Archive for the ‘P&O’ Category

Iona’s Maiden Cruise Almost Sold Out

September 12, 2018

Iona’s stylish inside cabin (Courtesy P&O)

P&O’s latest ship, Iona, has almost sold out for her maiden 9 night cruise to the Fjords on the 14th May 2019.

I say ‘almost’ because there are still some ‘Inside’ cabins available at the time of writing, but there are no sea-view, balcony or suites left.

Having said that I note that Iona has approximately 250 inside cabins, although I cannot be bothered to actually count (anyone?)

An inside cabin for the maiden cruise will currently cost from £2,114  for a couple (£117 pp, per night) – so hardly cheap. (And a room without a view in the picturesque Fjords is far from ideal).

Maiden cruises often sell out and this is potentially a very exciting big new ship. However I’d be very surprised in the other 18  Fjord itineraries (7 nights) sell out so quickly. Norway is very beautiful, but It’s hardly a mass-market/family-friendly/sunshine destination.

Malcolm

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Iona boasts a Gin Distillery and a Boutique Cinema

September 8, 2018

There are no shortages of P&O stories at present, while P&O’s publicity machine promotes their new mega-ship:

P&O Cruises has revealed more new features on-board its newest ship Iona.

Features will include an on-board distillery and gin bar as well as a “boutique cinema”.

The ship will boast its own distillery, as well as bar selling 30 different varieties of the most popular drink.

The line also revealed ‘Ocean Studios’ will be a four screen boutique cinema showing films throughout the day and with premium seating and surround-sound technology.

It is also rumoured that former bassist for Blur, Alex James will be curating the music on-board, although this has not yet been confirmed by P&O.

Olly Smith, will have his signature restaurant, The Glasshouse, on-board.

(P&O Cruises)

Malcolm says: I’m not big on Gin, but I do like a cinema. Many modern ships just do not have a ‘proper’ cinema. They went out of fashion a few decades ago. Some older ships have had their cinema’s converted into different public spaces or even turned into cabins (Thomson/Marella Celebration, for example).  It’s nice to see that Iona will have a Cinema – in fact four, really!

Iona: Too Big For The Fjords?

August 31, 2018

(Image Courtesy of P&O)

P&O Cruises giant new ship Iona will operate seven-day sailings from Southampton to the Norwegian fjords, in her inaugural season.

The 180,000 gross tonne ship is due to commence operating the no-fly itinerary from its UK home port of Southampton, from May 2020.

You can now pre-register Cruises on Iona via the P&O web site or phone.

(P&O)

Malcolm says: Her early fares (from £100+, pp, per night, with some incentives) are of course ‘premium’. New ship always are. However I assume some bargains may be available in 2020,  if the hundreds of cabins do not sell as well as they hope.

I’ve heard a rumour that the Fjords were picked for her maiden itineraries, because the LNG fuel required to power this new breed of ship will NOT fully available in the Mediterranean, by mid-2020.  It is also not widely available in Norway, but I believe full LNG tanks at Southampton will last the whole 7 days, before being re-filled again at Southampton.

The Norwegian Fjords are very beautiful and can be easily reached from Southampton (UK) and cruised within 7 days. She offers seveal itineraries with slightly different ports of call. (See the P&O web site).

However Iona will be one of the BIGGEST ships in the world, with the BIGGEST passenger capacity in the world: 6,600 – all berths. This must be the BIGGEST ship to ever to visit the Fjords?

Is Iona really a suitable vessel for this intimate and largely un-spoilt destination?

Interestingly, Geiranger has a population of around 200 people and Olden 500 people. Imagine 6,600 P&O passengers arriving on-board Iona, each week!

I’d suggest that a ship 4-5 times smaller than Iona, in terms of gross tonnage, carrying less than a quarter of her  passengers, would be much more suitable for this itinerary.  Ships of the Fred Olsen and the CMV fleets, most of which are under 45,000 gt,  would better fit the bill.

From a sales point of view: Traditionally the Norwegian Fjords have generally appealed to the more mature passenger and NOT families. Now it’s hard to imagine that P&O can fill Iona (17x 7 day Fjord cruises) without attracting lots of families. That might be quite a challenge for her inaugural season, given the destination. Mind you the kudos of a big new ship will help a little. However I’ve already heard some P&O faithfuls say that Iona is just too big and the inaugural destination is not suitable.

What do you think? Am I wrong?

Malcolm

(In case you are wondering: I don’t sell cruises or get given free cruises, so I can say what other cruise web sites can’t!)

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P&O’s Britannia meets CMV’s Marco Polo, in the Fjords (Image Courtesy of K.Bradbury )

Iona slide show: HERE

P&O Cruises To Scrap Their Service Charge

August 27, 2018

P&O Cruises will abolish their daily service charge on-board its entire fleet next year.

The move, which will come into effect from May 2019, means passengers’ bills will not include a discretionary charge – currently £7 – for service received onboard.

If passengers want to pay a service charge they can visit reception during their cruise.

(P&O)

Malcolm says: This very short story above, is probably one of the most significant changes in British cruising for decades.  Over the years, there have been endless debates about ‘tipping’ on-line.

Us Brits are NOT a nation of tippers and many British cruise passengers have begrudged paying this almost hidden cost, in addition to their cruise fares. I say hidden, because it is always tucked away in the small print. However the problem was always was one of guilt. The service charge (gratuity or tips, call it what you will) effectively paid the crews wages. The cruise lines hardly do.

I don’t think the issue was the fact that us Brits are mean, we just believe than employees should be paid a decent wage and not have to rely on ‘tips’. We also don’t like add-ons to the ‘sticker price’.  P&O’s decision gives British cruise passengers what we have been demanding for decades. Couple that with reasonably bar prices and P&O are onto a winner! Cunard, RCI and NCL have just become a little less attractive.

Mind you, P&O are not the first UK cruise line to abolish tips. Thomson cruises have successfully had a no tipping policy for decades.

Comments please!

Carnival’s New 180,000gt Ship For Port Canaveral

August 24, 2018

First Rendering (Courtesy of Carnival)

The Canaveral Port Authority and Carnival Cruise Line have reached an agreement to build a new cruise terminal at Port Canaveral, Florida, USA.

The new terminal will be designed to accommodate Carnival’s new 180,000-ton LNG ship, the largest ever constructed for the line, set to enter service in 2020. The unnamed 6,600 ship will homeport at Port Canaveral.

(Carnival)

Malcolm says: Some sources say that this first Carnival LNG ship will be called ‘Carnival Reflection’ (unconfirmed). This will be a ‘Helios’ class ship, which the AIDA, COSTA and P&O brands will also be getting, called: AIDAnova, Costa Smeralda, P&O Iona and Carnival (unnamed as yet).

Carnival’s LNG Ships Compared

Although the four Carnival cruise brands (Carnival, AIDA, COSTA and P&O) will get the same basic design of ship, they will be adapted a little for each brand. For example, the bows are different. Carnival and P&O appear to have similar bows to each other (below: top two images ), as  Costa and Aida’s versions are similar to each other (below: bottom two images). 

Image1Another example is that the P&O and Costa’s  sterns are different. The Carnival stern looks similar to the P&O one, the Costa similar to the AIDA one.

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Top left, clockwise: Carnival (Unnamed), P&O’s Iona, AIDAnova, Costa Smeralda

We do not have the full deck plans or details of the public room yet, for this class of ship, so here are my speculations:

It appears from the renderings that the Carnival and Costa versions will NOT have  a ‘SkyDome’* as the P&O version will. The Costa version has a large open-air glass canopy behind the funnel. The AIDA appears to have a glass-house at the stern, for want of an official name.

SkyDome, Iona (Courtesy P&O)

These differences are because the Carnival and Costa versions of the ship are designed to operate in the warmer Mediterranean climates.  Ships designated for cruises from the U.K. (P&O) and Germany (AIDA) will need a large space protected by a roof (the Dome or ‘glass-house’) for inclement weather that that part of Europe can experience.

It appears from the renderings that the Carnival and Costa versions will NOT have  a ‘SkyDome’* as the P&O version will. The Costa version has a large open-air glass canopy behind the funnel. The AIDA appears to have a glass-house at the stern, for want of an official name.

Early deck plans show that the Costa and AIDA designs have a circular space amidships spanning a number decks 6, 7 and 8, reminiscent of AIDA’s ‘Theatrium’  – a combined atrium and entertainment space featured on their previous ships.  On-board Costa Smeralda it is called ‘Closseo’.

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Above: Costa Smeralda (Courtesy Costa)

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Above: Theatrium (Courtesy AIDA)

Early deck plans show that the Costa and AIDA designs have a circular space amidships spanning a number decks 6, 7 and 8, reminiscent of AIDA’s ‘Theatrium’  – a combined atrium and entertainment space featured on their previous ships.  On-board Costa Smeralda it is called ‘Closseo’.

Iona-Grand-Atrium

Above: Iona’s Grand Atrium (Courtesy of P&O)

P&O’s Grand Atrim and ‘SkyDome’ sounds like a variation of AIDA’s Theatrium and Costa’s Closseo (all being circular) with a dome on top.

Above: Iona, with her ‘SkyDome’ (Courtesy P&O)

The Costa and AIDA sterns features a low extended deck area, reminiscent of MSC’s ‘Seaside’ ships. Seven decks rise from the stern offering prime real-estate: many aft facing balcony cabins. The two rows of windows below the stern deck (5 and 6) are to restaurants sitting on top of each other. There is also a third restaurant sitting on the stern promenade deck (7).

The P&O design  (and maybe the Carnival) appear to have have their stern-promenade located a deck higher. P&O have said that there are four main dining restaurants: Pearl, Coral, Aqua and Opal.  Maybe three are stacked on top of each other below the stern promenade and one is located o the stern promenade. (just a guess!)

Looking at the Costa renderings: Leading from the aft deck area, are some steps to a raised promenade deck which runs along 80% of the side of the ship. This prom deck is above the lifeboats and obviously solely for public use and not for lifeboat boarding. It does not appear to wrap around the bow, unless it has an internal tunnel. The rendering is not specific, but this could feature some bars and restaurants like NCL’s ‘Waterfront’. (“A much wider, half-mile promenade deck allowing for al-fresco dining.” was recently reported by P&O) 

The P&O model and Carnival renderings do NOT appear to show ‘steps’ on the promenade. They show an uninterrupted one level prom. P&O call it the ‘Lanai’ deck.

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Costa Smeralda Above: (Courtesy of Costa – click to enlarge)

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P&O Model

This ship design of these ships is NOT the biggest in the world, that is RCI’s ‘Oasis’ class at around 35-40,000 gt bigger, but they will have the biggest passenger capacity in the world at an all-berth figure of 6,600.

Malcolm

*(A brand new entertainment done will be the SkyDome and guests can expect it to be one of Iona’s star attractions.  The roof will be one of the most impressive features along with a pool with a retractable stage, offering a unique space whatever the weather and the time of day.  During the day, SkyDome is the ideal place for relaxation and informal dining with a swimming pool, Jacuzzi and poolside features, and shaded seating areas.  But by night, it comes alive with aerial performances, immersive shows and deck parties and above it all, it is a glazed dome roof designed by award-winning British engineers Eckersley O’Callaghan, the team behind glass masterpieces such as Bulgari’s flagship New York boutique.) P&O

P&O’s Iona: Stateroom renderings: HERE

Dining/Entertainment On-board P&O’s New Iona

July 10, 2018

The Grand Atrium (Courtesy P&O)

“As part of a new approach to dining, Iona will exclusively offer Freedom Dining in all of its main restaurants, a first for P&O Cruises. The move is designed to give more flexibility to each and every guest.  They can choose just where and with whom they want to eat, and when they will sit down for breakfast, lunch or dinner” (P&O)

Iona will offer guests unprecedented levels of quality and flexibility when it comes to food and drink. The exciting array of options combines brand-new dining and drinking concepts with much-loved signature venues to give new meaning to the word ‘choice’. With 29 different venues to choose from, there’s something for everyone, whatever their mood, at any time of day and night.

A P&O Cruises First, Iona will exclusively offer Freedom Dining in the main restaurants. This puts guests in the driving seat, giving them the flexibility to dine with friends and family any time from 6–9pm. At peak times, a pager will alert them when the table is ready so there’s time to relax with an aperitif.

Other P&O Cruises Firsts include two brand-new dining concepts and a new live music venue.

The Quays is an exciting foodie piazza offering a great range of self-service and takeaway venues and a lively atmosphere for sociable dining. Within The Quays, a host of new dining venues showcasing cuisines from around the world will create a vibrant buzz – from American diner classics to Asian fast-food favourites. Another foodie first is The Keel and Cow, a fabulous British gastropub serving hearty pub fare. The 710 Club serves up live music and stylish cocktails: the perfect combination to let the good times roll long into the night.

Of course, it’s not just about the new. Iona also celebrates the best P&O Cruises dining and drinking traditions with favourites such as Brodie’s, The Crow’s Nest, The Epicurean, Sindhu and The Beach House, along with pool bars and a pizzeria and grill.

Iona brings iconic P&O Cruises stars and new trends in food and dining under one fabulous roof.

The 710 Club, Deck 6

It’s all about the music at The 710 Club. The secret haven – exclusively for adults – is the perfect spot in which to relax and enjoy the musical atmosphere, day or night. During the day, it’s a retreat from the hustle and bustle, offering something a little different. At night, it transforms into a sophisticated venue hosting a diverse range of top-class singers and bands tailored to British tastes: acoustic covers, ‘impromptu’ performances, classic and modern jazz, swing, Rat Pack, modern and acoustic rock music will feature. The 710 Club offers a fun and lively atmosphere, and is sure to captivate guests night after night.

The Keel and Cow, Deck 8

The Keel and Cow is an unpretentious gastropub, where food and drink have been crafted into something truly special. Located on deck 8, it offers a quick and convenient breakfast for those going ashore, and lunchtimes bring top-quality, authentic gastropub fare to the fore, with dishes such as a signature beef and stout burger, beer-battered fish and triple-cooked chips, black-pudding scotch eggs and more. At night, guests can gather with friends to enjoy hearty dishes or select from a range of steaks from the dry-ageing fridge. With views over the Grand Atrium or out to sea, or even to the chefs at work in the open galley, The Keel and Cow is the perfect place to bring friends and family together to enjoy delicious food, real hand-pumped ales and a great selection of craft ales in a relaxed, informal environment.

The Quays, Deck 8

Head to The Quays for informal dining options to suit every mood. This multi-venue dining piazza offers an amazing array of eateries and restaurants and is a lively hub for socialising over food and watching the world go by. There’s a fun street-food atmosphere with plenty of buzz, theatre and colour adding to the beachfront promenade vibe. With access onto the Promenade Deck, outdoor dining is available too. It’s all about flexible, fun, family-friendly food – the perfect place for a quick snack, light lunch or informal dinner.

With such a choice of foodie venues, The Quays will hit the hunger spot, from morning breakfasts to late-night snacks. New dining concepts found in The Quays include:

• The Boardwalk Diner (all-day, self-service): American classics meet Southern soul food with an all-day menu including chargrilled burgers, hot dogs, eggs over easy, southern-fried chicken with a side of slaw and so much more. Head on over for informal fast-food dining from breakfast until dinner.

• Fusion (all-day, take-away): Fusion is a hot spot for lovers of authentic Asian flavours. Offering take-away dishes all day, enjoy an odyssey around South East Asia in a relaxed and casual environment.

• Hook Line and Vinegar (all-day, self-service): For seaside hunger cravings at lunch or dinnertime, nothing beats traditional British fish and chips. Think crispy battered fish, calamari, fish burgers, scampi, crab cakes – all served with chips and mushy peas.

• The Olive Grove (restaurant, lunch and evening service): With a strong focus on food provenance, The Olive Grove celebrates the flavours of the southern and eastern Mediterranean with authentic dishes and sharing platters. Mouthwatering aperitifs and a well-chosen list of regional wines completes the menu and adds to the relaxed dining experience. The Olive Grove is the ideal venue for intimate dinners for two or a celebratory family meal – with options to eat in the restaurant or in the conservatory area.

Eric Lanlard’s Afternoon Tea, Deck 17

For the ultimate daytime indulgence, Eric Lanlard’s Afternoon Tea is an on-board experience not to be missed. His unique twist on this classic British institution elevates the humble afternoon tea into something utterly decadent. As expected from the imagination of master pâtissier Eric Lanlard, delicious savoury and sweet surprises adorn each tempting cake stand, all served with a wide array of speciality teas.

Andersons, Deck 6

By day, Andersons is a quiet lounge bar with a library for browsing – the ideal spot for reading and relaxation. By evening, it becomes the place for before or after-dinner drinks – the main dining restaurants are located next door. The atmosphere is intimate, stylish and sociable with the feeling of a private members’ club. The exciting focal point of Andersons is a boutique gin distillery. Situated to the side of the bar, the statement piece in shining copper champions the art of artisanal gin. Guests will gather around it for masterclasses and gin tastings. Andersons is a must for connoisseurs in search of the finest tipples.

Beachcomber Pool and Bar, Deck 18

Situated to the fore of the ship, the Beachcomber Pool and Bar area offers plenty of space to relax in the sun and shade. The bar will rustle up a wide range of much-loved cocktails while guests relax and soak up the sunshine.

Brodie’s and Casino, Deck 7

Brodie’s, the much-loved British pub, is a sociable place where a good time is guaranteed. It boasts the ship’s largest range of British and international bottled beers, ciders and real ale. There’s a great selection on tap too, not to mention a well-stocked wine menu and tasty traditional British bar snacks such as pork scratchings, peanuts and crisps.

During the day, Brodie’s hosts quizzes and live sport. By night, it’s a popular spot for live entertainment, karaoke, quizzes and game shows. And don’t forget the adjacent Casino, which offers the latest gaming technology and games to suit all pockets, for novices and experts alike.

Crystal Bar and Laguna Bar, Deck 16

These poolside bars offer a wide range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and are perfectly placed for al fresco refreshment when relaxing by the pool or enjoying fun activities such as sail-away parties. Both bars are located in the SkyDome.

Emerald Bar, Deck 6

For evening glamour, the stylish Emerald Bar in the Grand Atrium is the cocktail hotspot, thanks to its relaxed living-room feel and a Covent Garden-style buzz. With a large menu of premium cocktails, it’s an ideal location for pre-dinner drinks or as a late-night bar. From mid-morning, the space will host pop-up entertainment such as buskers and musical performances. From the early evening, guests will be treated to aerial circus performances. Whatever the time of day or night, spectacular sea views add to the unforgettable ambience.

Horizon Restaurant, Deck 16

The all-day self-service buffet is the perfect option for casual, flexible dining. The elegant design adds to the relaxed and easy atmosphere. Whatever the time of day or night, Horizon offers a wide range of tempting dishes, from traditional British favourites to foods from around the globe. Catering to a wide range of dietary requirements, vegetarian dishes, gluten-free choices and healthier eating options are all available. To top it off, all meals come with the best panoramic ocean views on the ship.

Main dining restaurants: Pearl, Coral, Aqua and Opal, Decks 6 & 7

All four main dining restaurants will offer Freedom Dining. This allows guests to enjoy dining with little more sense of occasion, and the flexibility to dine with chosen companions at a time that suits them. Although the surroundings are elegant in each restaurant, the atmosphere is always relaxed and welcoming with sittings for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner.

All Main Dining venues will also host the popular Gala Nights with a special Gala menu devised by P&O Cruises Food Hero Marco Pierre White.

Each of the restaurants has a distinctive design and style. Although grand in scale, the dining rooms will include more intimate areas with low balustrades and atmospheric mood lighting.

The largest, Pearl and Coral, are located on decks 6 and 7 respectively at the aft of the ship – and combine to make one large dining space over two levels. Here, the dining space spanning both decks is glazed full height with a feature staircase and

uninterrupted views over the ocean. Aqua and Opal are smaller restaurants, located port and starboard side respectively.

Gelateria, Deck 8

Located at the top of the Grand Atrium at the entrance to The Quays, and with access to the Promenade Deck, this is an informal and family-friendly gelateria serving scoops of modern Italian-style gelato in addition to premium tea and coffee. Guests can enjoy their goodies in the Gelateria or take them away to savour on the Promenade Deck.

Sindhu, Deck 16

Visit Sindhu to be treated to authentic Indian cuisine with a British twist. This Select Dining favourite offers a menu that is a triumph of perfectly balanced spices, delicate flavours and wonderful aromas. Dining amidst its sumptuous fabrics and opulent décor is a treat for the senses and an experience not to be missed.

SkyDome Pizzeria and Grill, Deck16

For peckish moments at any time of day, deck 16 is the place to go for fresh oven-baked pizzas and grilled goodies such as top-quality burgers and classic fish and chips. The food venue will also offer more global flavours with popular street foods from around the world.

Sunset Bar, Deck 8

At the aft end of the Promenade Deck, the Sunset Bar is the best place to enjoy a sundowner at the end of the day, with easy access to The Club House and its chilled evening vibe. By day, it’s equally atmospheric with cooling sun canopies to relax under and drink in the sea views.

Sundaes, Deck 16

For happy holiday treats, Sundaes in the SkyDome is perfect for all the family with a wide range of ice cream favourites to choose from.

The Beach House

In the evenings, the forward section of Horizon Restaurant transforms into a fun and informal Select Dining venue, The Beach House. Inspired by South American, Caribbean and Stateside cuisines, the menu offers hearty dishes and comfort-food favourites.

Highlights include the steaks, ribs, grills and burgers, hanging kebabs and a range of sharable sides. Save space for the decadent and delicious desserts.

The Club House, Deck 8

This flexible venue leads out into the aft end of the Promenade Deck to offer relaxing inside and outside spaces. It’s a bright, spacious, multi-purpose lounge by day – ideal for afternoon entertainment and family fun. By night, it transforms into a modern live-lounge and late-night disco, offering entertainment and dancing long into the night. The extensive bar area inside serves drinks and bar snacks.

The Crow’s Nest, Deck 17

The iconic observation lounge is a well-established feature of the fleet. Offering panoramic views of the ocean in a relaxed, modern and elegant setting, it’s a delightful spot for daytime reveries and reading. In the evening, the venue becomes a sophisticated cocktail lounge with a live pianist adding to the nostalgic sense of style. Located adjacent to The Epicurean, it’s a popular spot for aperitifs or after-dinner drinks, and relaxed socialising into the night.

The Epicurean, Deck 17

The Epicurean offers a gastronomic blend of classic and contemporary fine dining in elegant surroundings with uninterrupted sea views. The mood in this Select Dining restaurant is refined and intimate: impeccable service, crisp white tablecloths and a premium wine list complement the extraordinary food.

The focus is on provenance. Dishes are made with the finest and freshest local produce and prepared with great skill, fusing the best modern British and destination culinary traditions. The simple ingredients are the stars of the show. A Chef’s Table and a private dining area for up to eight guests provide further opportunity for special occasions and celebrations.

The Glass House, Deck 7

Created by award-winning wine expert and P&O Cruises Food Hero Olly Smith, The Glass House is for lovers of fine wine and great food. The premium wine bar boasts an impressive wine list curated by Olly and offers a sophisticated environment in which to enjoy breakfast, a light lunch, a leisurely glass of wine or an evening meal with family or newfound friends. Wine connoisseurs are well taken care of: Cellar Door at The Glass House offers wine talks, tastings and wine-pairing dinners. It’s in prime position to enjoy the Grand Atrium’s aerial performances, as well as magnificent views out to the horizon.

The Limelight Club, Decks 6

This supper-club venue is a fixed favourite. After the daytime dancing classes, The Limelight Club is the place to be for adult-only evening dining and entertainment. The club exclusively hosts established and emerging vocalists and is the dedicated venue for resident performers and the house band. As the entertainment gets underway, guests enjoy a unique dining experience: it starts with a welcome drink before a themed multi-course menu is served at intervals throughout the show. After the performances, the bar is open to all and becomes a lively late-night hotspot.

Vistas Café Bar, Decks 6

Located in the heart of the Grand Atrium, Vistas is a warm and welcoming café with a buzzing atmosphere. Serving premium tea, coffee and snacks, as well as tempting treats from P&O Cruises Food Hero and master pâtissier Eric Lanlard, it’s the perfect place to enjoy a relaxing pit stop while looking at fabulous ocean views or watching the world on ship go by.

In the evenings, it’s an ideal spot for an after-dinner coffee or wind-down tea. From mid-morning there will also be pop-up entertainment, and from early evening impromptu aerial circus performances will add to the drama and excitement of the Grand Atrium space.

(P&O)

Entertainment:

The 710 Club, Deck 6

This is the venue all about the music, a secret haven exclusively for adults where relaxing in a musical atmosphere is the priority (day or night).

For guests who prefer this vibe during the day, what you will find is a retreat from the hustle and bustle, offering something a little different.

At night though, the spot transforms into somewhere oozing sophistication with a diverse range of top-class singers and bands tailored to British tastes.This can include acoustic covers, ‘impromptu’ performances, classic and modern jazz, swing, Rat Pack, modern and acoustic rock music.

SkyDome, Decks 16 and 17

A brand new entertainment done will be the SkyDome and guests can expect it to be one of Iona’s star attractions.

The roof will be one of the most impressive features along with a pool with a retractable stage, offering a unique space whatever the weather and the time of day.

During the day, SkyDome is the ideal place for relaxation and informal dining with a swimming pool, Jacuzzi and poolside features, and shaded seating areas.

But by night, it comes alive with aerial performances, immersive shows and deck parties and above it all, it is a glazed dome roof designed by award-winning British engineers Eckersley O’Callaghan, the team behind glass masterpieces such as Bulgari’s flagship New York boutique.

Ocean Studios, Deck 6

This is one for the film fanatics where you’re greeted with a warm welcome, comfortable seating and a relaxing environment for that premium cinema experience!

Four cinema screens will host everything from classics to recent blockbusters in surround sound with screenings throughout the day, popcorn and snacks for plush boutique surroundings.

The Club House, Deck 8

The non-stop upbeat atmosphere entertains both day and night where daytime sees the space function as a vibrant multi-purpose space that’s perfect for families to play games and enjoy afternoon entertainment including game shows!

Once the sun goes down, The Club House becomes Iona’s late-night venue, offering dancing in a modern ‘live lounge’ environment.

P&O guests can also enjoy the sounds of Iona’s talented house band, Pulse, at night with an indoor/outdoor space, boasting bar areas leading to the outdoor aft end of the Promenade Deck.

The Limelight Club, Deck 6

A feast for the senses, this venue blesses you with fantastic food, great company and top-notch entertainment.

The venue showcases established and emerging entertainers and is the dedicated space for resident performers, all accompanied by a gregarious compère and Iona’s house band.

Exclusively for adults, it’s also a hotspot for dancing, with daytime classes and hosted dancing events; guests can enjoy a drink on arrival before tucking into a menu full of unique, innovative dishes.

To heighten the sense of occasion, P&O have made sure the menus have a ‘show business’ theme where after each night’s show, the club transforms into a late-night venue for post-show drinks and revelry.

Headliners Theatre, Decks 6 and 7

This is perfect for a classic yet contemporary night with a sleek and sophisticated theatre experience: plush, comfortable seating and the latest LED technology deliver the ‘wow’ factor.

The two-deck-high auditorium on decks 6 and 7 ensures everyone has the best view in the house and during the day, guests can enjoy matinee performances and activities such as talks, films and Q&As.

But once night falls, full-scale production shows hit the stage– think dazzling West End style performances, cabaret, comedy and more!

The Ivory Suite, Deck 17

Love is in the air in The Ivory Suite as the primary venue for weddings and renewals of vows, it’s perfect for intimate and mid-sized ceremonies, all tailored to guests’ requests.

The premium location next to the Crow’s Nest and The Epicurean is light, airy whilst the elegant surroundings and ocean views provide a romantic backdrop for photographs.

Kids Clubs:

The Reef, Deck 17

This free on-board activity programme for children is a place to keep them safe and entertained throughout their entire cruise as and when they need, a place they can forge friendships with other children their own age.

Staffed by a crew of enthusiastic and qualified Reef rangers, it offers clubs with a wide range of age-specific entertainment:

  • Nursery (6 months-2 years)
  • Splashers (2-4 years)
  • Surfers (5-8 years)
  • Scubas (9-12 years)

There is also a secure outdoor play area and a designated splash park for these age groups whilst parents can make use of then complimentary Night Nursery available for ages six months to four years, open from 6pm to 2am each night.

A quiet area is created for the perfect surroundings for an infant to sleep; parents are contacted via a pager if their child wakes up.

Scene, Deck 6

Scene is a secret on-board hang-out for teens aged 13 to 17 and is separated from the rest of the children’s club, giving teens a chance to have their own space and allowing them to dip in and out of planned events.

It operates during high peak cruising season and in the low season, it becomes an entertainment space for adults.

Guests should note that in all children’s clubs, including the night nursery, allocation is on a first come, first served basis due to limited spaces available.

(P&O)

Malcolm says: This design of mega-ship will also be given to Costa, AIDA and Carnival. One assumes that much of the hardware, such as the dining rooms, will be similar for all brands. I fear that P&O will lose many of their traditions (such as two sitting for dinner and silver service) and become just another big mass-market line.  This ship will surely be aimed at multi-generational families, just like RCI, NCL and MSC ships are.  The ‘socks & sandal’ brigade are history!

I’m not suggesting that Iona will be a bad ship or offer a poor product. I am suggesting P&O are losing their original identity.  Did you know that ‘Oriana’ (1995) and ‘Aurora’ (2000) were the last two ships specifically built for P&O, all others since have been Princess/Carnival designs. (Oriana will be leaving the P&O fleet in 2019).

Iona will hold the record for the most number of passengers on-board a cruise ship (around 5,200 lower berths, + upper berths), although she is about 22% smaller than RCI’s ‘Oasis’ class, the worlds biggest cruise ships. That sounds a little worrying to me.

Oriana To Leave P&O’s Fleet

June 29, 2018

(Courtesy P&O)

P&O Cruises have announced a new guest experience program for 2019 and that Oriana (1995) will leave its fleet in August 2019.

The company did not specify where the 1,822-guest ship would operate next (but it is rumoured that China has purchased her).

P&O Cruises senior vice president, Paul Ludlow, said: “Oriana is an original, and a much loved P&O Cruises ship. Whilst we will miss her, her departure will allow us to focus on our remaining mid-sized and larger ships as the fleet expands with Iona.

Meanwhile, the new fleet program will cover three key areas of investment in shore excursions, dining and entertainment across mid-sized ships Arcadia and Aurora and Oceana as well as the larger ships Britannia, Azura and Ventura.

Aurora will be refitted next spring, prior to her re-launch as a ship exclusively for adults, when new cabins will be added as well as fixtures, fittings, soft furnishings and enhancements to public spaces throughout the ship.

The final sailing on Oriana will be announced shortly.

(P&O)

Sister ship, ‘Aurora’ slide-show: HERE

Malcolm says: I’m always a little sad when a ‘classic’ (smaller) ship leaves a fleet, probably forced out to make way for the giant ‘Iona’ in this case, which is being delivered in 2020.  At 23 year old Oriana has at least a decade left in her, possibly a lot more.

In contrast to Oriana, Iona will carry a record number of passengers at 5,200 (lower berths).  Iona represents the new P&O brand, aimed at attracting multi-generational families onto a mass market resort.  Oriana is/was a favourite with P&O’s original more mature ‘socks & sandals’ brigade.

Oriana and Aurora (2000) were actually specifically built for P&O – the P&O ships since have been Carnival/Princess designs.

 

P&O’s New Mega-ship Named: Iona

May 24, 2018

rst .

On Thursday 24 May at 4pm P&O announced live to the world, the name of our their new ship, which enters service in 2020.

She will be called: IONA

The announcement comes as a result of a competition that P&O ran last year, when we invited members of the public to suggest a suitable name for the ship. Over 30,000 submissions were received with a panel of experts making the final decision. 

Iona, a Carnival ‘Helios’ class design will be delivered in 2020. A sister ship for P&O is due for delivery in 2022.

The Scottish island of Iona.

Construction

P&O says: On 25 April 2018, the very first piece of steel was cut for Iona at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany. At around 184,000 tons, it will have a capacity for up to 6,600 guests, making it the largest cruise ship ever built for the British market.

The signature heart of Iona, the Atrium, will be our boldest and brightest yet. Glass walls spanning three decks will let natural light flood in while a grand staircase, gallery and overhead walkways will provide dramatic focal points.

Iona will also be the most environmentally efficient ship in the history of P&O Cruises. Powered at sea and in port by liquefied natural gas (LNG), exhaust emissions will be significantly reduced to help protect the environment.

You’ll be treated to the best British hospitality and standards of service that you know and love.

po_steel_cutting-fill-800x619

Our new star of the show, The Dome

A major new entertainment hub called The Dome will be one of the star attractions of Iona. Featuring an impressive glass roof, a pool with a retractable stage, a water feature and whirlpools, it offers a unique space whatever the weather.

By day, The Dome is the perfect place for entertainment, relaxation and informal dining. By night, the four key entertainment spaces come alive with aerial performances, roof projections and immersive shows.

(Courtesy P&O)

There will also be much wider than normal, half-mile promenade deck, called the “Lanai” deck, allowing for al-fresco dining.

A world of even more choice on board

Iona has been designed by the world’s leading design and guest experience teams to make sure you have a wealth of dining, entertainment, socialising and relaxation options to suit every mood and occasion: Choose from:

• 17 places to eat to suit all appetites and occasions
• Seven speciality restaurants
• 12 places to enjoy a drink and take in sea views
• 16 whirlpools
• Four swimming pools (three outside and one inside)
• 13 entertainment venues from the theatre to venues for adults only, including three pop-up entertainment spaces
• Nine places to have breakfast
• Five places to take afternoon tea
• Seven places to enjoy fresh coffee

Partnering with the best in the business

Design innovation is being taken to new levels by collaborations with award-winning architectural and interior design teams. We’re proud to be working with residential and commercial architects Jestico & Whiles (London), whose work includes Aquashard (London), the Yas Hotel (Abu Dhabi) and the W Hotel (London). We’re once again joining forces with Richmond International (London), who worked with us on Britannia and whose luxury hotel portfolio includes The Langham Hotel (London and Chicago), The Four Seasons Moscow, and Sandy Lane Hotel (Barbados).

The design of cabins and the flow of on-board experiences will also be developed under the expert eye of maritime architecture specialists Partner Ship Design and design experts Acumen, who developed the first lie-flat bed for British Airways and Etihad Airways’ opulent three-room sky suites.

(Source: P&O)

vvvvvvvv

(Courtesy P&O)

See Iona’s Dining/Entertaining options: HERE

Malcolm says: The name ‘Iona’ comes from the beautiful scottish Island of the same name. Arthur Anderson, one of P&O’s co-founders, was born in Scotland. P&O was created in 1837.

Carnival are providing AIDA, Costa and their own brand with ‘Helios’ class ships. From the P&O information above and the renderings of the Costa version of the ship, there will be some design differences between the Costa and P&O versions. For example the Costa renderings does not show a ‘Sky Dome’.

Perhaps a little worrying, is the fact is that this new class of cruise ship will carry more passengers than any other ship in history, up to 6,600. This is more that RCI’s ‘Oasis’ class, yet will be 20% smaller. You will have a little less room on-board, than on RCI’s ‘Quantum’ and ‘Oasis’ classes.

The port of Southampton and it’s infrastructure (terminals, parking and roads) will surely need more investment, in order to handle multiple ships, two of which can carry up to 6,600 passengers each.

Carnival’s LNG megaships analysed: HERE

What is an LNG ship? See HERE

Ventura’s Dry-docking Completed

April 10, 2018

.

P&O’s Ventura, has  just completed a routine two-week drydocking at Damen Shiprepair Brest.

The maintenance program included the installation of two exhaust gas scrubbers. The hull was water blasted and then, along with the superstructure, repainted. Additional work included maintenance of the propulsion systems and stabilizers, plus other minor repairs.

The scheduled work has been completed in time for a March 28 cruise from Southampton to the Canary Islands and Lisbon.

(P&O)

P&O: Ventura Refit

March 19, 2018

(Courtesy P&O)

In March 2018, Ventura will head to a shipyard in Brest, France for a refit. We’ll be making a number of improvements on board and bringing her in line with the other ships in the fleet. Keep an eye out for refurbished shops stocked with new brands, a new LED screen in the theatre, and new carpeting in the rooms and suites and in a number of the public areas.

Upon returning from her refit, Ventura will embark on a 12-night cruise to the Canary Islands and Portugal. For the rest of the year she’ll remain based in Southampton and take guests on Short Breaks to Belgium and Guernsey, adventures in the Norwegian Fjords and sunny holidays to the likes of Spain, Portugal, Greece and France.

We can’t wait to welcome Ventura back to the fleet, and we hope you’ll join us soon for more fun-filled holidays.

Theatres

Whether you prefer the classic stylings of the two-tier Arena theatre, the opulent setting of the Tamarind Club or the Cuban vibe in Havana lounge, Ventura’s on board entertainment venues offer something for everyone. To make your nights out that much more special, we’ll be upgrading the Arena theatre with a brand new LED wall installation, similar to the ones found on Britannia and Azura. We’ll also be making updates to the sound and lighting desk.

Retail

Shopping is a popular pastime on any holiday, and whether you’re treating yourself to a luxurious new watch, handbag or fragrance or stocking up on travel essentials,our on-board shops are the perfect place to do it. We’re pleased to announce that Dufry, the world’s leading travel retailer, will be our new retail partner on Ventura.The ship’s shops will undergo a complete upgrade, and new brands such as Brics,Longines, Olivia Burton and Liu Jo will be sit alongside popular brands such as Radley, Cath Kidston and Kipling. A range of British gins will also be available. Further changes include a large glass display window added to the shops on deck 7.

Waterside and The Beach House

Ventura does laid-back dining right. As part of the refit, both Waterside (the ship’s 24-hour buffet) and The Beach House (the fun and informal Select Dining restaurant)will enjoy a spruce-up. Floors will be given new tiling in the main walkway area and a new carpet design, and new furniture will be incorporated.

Carpets

The refit will see Ventura refreshed with new carpeting in a number of areas. In addition to all suites and cabins, the carpeting will also be replaced in a number of public areas: the Atrium; Oasis Spa & Salon; restaurants including Saffron,Waterside, The Glass House and The Beach House; and bars such as The Red Barand Havana lounge.

Dixons Travel Store

Dixons Travel, located on deck 7 by the photo gallery, sells the latest technology, from tablets to headphones to binoculars. As part of the refit, the Dixons Travel store will increase in size and a range of new products – including the Dyson supersonic hairdryer and the latest technology from brands such as Amazon, Apple, Bose,Canon, Fitbit, GoPro and more – will be available. Additionally, new carpeting will beintroduced, and the Photo Now digital screen will be moved to the ship’s aft.

(P&O)

Ventura Review: HERE

LNG – The Future Fuel For Cruise Ships

September 23, 2017

Costa Smeralda, 184,000gt LNG Ship (Coutesy Costa)

In June 2015, the Carnival Corporation announced that they have finalised a multi-billion dollar contract with shipbuilders Meyer Werft and Fincantieri, to build seven next-generation cruise ships, between 2019 and 2022.

The new ships will be for the Carnival, AIDA, Costa and P&O brands and will all feature a new “green cruising” design.

The ships will be the first in the cruise industry to be powered at sea by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). They will use LNG in dual-powered hybrid engines to power the ship both in port and on the open sea. LNG will be stored on-board and used to generate 100 percent power at sea. Using LNG to power the ships in port and at sea will eliminate emissions of soot particles and sulphur oxides.

In April 2016, the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC)  Cruises has announced that it has signed a letter of intent with STX France for the construction of up to four new LNG-powered cruise ships, called the ‘World Class’. These will be more than 200,000 gross tonnes. and will be able to carry 5,400 passengers at double occupancy. 

MSC’s World Class (Courtesy MSC)

The first of the four MSC ‘Wold’ class ships will be delivered in 2022.

In October 2016, Royal Caribbean International announced that its two newest class of ships, ‘Icon’, will be powered by LNG . The vessels will be delivered in 2022 and 2024.

What is LNG?

Using LNG to power ships is not a completely new idea. However to date, LNG use has been restricted to smaller vessels operating rather short runs. This is due to the large size of fuel tanks required and the few bunkering facilities available. However it is a new idea for cruise ships and certainly for a megaship design.

LNG is superior to pipeline gas in quality. This is because LNG is purer, has more methane as well as other energy content, and also because of its chemical structure since it has a stable composition. Its combustion generates no unburned residues, particulates or soot, and releases less greenhouse gas than traditional marine gas oil (MGO). Future maritime emissions regulations, especially in sensitive environments are likely to demand this. Perhaps the most appealing aspect about LNG is that under the right operating conditions it can reduce fuel costs.

In addition, using  LNG can double the maintenance intervals, because the gas is so clean,  ship owners may get  25,000 hours between maintenance intervals, maybe more, opposed to 12,500 hours with standard fuel.

Viking Grace, LNG Ferry

Viking Grace, LNG Ferry

Here is an interesting example: VIKING GRACE is a European passenger ferry (2013, 57,000gt, STX, Finland) powered by LNG. Gas take up more space than fuel-oil. In fact six times more space. Therefore large tanks for the gas are located on deck, of the ferry, to save space in the hull (See image above).

However the renderings of  Carnival’s newbuilds do not appear to have LNG storage tanks on the deck.

(Source unknown)

(Source unknown)

LNG cruise ship ‘concepts’ have been around a long time. The renderings below are a design by Wärtsilä, the marine engine company.

(Image courtesy of Wärtsilä)

(Image courtesy of Wärtsilä)

Interestingly the concept ship uses drive shaft technology, rather than pods. The LNG tans are located internally, below the funnel area.

2-ship-innards

( Wärtsilä)

The engines on-board the new Carnival ships will not exclusively be powered by LNG, but will be ‘dual fuel’ being capable of burring both LNG and liquid fuel, and combinations of both at the same time. burning exclusively LNG could be saved for environmentally sensitive areas. This would reduce the fuel storage space required.

Malcolm

P&O Cruises Reveals Details Of ‘Most Ambitious’ Ship

October 27, 2016

 

P&O Newbuild 180,000 gt

P&O Model (Courtesy P&O)

Construction of the latest addition to the fleet will get underway next year at Meyer Werft’s Papenburg shipyard in Germany. The ship will enter service in the UK in 2020. At 180,000 tons, it will have a capacity for up to 6,600 guests, making it the largest cruise ship ever built for the British market.

The signature heart of the ship, the Atrium, will be our boldest and brightest yet. Glass walls spanning three decks will let natural light flood in while a grand staircase, gallery and overhead walkways will provide dramatic focal points.

The ship will also be the most environmentally efficient ship in the history of P&O Cruises. Powered at sea and in port by liquefied natural gas (LNG), exhaust emissions will be significantly reduced to help protect the environment.

You’ll be treated to the best British hospitality and standards of service that you know and love.

Our new star of the show, The Dome

P&O newbuild 180,000 gt

A major new entertainment hub called The Dome will be one of the star attractions of our new ship. Featuring an impressive glass roof, a pool with a retractable stage, a water feature and whirlpools, it offers a unique space whatever the weather.

By day, The Dome is the perfect place for entertainment, relaxation and informal dining. By night, the four key entertainment spaces come alive with aerial performances, roof projections and immersive shows.

There will also be much wider than normal, half-mile promenade deck, called the “Lanai” deck, allowing for al-fresco dining.

A world of even more choice on board

Our new ship has been designed by the world’s leading design and guest experience teams to make sure you have a wealth of dining, entertainment, socialising and relaxation options to suit every mood and occasion: Choose from:

• 17 places to eat to suit all appetites and occasions
• Seven speciality restaurants
• 12 places to enjoy a drink and take in sea views
• 16 whirlpools
• Four swimming pools (three outside and one inside)
• 13 entertainment venues from the theatre to venues for adults only, including three pop-up entertainment spaces
• Nine places to have breakfast
• Five places to take afternoon tea
• Seven places to enjoy fresh coffee

Partnering with the best in the business

Design innovation is being taken to new levels by collaborations with award-winning architectural and interior design teams. We’re proud to be working with residential and commercial architects Jestico & Whiles (London), whose work includes Aquashard (London), the Yas Hotel (Abu Dhabi) and the W Hotel (London). We’re once again joining forces with Richmond International (London), who worked with us on Britannia and whose luxury hotel portfolio includes The Langham Hotel (London and Chicago), The Four Seasons Moscow, and Sandy Lane Hotel (Barbados).

The design of cabins and the flow of on-board experiences will also be developed under the expert eye of maritime architecture specialists Partner Ship Design and design experts Acumen, who developed the first lie-flat bed for British Airways and Etihad Airways’ opulent three-room sky suites.

STOP PRESS: P&O cruises has decided that it will throw open the naming process for its new cruise ship to the public. Another ‘Boaty McBoatface’ maybe?

(Source: P&O)

Below slide show:

Malcolm says: Carnival are providing AIDA, Costa and their own brand with these ships. From the P&O information above and the renderings of the Costa version of the ship, there will be some design differences between the Costa and P&O versions. For example the Costa renderings does not show a ‘Sky Dome’.

I’m still not convinced that such a large ship is a good ‘fit’ for P&O. But then I’m forgetting that P&O are no longer just catering for the ‘socks & sandals’ brigade, they are now a mass-market line hoping to attract the same passengers as Carnival, RCI and NCL.

Perhaps the most disturbing fact is that this cruise ship will carry more passengers than any other ship in history, up to 6,600. This is more that RCI’s ‘Oasis’ class, yet will be 20% smaller. You will have a little less room on-board, than on RCI’s ‘Quantum’ and ‘Oasis’ classes.

The port of Southampton will surely need more investment, in order to handle a ship carrying up to 6,600 passengers.

P&O/Costa Megaships Analysed: HERE

What is an LNG ship? See HERE

Azura Meets Black Watch

September 13, 2015

(Image courtesy of Sergio Ferreira – click to enlarge)

P&O’s Megaship ‘Azura’ (2010) recently met Fred Olsen’s ‘Black Watch’ (1971).

This is what 115,000 gross tonnes ship, that can carry 3,000+ passengers looks like, when compared to 28,000 gross tonnes ship, that can carry 800 passengers.

The ships were built 39 years apart.

Malcolm

Black Watch Review: HERE

Ventura (sister of Azura) Review: HERE