Cruise Lines and Ship Reviews

P&O Cruises reveals Iona’s family offering and new details about dining venues

Exciting global street food experiences, a fun gelateria serving award-winning gelato, a four-screen cinema complex and extraordinary pop-up performances are just some of the new options onboard Iona that will ensure the ultimate holiday for families. 

A new dining concept called The Quays is a lively multi-venue dining piazza offering an impressive line-up of eateries and restaurants. There’s a fun street-food atmosphere with plenty of buzz, theatre and colour adding to the beachfront promenade vibe. With access onto the Promenade Deck, outdoor dining is available too. It’s all about flexible, fun, family-friendly food – the perfect place for a quick snack, light lunch or informal dinner. 

All the family will love The Boardwalk Diner, where American classics meet Southern soul food with an all-day menu including chargrilled burgers, hot dogs, eggs over easy, southern-fried chicken with a side of slaw and so much more. 

Fusion is a hot spot for lovers of authentic Asian flavours. Offering take-away dishes all day, enjoy an odyssey around South East Asia in a relaxed and casual environment.

For seaside hunger cravings at lunch or dinnertime, nothing beats traditional British fish and chips, and you can find just that at Hook Line and Vinegar. Think crispy battered fish, calamari, fish burgers, scampi, crab cakes – all served with chips and mushy peas.

With a strong focus on food provenance, The Olive Grove celebrates the flavours of the southern and eastern Mediterranean with authentic dishes and sharing platters. It’s the ideal venue for a celebratory family meal – with options to eat in the restaurant or in the conservatory area. 

For more exciting global cuisines all the family will enjoy, there’s Taste 360, a new signature concept offering a street-food-style dining experience on deck so guests can try exciting flavours with a side of dramatic sea views. 

Located at the top of the Grand Atrium at the entrance to The Quays, and with access to the Promenade Deck, Ripples is an informal and family-friendly venue serving scoops of luxury Italian-style gelato courtesy of Snowflake. However, there’s far more on offer than stylishly served cones – guests young and old will be tempted by gelato cakes, sundaes, customisable sticks, cookies, the creamiest milkshakes and even a three-tiered gelato afternoon tea. There will also be exclusive flavours created especially for Iona, including a taste experience that takes its inspiration from the ship’s inaugural season cruising the spectacular Norwegian fjords. 

Family entertainment

Iona also offers a full programme of entertainment and programmes that appeals to all youngsters, from toddlers to teens. The Reef onboard activity programme keeps children aged six months to 12 years happy and entertained throughout the day and evening; Scene gives teens aged 13 to 17 their own cool place to hang out and test their skills with the latest gaming technology; while the Night Nursery allows parents the chance to enjoy Iona’s extensive array of dining and entertainment options without little ones in tow. 

If parents can tear their kids away from the clubs, the whole family will enjoy an outing to Ocean Studios, a four-screen cinema complex offering a warm welcome, comfortable seating and a premium cinema experience. With screenings throughout the day, there’s always an option to see an age-appropriate blockbuster or family classic – complete with popcorn, ice cream and snacks, of course. 

There’s also The Club House where families can play games and enjoy entertainment and game shows; a range of swimming pools, family-friendly shows in the Headliners Theatre and extraordinary pop-up performances, including aerial and circus performances, in the Grand Atrium and SkyDome. 

Shore excursions

There’s just as much fun to be had ashore thanks to some exciting shore excursions aimed specifically at families. These include: 

Explore the Atlantic: What wonders lie in the depths of the Atlantic Ocean? Guests will find out (without getting wet) in Ålesund on the Atlantic Sea-Park On Your Own shore experience. The Atlantic Sea-Park, one of Europe’s largest saltwater aquariums, is built into the coastline and offers scenic views across the ocean to the nearby islands. Gaze into 11 large landscape aquariums filled with north Atlantic sea life from various ocean depths. There are opportunities to get hands-on at the open touch pools, watch the seals and penguins play and peer into the gargantuan tank that holds seven million pints of seawater. 

Float through a Fjord: Guests will connect with the wilderness in a fun and relaxing way as they explore the waters of the Geirangerfjord – one of Mother Nature’s masterpieces – on the Geirangerfjord Kayaking guided adventure. They will hear fascinating stories of the region as they glide by crashing waterfalls and tiny farms clinging to the emerald hillsides. At Preacher’s Pulpit, they will peer up at the sheer cliff face that climbs almost 610m into the sky from their vantage point on the fjord. They can also fill their lungs with the pure air and gaze out towards the famous Seven Sisters waterfall, which thunders dramatically down the mountainside. 

Zip through the treetops: What do zip-wires, bridges, Tarzan swings, a flying car and a spider’s web have in common? They can all be found on the In Between Branches adventure in Cádiz. Located in the Roche pine forest, just a stone’s throw from one of Cádiz’s most beautiful beaches, the Entre Ramas Adventure Park offers hours of fun for families with 58 games spread over six circuits of varying degrees of difficulty. Families will be given a demonstration and a safety briefing by specialised instructors who will teach them to move safely through the park, before heading off on an adventure that will have them climbing ladders, balancing on bridges, soaring between trees on a zipwire and more. 

Have a ball: No matter which team they support, a visit to Camp Nou – Europe’s largest football stadium – is sure to be an unforgettable pilgrimage for any football fan. Camp Nou is home to F.C. Barcelona, known locally as Barça,  which has more than 100,000 members. The stadium was built in 1957 and extended in 1982 to accommodate an astonishing 98,000 fans. On arrival at the stadium, guests will walk through the visiting team’s changing room and continue along the corridor where players enter onto the ground. They can also check out the press and interview rooms and the Barça Museum, which displays memorabilia and trophies. 

With so much to see and do on board and on shore, families will be out and about having fun exploring. However, when it’s time for rest and relaxation, Iona offers a great choice of accommodation for families, including two special family suites at the front of the ship. All family-friendly cabins have been carefully designed to maximise space by day and create flexible sleeping arrangements by night. 

P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow commented: “It’s not easy finding a holiday that caters to everyone’s needs and when you’re travelling with children, your happiness depends on theirs. We believe we’ve come up with the perfect solution – unprecedented choice and flexibility when it comes to dining as well as a fun and welcoming environment so parents can relax and recharge while the kids have the time of their lives. Iona really is the ultimate family holiday.” 

Iona is currently being built at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg and will be launched in May 2020. 

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