The line says its new ship is ushering in “a new era in travel”
P&O Cruises’ Iona embarked on its maiden voyage earlier this month, visiting the Scottish island with which it shares a name.
P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said: “Iona’s maiden voyage is the start of a new era in travel as Britain’s most environmentally-friendly cruise ship, the first in the country powered by liquefied natural gas, sets sail.
“For this special maiden voyage we wanted to bring guests to the island of Iona which has influenced many aspects of the ship – the sense of space in the SkyDome through to our gin still named Columba [after the sixth-century founder of the abbey on the island], the heather in our Marabelle gin and, of course, the name of the ship.”
Iona departed P&O Cruises’ home port of Southampton on August 7 and the itinerary included scenic cruising around the Isle of Colonsay, Lochbuie, Duart Castle, Tobermory, Bac Mòr, Fingal’s Cave, Sound of Jura, Claggain Bay, Mull of Kintyre and Sanda Island.
Iona’s gin still – created in association with Salcombe Gin – is the first of its kind on a cruise ship. The vessel also boasts the 710 Club, with Gary Barlow as music director, an atmospheric late-night music venue that will offer an opportunity for up-and-coming musicians to get their break.
After an inaugural season of UK coastal cruises Iona will offer holidays to Spain and the Canary Islands from September. Fourteen-night cruises are available from £1,299 per person.
The ceremony took place ahead of the ship’s inaugural voyage
Saga’s new boutique cruise ship Spirit of Adventure has become the first ship to be named at Portsmouth International Port.
The luxurious vessel was named with a traditional bottle smashing ceremony by Commodore Inga J Kennedy, the recently retired head of the Royal Navy Medical Service.
The blessing took place ahead of its inaugural round-Britain voyage, which set off from Tilbury on July 26.
The ship was due to take to the waters last year after being handed over by the shipbuilder in September 2020, but it remained anchored due to Covid-19.
Nick Stace, Saga’s CEO of Travel, said: “Today has been a long time coming for everyone, so it feels symbolic that the naming of our brand-new cruise ship, Spirit of Adventure will be part of such an historic day for the UK.
“Those who love to travel have waited patiently for it to resume, and what better way to mark a return to the freedom that travel gives us than with the launch of a new cruise ship.”
The bottle – a jeroboam of English sparkling wine from Balfour Hush Heath Estate – was smashed against the hull of the ship to offer a blessing of safe sailing and good fortune.
Commodore Kennedy was chosen to be the ship’s godmother in recognition of the countless hours of service given by medical professionals during the pandemic.
Stace said: “We felt it was important to recognise the outstanding work the medical profession has undertaken during the pandemic and wanted to pay our respects the best way we knew how. Commodore Kennedy has served in the Navy for 20 years and within healthcare for 40 years, so we felt she was the perfect choice for the role and we’re honoured that she accepted.”
The ceremony ended with Britain’s Got Talent winner Paul Potts singing the national anthem.
Spirit of Adventure has 10 passenger decks with 554 all-balcony cabins and a maximum capacity of 999 people.
It features five restaurants, including The Main Dining Room, The Grill, The Supper Club, Amalfi and Khukuri – the only Nepalese dining spot at sea. All are complementary.
Facilities include an observation deck, full wraparound promenade and terrace, a lido, sports court and deck games.
There’s also a 444-seat theatre, a library and a spa with hydrotherapy pool, sauna, steam and treatment rooms.
Stace said: “Every aspect has been designed with our guests in mind, from the bold colours and the wraparound promenade through to the numerous restaurants and entertainment facilities.
“Every cabin has its own private balcony with uninterrupted sea views and everything from the chauffeur service to meals and wi-fi are included in the price.”
All guests need be fully vaccinated to travel with Saga Cruises.
Read about our favourite spaces on Spirit of Adventure here