P&O Cruises says nearly half of the passengers booked to sail on new ship Iona are under the age of 45.

The line said its latest TV and cinema advertising campaign, starring Rob Brydon, deliberately targeted a younger customer base – resulting in 49% of bookings for Iona – which launches in May 2020 – being made for passengers under 45.

The advert shows Brydon and his on-screen son getting to grips with a range of shore experiences on a cruise in the Norwegian Fjords, where Iona is operating during its inaugural season.

Zip lines, high-speed boat rides and mountain biking are new shore excursions.

P&O said one in three passengers who have chosen to sail on the 5,200-capacity ship are travelling in a family group.

During P&O’s wave period this year, 53% of all new customers who booked a cruise with the line were under the age of 55.

There has also been a 2% rise in the number of people under 45 taking their first P&O Cruises sailing. However, the line did not not reveal what the total percentage was.

P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said: “We really believe that we are changing perceptions, making cruising a cool choice for younger generations by offering unbeatable onboard value alongside enjoyable and exhilarating shore-based activities.

“This August one in three guests taking a P&O Cruises holiday will be a family, a statistic that is even more pronounced on our bigger ships in the peak period when four out of 10 guests travelling this summer on Britannia, Azura and Ventura will be families.”

Last month, it was revealed Iona will sail from Southampton to mainland Spain, Portugal, the Canary Islands and cities in northern Europe in its first winter season.