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Meet the winner of our ship-naming competition


Gillian Crooks of Dundee, Scotland tells us about the very personal inspiration behind the name Iona, and how she felt when she heard that her choice would be emblazoned on a world-class cruise ship

Gillian and her daughter Iona

Gillian, winner of our competition, and her daughter Iona

When we launched a competition to name our new ship, we received more than 30,000 entries. Our expert panel whittled down the list and chose Iona – a name that has special meaning to us at P&O Cruises. Named after the tranquil island in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides, known for its stunning landscape and epic ocean views, it’s a celebration of the sea and of our island nation.


To Gillian Crooks, the winner of our ship-naming competition, it has an even deepermeaning. ‘It’s inspired by my daughter, Iona,’ says Gillian, who lives in Dundee,Scotland. ‘She’s 12 years old and she’s just a gem – she’s an absolute beaut. My mum and dad had spent time on the island of Iona, too, and my mum passed away not long after I had my daughter. It’s always been a very sentimental name for me.’


When Gillian found out she had won the ship-naming competition, she was – funnily enough – making Iona’s tea. The win came as a total surprise. ‘I never win anything!’ she exclaims. ‘I entered the competition and, to be honest, I kind of forgot about it…and now this has happened. I’m very excited.’

Gillian and her children

Gillian with her son Shaun and her daughter Iona

Reaction from family and friends has been overwhelming, particularly from Gillian’s father. ‘My mum and dad were avid cruisers, and it was them who got us into cruising. When my mum passed away, my dad took us on a cruise. When I got the phone call telling me I had won, I said to Iona – “I need to go down and tell your grandpa what’s happened.” He was incredibly emotional,’ says Gillian. ‘My 20-year-old son Shaun couldn’t believe it. He thought I was blethering. And then he went online and he honestly couldn’t believe it. We’ve always been treated well by P&O Cruises – they upgraded us to a suite on the last holiday my son took with us – so he said, “P&O Cruises – they’ve just done it for you!”’


Gillian and her family have sailed with P&O Cruises on Britannia and Ventura, and have every intention to sail on Iona when she launches. ‘It has to be done,’ she says. And as the winner of our competition, Gillian will attend Iona’s naming ceremony in 2020. ‘I think I will be quite emotional seeing the name I chose on the side of the ship,’ she says. ‘All of this is once in a lifetime. I’m the luckiest lady.’


To learn more about our new ship and why we chose the name Iona, click here