Iona

P&O Cruises

Ship information

Iona

About Iona

Iona is the biggest cruise ship ever built for the UK market, packed with entertainment venues and more than 30 places to eat and drink. With a capacity of 5,200 passengers, the ship has the feel of a lively but classy floating resort.

Iona Cruise Ship's Deck Plan Is Well Planned and Brings the Outside In 

The ship is certainly striking. At the heart of Iona's deck plan is the dazzling Grand Atrium, with walls of glass on both sides spanning three floors, filling the space with light and sea views. Polished white marble and gleaming chrome add to the elegant, airy feel, while a curved marble staircase sweeps down into the centre.

The SkyDome is another 'wow' moment at first sight and a first for P&O Cruises, too. An enormous glass dome covers a double-height space on Decks 16 and 17, which serves as a pool, drinking and dining venue by day and a dramatic entertainment space in the evenings. Other intriguing features making their debut include a boutique, four-screen cinema, an intimate nightclub masterminded by ex-Take That frontman Gary Barlow and the first gin distillery at sea.

There's a lot that's well planned about this ship. Instead of one big pool and the overcrowding that can bring, there are two infinity pools on the cascading aft decks, the indoor SkyDome pool and the smallish Beachcomber pool on Deck 18, which spreads passengers out efficiently. 

Conservatory Mini-suites are a High Point of Iona Cabins

New for Iona are 95 Conservatory Mini-Suites, a brilliant midway option between a balcony cabin and a suite. Iona’s Conservatory Mini-Suites offer a soothing space featuring a deeper balcony with a glass-enclosed sitting area. One of the perks of this room type is it allows passengers to open the area up to create a bigger outdoor space or close it off from the main cabin. This function is handy if you're travelling with a young child and you want to continue your evening after you've put them to bed. 

Entertainment and Restaurants on Iona Target a Younger Crowd 

Iona is a departure in tone for P&O Cruises. It's clearly aimed at a younger demographic than the line's more traditional ships, in the style of the entertainment, nightlife and restaurants.

There are nods to tradition in the formal gala nights (rebranded as Celebration Night); the captain’s midday announcement (sadly inaudible) and familiar restaurants and watering holes that P&O Cruises regulars expect, including Sindhu, Epicurean, Brodie's pub and the Crow's Nest lounge. But in other areas, there's big change; open-seating dining, for example, and the requirement to book literally everything via the MyHoliday app. 

Food on Iona Offers Plenty of Variety, But Not Everything Works 

With so many bars and restaurants, food on Iona offers plenty of variety and you really could eat and drink somewhere different every day. The concept of lots of smaller restaurants instead of a few huge ones means the ship doesn't feel crowded. 

Not everything works. Some of the new restaurants feel soulless, like The Keel & Cow. There's a frustrating adherence to exactly what’s on the bar menus, so you can't, for example, get a martini in the Crow's Nest; you can only order from the fixed menu. There's no turndown in the cabins anymore (suspened during Covid, but never re-instated), which feels odd for anybody who enjoys the sense of luxury a cruise brings. The Wi-Fi is also extremely expensive, at £140 for a week of unlimited use for just one device.

Overall, though, Iona is an impressive ship, packed with quality entertainment and likely to be a huge hit with younger cruisers looking for nightlife, good food and affordable entry-level pricing.

Health & Safety on Iona 

P&O Cruises requires all adults to be fully vaccinated. Children from five upwards who are not vaccinated must take a PCR test within 72 hours before embarkation or on the day of embarkation.

Cabins

Iona has 34 cabin types available

Inside Cabins

8 Inside types to choose from

Inside Cabins

8 Inside types to choose from

Inside Cabins

8 Inside types to choose from

Inside Cabins

8 Inside types to choose from

Inside Cabins

8 Inside types to choose from

Inside Cabins

8 Inside types to choose from

Inside Cabins

8 Inside types to choose from

Inside Cabins

8 Inside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

3 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

3 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

3 Outside types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

15 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

15 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

15 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

15 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

15 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

15 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

15 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

15 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

15 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

15 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

15 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

15 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

15 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

15 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

15 Balcony types to choose from

Suite Cabins

8 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

8 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

8 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

8 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

8 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

8 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

8 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

8 Suite types to choose from

Deck Plans

15 deck images available

Activities and Entertainment

Daytime Fun

There's plenty doing on during the day on Iona, although you do have to sift through a large number of 'seminars' designed to sell health treatments in the spa, jewellery and art from the on-board gallery. Otherwise, there are classes in the gym, which is tucked away on deck 5, bingo, pub quizzes, dance classes and deck sports to while away the day. Ocean Studios, the boutique, four-screen cinema, is a great feature, while there's a lovely library in Anderson's, a peaceful spot for reading until the menu at the gin bar beckons. Once health protocols have eased another stage, gin tastings and even gin distilling classes will be offered for a charge, run in conjunction with the Salcombe Distilling Co, the company that has developed Iona's signature Marabelle gin.

Otherwise, passengers scatter on the open decks to lounge in the 18 whirlpool spas, gaze at the view from the two infinity pools or take the sea air from the broad, wraparound promenade deck. On cooler days, the Grand Atrium has a happy buzz as people read, chat, listen to the pianist and drink coffee at Vistas cafe.

Tip: The performers who entertain in the SkyDome every night have their rehearsal space in a corner of the Grand Atrium. Take a seat and watch them practicing graceful moves on the aerial silks that hang from the ceiling.

At Night

Headliners Theatre
The ship's two-deck theatre is the venue for big production shows, as well as visiting guest acts. A new show, Festival, is packed with feel-good music and high energy, and is a clear indication of the younger market Iona is aimed at, with wellies and face paint where there would once have been feathers and sequins. There are three shows a night here and for now, you need to pre-book on the MyHoliday app.

The Club House
A cavernous lounge opening onto the popular Sunset Bar on the aft deck, the Club House is a venue for game shows, tribute acts and themed music nights. At present, dancing isn't allowed but once Covid restrictions are eased, this will be the ship's big late night spot.

The 710 Club
Named after Iona's shipyard build number, this intimate little cocktail bar and club overseen by former Take That frontman Gary Barlow is the undisputed hit of the ship. Long queues form for each of the three nightly sets, which offer jazz and acoustic sounds, as well as brilliantly executed covers, with themes including rock anthems and chart toppers.

Tip: Get to the 710 Club early as you can't reserve seats

The SkyDome
A swimming pool, lounging area and bar by day, the two-deck-high SkyDome transforms into an entertainment space at night, with dazzling aerial acts and once social distancing has eased, DJ sets compiled by former Blur bassist Alex James, complete with laser shows. The SkyDome is a big venue to fill but should have a real energy once the ship is sailing nearer capacity.

Bars & Nightlife

Iona comes alive with music at night; it's something the ship does really well. In the space of a single evening, you can watch the acrobatic show in the SkyDome, go for cocktails, have dinner, hit the silent disco on deck, squeeze in a theatre production and enjoy a late-night set in the 710 Club.

Our Picks

The place to be on deck: Sunset Bar
Located on the aft deck, with a smoking area to one side, this al fresco bar is always buzzing, from people enjoying an early pint to glasses of rosé flowing with lunch and later, sundowners. There’s live music from a busker throughout the day.

**For Gin Lovers: Anderson's **
An elegant cocktail lounge next to the library, Anderson's has a superb spirits menu. The showpiece of the bar is the first gin still at sea, housed in a climate-controlled, glass room and named Columba. The still is tended by specially trained crewmembers, producing 75 bottles of Iona's signature Marabelle gin per day, its botanicals inspired by the ship's namesake, the Hebridean island of Iona.

For Dramatic Cocktails: Emerald Bar
A glamorous bar looking out onto the Grand Atrium, this popular pre-dinner drinking spot offers cocktails with quirky presentation, for example, served with a flourish under a dome of smoky vapour. Even if you just opt for a glass of wine rather than a fancy daiquiri, this is a smart space for people watching.

For Something Elegant: The Crow's Nest
The Crow's Nest is a P&O Cruises icon, forward on Deck 17 with gorgeous views, cocktail music and a lovely, elegant vibe at sunset. It's next to the Epicurean restaurant, so an easy spot to enjoy a pre-dinner drink before a posh dinner.

Dining

Food onboard is geared to British tastes, with a decent choice of included and speciality (fee) restaurants on Iona. The standard is generally good, though varies by restaurant. Iona's specialty dining, ranging from ​​Indian to gastropub fare to high-end molecular cuisine, are a real treat and worth paying for. 

Of Iona's free restaurants, there are four main dining rooms; the Horizon buffet; a fast-food pool grill, Taste 360; and a canteen-style venue, The Quays, offering fish and chips, one daily Asian dish, hot dogs and burgers, as well as a small selection of plated salads. The Olive Grove, another new restaurant, serves Mediterranean cuisine at lunch and dinner, from mezze sharing plates to pizza, kebabs and tagines. 

Free Restaurants on Iona Cruise Ship

Pearl, Coral, Opal and Aqua restaurants

Iona has four main dining rooms, all of which need to be pre-booked via the app or join a virtual queue on the app. Coral and Pearl are the largest, with more of a traditional MDR-feel with views over the ship's wake; Aqua is the most intimate, and almost feels like a speciality restaurant. The food is hit and miss, with plenty of choice and lighter options. Breakfast includes a full fry-up and a daily special, from Eggs Benedict to kedgeree, and healthier choices including cereals, fruit, smoothies and yogurts. 

The lunch menu features soup, salads, bagels, sandwiches and wraps, and large plates that include British favourites like shepherd's pie, bangers and mash, or seafood fritto misto. Desserts are decadent and comforting, from warm pear Charlotte with cream to chocolate brownies or Bakewell tart.

Dinner menus are imaginative, with five courses spanning starters, soups, mains, desserts and a cheese plate. Vegetarian and gluten-free options are clearly marked. Expect dishes like rainbow trout with avocado mousse, swordfish steak, onion and garlic souffle and a daily roast. Always available dishes include prawn cocktail, cream of tomato soup, grilled salmon, chicken breast, sirloin steak and a fruit salad.

Once a week, there's a gala dinner in all four dining rooms, with the menu designed by Marco Pierre White, one of P&O Cruises' "Food Heroes", including items like lobster mornay and beef Wellington. You can pre-book the Chef's Table for a more intimate setting, with wines paired by Olly Smith (at extra cost), but this isn't a restaurant as such; it's a space in The Horizon, the main buffet, with extra ambience created for dress-up nights.

You can also get daily afternoon tea in the main dining rooms, an extremely generous portion of sandwiches, dainty cakes, warm scones, jam and clotted cream.

Note: Waiters do not ask about allergies, so make sure you tell them before you order.

Horizon Restaurant

The main buffet is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late snacks. There's plenty of choice here, from full English breakfast, pastries and fruit in the mornings to a daily roast with all the trimmings, several excellent curries, pre-plated salads in small bowls and a beautifully presented array of cakes and pre-plated desserts, including gluten-free, vegan and low sugar options.

Restaurants that Cost Extra on Iona

P&O Cruises regulars will find favourites like Sindhu for Asian fusion; the Limelight Club, with nightly cabaret; and the gorgeous Epicurean, perfect for a classy, romantic dinner or one of the finest afternoon teas at sea -- created by Eric "Cake Boy" Lanlard. Olly Smith's wine bar and grazing spot, The Glass House, has an enhanced menu and a prime position on Deck 7, overlooking the Grand Atrium, while a new venue, the Keel and Cow, is a meat lover's dream.

Tip*: Choose your specialty dining and book it on the MyHoliday app as soon as you get on board. The restaurants fill up very quickly.*

Epicurean ($$$$)

Epicurean is the most expensive of the speciality dining restaurants, at £28 per person, but is an absolute steal to what you'd pay on land for this quality of cuisine.

Presentation is exquisite and the service attentive. The roasted red pepper parfait, the pata negra ham, the miso-glazed rack and slow-cooked lamb belly, and the fluffy Emmental souffle are worth trying. There are grills, too, from giant prawns to ribeye and sirloin steak. Look out for the Norwegian-inspired tasting menu when the ship is sailing in the fjords, created by renowned Norwegian chef Kjartan Skjelde.

The Keel and Cow ($$)

The Keel and Cow is new to P&O Cruises and it's a big hit. Taking up a large space on the top deck of the atrium, it's more of an area than a room and lacks any atmosphere. Service is perfuctory and lacklustre, but the food is outstanding. Arrive here with an empty stomach, as the portions are massive. P&O Cruises' Keel and Cow menu offers different cuts of steak, dry-aged in a special cabinet and including a 32oz Tomahawk, for £32, complete with chunky chips, battered onion rings and Portobello mushrooms. The Prime Minister burger, at £8.50, is an 8oz beast, with a side of fries and garlic mayo. There are fish dishes and a surprisingly good vegan Indian platter. It's astonishingly cheap compared to land prices (£12.50 for a 10 oz sirloin) and you'd be hard pressed to spend more than £20 a head (exclusing wine). Great value and great quality.

There's no pre-booking here, and The Keel and Cow is open all day.

The Glass House ($$)

Olly Smith's wine bar and tapas restaurant is the perfect spot for all-day grazing. Pricing is a la carte, with three small plates costing £8.25, including choices such as prawn potstickers, beetroot croquetas, and gin-and-tonic cured salmon.

Larger dishes come in plates of three different items of either chicken, beef, pork, seafood or vegan, from £8, and there’s a vast menu of wines by the glass. When Iona sails to the Canary Islands, there is a new tapas selection by celebrated Spanish chef Jose Pizzaro. 

The Limelight Club ($$)

The Limelight Club isn't new to P&O but deserves mention as the food and entertainment are so good. The three-course menu includes mojito-cured salmon, a superb sea bass with lemon and herb gnocchi and a beautiful chocolate bombe with raspberries and ice cream.

Cabaret acts will vary, but drag queen La Voix was in residence on our cruise, taking off divas including Tina Turner, Liza Minelli and Shirley Bassey in glittering style. The whole venue has an aura of intimate glamour and is excellent value.

Our Top Picks:

  • Epicurean for a big night out
  • The Limelight Club if you like the look of the cabaret act
  • The Glass House for chilled out tapas
  • Keel and Cow for a meat-fest