Iona's first keel block is now in place in Meyer Werft's building dock (Image: P&O Cruises)
German shipbuilder Meyer Werft has laid the keel for P&O Cruises’ first-ever LNG ship, which will be named Iona and be the greenest cruise ship in the UK when she debuts in May 2020.
The shipyard’s team lowered the ship’s central steel block into the building dock using a crane. In keeping with maritime tradition, Meyer Werft and P&O Cruises marked the construction milestone by laying a bronze coin from Iona Abbey and a piece of green marble from the Isle of Iona under the keel block.
“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,” said Paul Ludlow, president of P&O Cruises. “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.”
Meyer Werft will now complete the assembly of the bow and forward part of the ship in the building dock, and also further outfitting the ‘mega block’ of the ship’s superstructure in the harbour basin. This mega block will be brought into the building dock and welded to the rest of the superstructure in August.
“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,” said Ludlow. “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.”
Designed for the British market, Iona will feature P&O Cruises’ first-ever three-deck-high glass Grand Atrium, its first British gastropub venue, a ‘foodie’ market and a top-deck glass SkyDome entertainment venue. Following her launch in May, Iona will spend her maiden summer season sailing seven-night cruises from Southampton, UK to the Norwegian Fjords. She will also offer itineraries to the Canaries, Spain and Portugal in winter.
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