P&O takes delivery of its biggest ever cruise ship as long as four football pitches with 17 decks and gin distillery

P&O Cruises has taken delivery its biggest ever cruise ship with 17 decks and its own gin distillery – the world’s first at sea.

Iona weighs 185,000 tonnes and is the length of four football pitches with a capacity to take 5,200 holidaymakers, when they're finally allowed on board.

The behemoth was due launch in May but that was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Passengers will have to wait even longer to experience Iona, as P&O Cruises has suspended its operations until early next year because of travel restrictions.

Iona’s maiden season will see her cruise to northern Europe, Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands from our home port of Southampton.

As well as being the biggest ship in the P&O fleet, Iona is the first British liner powered by liquefied natural gas.

Speaking at a handover ceremony at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany, P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said: "Iona's delivery is a very positive signal for the future of cruising.

"Already eagerly anticipated by our guests, crew and the communities we visit, events this year have increased the sense of anticipation even more.

"Whilst our operations are currently paused until early 2021 Iona will not be sailing for the moment.

“But we look forward to our guests experiencing this game-changing ship as we will continue to offer unparalleled holidays at sea whilst also upholding the latest approved travel protocols."

According to World of Cruising, Iona will be P&O’s most glamourous ships to date.

A Grand Atrium will span three decks and features floor-to-ceiling glass walls have been installed to maximise the views and natural light.

A glass dome ship and has been designed to provide a unique venue for entertainment overseen by Gary Barlow, Iona’s musical director.

The delivery comes as a fleet of cruise ships has forced anchor the English Channel as a result of the coronavirus.

P&O has said its ships remain at sea because its home port of Southampton does not have room for all of them to dock.

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