(CNN) – It took two years to build, but thanks to this incredible time-lapse video, the entire building process for a huge new ship from P&O Cruises can be watched in just over a minute.
The fascinating footage shows the many sections of the Iona, the largest ship ever built for the British cruise market and being put together piece by piece at Meyer Werft in Papenburg.
In the final moments, the 185,000 ton ship with a capacity of 5,200 guests leaves the shipyard and goes to the water.
Iona measures 345 meters and runs on liquefied natural gas (LNG). It consists of 17 guest decks, 13 entertainment options, four swimming pools including an infinity pool and a gin distillery.
The most impressive feature is arguably the two-deck SkyDome, which houses a swimming pool that can be turned into a stage at night.
“While our operations are currently suspended until early 2021, Iona will not be sailing for the time being,” said Paul Ludlow, President of P&O Cruises, at the official handover ceremony in October.
“However, we look forward to our guests experiencing this groundbreaking ship as we continue to offer unrivaled vacations at sea while adhering to the latest approved travel protocols.”
While Iona is one of the first cruise ships in the world to run on LNG (liquefied natural gas), several more will follow.
Costa Cruises and AIDA Cruises also have cruise lines that run on the more environmentally friendly gas that cools down until it becomes liquid.
The ship took two years to build.
Courtesy of P&O Cruises
Iona was originally supposed to join the P&O Cruises fleet in April, but this was pushed back due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
P & O Cruises has ceased operations at least until the beginning of 2021.
Despite the pandemic, 18 new ships have been delivered or are due to be delivered to cruise lines this year, according to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), an industry body that represents many of the world’s largest cruise lines.
Five ships scheduled for 2020 have been delayed until next year, but the CLIA insists that orders remain close to historic highs.
Iona is likely to start her new first season in Northern Europe, Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands from Southampton sometime next year.
Princess Cruises’ Enchanted Princess is one of the other major cruise lines to have delivered in recent months and the first to be completed by Italian shipyard Fincantieri since the pandemic.
Such developments have given a much-needed boost to the cruise world, which has been hard hit by the pandemic.
“It’s a good sign that lines continue to introduce new ships – and plans for new ships – especially given the current climate,” said Colleen McDaniel, editor-in-chief of cruise travel website Cruise Critic.
“We have seen the retirement of some older ships and the delay of new ships, but the lines are still keen to invest in the future of their fleets.
“And for consumers, it shows that the lines have confidence – they double compared to the industry and its fleet.”
A big blow to the cruise industry
However, Covid-19 pretty much stalled cruises. Earlier this year, a series of outbreaks on ships resulted in both passengers and crew members being stranded at sea for months and closed ports refusing to disembark.The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a no-sail order on March 14 for ships arriving from U.S. ports and much of the industry’s shipping fleet has docked.Back in August, Bari Golin-Blaugrund, a spokeswoman for the Cruise Lines International Association, stressed that the CLIA was confident that the cruise would recover, noting that the demand for holidays was already high after 2021.
However, with most of the cruise operations still suspended, the economic impact has been astounding.
According to the Financial Times, 19 new ships valued at more than $ 9 billion should launch this year.
However, most have been delayed due to coronavirus-related issues. Some shipyards are completely closed, while work has slowed in many shipyards still in operation.
Some companies have chosen to delay the launch of completed ships. For example, the debut of Scarlet Lady, the first ship on the Virgin Voyages cruise line, has been pushed back twice.
“Beyond the business interruption, shipyards have experienced delays due to viruses and obstacles such as lockdowns and staff reductions,” added McDaniel.
“It also affected the lines’ ability to launch ships when they were originally intended.
“A handful of new 2020 ship debuts have been postponed to 2021, including highly anticipated ships like Carnival’s Mardi Gras, Ritz-Carlton’s Evrima and Crystal Endeavor.
“The good side for cruisers is that when cruises are allowed to return safely, they have a wide variety of new ships to choose from.”
Starts and stops while cruise lines attempt to resume sailing
While some Mediterranean cruises for EU travelers started in late summer, a second wave of coronavirus has led to new quarantine measures, lockdowns and further cancellations in many parts of Europe. AIDA Cruises, part of the Carnival Cruises empire, recently announced that all trips planned for November will be canceled due to new measures in Germany to contain the new Covid-19 outbreak.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently issued a “Framework for Conditional Sailing Regulations for Cruise Ships”.
The order, which applies to cruise lines in US territorial waters that can carry a minimum of 250 passengers, is considered a preliminary step to resume cruising.
Forrest Brown and Lauren Mascaren contributed to this report