Iona sets a precedent for a new type of holiday, says P&O Cruises boss Paul Ludlow

‘Iona offers a new type of cruise’: P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow

P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow explains to Vicky Mayer why the launch of new ship Iona represents a significant milestone not just for the line but also the wider cruise industry.

Which parts of Iona are you particularly excited about and why?

The ship sets a precedent for a new type of holiday packed full of exciting 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.

On Iona guests can experience more than 30 places to eat and drink. We have collaborated with Spanish chef José Pizarro and Norwegian chef Kjartan Skjelde to create menus inspired by Spain and Norway – the countries Iona will visit.

What does it feel like to be on board?

I’m delighted that the ideas that we have been viewing on plans for the last couple of years have come to fruition.

We’ve achieved our mission of bringing the outside in and have created spectacular areas for viewing the destinations Iona will visit, including our SkyDome with its glass roof and pool and three deck atrium at the heart of the ship.

P&O Cruises new ship Iona
Iona has been described as “Britain’s most environmentally friendly cruise ship”.

What has the reaction been from your guests?

There’s been a really positive reaction from guests who have already travelled on the ship. We’re seeing many booking a subsequent holiday on one of Iona’s winter sun breaks to Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands or to the Norwegian Fjords in summer.

She’s a big ship – do you expect your new ships to all be this size?

Following the arrival of Arvia next year we’ll have seven different sized ships, from Aurora welcoming approximately 1,800 guests through to Iona welcoming 5,200 guests.

As well as this, we offer further choice for guests with the number of destinations we travel to across the globe. We want variety across our fleet – there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach.

What sort of entertainment can guests expect on board?

Spectacular aerial shows, the brainchild of Canadian entertainment company Creativiva, up and coming acts in The 710 Club, performances from Gary Barlow, the four-screen Ocean Studios cinema and children’s activities are just some of the entertainment guests will find on board Iona.

Guests can also watch the premiere season of new show Festival, created and produced by Jonathan Wilkes and creative director Paul Domaine.

The show charts the experiences of two groups of friends who meet at a summer festival and features feel-good anthems, stomping wellies, arresting choreography and the latest LED technology.

P&O Cruises new ship Iona
Iona’s SkyDome features a glass roof and a pool with a retractable stage.

Iona’s godmother is Dame Irene Hays – why did you choose her?

Since the inception of Hays Travel there is no one who has been more supportive of cruising or been more of an ambassador for the travel industry than Dame Irene Hays.

We consequently felt there was no one more appropriate to take on the special role of Iona’s godmother.

Now Iona has been launched, what are your plans for her sister ship next year?

Iona’s sister ship Arvia will feature Altitude Skywalk, a unique high-ropes experience, a swim-up bar and a new restaurant Green & Co featuring Mizuhana serving a plant and fish-led menu.

We have so much in store for guests on this ship and are really looking forward to revealing more in the coming months.

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