P&O Cruises Accepts Delivery of Delayed Iona from Meyer Werft

Iona becomes second cruise ship Carnival took delivery on in 2020
Iona on her sea trials - courtesy Meyer Werft

Published Oct 12, 2020 2:37 PM by The Maritime Executive

P&O Cruises accepted delivery of its newest cruise ship, the Iona, on October 9 after a long pause due to the global pandemic. Built at Meyer Werft in Germany, the Iona is one of the first LNG-powered cruise ships in the world and also the largest ever built for the U.K. market.

The Iona had been due for delivery in the spring of 2020 with her maiden voyage planned for May. As the pandemic spread across Europe, Meyer Werft arranged for the ship to complete its conveyance on the Ems River from Papenburg to Bremerhaven before the increased restrictions due to the virus. While work was slowed in March by precautions related to the health and safety of the shipyard workers and contractions completing the outfitting, work proceeded on the Iona. In May, she went for sea trials and visited Rotterdam for a dry-docking but returned to Bremerhaven to await her delivery date.

While it is unlikely that she will begin service until early 2021, nearly a year behind schedule, at 185,000 gross tons and a length of 345 meters (1,132 feet) the Iona is the largest cruise ship ever built to sail for the U.K. line and the largest in the market. Like all of the modern cruise ships, she has a host of unique features, including a glass-domed area P&O is calling the SkyDome. According to Meyer Werft, the glass dome measuring around 970 square meters consists of 340 triangular glass panels and weighs 105 tons. The Iona also has eight specialty restaurants, 13 entertainment venues, and four swimming pools, including an infinity pool. She accommodates 5,200 passengers and her crew numbers 1,800.

Iona’s delivery is a very positive signal for the future of cruising. She is now officially part of the P&O Cruises fleet and we are focused on readying her to welcome guests during her new maiden season to Northern Europe, Spain, Portugal, and the Canary Islands from our home port of Southampton,” said P&O Cruises president, Paul Ludlow during the hand over ceremonies in Papenburg.

The Iona becomes only the third cruise in the world completed that operates on an LNG fueled power plant. Built at Meyer’s Neptune Weft yard in Rostock, German, the power plan operates with four low-emission dual-fuel engines from Caterpillar, which can be entirely operated on LNG at sea and in port.

The Iona shares a similar design with the AIDANova also built at Meyer’s Papenburg shipyard and the Costa Smeralda built by Meyer in Turku, Finland. Carnival Corporation has ordered a total of nine LNG-powered cruise ships from Meyer. The Mardi Gras is currently under construction at Turku for Carnival Cruise Line as well as the AIDACosma in Papenburg. Each of the cruise lines has a sister ship ordered to their LNG ships and AIDA is currently planned to have a total of three LNG-powered ships. 

LNG-power plants are expected to become an increasingly significant part of the overall cruise industry. A quarter of the new cruise ships being built will use LNG-fuel. By 2027, the cruise industry is expected to have at least 25 LNG-powered ships

The Iona is the second new cruise ship that Meyer Werft has delivered in recent weeks, as the shipyard also handed over the Spirit of Adventure to Saga at the end of September. The shipyard expects to stretch out its order book in the wake of the pandemic to maintain workflow. In the spring of 2021, Meyer is scheduled to deliver its next cruise ship the Odyssey of the Seas to Royal Caribbean International also about six months behind schedule.

Carnival Corporation is also seeking to slow deliveries of the new cruise ships it has on order for its brands. Carnival’s Princess Cruises recently took delivery on a cruise ship from Fincantieri which with the Iona will be the only two ships the company takes delivery on in fiscal 2020. A new ship for Costa Cruises is expected to be delivered by Fincantieri in December at the beginning of the new fiscal year, but in total Carnival Corporation only expects to take delivery on five of the nine ships originally scheduled for delivery by the end of fiscal 2021. The company currently expects to take delivery on nine cruise ships and two smaller expedition ships of the 13 ships originally scheduled for delivery before the end of fiscal year 2022. However, no cruise ship orders have been canceled.