I’ve just boarded the new Sun Princess, by far the biggest ship for Princess Cruises, now part-way through its second voyage after a nail-biting 20-day delay.

At 177,882 tons, carrying 4,300 passengers, and with towering 20-passenger decks, the ship is certainly a departure from the line’s smaller, relatively genteel ships.

First impressions? Sun Princess feels enormous. Unusual looking, too, distinguished by a glass bump on top that’s The Dome, a new entertainment space with tiered seating and an indoor-outdoor pool.

What’s new for the families

This ship, we’re told, is expected to attract families, multigenerational groups and those much-coveted younger, newer cruisers. As such, there are way more restaurants than on other Princess ships, more entertainment and masses of new venues.

My overall first impression is of the constant buzz. The heart of Princess’s ships has always been the Piazza, a place to sit with a coffee or a cocktail, people-watch and listen to a pianist or crooner. While the Piazza is still central to this ship, the vibe is quite different. It’s now a constant source of entertainment. There are DJ tunes, energetic game shows, a massive screen, Zumba classes, and before dinner tonight, a silent disco, a bold move for the participants, given that it was still broad daylight. Several of the restaurants and bars flow around the Piazza over three levels, all open to whatever sound is generated by the activity of the moment. Some will enjoy this, while others won’t.

At the same time, the whole ship is done out in soothing, neutral tones. There’s nothing garish or in-your-face. It’s all quietly tasteful. My Deluxe Balcony Stateroom, for example, is all calming neutrals with hints of pale wood, silver, cream and green. There’s nothing shocking, or too clever for its own good.

But a lot is still not open…

There’s a fair bit that’s not operational yet. I can’t help thinking passengers must be disappointed by this, although most seem to be having a fine time. The production shows that will take place in the Princess Arena, the high-tech theatre, are not ready.

One of the restaurants, Love by Britto, an “artistic-inspired dining experience” is not available yet. The star attraction of a new activity area on deck 19, Sea Breeze, a ride that gives you the impression of hang-gliding high over the ship, is also not functioning, which is disappointing.

Sea Breeze is not open yet on the Sun Princess
Sea Breeze is not open yet on the Sun Princess

The food offerings


Our crew was so excited for #SunPrincess to set sail. They can’t wait to revolve around you. ☀️🛳 #ILoveThis #PrincessCruises

♬ original sound – Princess Cruises
Princess Cruises

What is new and about to open is Spellbound, an immersive dining and magic experience in a dedicated venue, which I’m looking forward to seeing later in the week.

One aspect in which Princess has lagged behind its competitors is the variety of speciality restaurants on board. No more; Sun Princess is packed with dining options, although many carry a cover charge.

The much-loved Sabatini’s and Crown Grill are here. A new venue, the Butcher’s Block by Dario, in partnership with Italian celebrity butcher Dario Cecchini, promises to be carnivore heaven.

There’s also a Teppanyaki restaurant and a new option, Makoto Ocean, offering sushi and sashimi, as well as The Catch by Rudi, a seafood speciality restaurant. And an Irish-themed bar with pub grub, and the much-loved Alfredo’s pizzeria.

The main dining room, Horizons, spans three levels. I had dinner here and was very impressed. Although to get the experience of the grandeur of this space and the triple-deck ceilings, you really need to snaffle one of the tables overlooking the wake. The food was excellent, tasty and beautifully presented.

The buffet, named The Eatery, has been moved down to Deck 9, which is going to take some getting for anyone accustomed to wandering from the pool deck straight into lunch. It’s handy for the enormous casino, though, which was heaving when I wandered round after dinner tonight.

So how does the Sun Princess compare to other Princess ships?

Will Princess regulars like this ship? I imagine they’ll be initially overwhelmed by the ship’s size and different layout. But there’s certainly a lot more choice and much more of a nod to kids and teens than previously. If you’re looking for peace and serenity, the ship would probably be wasted on you. But people I’ve spoken to have been on for five days and are still only just finding their way around. For me, the next few days, as we sail from Athens to Rome, will tell.

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