P&O Cruises’ newest ship, Iona, has arrived in Southampton this morning ahead of a virtual naming ceremony later today by travel agent Irene Hays.

The new flagship was due to launch last year but was delayed due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Iona’s maiden voyage will depart Southampton on 7 August, on a seven night UK British Isles costal cruise.

Iona will be the biggest-ever ship purpose built for the UK market and will be joined by an a sister ship Arvia in 2022.

The 5,200-passenger, 180,000-ton ship is one a number of new ships ordered the Carnival Corperation. Iona will be among the most environmentally-friendly cruise ships in the world, powered by liquefied natural gas, ground-breaking for the UK cruise industry and one of the cleanest fuels in the world.  


  • At 185,000 gross tons, Iona is the largest ship built to serve the UK market
  • Guest capacity– 5,200 Crew – 1,800Largest ship ever to fly the UK flag
  • Built at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany
  • More than 30 places to eat and drink
  • Four swimming pools including an infinity pool and 18 whirlpool spas (six infinity whirlpool spas and 12 whirlpool spas)
  • The first gin distillery at sea in partnership with Salcombe Gin
  • Powered by liquefied natural gas – no sulphur/nitrogen emissions & a 20% 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

Captain Wesley Dunlop will lead the team on board Iona. Starting his seafaring career 20 years ago as a cadet and progressing through the ranks, he first joined P&O Cruises as captain of Aurora in 2016, and then as captain of P&O Cruises flagship Britannia in 2017.

P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said “It is a landmark day for both P&O Cruises and for the travel industry as a whole. 

“We are on the cusp of a bright new beginning and Iona’s arrival into Southampton this morning is very visible evidence of this much anticipated future. 

“Our guests are longing to get back to sea and Iona’s summer season of UK coastal cruises, including her maiden voyage on August 7 up to her namesake island of Iona, have seen overwhelming demand.” 

This is the second brand new cruise ship to visit Southampton. MSC’s Virtuosa will set off on its maiden voyage this week, and is also one of the largest ships in its fleet.

By Editor

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