P&O Iona Named in Southampton

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The new 5,200-guest P&O Cruises Iona has been officially named in a ceremony with a "record-breaking virtual audience," the cruise line announced in a press release.

The Iona, powered by liquefied natural gas, arrived for the first time into her home port of Southampton on May 16 ahead of her official naming ceremony later in the evening.

The ship was officially named by Dame Irene Hays, chair of Hays Travel, Britain’s largest independent travel agency, in a quayside ceremony by the bow of the ship.

The event, held at sunset, was hosted by Jo Whiley and broadcast to a “virtual” audience of 25,000 guests. The highlight of the show was a rousing set from Iona’s music director Gary Barlow performing two Take That hits “Greatest Day” and “Rule the World” against the backdrop of a spectacular laser show.

A specially produced Nebuchadnezzar (equivalent to 20x 750ml bottles) of Alex James’s Britpop cider smashed against the hull of the ship in spectacular style to bring it a good fortune in the future.

There was also a special performance by The Commonwealth Youth Orchestra and Choir and Mica Paris singing Believe, a song which was composed by Simon Haw MBE and was dedicated to Her Majesty The Queen, head of the Commonwealth, for its 70th anniversary in 2019.

In his speech, P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow referred to the prolonged pause of the cruise industry and highlighted that “It is 427 days since we have been able to do what we do best – welcome our guests onboard and give them unforgettable, joyous holidays where they make memories onboard and see the sights of the world.”

He continued: “With our invited audience and millions more watching the ceremony on social media, today heralds a new beginning and new hope for the cruise industry. Iona is indeed a very visible symbol of our future.”

The Iona has 30 bars and restaurants with many new specialty dining options including tapas from award-winning Spanish chef José Pizarro paired with wines selected by Olly Smith and a new Chef’s Table menu from Marco Pierre White.

Entertainment venues include the first “SkyDome” - an extraordinary glass structure that will be a relaxed poolside environment by day and then transform at night into a spectacular venue with DJs, stage and aerial acrobatic shows.

There will also be the first gin still on a cruise ship, created in association with Salcombe Gin, distilling tailor-made spirit onboard. The gin’s maiden production will take place in the Iona’s custom-made still named “Columba” and will be distilled, bottled and labeled on board.

Iona’s season of UK coastal cruises including her maiden voyage on Aug. 7 up to her namesake island of Iona.

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