Iona is set to be the ship of the summer, joining the P&O Cruises fleet in May 2020 following years of anticipation. Having been designed to elevate everything you know and love about
P&O Cruises, while introducing some new, exclusive features never seen before in the fleet or on any other ship in the world, she promises to be one of a kind. And so, for the coming months, we’ll be shining a spotlight on Iona. Adventurous, delicious, fun, Iona. First up, it’s all about family.
Families on Iona
Family Fun With A Capital F
If there is one thing we’ve established about Iona, it’s that the biggest ship in the P&O Cruises fleet will be the most family-friendly so far. We all know that happy kids make for happy parents and a happy holiday all-round. Iona will deliver the most fun-packed family facilities ever seen on a P&O Cruises ship, taking things up a notch with tons of new additions to the already impressive kids’ facilities found on its fleetmates.
The Reef will return with free on-board activities for children aged six months to 12 years. Anyone who has already holidayed with P&O Cruises as a family can vouch that the Reef Rangers are heaven sent when it comes to keeping kids of all ages not just occupied but excited to head back each day. Along with the usual Nursery, Splashers, Surfers and Scubas clubs, Iona will also introduce Scene, an on-board hangout for teens aged 13 to 17. Located on Deck 6, separate from the rest of the kid’s club facilities, chilled-out Scene will be nirvana for gamers, with interactive gaming tables and the latest technology. And when there are no teens on board? Say hello to Iona’s newest adult-only venue.
The Club House
That said, P&O Cruises have also acknowledged that family holidays are all about finally getting to spend some precious time together. The Club House will be Iona’s happy space, with an indoor/outdoor location that’s all about getting some fresh air and afternoons of games and entertainment with a focus on getting the whole family involved. Spa days are no longer reserved for the grown-ups with a new spa area for teenagers and a menu full of age-appropriate treatments.
A four-screen cinema complex known as Ocean Studios will bring the excitement of Saturday night at the movies to the seas. Screenings will vary from action-packed blockbusters to family-friendly classics, all with plenty of popcorn, ice cream and snacks, naturally. Finally, don’t forget to look up; Iona’s standout spaces, the Grand Atrium and the epic SkyDome, will thrill guests of all ages with surprise pop-up aerial and circus performances when they least expect it.
When it comes to cabins designed with comfort for families in mind, P&O Cruises have broken the mould. There will be two special family suites at the very front of the ship, plus kid-friendly cabins designed to maximise space by day and create more flexible sleeping arrangements at night. All balcony cabins will have interconnecting doors and all four berth cabins will have either one upper berth and one sofa bed or a double sofa bed, as opposed to the usual two uppers seen on other ships. Handily, there’ll be no need to pack a case full of adapters for all those iPads and everything else that travelling with toddlers and teens in tow means; all Iona’s cabins will have USB charging ports right by the bed.
For The Picky Eaters & The ‘Eyes Bigger Than Your Belly’
Mums and dads know that the art of dining out with kids is best described as abstract. There are the picky eaters and the never fulls, the can’t sit stills and the can’t wait to get back to their mates. Iona has all the above covered with more flexibility for family dining, plus a combination of all-new restaurant concepts and much-loved signature venues that’ll give new meaning to the word ‘choice’.
Even the faddiest appetites are in for a treat at The Quays, a whole new multi-venue dining concept for P&O Cruises that is all about fun, flexible, family-friendly mealtimes. Like the street food markets whipping up a culinary storm in capital cities, The Quays will be a hive of activity as a place for dining, drinks and watching the world go by. There’ll be all-American soul food at The Boardwalk Diner, take-away Asian-inspired fare at Fusion and good old British fish and chips at Hook, Line and Vinegar. The Quays will extend onto the Promenade Deck too, so meals with a view are on the menu. If al fresco dining and global cuisine is your thing, look out for Taste 360 too; the on-deck dining experience is brand-new for Iona, created in partnership with its new Food Heroes from around the world.
When it comes to dining in the main restaurants, Pearl, Coral, Aqua and Opal, Iona will introduce some more relaxed approaches intended to make the whole experience a little more laidback. Freedom dining in all main dining rooms means that, while you’ll still enjoy a real sense of occasion each evening, you can enjoy far more flexibility in terms of having to get the gang dressed for dinner and being back at the cabin for early bedtimes.
Speaking of getting dressed for dinner, Iona’s itineraries in the Arendelle-esque Norwegian Fjords are enough to have the best of us reaching for our Queen Elsa outfits. While fancy dress isn’t allowed for adults, kids are free to release their inner Elsa, Anna, Olaf and whoever else at dinner. It’s also worth noting that children under 17 aren’t required to follow the dress code on Iona’s formal nights.
P&O Cruises Drinks Packages
When it comes to drinks, families on Iona won’t go thirsty. The Children’s drinks package includes unlimited soft drinks, selected juices and primo hot chocolates and costs just £7.95 per child, per day. Alternatively, if you purchase the Ultimate Drinks Package and are travelling with children aged 16 and under, their drinks are included for free.
Lastly, no family holiday is complete without the good stuff like ice cream and cake. Iona’s sweet treats and pick-me-ups range include scoops of gelato in exclusive flavours at Gelateria and ice cream at Sundaes. And in Vistas Café Bar in the Grand Atrium, master pâtissier Eric Lanlard’s cakes and pastries are served with a side of aerial circus performance to add to the wow-factor, as if they weren’t delicious enough.
Make More Memories on Iona
Iona will spend her first season sailing to destinations in Norway, Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands over the course of the year, so whether you’re a family of sunseekers or adventurers, there’s fun on the horizon.
Family-friendly shore excursions
Family-friendly shore excursions will open their eyes – and maybe even yours – to new cultures and cuisines, at the same time serving up all the fun you could want for on cable cars, zip-wires, waterslides and all those other adrenaline-heavy activities that keep the kids coming back for more.
Madeira is a real fan favourite for cruisers and the island’s experiences are as varied as they come. One minute you can be hurtling down the hill in a wicker sled, the next you’re sampling sweet Madeira wine in a rustic family wine lodge in Funchal. Likewise, Cádiz is equal parts beachy paradise and adventure playground. The Entre Ramas Adventure Park is just the place for monkeying around on zip-wires, rope bridges and treetop swings that’d leave Tarzan weak at the knees.
Make a splash at Gran Canaria’s Aqualand Maspalomas Water Park and whip up a treat in Lisbon, home to hot, flaky, creamy egg custards called pasteis de nata. The world has the Catholic monks of Jerónimos Monastery to thank for introducing us to the cinnamon-sprinkled confections that have become Lisbon’s greatest gastronomic gift.
And as for Norway, it’s time to blow off the cobwebs in the great outdoors. Shake off the monotony of work, homework and housework, take a deep breath to fill your lungs with fresh mountain air and prepare to experience wonders of the wild like epic glaciers, crashing waterfalls, vast pine forests and inky blue fjords. Tear through country roads to Jostedalsbreen National Park in an open-top buggy, eyes peeled for the white and blue of the Briksdal Glacier. Find yourself dwarfed by the mountainsides of the Geirangerfjord as your kayak glides silently through the glassy waters. Concoct stories on the way life is on tiny farms that cling to the hillsides and listen for the thundering sounds of the Seven Sisters waterfall.
If there were ever a destination with something for everyone, it’s Norway. Peaceful villages like Alesund and Hellesyt are an insightful lesson on local life, while the likes of Olden and Bergen thrill with stories of Vikings and the gentlemanly Hanseatic League. And it isn’t all fjords and farms; there are beaches too. Sola Beach is Stavanger’s Riviera, a place where you’re as likely to see windsurfers whipping across the horizon as you are fishing boats bringing in the catch of the day. Because there’s more to a family holiday than just buckets and spades.