Plenty of room for improvement on Iona
Bryan Woodford | December 6, 2021 | P&O Cruises | Iona
After 2 previous failed attempts due to COVID, we finally recently boarded Iona on a Canary Island cruise. The ship was about 75% full and it was apparent that the crew was similarly lower than full complement. While it is a beautiful new ship, the overall experience was P&O ‘light’ when compared with previous cruises with them. Many issues we encountered but not all were no doubt due to health & safety precautions. We saw the Captain once, at a Remembrance Day Service and no other officers. As a result, the black tie evenings were a non-event as we were all dressed up with nowhere to go.
Food in the MDR was average and the menu similar each day and generally uninspiring. We were disappointed that there were no sommeliers and the only information on the wines available was given in the drinks menu with bland comments like ‘fun & fruity’. The food and experience in both Sindhu and the Limelight Club was, however, very enjoyable.
We were very disappointed that we were unable to walk up to have lunch at the Olive Grove. We were only offered a place a week later.
We stayed in a standard balcony cabin and it was apparent that the large number of cabins on the ship has meant space has reduced. We needed to be a contortionist to reach shelves in the bottom of the wardrobe. Flannels have now been removed from the bathroom. Add that to the balconies overlooked by walking passengers on Promenade Deck 8 and you
start to wonder about cabin planning.
Brodie’s Pub was fun and on sea days there was a Battle of the Sexes, with men and women in different parts of the bar answering quiz questions. The entertainment staff made it fun and it was a good place to meet and chat to people.
They have changed their draught ales since we last cruised with P&O in Jan 20. I was rather bemused when I mentioned in Brodie’s that an ale was cloudy and they said it was due to the movement of the ship. However, the same ale in Keel & Cow was perfectly clear!
As mentioned, it was apparent that the crew were not up to full complement. However, we were amazed on the final night to see our cabin maids lifting very heavy guest suitcases on to trolleys to prepare for disembarkation.
We enjoyed the itinerary, the trips ashore and generally the cruise but it is clear that P&O are not ready to provide the full service we have come to expect. Iona is a nice, new big ship but I’m looking forward to going back on to Britannia in January, which I think I prefer.
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