British cruise ship operator, P&O Cruises, has launched the latest addition to its fleet, Iona, with interiors designed by hospitality experts, Jestico + Whiles. Nearly three years since we first started following this project, let’s take a look inside Britain’s largest cruise ship…
Britain’s largest and most environmentally friendly ship, powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) will accommodate up to 5,200 guests. Iona was named in a spectacular ceremony broadcast to a virtual audience on Sunday May 16 and the ship’s maiden voyage will be on August 7, sailing the UK coast and up to her namesake island.
The award-winning interior design and architecture studio, Jestico + Whiles, which recently took part in a panel discussion on the new era of lifestyle at Hotel Designs LIVE, has designed most of the food and beverage spaces throughout the ship and the most spectacular space of all, the soaring triple-height Grand Atrium which captures unprecedented panoramic views across the ever-changing seascape, as far as the horizon.
The Grand Atrium is the heart of Iona, a lively focal point that encapsulates the spirit of the ship, with spectacular views and natural light. This special space is designed to ‘draw the outside in’ and, accordingly, Jestico + Whiles has made the sea the hero of the space, allowing guests to connect with the seascape around them.The Grand Atrium will be, according to the occasion and time of day, either playground or sanctuary.
“The refocusing of the guest experiences on the sea is the heart of an entirely new brief.” – Jennifer de Vere-Hopkins, Associate Director at Jestico + Whiles.
It a key entertainment space, designed meticulously to effortlessly accommodate a wide variety of experiences, from musical performance to thrilling aerialists.
At other times it will attract guests throughout the day for convivial repose, offering from morning coffee as the sun rises and sundowners at dusk.
An elegant, gravity defying, arcing staircase of Italian marble with a filigree, bright silver serpentine balustrade serves as the centre piece to the space, evoking the glamour of the iconic cruise ships of the early 20th century. Designed as a sculpture, its swooping form leads guests on a journey through the decks offering ever changing views.
Since you’re here, why not read our ‘suites on the high seas’ feature, which explores why hotel designers were asked to design cruise operators latest vessels?
The unifying experience of the atrium is always the view to the sea that provides an enchanting, captivating backdrop to the activity within.
“Despite the challenge of such a large space, we have worked closely with P&O Cruises to create a unique Grand Atrium that is harmonious with the separate venues, making the space both open and intimate,” said Jennifer de Vere-Hopkins, Associate Director at Jestico + Whiles. The refocusing of the guest experiences on the sea is the heart of an entirely new brief. The sea becomes the focus of the triple-height space; the sinuous curves are shaped around it, framing and complementing the views to the outside.”
P&O Cruises Senior Vice President, Paul Ludlow, added: “We’ve set out to make sure the sea is the star on Iona, and the design of the Grand Atrium tells you so much about how special she is going to be. Balancing intimate spaces with larger social areas, guests will be wowed by the three storey high glass walls and the ever-changing view they reveal. From the moment they step onto the staircase, I know guests will be swept away by the beautiful design.”
Jestico + Whiles has designed P&O Cruises first ever ‘gastro pub’ – The Keel and Cow – on Deck 8, with views over the Grand Atrium and the ocean. The Glass House on Deck 7 will include an impressive wine list and menu curated by award-winning wine expert Olly Smith, wines from around the world are served by the glass. Wine connoisseurs will be well taken care of with a new experience, Cellar Door at the Glass House will offer wine talks, tastings and wine-pairing dinners. Guests can relax with unbeatable views as they watch impromptu aerial and circus performances in the three-storey high space.
On Deck 6 at the Vistas Cafe Bar there is a unique offer from P&O Cruises Food Hero and master pâtissier Eric Lanlard. The nearby Emerald Bar will evoke the glamour of a 1920s cocktail bar.
Iona was constructed at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany. She holds 5,200 passengers and is the largest cruise ship for the British market.
Main image credit: P&O Cruises