Last month,P&O Cruises welcomed Iona to its fleet following an official handover ceremony with the Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany.
At 185,000 tonnes, 345m in length with 17 guest decks, Iona is also the first British cruise ship to be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) and is the largest cruise ship ever built for the UK market.
P&O Cruises said it will “set new ground for guest experiences”, with a glass-roofed SkyDome, a gin distillery, new dining and entertainment concepts and wellbeing retreats.
Iona’s maiden season will be to Northern Europe, Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands from our home port of Southampton.
P&O Cruises president, Paul Ludlow, said: “Iona’s delivery is a very positive signal for the future of cruising. She is now officially part of the P&O Cruises fleet and we are focused on readying her to welcome guests during her new maiden season to Northern Europe, Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands from our home port of Southampton.
“Already eagerly anticipated by our guests, crew and the communities we visit, events this year have increased the sense of anticipation even more.
“While our operations are currently paused until early 2021 Iona will not be sailing for the moment but we look forward to our guests experiencing this game-changing ship as we will continue to offer unparalleled holidays at sea while also upholding the latest approved travel protocols.”
P&O Cruises’ operations are currently paused until early 2021; its as-yet-unnamed sister ship will be delivered in December 2022.
The Cruise Lines International Association (Clia) has announced that its members will maintain the ongoing voluntary suspension of cruise operations in the US until December 31, 2020.
Earlier in the week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US health body, changed its ‘no sail’ cruise order to a ‘conditional sailing order’.
But Clia has now said that its members will use the remainder of the year to prepare for the implementation of extensive measures to address Covid-19 safety with the guidance of outside public health experts and the CDC.
The announcement followed a spate of cruise companies – including Norwegian, Carnival and Royal Caribbean – suspending sailings until 2021.
The association issued the following statement on behalf of its members:
As we continue to plan for a gradual and highly-controlled return of cruise operations in the U.S., Clia members are committed to implementing stringent measures to address Covid-19 safety, including 100% testing of passengers and crew, expanded onboard medical capabilities, and trial sailings, among many others. We share a common goal with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to protect public health, which has been affirmed and reaffirmed consistently throughout the industry’s response to the global pandemic. As we work to operationalise a path forward, our members have agreed to extend our existing suspension of U.S. operations through December 31. This action will provide additional time to align the industry’s extensive preparation of health protocols with the implementation requirements under the CDC’s Framework for Conditional Sailing and Initial Phase Covid-19 Testing Requirements for Protection of Crew. We recognise the devastating impact that the pandemic continues to have on the 421,000 Americans whose livelihoods are connected directly to cruise operations. We will work with urgency to advance a responsible return to cruising while maintaining a focus on effective, science-based measures to protect public health.
“The initial phases will consist of testing and additional safeguards for crew members,” the CDC said. It has been reported that initial cruises will not have paying passengers on board, to prove to the authorities that they can be run safely.
“CDC will ensure cruise ship operators have adequate health and safety protections for crew while these cruise ship operators build the laboratory capacity needed to test future passengers. Subsequent phases will include simulated voyages to test cruise ship operators’ ability to mitigate Covid-19 risk, certification for ships that meet specific requirements, and a phased return to cruise ship passenger voyages in a manner that mitigates Covid-19 risk among passengers, crew members, and US communities.
“These phases are subject to change based on public health considerations and cruise ship operators’ demonstrated ability to mitigate Covid-risk. CDC will issue additional orders as needed that will be published in the Federal Register and technical instructions that will be subsequently posted on CDC’s website.”
In the UK, Saga has postponed Spirit of Discovery’s return to service until April 2021, with Spirit of Adventure’s inaugural cruise now rescheduled for May 4, 2021.