(CNN) — It took two years to build, but the entire construction process for a huge new ship from P&O Cruises can be viewed in just over a minute thanks to this incredible timelapse video.
During the final moments, the 185,000-ton vessel, which has a 5,200-guest capacity, can be seen leaving the shipyard and taking to the water.
Measuring 345 meters (1,132 feet), Iona is powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG,) and consists of 17 guest decks, 13 entertainment venues, four swimming pools, including an infinity pool, and a gin distillery.
Its most impressive feature is arguably its two-deck SkyDome, which holds a swimming pool that can be transformed into a stage at night.
“Whilst our operations are currently paused until early 2021 Iona will not be sailing for the moment,” Paul Ludlow, P&O Cruises president, said at the official handover ceremony in October.
“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.”
While Iona is one of the world’s first cruise ships to be powered by LNG (liquefied natural gas), it will be followed by several more.
The ship took two years to build.
Courtesy P&O Cruises
Iona was originally scheduled to join the P&O Cruises fleet in April, but this was pushed back due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
P&O Cruises has stalled operations until at least early 2021.
Despite the pandemic, 18 new ships have been delivered or are scheduled for delivery to cruise lines this year, according to Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA,) an industry body representing many of the world’s largest cruise lines.
Five ships slated for 2020 have been delayed until next year, but the CLIA stress that orders remain close to a historic high.
Iona is likely to begin her new maiden season to Northern Europe, Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands from Southampton at some point next year.
Such developments have provided a much-needed boost for the cruising world, which has been severely impacted 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 site Cruise Critic.
“We’ve seen the retirement of some older ships and the delay of new ships, but lines are still dedicated to investing in the future of their fleets.
“And for consumers, it shows that there is confidence from the lines — they’re doubling down on the industry and in their fleet.”
A staggering blow to the cruise industry
However, with most cruise operations still suspended, the economic impact has been staggering.
But the majority have been delayed due to coronavirus-related issues. Some shipyards have totally shut down, while work has slowed down in many of those that are still operating.
“Beyond the pause in service, shipyards also have experienced delays due to the virus and obstacles like lockdowns and lower manpower,” adds McDaniel.
“That’s also had an effect on lines’ ability to launch ships when they originally intended to.
“A handful of new ship debuts set for 2020 moved to 2021, including highly-anticipated vessels like Carnival’s Mardi Gras, Ritz-Carlton’s Evrima and Crystal Endeavor.
“The bright side for cruisers is, when cruising is allowed to safely return, they’ll have a wide range of new ships from which to choose.”
Starts and stops as cruise lines look to resume sailing
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently issued a “Framework for Conditional Sailing Order for Cruise Ships.”
The order, which applies to cruise ships in US territorial waters that have capacity to carry at least 250 passengers, is considered a tentative step toward the resumption of cruising.
Forrest Brown and Lauren Mascarenhas contributed to this report