the 30 locations to eat and drink. It’s dwelling to The Glass Home, the 710 Membership, the Emerald Bar (a should for lovers of well-made cocktails) and Vista’s espresso bar.

The best way eating works on P&O Cruises is that you’ve got entry to their important eating rooms, buffet and seize and go meals spots as a part of your vacation however must you want to attempt someplace completely different, additionally they provide a number of ‘speciality eating places ‘ that are at a small complement. 

One among these, and my absolute favorite eating venue on Iona is the Keel and Cow. It’s positioned inside the atrium and a few menu highlights embody their dry-aged steaks and the Prime Minister Burger (dubbed by P&O Cruises as the perfect at sea). The standard of the meals is second to none and given the very cheap complement cost, it’s extremely good worth. We opted to share their mighty tomahawk steak which comes with a number of sides and sauces for £30 between 2. Should you’re somebody who doesn’t typically splash out on dinner, then this can be a nice strategy to do it with out the large price.

Iona is a HUGE ship and at first, navigating your manner round can appear slightly daunting. By day 2 I realised that the stream of the assorted areas and venues really labored very effectively, and I had discovered my bearings.

Cruise ship cabins are small by nature, however they’re ingeniously designed to pack loads into the compact house. On Iona, I discovered the trendy, Scandi model of the furnishings and interiors helped create a higher sense of higher house. I used to be in a balcony cabin, and I discovered there to be loads of storage, a full-sized bathe cubicle, an enormous cozy mattress (with a number of the greatest pillows I’ve utilized in a very long time) and a settee space for enjoyable.

Other than the superb food and drinks providing on Iona there’s lots to maintain you entertained each day and night time. On the very prime of the ship is the Skydome, a calming venue with an indoor pool by day that transforms after darkish into an leisure house internet hosting acrobatics exhibits, vocal acts and a mesmerising laser gentle present – all below an enormous glass roof.

One factor particularly that I really like concerning the P&O Cruises model is how they’ve tailored to the ethos of recent cruising while sustaining a lot of the much-loved traditions of a vacation at sea. Black Tie nights, or as they’re now recognized, ‘Celebration Nights’ are simply certainly one of these. On these evenings, the temper on the ship is elevated, friends costume of their finery, and it simply seems like an important day, you possibly can inform that folks get pleasure from having the prospect to decorate up by the beaming faces that you simply see as you discover the assorted decks. It’s not one thing that I’d need to do each night time (usually the night costume code is sensible informal) however having one or 2 every week (on this cruise there was only one), makes it really feel extra of an event.

The Celebration night time can be a good time to go to one of many speciality eating places on the ship. Should you do, I’d suggest the Limelight Membership. It’s a P&O Cruises and is basically a supper membership the place are entertained by a prime performer after your meal. On this cruise, the drag performer La Voix was headlining the venue and it was the new ticket of the cruise, with each night promoting out quick. My prime tip is to guide this venue as quickly as you possibly can to keep away from any disappointment.

A few days into the cruise and we had reached the breathtaking Hebrides Islands. No sooner had we dropped anchor off the coast of Iona when a household of dolphins appeared desirous to test Iona out for themselves – a lot to the delight of myself and the opposite friends who had been fortunate sufficient to have caught a glimpse.

It’s onerous to place into phrases simply how particular that day was, having fun with a panoramic view of magnificence, basked in heat sunshine (a rarity round these elements) while having fun with the infinity swimming pools onboard the ship. Days like that don’t come alongside fairly often and I felt privileged to have been there to expertise it for myself. 

Because the solar went down, I went on to spend my night having fun with the drag present within the Limelight Membership adopted by a efficiency by the unbelievable aerial artists within the Skydome earlier than having fun with a whisky nightcap within the relaxed Crow’s Nest. While sat there, sipping on my Black Label, I believed again about all of the issues that I had skilled on that at some point at sea and don’t suppose there’s wherever else on the planet that you would expertise such selection in simply 16 hours.

When the climate is just not so good in the course of the day, there’s nonetheless lots to maintain you busy, Iona is dwelling to a 4 display cinema at sea which exhibits a number of completely different blockbusters every single day, you would deal with your self to a go to to the spa, participate in a pub quiz, discover a quiet nook to meet up with your guide, guide in for the very tasty ice-cream afternoon tea at Ripples or browse the procuring arcade which incorporates the first-ever Mulberry boutique at sea.

If like me, you want to remain on prime of your health while on vacation, you’ll be glad to listen to that the gymnasium on Iona is among the swankiest I’ve ever seen and is packed stuffed with the most recent coaching tools. Should you favor an instructor-led exercise, additionally they run a number of each day health courses too which you’ll guide for a small charge.

To be sincere, every week is just not almost sufficient time to expertise every part {that a} ship the dimensions of Iona has to supply and there’s at all times a option to be made when it comes to the place you chill out, dine, or are entertained. The great thing about that is that returning friends plus these on an extended cruise can at all times discover a new expertise in addition to re-visiting their favourites.  

Should you just like the sound of Iona, this can be a nice time to guide as P&O Cruises have some unbelievable offers within the subsequent few months together with a 14-night journey on Iona, departing Southampton on October ninth, 2021, priced from £849pp. Contemplating that features lodging, meals in addition to leisure, it’s a steal!

Head over to pocruises.com to guide!

Photos: P&O Cruises

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