P&O Cruises has announced Iona and Britannia are to spend this summer sailing coastal cruises around the UK in a series of ‘ultimate escape staycation’ itineraries that will go on sale on Monday.
The highlight of the short season of sailings, which will range in length from three to seven nights and span June to September, will be Iona’s maiden cruise from Southampton. The new P&O Cruises ship will make its maiden voyage to the Scottish Highlands on 7 August 2021, anchoring alongside the island of Iona after which it is named for sunset celebrations. Fares for the inaugural Iona cruise will start from £1,199pp for a balcony cabin.
Following her maiden voyage, Iona will continue to sail 7-night itineraries through to 18 September 2021. The cruise line will offer balcony cabins and above only on Iona’s summer staycation sailings, with Early Saver fares from just £779pp.
Iona will be joined by Britannia, who will sail shorter 3 and 4-night coastal cruises from Southampton from 27 June to 19 September 2021. The final sailing in Britannia’s summer season will be the only itinerary featuring a port call, with the ship visiting Liverpool. Balcony cabin fares will be available from just £449pp.
P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said: “Given recent announcements we have every hope that our guests will be able to enjoy a holiday this summer. After the stresses and challenges of the past year everyone certainly deserves a treat and this series of cruises will provide memorable and much needed UK getaways. Whilst there is still uncertainty about holidays abroad this summer, we are delighted to be able to offer our guests the ultimate escape here in the UK with the reassurance that we will take care of everything. Also, we really will look at the weather forecast each cruise and aim to take our ships where it is warm and sunny.
“As the start of Iona’s very special maiden season, the new Ultimate Escape series of holidays includes a memorable seven night maiden voyage sailing around the Scottish islands. Iona will anchor off Iona, the island after which she was named, with a celebratory extended stay until sunset for magical views of the historic shores.”
P&O Cruises has confirmed that all guests on board must have been fully vaccinated with both doses at least seven days prior to sailing. Proof of vaccinations/dates given will be required time of boarding and failure to provide this will result in denial of boarding at the guests’ expense. Pre-embarkation COVID-19 tests may also be required and will be complimentary in the holiday cost.
In a statement, P&O Cruises said: “Given the advanced progress of the UK vaccination programme, and strongly expressed preference on the part of our guests for this limited series of UK coastal cruises, these sailings on Britannia and Iona will be for UK resident COVID-19 vaccinated guests only.
All other P&O Cruises holidays on sale do not currently require guests to be vaccinated.
All guests and crew will be required to follow enhanced health and wellbeing measures to protect everyone on board. The protocols have been developed with guidance from our global medical and public health experts and scientists and in close coordination with UK government agencies. These protocols include enhanced sanitation measures, appropriate social distancing and the wearing of masks in certain areas of the ship. Crew will also undergo a strict testing and quarantine regime as well as regular testing during their time on board. Our protocols are subject to change, as we will continue to work with our experts and with government bodies to ensure all of our practices evolve in line with latest advice, with our primary focus always being to protect the health and wellbeing of our crew and guests and the communities we visit. Travel insurance will also be mandatory for all guests.**
Ludlow added: “As we have spent the majority of the last year at home, to be able to have a restorative and relaxing break, sit on deck with a sea view in the summer sunshine and then enjoy an indulgent dinner and show – it’s certainly what we all need this year and we cannot wait to have our guests back on board.”
P&O Cruises staycation sailings will go on sale Monday 22 March 2021 at 8.30am. Bookings will be made on a first come, first served basis, with no pre-registration option available.