Sister for Iona and P&O Cruises’ new flagship

Alan Moorhouse looks at the main features of the new cruise ship Arvia, the latest ship from Meyer Werft to join the fleet of P&O Cruises.

P&O Cruises’ lates cruise ship Arvia, the company’s new flagship, was named in March 2023 at a beachside ceremony in Barbados, which also featured British musician Ed Sheeran.

Arvia (Yard no S716), which means ‘from the seashore’, was laid down on 15 February 2022. She is the second Excellence class ship and follows near sister Iona, being completed at the Meyer Werft shipyard, Papenburg, Germany.

The ship was floated out of Meyer’s Building Dock No.2 on 27 August 2022, and completed at the outfitting quay before a stern-first Ems passage, followed by finishing works at Eemshaven, trials in the North Sea, and a formal handover at Bremerhaven on 15 December 2022.

The original maiden voyage scheduled for December 2022 was cancelled and the ship sailed for the Caribbean via Southampton after a Canary Islands cruise departing on 23 December. The ship returned to Southampton on 2 April for her European season.

Arvia is in the same general class as Costa Cruises’ pair Costa Smeralda and Costa Toscana; AIDA Cruises’ sisters AIDACosma and AIDANova; and Carnival’s Mardi Gras and Carnival Celebration. The soon to be delivered Carnival Jubilee completes the set. All were constructed either at Meyer Turku or Papenburg.

The latest new ship provides an opportunity to look back at other significant P&O ships and events that have shaped the famous company’s past.

Founded in 1837 by Brodie McGhie Willcox and Arthur Anderson with the charter of the 206-ton William Fawcett operated by Captain Richard Bourne, P&O has been a major force in British shipping for over 185 years.

Much of this history is displayed on board Arvia, and illustrations and information panels are displayed aboard other ships in the current P&O fleet. Key ships in the past, notably in the immediate post-war era, include the liners Oriana (1959/41,910gt); Canberra (1961/45,270gt), often referred to as the ‘Great White Whale’ after her involvement in the 1982 Falklands Campaign; Orsova (1953/29,790gt); and Arcadia (1954 29,734gt).

P&O Cruises, as a distinct entity, emerged in 1977 as cruising became a popular travel experience. In 2003 P&O Cruises became part of the Carnival group and subsequently underwent an image change, with the famous yellow hull colouring being replaced by blue funnels and Union flag hull art.

Management of the P&O Carnival brand is currently the responsibility of President Paul Ludlow. A P&O Australia brand was also established.

Arvia, like her sister Iona, is 184,700gt and measures 345m in length. She is LNG-powered and has MAK Caterpillar engines with an output of 74MW (99,236hp), giving a top speed of 22 knots.

The $950 million ship can accommodate 5,206 passengers in 2,610 cabins and the crew complement is 1,762. Passenger accommodation is located in the forward sections of Decks 8, 16 and 17 and on Decks 9 to 15. The public areas are on Decks 4 and 5, and deck 16 upwards.

Skydome pool on Arvia.
Skydome pool on Arvia.

Impressive features

Arvia shares many features, internally and externally, with Iona. The Crow’s Nest, the Horizon Buffet, Limelight Lounge and Headliners theatre are key interior public spaces which share many similarities.

One of the main differences is the Magrodome retractable roof on Arvia, enclosing decks 16, 17 and 18. This structure, which is an evolution of Iona’s fixed Skydome, is a creation of designer Martin Francis. It is intended to provide a light open air top deck to facilitate shows and musical performances in both cold and warm climates.

The 970m2 retractable Magrodome over the pool lido area and sea screen weighs 156 tons. Other differences between the two ships include the Mission Control Escape Room, the Swim Up Bar, the Altitude Experience, and the new Mizuhana and 6th Street restaurants, as well as extended freestyle dining opportunities.

The focal point of Arvia is the Grand Atrium, which rises upwards from deck 6. The main entertainment venues are the Headliners Theatre (decks 6 and 7), the main show lounge featuring shows and musicals, the Sunset Bar and Clubhouse, Limelight Club, Andersons and the 710 Club (deck 6). The Crow’s Nest with forward observation views is on deck 17. The Oasis Spa is on deck 6, the Medical Centre is on deck 3, and the Casino and the Avenue shopping arcade are on deck 7.

Arvia's Grand Atrium.
Arvia’s Grand Atrium.

Dining opportunities

Dining opportunities are specifically aimed at the British market and feature the cuisine of international chefs Shivi Ramoutar and Jose Pizzaro, with a focus on Caribbean and Mediterranean cuisine. The main dining venues are the Zenith Restaurant (deck 7), Meridian Restaurant (deck 6), Olive Grove, 6th Street Diner, and casual dining in the Horizon all-day buffet (deck 16).

Speciality restaurants include Sindhu, Taste 360 and Epicurean. Other drinking and dining venues include the Keel and Cow gastro pub and the Hook and Vinegar seafood takeaway. The upper open decks include the main pool and lido areas, sports area, Beachcombers pool, and infinity pool with adjacent bars.

P&O Cruises fleet

With the addition of the new Arvia, the current P&O Cruises fleet comprises seven ships:

  • Arvia (2022)
  • Aurora (2000/76,152gt)
  • Arcadia (2005/84,342gt)
  • Ventura (2008/116,017gt)
  • Azura (2010/115,055gt)
  • Britannia (2015/143,730gt)
  • Iona (2021/184,089gt)
Arcadia in the Solent on 26 June 2022. (Alan Moorhouse)
Arcadia in the Solent on 26 June 2022. (Alan Moorhouse)
Ships Montly - January 2024

Damen to build second Damen Commissioning Service Operation Vessel for TSSM

Ta San Shang Marine Co Ltd (TSSM), the joint venture between Mitsui OSK Lines of Japan, and Ta Tong Marine Co Ltd of Taiwan,...

Related articles

Damen to build second Damen Commissioning Service Operation Vessel for TSSM

Ta San Shang Marine Co Ltd (TSSM), the joint venture between Mitsui OSK Lines of Japan, and Ta...

DOF Group has entered into an agreement to acquire Maersk Supply Service

DOF Group ASA (DOF) announced in July 2024 that it had entered into an agreement to acquire Maersk...

Product tanker Thun Reliance delivered to Thun Tankers

Product tanker Thun Reliance, the second in a series of eight in the ”Resource Efficient Class”, was delivered...

Damen set to build sixth CSOV for Windcat

Damen Shipyards has secured the contract to build a sixth Commissioning Service Operation Vessel for offshore personnel transfer...