News Release

Fireworks and festivities celebrate Iona’s maiden voyage - ‘a momentous milestone for travel’

A spectacular kaleidoscopic firework display, from the ship’s namesake island, is to be the pinnacle of a host of dazzling entertainment celebrating the maiden voyage of P&O Cruises new Excel-class ship Iona, which leaves Southampton on August 7, 2021.

Entertainment on board the seven night cruise will include Tony Hadley, known for numerous chart-topping singles and successful albums the world over, including international number one ‘True’ as well as ‘Gold’ and ‘Through the Barricades’.

Spectacular aerial shows have also been especially devised for Iona, the brainchild of Canadian entertainment company Creativiva. The ship’s stunning design, featuring a two-deck glass SkyDome, has been the inspiration for one of the shows, Rise, created to reflect its performance environment.

P&O Cruises Food Heroes Marco Pierre White and Olly Smith will be hosting masterclass talks on board sharing their gastronomic and drinks expertise. They have also collaborated to create The Chef’s Table, with menus designed by Marco complemented with wine recommendations by Olly,  a new concept specially developed for Iona’s celebration nights.

Food served will be celebrating the flavours of Scotland with Highland smoked salmon, single malt whisky Cranachan Verrine,  a regional cheese selection and Iona whisky fudge petit fours just some of the food that guests can experience.

P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said:

“Iona’s maiden voyage is a momentous milestone for travel. The ship sets a precedent for a new type of holiday packed full of firsts – we have Gary Barlow as music director of The 710 Club, Iona is Britain’s most environmentally-friendly cruise ship powered by liquefied natural gas, and we have the first gin distillery at sea.

“It is apt that Iona’s maiden voyage is to the ship’s namesake island which has been the inspiration for many elements on board – the sense of space in the SkyDome through to the heather in our Marabelle gin distilled on board.

“Booking demand is strong so we know how eager our guests are to holiday on Iona. We are immensely proud of this ship and are excited for guests to experience it for themselves.”

Iona’s maiden voyage August 7 - 14, 2021 will depart Southampton, cruise past Cornwall before anchoring at the ship’s namesake island for the spectacular kaleidoscopic firework display.

This will be followed by three days of Scottish scenic cruising encompassing the Isle of Colonsay, Lochbuie, Duart Castle, Tobermoay, Bac Mòr, Fingal’s Cave, Sound of Jura, Claggain Bay, Mull of Kintyre and Sanda Island.
After an inaugural season of UK coastal cruises Iona will offer holidays to Spain and the Canary Islands from September 2021. Fourteen night Iona holidays to Spain and the Canary Islands are available from £1,299 per person.

For more information or to book call P&O Cruises on 03453 555 111, visit or contact a travel agent.


Tony Hadley image

Iona images

Tony Hadley biography

Tony Hadley has been known for decades as one of pop music’s greatest vocalists. He enjoyed numerous chart-topping singles and successful albums the world over, including international number one ‘True’ as well as ‘Gold’ and ‘Through the Barricades’. As a solo artist Tony has performed across the world both with his band, swing bands and orchestras and continues to tour today. He is also a radio presenter with his own show on BBC Three Counties and appeared on the West End stage as Billy Flynn in Chicago. As a supporter of many charities, he regularly performs to raise funds and has been awarded an MBE for his charity work in the 2019 Queen’s New Year Honours list. He will be embarking on a solo tour and celebrating his 40th Anniversary year in spring 2022.

About P&O Cruises
P&O Cruises is Britain’s favourite cruise line, welcoming guests to experience holidays with a blend of discovery, choice, relaxation and exceptional service catered towards British tastes.  P&O Cruises fleet of premium ships combine genuine service, a sense of occasion and attention to detail. In May 2021, P&O Cruises launched Iona, its first Excel class ship. The new LNG-powered ship, with 5,200-guest capacity, is the largest ship built to serve the UK market. Iona features enhancements to already successful brand signature venues from the existing fleet, as well as features newly developed for Iona. P&O Cruises second LNG-powered Excel class ship and sister ship to Iona is named Arvia, meaning from the seashore, and will join the fleet in December 2022. Arvia is an innovative and future-focused ship and will offer outstanding, varied and contemporary holidays. Arvia has been designed to travel to the sun all year-round and to maximise views of the ocean and the seashore from everywhere on board. With over 200 destinations worldwide, P&O Cruises itineraries are carefully curated to inspire discovery, and are varied to suit newcomers and experienced guests alike. With a wide choice of holidays from two days to three months there is something for everyone. P&O Cruises sails to Australia & New Zealand, Baltic, the British Isles, Canada, the Spain, Portugal & the Canary Islands, the Caribbean, Central America, the Far East & Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean, Scandinavia, South America, the South Pacific, the United States and Western Europe.
The company is part of Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE:CUK).  
For further press information please contact:
Michele Andjel, 023 8065 6653 / 07730 732 072
Laura Tattam, 02380 656651 / 07771 283 845
Jenny Hadley,  023 8065 6650 / 07825 120 088