P&O Cruises ship Oceana has been sold and will not return to service when operations resume following the Covid-19 cancellation of sailings.

The UK line confirmed that Oceana “will leave the fleet from July this year” but the identity of the buyer has not been revealed.

Passengers with bookings on the ship will be offered a 125% future cruise credit or refund, although all the company’s sailings are paused until October 15.

The sale of 1,950-passenger Oceana for an undisclosed sum comes ahead of the arrival of giant new ship Iona, which has been delayed from its original debut in Southampton in May due to the global cancellation of cruises due to the pandemic.

A sister ship to 5,200-passenger Iona is due to join the fleet in 2022.

Parent company Carnival Corporation revealed plans last month to speed up the disposal of ships after registered a $2.4 billion adjusted net loss in the three months to May 31 as the coronavirus pandemic shut down global cruise operations.

The cruise giant said “preliminary agreements” were in place for the disposal of six ships, expected to leave the fleet in 90 days, with others likely to follow.

Oceana originally entered service in 2000 operating for sister brand Princess Cruises as Ocean Princess.

P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said: “Whilst we and many of our guests will miss Oceana, her departure will allow us to focus on our remaining ships in the fleet, as capacity expands with the delivery of Iona later this year followed by her sister ship, scheduled for 2022.

“During this pause in our operations we need to fit the fleet for the future and ensure we have the right mix of ships once we resume sailing.

“I am so sorry to disappoint those guests who were booked on Oceana but I hope they will be able to find a similar alternative holiday, whether that is ex-UK from Southampton or a fly-cruise itinerary.”