P&O Celebrates Newbuild Milestone for New Iona

Iona Keel

A key stage in the construction of the P&O Iona has been marked at Meyer Werft as the P&O newbuild and yard team celebrated the milestone with the traditional coin-laying ceremony for the 180,000-ton LNG-fueled vessel.

A bronze coin from the historic Iona Abbey and a slice of precious green Iona marble from the island were placed under the block housing the bow thrusters before the block was then lowered onto these items.

P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said: “This was an auspicious occasion in Iona’s build. The coin-laying is a long-held ship-building tradition which is to bring good luck to the ship and its crew through from construction to the future at sea.

“It is very special to think that a small part of the island of Iona will live within our own Iona. We hope that the qualities of beauty, heritage, pride, camaraderie, mutual support and loyalty from the island which attracted us to the name will be inherent in our ship, its crew and guests.

“The build of any ship is an incredible achievement but to see one of this size and scope is an extraordinary feat of skilled design and engineering. To view Iona’s SkyDome take shape was literally breath-taking – no other ship in the world has a glass dome of this quality of construction and scale. The extent of the space on Iona has allowed us to create not only spectacular spaces for shows, entertainment, dining and wellness but also many more intimate spaces for tranquillity and relaxation as well as exclusive performances. Iona will be game-changer for holidays.”

As part of the ceremony the ship’s central steel block, the mega block, which has already been constructed was floated out on to the water, according to a press release.

The 21.5-metre long block weighs 461 tons, is 19.4 metres wide and 9.8 metres high and had to be lifted by a 600-ton crane.

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Virgin Voyages Announces New Itineraries, First Canadian Female Captain

Captain Wendy Williams Named Master of Virgin Voyages' Scarlet Lady
PHOTO: Captain Wendy Williams Named Master of Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady (Virgin Voyages)

Virgin Voyages to feature Key West instead of Havana

With Cuba cruises from the U.S. no longer permitted, Virgin Voyages’ four-day “Havana After Dark” cruises will be replaced with a four-day cruise featuring Key West.

The new itinerary will be called “Fire and Sunset Soirees” and will include a sunset departure from Key West and a midnight departure from Bimini.

All Virgin cruises will visit the line’s Bimini Beach Club but only the Key West itinerary will offer a “late-night beach bonfire soiree” in Bimini.

Virgin said the evening will feature artistic fire installations that draw their inspiration from the fireball sculptures on Necker Island, home to Virgin founder Richard Branson.

Virgin also detailed two seven-day holiday sailings. “Holidaze and Nights” and “New Year’s Ahoy” will call in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, and feature late-night sailaways in Bimini and San Juan.

Wendy Williams was named captain of the Scarlet Lady, Virgin Voyages' first ship.

Wendy Williams was named the captain of the Scarlet Lady, Virgin Voyages’ first ship.

Virgin also said it has appointed a captain for its first ship, the Scarlet Lady. It said that Wendy Williams will become the first Canadian woman to be captain of a ship for a major cruise brand. Virgin said the appointment is in keeping with its Scarlet Squad program, an initiative dedicated to bridging the gender gap in leadership roles across the maritime industry.