In August 2022, we completed our third cruise onboard P&Os newest ship, Iona. Our previous two Iona cruises both took place whilst there were still Covid restrictions ongoing, so this was our first chance to see what she had to offer in full and see how she felt during an almost full sailing. We've got absolutely no qualms about saying we love Iona and we had a brilliant time on this cruise. P&O are our favourite (and most used) cruise line and this cruise definitely didn't disappoint. We're going to start off by detailing some of our favourite things, and a few bits that annoyed us, we'll go into a bit more detail about what we did onboard in the coming weeks.
The ship itself - Iona is a beautiful ship. She has a modern feel and is perfectly designed for colder weather cruising with lots of indoor spaces. The glass panelled atrium area feels light and airy and allows you to appreciate the views whilst avoiding the wind. Something that was also a pleasant surprise to us was the way it never felt busy onboard. There are so many different places to sit that venues were never crowded and we could always find a seat wherever we wanted to be.
The Quays - this is a fantastic addition and helps with spreading the lunch time crowds out. It takes a bit of pressure off the buffet and Taste 360 areas whilst offering some great food choices. Lizzy loves the fish and chips, while Laura's favourite is the southern fried chicken.
Service - having cruised on a chaotic Enchanted Princess the week before we were worried that Iona would be experiencing the same problems, but this was not the case. There were plenty of staff in every venue and service was fast, efficient and friendly. We didn't experience any long wait times onboard, the longest wait time we had was for a table in the Keel and Cow one evening and that was well worth waiting for.
Our cabin - we used our last bit of FCC (from 2020 cancellations) up on this cruise, so were able to treat ourselves to a balcony at the very front of the ship. We were in 15104 directly under the bridge, so this meant that our balcony was steel fronted which may put some people off, however, this also meant that the balcony was extremely spacious. The views were breath taking and we would absolutely recommend this cabin for a fjords cruise. It's also great on Iona that you get a sofa as standard in a balcony cabin, that bit of extra space is great and it was nice to have somewhere to sit other than the bed.
The Limelight Club - this was by far our favourite night of the cruise. We saw La Voix in Limelight on a previous cruise and really enjoyed ourselves, so were excited to have another opportunity to visit. This time we saw Jaymi Hensley of Union J who was extremely entertaining. He sang lots of our favourite songs and was a fantastic storyteller. The food was of a very high standard and the service from the staff in there was exceptional. It is definitely worth the extra charge!
Repetitive entertainment - this is probably partly our fault for cruising on Iona three times within a year, but we were disappointed that the two headliners shows were Festival and Centre Stage. Unfortunately, we had seen these shows on both of our previous Iona cruises. The SkyDome show was Triboo which was also a repeat for us. We'd love to see a bit more variation. This issue isn't helped by the fact that the shows are each performed for 2 nights, so it really limited our entertainment options.
Chef's table - we booked this as Lizzy is a fan of the beef wellington and you can't get that in the MDR on celebration night on Iona. We knew that this took place in the buffet but we had expected the area where we were seated to be closed off like it is when used as the Beach House. Instead it was open, and there were lots of people walking through as well as staff wheeling through trolleys of plates etc. The atmosphere put a bit of a dampener on what would have been a lovely meal and we can't understand why they didn't simply use one of the dining rooms for this rather than the buffet.
Main dining room menu - similarly to the entertainment issue, this ones partially our fault but we're starting to get a bit bored of the MDR menus. The great thing about Iona is that there are lots of other options so on this cruise we ended up avoiding the MDR as much as we could. We're hoping to see some menu updates from P&O very soon.