P&O Cruises says it plans to take delivery “before the autumn” of the biggest cruise ship ever built for the UK market.

Iona will be followed by an unnamed sister ship to be delivered in December 2022.

The new ship will weigh 185,000 tonnes and be 345metres (1,131ft) long, with 17 guest decks. It will be the first British cruise liner to be powered by liquefied natural gas.

Paul Ludlow, president of Southampton-based P&O Cruises, said: “Whilst our operations as currently paused, we are delighted that we have more clarity on the arrival of these two new ships.

“The final outfitting of Iona is almost complete and is looking stunning and we will take delivery of her before the autumn. We also now know that her sister ship will join the fleet at the end of 2022.

“Both ships are eagerly anticipated by our guests and we are seeing strong demand for the future. The space on these two ships will allow for extraordinary experiences; visual entertainment displays; new dining concepts and many new areas for relaxation and indulgence.”

Itineraries for the second ship will go on sale in spring 2021.