A few days after Iona docked out at the Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany, she is seen here during the outfitting stages. The date is the 19th of february, 2020 and the top of the funnel has still to be placed.
After Carnival Corporation took over the P&O Group in 2003, there were many changes to the old English line. Together with Cunard Line, P&O now formed Carnival Plc., the British-based brand for the huge conglomerate. To give them clear boundaries, Cunard started to focus on the classic British heritage, still operating the last sceduled line-voyage across the Atlantic with the Queen Mary 2 and they really started to build out that nostalgia. P&O on the other hand grew mostly in ships and in size, more or less losing their own style and classic background to a more mass-market vibe. The ships grow hugely, from the newly built 87.000-ton Arcadia of 2005, the Ventura and Azura of 110.000-ton and the 2013-built Britannia of 145.000-tons. All of them were not specifically designed for P&O, but were parts of other big classes of ships that were used in multiple Carnival-owned companies. Nothing wrong with that, especially seen from an economic point of view, but the uniqueness of the companies was of course limited through these platforms and especially noticed by a classic line like P&O. With these huge ships, the company attracted a more diverse croud then before, but also alienated itself from the more classic British P&O passengers who started to choose mainly for companies like Fred. Olsen and CMV instead. When also the ships lost their traditional homeports of London, their household livery and the classic Oriana of 1995 was sold to a new Chinese venture in 2019, the P&O passenger really felt neglected. On the other hand, P&O had grown considerably and had the biggest number of berths available since the 1970's. In 2016, Carnival announced another huge behemoth for the line, this time the ship would be well over 180.000-tons and she was to become the largest cruiseship ever to sail for the British market. With environmentfriendiness becoming a larger issue, the ship was to run solely on LNG instead of diesel, propelling the old P&O line forward into the 21st century. Luckily, what was kept was the traditional namingstyle of P&O and this new ship was to be named Iona, after a small rocky island off the coast of Scotland.
The Iona is part of the first class of ships that are totally powered through LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) and were designed for several of Carnival Corporation's fleets. In the 2010's, environmental awareness and the impact that travelling has on our world's climate has put a huge pressure on shippinglines to invent better ways of fuelling and LNG is one of the solutions. Dubbed the 'Helios'-class in the style of AIDA Cruises (Carnival's German stronghold), this new class was an evolution of the 'Hyperion'-class of AIDA Cruises, which consists out of the AIDAprima and AIDAperla. Those ships were fuelled by a combination of LNG and diesel.
In march of 2015, Carnival Corporation announced the building of the four ships in the 'Helios'-class for delivery between 2019 and 2022, of which two were going to be built for AIDA Cruises and two were going to be built for other parts of the company although they not yet announced for which. The contract was signed with Meyer Werft in Germany. In september of 2016, three more ships were ordered, followed by another one in january of 2018 and another one in february 2018. In total, the class will number thus nine ships. The first of those was built for AIDA Cruises named AIDAnova and she entered service in 2019. For Costa Crociere, Costa Smeralda followed in december of the same year and Iona is the thirth unit, planned to be delivered in may of 2020. She then will be followed by Carnival Cruise Line's new Mardi Gras in november of 2020. In 2021, AIDAcosma for AIDA Cruises and Costa Toscana for Costa Cruises will be added, followed by yet still unnamed ships. In 2022 one for Carnival Cruise Lines and one for P&O and the last will be delivered in 2023 for AIDA Cruises. As you can see in this scedule, it was impossible for the Papenburg yard to deliver them all so three yards were used for the construction of the class. The Meyer Werft in Turku, Finland, was going to be where the ships for Costa and Carnival were built and the rest was delivered from the original German yard. The enginerooms were partially constructed at the Neptun Stahlwerk Yards in Rostock, Germany.
Construction and general statistics
Iona was, with her three first sisterships, thus ordered in march of 2015 and at the 25th of april in 2018, the first steel for the ship was cut at the Meyer Werft at Papenburg. The first buildingblock was put into position on the 29th of may in 2019. In between, iat the end of february, the engineroom section that was built at Rostock was brought over to Papenburg also. On the 28th of may, her name was officially announced as Iona, chosen out of a competition in which 30.000 names were submitted. The name was chosen as Britain is an island nation and the P&O line can thrace its roots back to the Scottish islands. The birthplace of one of the companies founders, the Böd of Gremista still overlooks the Lerwick harbour at the Shetland Islands. Iona itself is a very historic place, connected to the calculation of the day of Easter. It was known as a place of learning thanks to a monastry that was founded there in the year 563. Next to that, Iona is an island that small, that from every point on the island you can see the ocean, very fitting name for a new ship.
Although Meyer Werft has the largest buildingshed in the world, they still have their restrictions. Because of the undocking of Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Encore in august of 2019, a 140-meter section for Iona had to be undocked first also, before the rest of the ship was able to be built. The ship finally docked out in total in the night of the 13th to the 14th of february 2020.
In total, Iona was going to measure 183.200 tons and she has space aboard for some 5206 passengers in 2614 cabins on 17 passengerdecks. In total, the ship has 20 decks. Her crewcount is 1762. The ship is 344,50 meters long, 42 meters wide and she has a maximum draft of 8,80 meters. She has been built as yardnumber S.710 and her total buildingcosts were somewhere around 950 million USD. Propelled by ABB Azipods driven by 4 caterpillar engines, the ship is capable of a servicespeed of 17 knots.
Iona is now the biggest cruiseship that was constructed at the Papenburg yards and also the 50th, so time for some celebrations. The first cruiseship the yard had ever built was Home Lines' Homeric in 1986, later known as Westerdam for Holland America Line, Costa Europa for Costa Cruises and Thompson Dream/ Marella Dream for now Marella Cruises. At that time, the ship was still launched sideways as the wharf did not possess the large shed they do now and with that, Homeric was and will probably ever be the largest cruiseship ever to be launched sideways.
The interiours for Iona are designed by Partner Ship Design from Germany, as well as Jestico + Whiles from Clerkenwell and Richmond International from London, both UK firms. Both companies also combined forces with the interiour design of the Britannia. One of the projects by Jestico + Whiles is the central Atrium of the ship, that gives magnificent views through huge picture windows to make the sea the focus for the triple-height space. Centerpiece is an arcing staircase of Italian marble with a polished filigree silver balustrade that curves through the Atrium. Within the atrium are many bars and seats to really create a meetinghub for the passengers. Also in the Atrium, aerial and circus performances will be a part of the package. They also are the masterminds behind P&O's first 'gastro pub' at deck 8, named 'The Keel And Cow', that provides good views over the Atrium itself and of course also over the ocean.
Award-winning wine expert Olly Smith is responsible for the impressive wine list and menu of the speciality restaurant The Glass House and wine will really be the central theme here. The new experience The Cellar Door at The Glass House will offer wine talks, tastings and wine-pairing dinners. For the sweetbites there is Vistas Cafe Bar at deck 6, with a selection of treats by P&O's master patissier Eric Lanlard. The Emerald Bar on the same deck is designed in a very homy, stylish livingroom style, serving premium cocktails.
The cabins of the ships are designed by Richmond International. Within those, again the sea is a main inspiration and colours used are whites, sands and natural hues, with accessories in navyblue and gold. They have a very classic, nautical mood with for example porthole mirrors behind the beds.
Another new feature on Iona is the Sky Dome, a high-roofed pool with even a retractable stage at deck 16 and 17. The also is a large sundeck, the possibility for dining and two large jacuzzi's. In the morning, you can drink your coffee here, in the afternoon it is of course time for a swim and in the evenings, the space will become a true entertainment fascility with stunning aerial performances with audio-visual effects, as well as DJ parties and live music.
In total, Iona has 17 dining venues of which 8 are speciality restaurants, there are 12 bars/ lounges, 4 swimmingpools of which 3 are outdoors, 18 whirlpools, 13 entertainment venues, 22 elevators and 8 self-service laundrettes for passenger use.
At deck 8, the ship still has a true wraparound promenade deck that is also large enough for some outside dining options. very cool also, there are six infinity whirlpools placed right at the sides of the ship for spectacular views over the ocean!