The ship completed her sea trials just before the global cruise industry shutdown amid the Coronavirus pandemic, and has been docked in Bremerhaven, Germany awaiting final equipment and provisions.
P&O Cruises plans to move the ship to a Damen dry-dock facility in Rotterdam this week. The short repositioning voyage will also be used as a second set of sea trials, according to the cruise line.
Iona is the latest of a new class of LNG mega cruise ships ordered for several cruise lines within Carnival Corporation. She is a sister ship to AIDAnova and AIDAcosma of AIDA Cruises, and Costa Cruises’ new ship Costa Smerelda.
Another of the Excellence-class cruise ships, Mardi Gras, is under construction for Carnival Cruise Lines. All are being built by the German shipyard Meyer-Werft.
Iona is also the 50th cruise ship to be built by the shipyard, which has seen extensive disruption to its build schedules due to the virus.
The shipyard said some work on Iona was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the yard, along with local officials and the port of Bremerhaven were able to come together to continue to work on the ship under various protective measures.
P&O Iona was originally scheduled to depart on her maiden voyage from Southampton on May 14th to the Norwegian Fjords, but her debut was subsequently cancelled when P&O Cruises cancelled all cruises through July.
P&O has stated that it plans to resume cruise operations on August 1st, but those plans could be further delayed based on regional and global conditions regarding the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic.
Carrying 5,200 passengers, the 180,000-gross ton cruise ship is the largest ever built for the British cruise market. She will feature P&O’s first-ever half-mile “Lanai” deck, an outdoor, covered promenade with al fresco restaurants and bars.
There will be a total of 30 dining options on-board (seven of which are specialty restaurants), with 12 bars, 13 entertainment venues, and three pop-up entertainment spaces.
Up top, she’ll have four swimming pools (three outside and one inside) and 16 whirlpools, as well as the giant dome called SkyDome featuring aerial performances, projections onto the roof and immersive shows.