Set to launch in 2020 and pushed back due to the pandemic, the debut of P&O Cruises Iona is one of the most highly anticipated events for seasoned cruisers and new cruise holidaymakers in 2021. Our colleagues were lucky enough to be on-board an exclusive two-night sailing before she began her UK sailings for the 2021 summer season. We take a look at what’s on-board Iona and what you can expect during her maiden season.

Departing from Southampton, passengers are required to produce a negative COVID test result. On arrival at the port our colleagues were guided by stewards to the COVID testing centre, where their vaccination passports and passports were checked. They then proceeded to the drive-through test centre and completed Antigen tests- a nerve-wracking 30 minutes for our team, but all results came back negative and they were able to board!

Initial Impressions
The sense of excitement for P&O Iona’s inaugural season was rife at the port with stilt performers and dancers welcoming guests on-board, giving cruisers the red-carpet treatment with a pressboard for photo opportunities.

Following a warm welcome on-board, we experienced all Iona has to offer on a sneak peek two-night sailing from Southampton. With light and neutral, airy colours throughout the décor coupled with reduced capacity on the sailing and the use of natural light throughout the ship ensures a feeling of openness throughout the ship.

Trainer, Charlotte Hughes:

Embarkation was smooth from having our PCR tests done to being in the cabin was just 1.5 hours. First impressions were that the ship is very light and airy we were welcomed onboard by crew in the main atrium which has a wow factor!

We stayed in balcony cabin rooms near the aft of the ship. The airy and light décor continued into the cabins, giving a bright and open feel to the rooms. The rooms came stocked with all the essentials- kettle, cups and of course- tea and coffee! The bathroom was well-sized and the balconies were spacious.

Customer Service Concierge, Estelle Peachey:
This Balcony cabin was spacious as this was set up to berth 2 passengers, there was twin beds that could be converted into a king size bed. At the other side of the twin beds there was a sofa, which could also be converted into a sofa bed to berth additional guests.

Life on-board
There was an abundance of activity choices available on-board throughout the day, it is advisable to get to your activities of choice as early possible as these cannot be booked and operate on a first come, first served basis. We participated in a themed quiz in Brodies Bar, as well as taking in the acrobatic show which takes place every evening in the Sky Dome.

Specialist Sales Concierge, Claire Taylor:
There was lots going on for entertainment, pub quizzes, DJs on the top decks. We got a list of different things that were happening each day so we could choose what to do which makes the sea days really good. They had a large chess set too and had a small mini water park on board for the children too. Lots of pool area and lower deck space.

The dining experience on board P&O Iona, was pleasant, we visited the main dining rooms, these are named, Opal, Coral and Pearl. The larger main dining area seated up to 800 people.

On arrival to the main dining rooms, there are two lanes into the restaurant, one of these being the virtual queue, and the other for those who have not managed to join the virtual queue. On the first occasion, we were unable to join a virtual queue, however as the restaurant we selected was quite quiet, on our arrival they managed to seat us at a table straight away.

Our Verdict
From the spacious cabins to the attentive service we had a brilliant time on Iona. Whether you’re looking for a 2021 UK sailing or planning a holiday for the whole family, there’s so much to do on-board.

We thoroughly enjoyed our time on-board this beautiful new ship, with the modern, elegant décor and food that is exceptional, we can’t wait to get back on-board!

Mandi Webb

One Response to “ first-look on-board P&O Iona”

  1. Susan White

    Do you need a covid test before arriving at Southampton as well as the test they take at the port. Also can you explain what the virtual queue is and how you join it
    Thank you Susan


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