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have been looking to book a cruise on iona next summer. Being put off by the amount of passengers it can carry onboard. Been on QM2 3 times 150,000 tons 2669 passengers. Iona 180,000 tons 5220 passengers. Cannot get my head around it. Its not that much bigger for their to be double the amount of passengers. How are they going to create the space needed or is it just about how many passengers they can pack onboard. Other option is Arcadia but have read a few negative reviews so am unsure about that.

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We are booked on Iona for Feb 2021 and are really looking forward to it. We have been on Britannia and Azura and never felt crowded at all. We were on Arcadia in June and I found it a little claustrophobic. Everyone is different and you will just have to decide for yourself.

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Other cruise lines seem to manage it, Iona is not the first big ship. 

It won't be for everyone but it all comes down to how they manage the space. 

We are looking forward to it, it was cheap enough and if we don't like it, we won't book again. 

Andy

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It is hard to advise since she is still being built. I booked the maiden voyage just to see the ship but seriously doubt I'll book her again as I prefer smaller ships. 

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Iona does seem to be less spacious than QM2. I would guess nobody would build a ship as spacious as Queen Mary 2 today. 

 

Queen Mary 2 has big cabins but of course you only have access to your own. Double, triple and nearly quadruple height spaces take up space.  There are many single occupants of double cabins and often many not triples and quadruples. I have cruised with just over 2000 passengers. She felt empty in places. Cunard prices often reflect this spaciousness. I feel Queen Mary 2 does have a few pinch points though that can mean congestion.  This is particularly apparent with all those sea days. 

 

Iona will have generally smaller cabins. A lot of space seems dedicated to extra tariff dining.  She lacks a ballroom too.I suppose it is up to the designers to make the most of the space they have. We shall all see. I am booked on the second come voyage. It will be interesting. We are in port most days so the ship should be almost empty.

 

My only hope is that Iona does not have the lift and stairs shortage that people report on Britannia. 

 

Best wishes, Stephen. 

Edited by stephen@stoneyard.co.uk

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1 hour ago, stephen@stoneyard.co.uk said:

Iona does seem to be less spacious than QM2. I would guess nobody would build a ship as spacious as Queen Mary 2 today. 

 

Queen Mary 2 has big cabins but of course you only have access to your own. Double, triple and nearly quadruple height spaces take up space.  There are many single occupants of double cabins and often many not triples and quadruples. I have cruised with just over 2000 passengers. She felt empty in places. Cunard prices often reflect this spaciousness. I feel Queen Mary 2 does have a few pinch points though that can mean congestion.  This is particularly apparent with all those sea days. 

 

Iona will have generally smaller cabins. A lot of space seems dedicated to extra tariff dining.  She lacks a ballroom too.I suppose it is up to the designers to make the most of the space they have. We shall all see. I am booked on the second come voyage. It will be interesting. We are in port most days so the ship should be almost empty.

 

My only hope is that Iona does not have the lift and stairs shortage that people report on Britannia. 

 

Best wishes, Stephen. 

I use a scooter and don’t find Britannia’s lifts that bad, no worse than Azura/Ventura especially at the stern when going to dinner where Azura/Ventura have a bar on deck 18 and Britannia doesn’t.

 

Looking at the deck plans Iona will have three sets of stairs and 22 lifts. 8 at the bow end 8 in the middle and 6 at the stern.

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7 hours ago, daiB said:

I use a scooter and don’t find Britannia’s lifts that bad, no worse than Azura/Ventura especially at the stern when going to dinner where Azura/Ventura have a bar on deck 18 and Britannia doesn’t.

 

Looking at the deck plans Iona will have three sets of stairs and 22 lifts. 8 at the bow end 8 in the middle and 6 at the stern.

The main lift congestion on Britannia is midships due to the lack of a staircase. This means that if you are midships and want to go up or down just one or two decks, you have to use the lift whereas, normally, most people would use the stairs, leaving the lifts for those who need them the most. I agree that Iona should be better in that respect, at least she has a the mid ships staircase and what appears to be great lift capacity. What we don’t seem to know yet is the size of the lifts. Hopefully they will be bigger than those on Britannia. 

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Its not the number of passengers it is how the ship is designed.

 

The Celebrity Eclipse is larger than Ventura, but Ventura (and Grand class in general) have a poor layout giving pinch points, limited quieter public areas and the buffet is badly designed.  No crows nest removes a very large public area for use on sea days.  Not too bad with a covered pool, but not all Grand Class have that facility.

 

QM2 is an ocean liner, not a cruise ship, and designed for lots of back to back sea day trips crossing the Atlantic.

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28 minutes ago, pete14 said:

The main lift congestion on Britannia is midships due to the lack of a staircase. This means that if you are midships and want to go up or down just one or two decks, you have to use the lift whereas, normally, most people would use the stairs, leaving the lifts for those who need them the most. I agree that Iona should be better in that respect, at least she has a the mid ships staircase and what appears to be great lift capacity. What we don’t seem to know yet is the size of the lifts. Hopefully they will be bigger than those on Britannia. 

That is definitely the main problem, Britannia's lifts seem to be smaller even than those of Azura/Ventura, and with more passengers and no centre stairs, the problem is compounded.  Hopefully Iona will have similar sized lifts to most other Papenburg built cruise ships, those on Celebrity's Solstice class are about 30% bigger than the measly ones the Italians fit.

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As Jennizor has said at post #2, everyone is different.  I have sailed on Azura twice and on both occasions felt it to be hideously overcrowded, so am unlikely ever to book Iona - just my choice.  If you think Iona might be crowded however, MSC Cruises next class of ship (named "World Class", a misnomer of gigantic proportions in the making) is apparently going to be just under 206.000 tons and carry 6,850 pax 😱

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My take on Iona is that it is aimed towards a different demographic than the usual P&O clientele. Gearing it towards younger generations with the focus on food and freedom of times should help towards its space management. 

 

The millennial generation (of which I am a part of) prefer less human interaction. Yes Ionas public space is lower per passenger but I feel that a lot of passengers are going to be spending more time in their rooms. There doesn't actually seem to be that many interior rooms and with the layout of rooms on the exterior I am far more inclined to spend time in the room rather than the room I was in on Azura. 

 

The Quays variety of food offerings should absorb a fair few passengers as P&O is now indicating that these are included in the price. The atrium seems huge with no shops around its edge like on the other ships so the capacity of that space should be significant. Freedom dining should ensure that passengers aren't all in the same place at once. 

 

The skydome should help disperse crowds due to it being evening entertainment on a higher deck (avoiding that strange occurance on Azura where everyone on the ship swaps ends). However this is all from studying deck plans so it will be interesting to see how Iona is when I'm on it in June.

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What a well considered and brilliant first post!  Welcome aboard.

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8 hours ago, Showingthatgame said:

My take on Iona is that it is aimed towards a different demographic than the usual P&O clientele. Gearing it towards younger generations with the focus on food and freedom of times should help towards its space management. 

 

The millennial generation (of which I am a part of) prefer less human interaction. Yes Ionas public space is lower per passenger but I feel that a lot of passengers are going to be spending more time in their rooms. There doesn't actually seem to be that many interior rooms and with the layout of rooms on the exterior I am far more inclined to spend time in the room rather than the room I was in on Azura. 

 

The Quays variety of food offerings should absorb a fair few passengers as P&O is now indicating that these are included in the price. The atrium seems huge with no shops around its edge like on the other ships so the capacity of that space should be significant. Freedom dining should ensure that passengers aren't all in the same place at once. 

 

The skydome should help disperse crowds due to it being evening entertainment on a higher deck (avoiding that strange occurance on Azura where everyone on the ship swaps ends). However this is all from studying deck plans so it will be interesting to see how Iona is when I'm on it in June.

 

An interesting and valuable perspective. They may be intending this ship for younger passengers who behave differently. Who will book it and what they will want to do onboard is a different matter.  

 

Industry research  I was shown suggested that cruise lines have had limited success attracting new passengers to new ships. They tend to get the same passengers doing more cruises.  Often attracted by significant discounts. In the UK the average age of a cruiser has not changed much since these mega sized new style ships have been introduced. 

 

Interesting idea that they will spend more time in their cabin. That is not what the cruise lines have traditionally wanted. You can spend money in your cabin but generally not as much as elsewhere on the ship. Also Iona cabins are generally quite small. 

 

I am looking forward to trying Iona. My only other big ships are QM2, Symphony of the Seas and MSC Bellisima. QM2 is of course unique.  Symphony I thought worked amazing well. MSC was just so so.   

 

I am on an early Iona cruise (if she is delivered on time). I am feeling it will be  absolutely wonderful or totally dreadful. The difference will possibly be down to how well P&O manage all these people and the ship itself. 

 

Thank,you, Stephen. 

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23 hours ago, daiB said:

I use a scooter and don’t find Britannia’s lifts that bad, no worse than Azura/Ventura especially at the stern when going to dinner where Azura/Ventura have a bar on deck 18 and Britannia doesn’t.

 

Looking at the deck plans Iona will have three sets of stairs and 22 lifts. 8 at the bow end 8 in the middle and 6 at the stern.

 

Three stairs and twenty two lifts should be enough.  I like to use the stairs but are sometimes tempted in by a lift. 

 

Than you, Stephen. 

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9 hours ago, stephen@stoneyard.co.uk said:

 

Industry research  I was shown suggested that cruise lines have had limited success attracting new passengers to new ships. They tend to get the same passengers doing more cruises.  Often attracted by significant discounts. In the UK the average age of a cruiser has not changed much since these mega sized new style ships have been introduced. 

 

 

We recently enjoyed a summer holiday cruise on Independence OTS with our youngest son and family, and the age profile was very low indeed, mainly young families. I accept that school holiday cruises will be very different to most others, however these passengers are quite likely to become repeat customers in the future; of course having tasted the resort style of Royal Caribbean they will probably be reluctant to spend their hard earned money on staid old P&O, until they too become old.  So maybe the research data you were shown was only based on P&O's customer profile.

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Very interesting Stephen.  Just one thought about the research around average age for cruisers.  Could it be that there are in fact more younger people cruising but that there are also more older cruisers cruising and that they are in fact older?  The average age of the population has increased due to better health and successful treatment of conditions and could lead to people being able to cruise much later in life.

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P&O will always struggle with the younger audience due to the reputation of the older crowd which will be hard to loose (and probably don't want to loose entirely) so it doesn't surprise me they have had no success in lowering the average age.

 

In my opinion there is a whole market untapped of young couples who just want a relaxing holiday. Cruising offers a great mix of new things to do with plenty of time for relaxing. Rccl and ncl have too many gimmicks and due to the vast amount of children I could never justify the increased cost. P&O is the right cost bracket and mix of young children but needs to change a few things ontop of what they have done with Iona to see an impact. 

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I think that change is something that both P&O and some of us longer-term cruisers struggle with.  I am not old - still under 60 - but I prefer smaller ships and a traditional-style cruise.  I do however recognise that P&O need to change to ensure their future.  Sadly, they don't seem to have a clear sense of their own direction and are caught between wholesale change and slow evolution. Holland America Line for instance (also part of the Carnival stable) have taken a much slower evolutionary path. I do only speak as I see it personally and I know there are other long-term P&O pax that are equally happy on Aurora, Azura or Britannia etc.  There is also the added complication of P&O being part of a large conglomeration and whatever that means in terms of exactly how much influence Carnival Corp exerts over P&O.

 

I would be very interested to see what sort of changes you would welcome P&O introducing to bring about the impact you would welcome.

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Ionas abandonment of set dining times is a very welcome move but i do feel they should take it further. If they were to change the MDRs into 4 different types of restaurants that offered different dining experiences I think it would attract more people alongside the introduction of more tabels for 2's. It would not surprise me if Iona has significantly more smaller tabels. Only issue is it would likely sacrifice revenue in the speciality restaurants so I don't expect them to introduce the different dinning experience concept. 

 

The itineraries need changing. We want to sail from Southampton for a week but the Norwegian Frojds aren't exactly a destination we had considered. They either need a week long "Baltic" or a week long Spain/Portugal cruise that Iona can alternate between. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Showingthatgame said:

Ionas abandonment of set dining times is a very welcome move but i do feel they should take it further. If they were to change the MDRs into 4 different types of restaurants that offered different dining experiences I think it would attract more people alongside the introduction of more tabels for 2's. It would not surprise me if Iona has significantly more smaller tabels. Only issue is it would likely sacrifice revenue in the speciality restaurants so I don't expect them to introduce the different dinning experience concept. 

 

The itineraries need changing. We want to sail from Southampton for a week but the Norwegian Frojds aren't exactly a destination we had considered. They either need a week long "Baltic" or a week long Spain/Portugal cruise that Iona can alternate between. 

 

 

I think that the Norwegian fjords are an excellent option for a 7 night cruise. If you think of the options, you could do cities towards and in the Western Baltic but wouldn’t get very far or through Biscay, probably no further than Lisbon. I know what my preference out of those 3 would be.

I do agree that the variety of eating venues on Iona is a good idea but I am a little sad that club dining is not offered at all. 

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5 hours ago, Showingthatgame said:

Ionas abandonment of set dining times is a very welcome move but i do feel they should take it further. If they were to change the MDRs into 4 different types of restaurants that offered different dining experiences I think it would attract more people alongside the introduction of more tabels for 2's. It would not surprise me if Iona has significantly more smaller tabels. Only issue is it would likely sacrifice revenue in the speciality restaurants so I don't expect them to introduce the different dinning experience concept. 

 

The itineraries need changing. We want to sail from Southampton for a week but the Norwegian Frojds aren't exactly a destination we had considered. They either need a week long "Baltic" or a week long Spain/Portugal cruise that Iona can alternate between. 

 

 

RCI tried splitting their MDR into 4 different concepts.  It never really worked and they gave it up on the newer ships.

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20 hours ago, Showingthatgame said:

Ionas abandonment of set dining times is a very welcome move but i do feel they should take it further. If they were to change the MDRs into 4 different types of restaurants that offered different dining experiences I think it would attract more people alongside the introduction of more tabels for 2's. It would not surprise me if Iona has significantly more smaller tabels. Only issue is it would likely sacrifice revenue in the speciality restaurants so I don't expect them to introduce the different dinning experience concept. 

 

The itineraries need changing. We want to sail from Southampton for a week but the Norwegian Frojds aren't exactly a destination we had considered. They either need a week long "Baltic" or a week long Spain/Portugal cruise that Iona can alternate between. 

 

 

Thanks.  Interesting to see your thoughts.  I think you are right about the potential loss of revenue by providing more varied cuisine types in the mdr.  I guess there could also be a galley-space problem?  Not sure whether there will be more tables for two in the mdrs but I think there will be plenty in the plethora of other eating venues - both paid for and free.

 

A 7-night to Iberia is certainly possible as they already provide these on other ships.  I am hopeless at working out distances, but I would think a 7-night Scandinavia cruise could be possible, to the likes of Copenhagen, Oslo & Stockholm - although Oslo is at the end of a narrow fjord which affects speed.  The other issue with ports is whether they can handle a ship of that size and if the ship needs to refuel on a 7-night cruise.  The availability of LNG fuel then becomes an issue.

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3 hours ago, Britboys said:

Thanks.  Interesting to see your thoughts.  I think you are right about the potential loss of revenue by providing more varied cuisine types in the mdr.  I guess there could also be a galley-space problem?  Not sure whether there will be more tables for two in the mdrs but I think there will be plenty in the plethora of other eating venues - both paid for and free.

 

A 7-night to Iberia is certainly possible as they already provide these on other ships.  I am hopeless at working out distances, but I would think a 7-night Scandinavia cruise could be possible, to the likes of Copenhagen, Oslo & Stockholm - although Oslo is at the end of a narrow fjord which affects speed.  The other issue with ports is whether they can handle a ship of that size and if the ship needs to refuel on a 7-night cruise.  The availability of LNG fuel then becomes an issue.

The problem with a Baltic cruise for 7 nights is that Copenhagen is about as far as you could go. Stockholm is just too far away. The fuel is OK as all refuelling would take place in Southampton.

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On ‎9‎/‎16‎/‎2019 at 2:53 PM, Showingthatgame said:

My take on Iona is that it is aimed towards a different demographic than the usual P&O clientele. Gearing it towards younger generations with the focus on food and freedom of times should help towards its space management. 

 

The millennial generation (of which I am a part of) prefer less human interaction. Yes Ionas public space is lower per passenger but I feel that a lot of passengers are going to be spending more time in their rooms. There doesn't actually seem to be that many interior rooms and with the layout of rooms on the exterior I am far more inclined to spend time in the room rather than the room I was in on Azura. 

 

The Quays variety of food offerings should absorb a fair few passengers as P&O is now indicating that these are included in the price. The atrium seems huge with no shops around its edge like on the other ships so the capacity of that space should be significant. Freedom dining should ensure that passengers aren't all in the same place at once. 

 

The skydome should help disperse crowds due to it being evening entertainment on a higher deck (avoiding that strange occurance on Azura where everyone on the ship swaps ends). However this is all from studying deck plans so it will be interesting to see how Iona is when I'm on it in June.

I would add that P&O must also thinking about the affordability of cruises in the future. We are still at a time when those glorious final salary pensions are being received making smaller ships and higher prices the norm. Add 25 years and the disposable income of 50+ year olds will be much, much less than today. Inheritances will be far less likely until mid-late 60's as mum and dad live longer, massive mortgages will still be serviced until retirement or longer due to such high property values and when retirement is eventually reached will pensions be enough to give options above a beach holiday in Benidorm.

 

Bigger ships with more people on board at a cheaper price could be the only way forward to stay in business or company's like P&O.

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5 hours ago, daiB said:

The problem with a Baltic cruise for 7 nights is that Copenhagen is about as far as you could go. Stockholm is just too far away. The fuel is OK as all refuelling would take place in Southampton.

Thanks Dai.  I wasn't sure about Stockholm or whether the ship could do the whole week without refueling.  They could do a Scandinavia cruise in 7 days though.  Crown Princess does one next year calling at Kristiansand, Copenhagen, Skagen and Oslo. I suppose it would just depend on whether all those ports are able to take a ship the size of Iona.

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