Princess Cruises’ largest-ever ship will combine the line’s best-loved features with new experiences.
The 4,300-passenger vessel – the third to sail under the famous Sun Princess name – is also the line’s first LNG-powered ship, the biggest Italian-built cruise ship and the first cruise ship constructed at the Fincantieri shipyard to run on the most eco-friendly marine fuel.
Our Man On The Ground joined an international media tour to see how work is progressing on the 16th ship in the Princess fleet. Sun Princess will launch in February 2024 and spend its first season in the Mediterranean before moving to the Caribbean for the winter. The culmination of a six-year project, from planning stages through to the two-year construction process, a team of up to 3,600 shipbuilders are currently working on the vessel seven days a week.
John Padgett, President of Princess Cruises, spoke to guests at the Monfalcone shipyard via a video link and said the new Sphere-class ship – the first of two – would be evolutionary rather than revolutionary.
“It is a significant evolution of Princess, but it is not revolutionary. We are giving our guests more of everything they love about Princess with new experiences. We are not taking anything away.”
Sun Princess will be 21 percent larger than the line’s Royal-class vessels but with only a 17 percent increase in passenger capacity to provide more space per guest. Familiar favourites include the speciality seafood restaurant The Catch by Rudi, the Good Spirits at Sea cocktail bar and the intimate Crooners live music venue, while the ship tour revealed how the standout new feature, The Dome, was taking shape.
Inspired by the terraces of the Greek island of Santorini, the multi-level deck is covered by the first floor-to-ceiling glass enclosed dome ever constructed on a cruise ship. In the daytime the venue will be used as an indoor and outdoor pool area and at night it will turn into an entertainment space featuring aerial performances and live acts. The Dome will also have a spectacular 36ft-high decorative water cascade.
Elsewhere, there will be two other distinct entertainment venues, the Plaza and theatre, the most on any Princess ship, plus a new look to the main Horizons dining room. For the first time the room will cover three decks and offer the same menu in a different ambience. The elegant lower section will be for diners that want a leisurely meal spread over a couple of hours, the middle area will have faster service and the upper deck will have a casual vibe for guests that want to be in and out within an hour.
Also unique to Sun Princess is Spellbound by Magic Castle, a Victorian-inspired experience which combines a mixology bar with magic. The tucked away venue will include themed rooms filled with surprises, bar tenders that perform tricks and a magical 30-minute show.
The Sphere-class vessel is also distinguished by the two namesake spheres, spanning nine decks and extending out on each side of the ship, which contain public areas and cabins. Sun Princess will also have new cabin categories including Reserve Collection Cabana staterooms with an extra-large outdoor space with a private cabana.
The Sun Princess name dates back to 1974 with the ship that was used for the pilot episode of the popular American TV series The Love Boat, which was later set on other ships in the fleet. The second Sun Princess entered service in 1995, and at the time was one of the world’s largest cruise ships carrying 2,000 passengers. It was sold by Princess Cruises in 2020 and the name was transferred to the new vessel.
Known as the ‘River Cruise Queen’, Jeannine Williamson is an award-winning travel writer, cruise expert and our cruise correspondent, who has clocked up thousands of nautical miles.
Photographs courtesy of Princess Cruises and Jeannine Williamson