YEAH, you and me, we can light up the sky … Gary Barlow would have approved of the spectacular firework display that greeted Britain’s newest cruise ship Iona to the island that inspires her name.
The P&O ship lay at anchor off the Scottish holy island for a special seacation welcome on Monday night during her maiden cruise, which had sailed from Southampton to her namesake destination.
Lighting up the sky over Iona
Iona, which I have visited several times over many years, is a small island in the Inner Hebrides, and home to around 100 people. It’s a beautiful place and the site of historic Iona Abbey, which dates back to 563AD.
The abbey was established by St Columba, and is a popular destination for tourists, most of whom visit on the Caledonian MacBrayne ferries which ply these waters, providing a lifeline link between the Scottish islands.
Cruising off the Scottish holy island
After the firework welcome, Iona was set to start scenic cruising around the Isle of Colonsay, and on to Lochbuie, Duart Castle, Tobermory, Bac Mòr, Fingal’s Cave, the Sound of Jura, Claggain Bay, the Mull of Kintyre and Sanda Island.
Take That frontman Gary Barlow is music director of Iona’s 710 Club, an atmospheric late-night music venue which will offer an opportunity for up-and-coming musicians to get their break.
Gary Barlow, Iona’s music director
Big names on the maiden cruise include Spandau Ballet legend Tony Hadley, comedian Joe Pasquale and Absolutely Fabulous and Britain’s Got Talent singing sensation La Voix, as previously reported here.
P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said: “Iona’s maiden voyage is the start of a new era in travel as Britain’s most environmentally-friendly cruise ship, the first in the country powered by liquefied natural gas, sets sail.
Iona, with the abbey in the background
“For this special maiden voyage we wanted to bring guests to the island of Iona which has influenced many aspects of the ship – the sense of space in the SkyDome through to our gin still named Columba, the heather in our Marabelle gin distilled on board and, of course, the name of the ship.”
Iona boasts the first gin still on a cruise ship, distilling, bottling and labelling tailor-made spirit on board.
After an inaugural season of UK coastal cruises, Iona will offer holidays to Spain and the Canary Islands from September 2021. Fourteen-night cruises are available from £1,299 per person.
For more information or to book call P&O Cruises on 03453 555 111, visit www.pocruises.com or contact a travel agent.