The new Sun Princess is a game changer for the “Love Boat” brand, which first set sail more than half a century ago.

And Cruise Passenger has been granted exclusive access to the new Sun Princess at the yard where she is nearing completion at Fincantieri, just outside Venice, Italy.

What makes her so different? Princess is taking on competitors like Virgin Voyages (No kids) and Viking (no casinos) with the opposite: three floors of kids club and one of the largest casinos at sea.

At the Italian yard, the countdown is on to meet the deadline for delivery in under eight weeks – February 2024.

Stepping aboard the new Sun Princess, it’s quite clear that this is a brand-new chapter.
While holding on to the quintessential Princess DNA, she has been reconfigured using Beverley Hills-based interior designers with cutting-edge style. It shows.

Princess is aiming for today’s multi-generational cruiser. And that means something for everyone.

This isn’t just the largest ship they’ve ever built, she is also the first in their brand-new Sphere class fleet. She is the first LNG ship for Princess (and the first LNG ship to be built in Italy).

She is 21% bigger than any of her Royal fleet sisters, with 17% greater capacity for guests, that is 4300 in total. They are accommodated in 2157 rooms, spread out over 21 decks over more than 345 metres in length. That’s more than twice that of the MCG.

The deck of the pool onboard the new Sun Princess
The deck of the pool onboard the new Sun Princess.

Big ship small enough for the Panama Canal

While she is definitely in the big ship category, President of Princess Cruises John Padgett insists that “she is also small enough to pass through the Panama Canal”.

Padgett maintains she is designed to be immersive with her surrounds and to be “globally applicable. Whether she is in Alaska, the Mediterranean, or the Caribbean. She is designed to connect people and places.”

He adds that the Sun Princess and the new Sphere fleet are aimed at the multi-generational target market but with a next-generation look and feel.

So, what does this mean onboard? Well for a start, she is aimed at providing something for every member of the family. She has everything on offer for kids and families, with the brand new FireFly kids club, now located on level six opposite Guest Services and the same deck as cabins which are taking over the space usually reserved for dining.

The Lookout and Splash Area will attract younger families to she ship
The Lookout and Splash Area will attract younger families to she ship

What’s on board the new Sun Princess

The Casino isn’t going anywhere either. In fact, on the Sun Princess, the casino is 50% larger than any Royal predecessor with 17% more machines. The gamble is that Viking and Virgin Cruises have got the market wrong.

Signature standouts are being continued, albeit raised to the next level. Dining options will total a whopping 30 venues across the ship, with familiar favourites Sabatini’s, The Crown Grill, the World Fresh Marketplace, and more. However, they’ve had a significant refresh. Or as Padgett says: “This isn’t a revolution of Princess, but it is an evolution.”

No doubt the president is conscious of the conservative nature of his clientele. But the changes are still big.

Main Dining Room Horizons is now spread over three levels. New dining additions include Umai Teppanyaki, O’Malley’s Irish Pub, The Catch by Rudi and The Promenade, embracing the alfresco feel of the Sphere class.

It’s the cabins that perhaps best reflect what the Sphere class is all about. More light, more space, bringing the outside in.

Standout additions include the new Cabana Suites, which boast additional private cabana spaces where the balconies would normally be, complete with daybeds and pergolas. Cabin interiors have also been subtly upgraded in all the right ways: USB outlets now sit next to the beds, extra storage options sit within hidden cupboards and the bathrooms… Hallelujah! Oversized, curved glass showers in modern marble designs and no more bulky wall-hanging hair dryers. It’s a beautiful sight to behold!

Entertainment is spread out across three major venues, the Dome, the Piazza, and the Arena. And for adventure lovers, Park19 is where it’s at for slides and rides, also encompassing three deck levels. The Lotus Spa and Enclave are now split over two levels. The dining venues have been bumped up from Deck Six to Decks Seven, Eight, and Nine.

An interior cabin on the new Sun Princess
An interior cabin on the new Sun Princess

Summing up

The word that best captures the new sphere class is ‘smart.’ The new ship configuration makes much more sense. The use of glass allows more light, and the sense of space has a genuine wow factor. Even the elevators are now smart, providing smoother transit across the ship.

And the designers have nailed the brief. They also designed the latest Apple stores, so the pale oak timbers and the curves, the marble and the arches are all a breath of fresh air on a cruise ship.

Whether the Sun Princess meets the expected deadline to make her maiden voyage in early February or not, Princess is feeling confident about the newest evolution of their brand. Construction has officially now begun on the Star Princess, the second Sphere-class ship also being built in the Fincantieri Shipyard.

But for now, 3500 workers are rotating in three shifts on a 24-hour schedule, seven days a week until handover, scrambling to assemble the biggest ship ever built in Italy.

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