P&O Cruises' new ship, Iona, will sail to Spain, Portugal, the Canary Islands and northern European cities during its inaugural winter season, the line announced today.

Promising itineraries showcasing "hidden secrets" and "local adventures", the seven to 14-night sailings on Iona will feature late departures and overnight stays to allow passengers more time to explore destinations and will go on sale on March 18, 2019.

Ports of call in Spain, Portugal and the Canaries will include Cadiz, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Lisbon, Madeira, Tenerife, Alicante, Barcelona, Gibraltar, Malaga, Valencia and Vigo. Rotterdam (for Amsterdam), Zeebrugge (for Bruges), and Hamburg are among the northern European cities featured.  

The new programme of shore excursions will include activities such as waterfall canyoning in Madeira, tuk tuk tours of Lisbon and star-gazing from Mount Teide, Spain's highest peak in Tenerife. City-based tours include shrimp fishing by horseback in Bruges and a canal cruise in Amsterdam aboard a vintage vessel.

Paul Ludlow, the line's President, said: "P&O Cruises is promising to deliver opportunities for guests to discover hidden secrets in these wonderful ports. We've used insider knowledge to develop shore visits and adventures that will be off the beaten track and give once-in-a-lifetime local experiences.

"P&O Cruises has a strong tradition of taking guests to enjoy winter sun and vibrant northern European cities, and now we’re helping them discover a new side of well-known destinations. By scheduling late departures for Iona from ports our guests will be able to make the most of days and evenings on shore, with an enviable selection of experiences that will showcase the very best of hidden Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands and northern European cities."

The 5,200-passenger Iona -- the biggest-ever ship purpose-built for the UK market -- is currently being constructed at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany and will launched in May 2020. It will be joined by an as-yet-unnamed sister ship in 2022.

Iona will spend its inaugural summer season exploring the Norwegian fjords.