A CRUISE firm has added a new ship to its fleet - a move it says is a "positive signal for the future".

P&O cruises has now taken ownership of Iona, the largest cruise ship ever built for the UK market.

The vessel weighs 185,000 tonnes, is 345m in length, has 17 guest decks, and is the first British cruise ship to be powered by liquified gas.

P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow, who was at an official handover ceremony in Papenburg, Germany, said: "Iona’s delivery is a very positive signal for the future of cruising.  

"She is now officially part of the P&O Cruises fleet and we are focused on readying her to welcome guests during her new maiden season to Northern Europe, Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands from our home port of Southampton.

Daily Echo:

“Already eagerly anticipated by our guests, crew and the communities we visit, events this year have increased the sense of anticipation even more.

“Whilst our operations are currently paused until early 2021 Iona will not be sailing for the moment but we look forward to our guests experiencing this game-changing ship as we will continue to offer unparalleled holidays at sea whilst also upholding the latest approved travel protocols.”

The ship also includes eight specialty resrautants, 13 entertainment venues, four swimming pools, and 16 whirlpools.