Welcome to our first guest post, from Caoimhe who we met onboard P&O Cruises Iona during our Norwegian Fjords cruise. We spent quite a bit of time with Caoimhe and her mum, so we invited her to write a post for us to give her experience of P&O Iona, in particular the areas available to younger cruisers!
Hi! My name is Caoimhe, I’m 16 and I’m from Ireland. I was aboard the P&O Iona during July. The cruise ship is the second largest in P&O’s fleet, second to its sister Arvia. It is a great ship for families with children and teenagers, as the ship has multiple kids clubs divided by different age groups and play areas for young kids. I really enjoyed my time onboard the ship and ended up making loads of friends through the ship’s teen club, which made it a highlight of my holiday.
The Reef is an activity programme for ages 6 months to 12 years. Located on deck 17, it is divided by age group to ensure safety and fun for all. It is important to note that children under 2 can only avail of Night Nursery, and there is no day time club for them. The children are supervised by the Reef Rangers while in their specific clubs, which are the Splashers (ages 2-4), Surfers (ages 5-8), and Scubas (ages 9–12), as well as the Night Nursery (ages 6 months to 4 years). The Reef Rangers are super friendly and enthusiastic, and they have loads of fun and engaging activities for the kids.
You can find lots of great information about The Reef and its clubs on the P&O website, as well as information about the registration process.
The teen club, Scene, is located on Deck 6, in the right wing of the Headliners Theatre, in a separate location from The Reef. It is for teens aged 13–17 years old. I really liked the location, as it felt more free to have an area to ourselves away from anyone else.
There are three areas within Scene. There are two open rooms that have a TV, two PlayStation gaming seat booths, bean bags, a foosball table, a pool table, and seats with views of the sea. The seats are the perfect place to relax away and chat with friends as it was away from the main room. There is also a radio-themed room where music can be played from a huge list of songs! This was really popular and was separated from the other two rooms by a door, which muffled everyone shouting song lyrics! If you want to play board games with friends, there are loads of different board and card games, such as UNO, chess, Monopoly, and way more. As well as these, there are beads and thread for making friendship bracelets! Usually during movies we would make friendship bracelets at the same time. There were so many coloured twine and beads to choose from.
Scene sessions are a mix of group activities and having time to hang out with your friends. In our first session that week, we did an icebreaker. Everyone said their name, where they were from, and a fact about them. This helped since we were able to connect with each other easier. For instance, someone came to talk to me because we were both Irish! There was a schedule of things to do for the week which was pinned up just outside Scene. Throughout the week, we did things such as quizzes with prizes, karaoke, movie nights, and playing on the sports deck. My personal favourite was the karaoke since everyone was getting involved and it turned into a lot of fun! I also really enjoyed some of the game nights. We played bingo one night where the first person to get bingo got a prize themed after The Reef! We also did a quiz about sea life, and I was lucky enough to win and get The Reef sunglasses!
When in Scene there are two staff members to supervise. When I was aboard, Hannah and Sarah were the supervising staff members. They were really kind and friendly, helping everyone connect better with each other. They helped everyone feel included and encouraged us all to make friends. There are so many people I wouldn’t have talked to if it wasn’t for them, so I was really grateful!
Two things to take note of are that there are no toilet facilities within Scene. However, there are single-cubicle toilets in both wings of the Headliner Theatre, so although it is annoying, you do not have to go far. There is also no food provided within Scene. Usually teens would eat with their families before coming to Scene or go with others from Scene to get food. You are also not allowed to bring food or drinks inside with you. Sometimes it is okay to bring in water, but when you’re done leave the glass outside of Scene so it doesn’t spill on anything.
You must pre-register before getting on the cruise to go to Scene. If you have not pre-registered earlier, you can the day of boarding at reception. There will be a card left in your cabin about Scene if you have pre-registered, with information about the Deck and welcoming you aboard. You must also book daily sessions on MyHoliday. The sessions are released around 8:30 in the morning for the next day. I would recommend booking early in the day, as the sessions will book up quickly, since in my experience there were so many children on board (over 800!). Both parents and teenagers are able to book the sessions on MyHoliday. On sea days, there were three slots to choose from: morning, afternoon, and evening. On port days, there were two times to book: in the afternoon and in the evening. I personally preferred the evening sessions, as on port days, the timing didn’t coincide with the time we had to go around the towns. Booking is essential, and you will not be allowed in if Scene is fully booked.
Once you go to Scene, you press the buzzer, and one of the staff members will open the door. This is good as only people who’ve been allowed in can come in, which helps with safety. As teens, we are able to sign ourselves in and out of Scene. This means that we can leave whenever we want without needing adult permission. This is great if you want to grab dinner with your family or need to grab something from your room. Adults are not notified if their teen leaves Scene.
Overall, I really enjoyed my time on Iona and in Scene. It was a very important part of my holiday and helped me make amazing friends! The facilities for teens were great and there was something for every type of person aboard. I really didn’t have anything negative to say about the experience, since it was incredibly enjoyable. I hope that you’ve found what I’ve had to say helpful! Thank you for reading.