Iona 4th March 2023
Gillian Roe | March 28, 2023 | P&O Cruises | Iona
P&O advertised their latest ships as large, relaxed, exciting and informal, but would it suit us?
Him and me decided to and take a two week cruise along the coast of Portugal and Spain. We needed a late winter break and wanted to test out the facilities on ‘chilled’ Iona.
It’s amazing how the crew and port staff at Southampton can turn around a ship and 10,000 guests with 30,000 pieces of luggage in 12 hours (5000 on, 5000 off). Brilliant!
We discovered that it is essential at least one of your party Has downloaded the app onto an iPhone or similar in order to have any chance of enjoying the entertainment on board or eating in most restaurants, also that anything popular not booked before leaving home is likely to be booked up. Unfortunately this spoiled the chill factor, the spontaneity and freedom to chose. Yet the one facility we imagined needed to be booked, a seat in one of the 4 small cinemas, was on a first come first served basis. This proved so difficult we gave up.
Iona is not as glitzy as P&O imply. The furniture in the public rooms is drab when compared to other ships in the fleet. That was disappointing but she is one big lady.
The size of the ship may be the reason for the numbers of passengers taking to disabled vehicles and why it was often difficult to get in a lift. Taking the stairs was ultimately quicker than waiting for a lift, but with up to 18 floors to run up the skydeck was too far, so long waits for lifts stopping at every floor were a regular occurrence.
Having allotted Him two shelves and a couple of hangers, finding space for my clothes was still difficult. I guess two weeks worth of clothes is the limit the wardrobes accommodate. Don’t suggest I take less. Cruising is also about wearing wonderful dresses. I managed, but only just.
The shower, though hot and reasonably powerful, was a tad on the small size and drying could be a bit tight, but the bathroom had plenty of shelving and was immaculately clean. The cabin was well appointed although narrow and we had a sea view on deck 4. It was a pleasure to sit in the window seat and watch the sea, which unfortunately cannot be said for any cabins on or above the promenade deck. They afford only distant vistas of the sea due to the wraparound deck. What’s the point of a cruise if you can’t see the crew releasing the ropes, the pilot boat escort and watching the waves? By the way this is the most stable ship I have ever sailed on.
At this point I probably need to briefly mention the cabins on the promenade deck. Very odd. Very public. The one reason why I would not book a saver fare is the fear of spending my holiday in anything on that deck. I will say no more.
Eating was good. All those restaurants, such a variety. It’s easy to see that club dining would never work with 5000 guest. Never the less the main dining rooms served excellent meals. It’s such a pity that we never got to know our waiters. They seemed in such a hurry and a new face every day kept them as strangers.
Quiet spaces are possible but despite masses of sun beds spread all over the ship, when the sun shone, everyone seemed to lay out on the same bits of ship. This I guess is partly because the sun only shone on one side at a time. So claiming our bit of quiet sunshine was difficult unless we climbed up to deck 17.
Entertainment was typical P&O. Some good some less so, but we missed a number of things due to us not being quick enough to book. The skydome is an awful venue for singers but the aerial acts were great.
Other niggles, despite a whole arcade of shops they were pokey and didn’t flow very well. It was often difficult to get waiter service. Having waited for ten days to visit the Olive Grove the ambiance proved to be disappointing.
So what is our conclusion? If you are new to cruising you will probably love Iona especially if you are young and IT savy. Would we seasoned cruisers go on Iona again? Maybe if we wanted a quick break out of season but not as a first choice or main holiday. I would never go on her for more than two weeks anyway.
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