Sun Princess shows its class, and glass: Bringing the outside inside on board 'next-generation' Princess cruise ship

It’s been a fabulous night of fine dining and entertainment, but with reluctance we decide to retire to our cruise ship stateroom. Approaching the cabin door, it unlocks automatically, our own smiling faces and a cheery 'welcome back' greeting us on the adjacent mini screen.

No fumbling for keys or cruise cards here as the hi-tech system has detected our Sun Princess medallions, just one of the many advancements on board this the newest and ‘next-generation’ Princess Cruises ship.

We've joined on just day 15 of this sphere-class vessel's maiden voyage in Athens which would take us to the Mediterranean ports of Kusadasi, Chania in Crete and Naples during our trip. As past Princess customers, we were intrigued to see what other differences lay ahead in this state-of-the-art 178,000-tonner.

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It's at this point I would usually wax lyrically about the gleaming polished chrome, high-gloss timbers and lush carpets, and gush unashamedly about the elegant bespoke decor and furnishings assailing our eyes as we board this 4,300 guest capacity vessel.

The new sphere class Sun PrincessThe new sphere class Sun Princess
The new sphere class Sun Princess

They are there in abundance of course, but I'm immediately drawn to a different material. Glass. And lots of it too.

It's evident the Sun Princess has been designed to incorporate more open views from inside, so it's now quite easy to watch the setting sun as you sip a scotch and soda from an interior bar, or marvel at the ship's wake via the floor-to-ceiling windows in the Horizons restaurant.

This ground-breaking new architecture gives the air of more space on board, and even the entertainment venues are in on the act.

The Dome, a breathtaking, glass-enclosed, climate-controlled structure at the top of the ship, has ‘a pool by sunlight and a stage by starlight’, hosting amazing shows including trapeze-tastic acrobatics in partnership with the renowned Cirque Éloize.

The Princess Arena theatreThe Princess Arena theatre
The Princess Arena theatre

Guests are also surrounded by expansive ocean vistas in the three-tier Piazza area, with the outward and suspended sphere, the namesake of this new class of ship, taking this central hub of the Sun Princess into a new era.

Wheelchair or mobility scooter users can feel confident onboard with this extra space and there being more ADA-certified (wheelchair-friendly) staterooms, conveniently located close to the ship's elevators and which also provide full wheelchair-turning space, double bed (plus double sofabed), bathrooms with roll-in showers/barrier-free, grab bars and a bench seat (folding down).

Things feel just that bit bigger on the Sun Princess. For example there is more swimming capacity with five pools, and most (if not all) of the nine hot tubs have a greater diameter, thus eliminating the oft-unsolicited game of footsie with the person relaxing opposite.

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That said, there are still intimate venues to be found on the 21-deck Sun Princess, with bars and areas of relaxation at every juncture, nook and cranny.

The Dome. Picture: James Morgan, Getty Images for Princess CruisesThe Dome. Picture: James Morgan, Getty Images for Princess Cruises
The Dome. Picture: James Morgan, Getty Images for Princess Cruises

My aim here is to reassure other seasoned Princess cruisers that the ethos is 'evolution, not revolution' so count on the familiar amazing and attentive staff, excellent food, service, entertainment and comfort you are used to, but with the aesthetic and technological advancements you would expect, and welcome.

So keeping with the tech, the lifts have now become smarter, with the elevator number decided for you as the desired deck is requested, thus saving on waiting times and congestion. Interactive screens by the lifts tell you where you are in relation to the ship, and how to get to places.

Your medallion, which comes with a clip and lanyard, can be detected (just like your cabin door) by staff without your having to produce it, your image appearing on staff devices for correct billing allocation. So much so, you can order your cocktail from the Princess app, wander down a deck or two, and your waiter will find you! (Oooh, btw did I mention the Sun Princess has some 200 cocktails to choose from?)

In conjunction with the free Princess app, you can even locate your friends and family on board, a godsend to many a parent whose child has wandered off in the past.

The Piazza. Picture: James Morgan, Getty Images for Princess CruisesThe Piazza. Picture: James Morgan, Getty Images for Princess Cruises
The Piazza. Picture: James Morgan, Getty Images for Princess Cruises

What else can you expect from the Sun Princess? Look, if I were to mention everything this trailblazing titan has to offer I would be giving War and Peace a run for its money.

So there are still the usual wonderful offerings on board, like Crooners, Good Spirits at Sea and Bellini's Cocktail bars, the amazing kids' and teens' clubs, the package-included Horizons Dining Room for traditional and anytime dining, shops, spa and gym areas, but I'll concentrate on the newer experiences on board.

Speciality Dining

All fares include accommodation, complimentary dining and entertainment but for an extra fee (included in some packages or $45pp if on the standard package) you can enjoy some new and amazing culinary experiences.

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These include The Butchers Block by Dario, a Princess collaboration with the world’s most famous butcher, Dario Cecchini, offering a plethora of perfectly-prepared beef and steak dishes from the choicest of cuts. The cruise line’s signature steakhouse, Crown Grill, features a refined upscale menu designed by Cecchini.

Meanwhile Kai Sushi by Makoto offers a modern sushi experience, Sabatini’s Italian Trattoria dishes up freshly-made pastas and unique courses and Umai Teppanyaki is another amazing Sun Princess exclusive offering a fusion of teppan cuisine, hotplate shenanigans and showmanship. The Catch by Rudi, from renowned Chef Rudi Sodamin, features treasures from the sea.

A stateroom with balcony on board the Sun PrincessA stateroom with balcony on board the Sun Princess
A stateroom with balcony on board the Sun Princess

Entertainment

In addition to The Dome already mentioned, and not to be outdone, The Princess Arena is the ship’s other larger entertainment venue, offering the most technologically advanced theatre design on a Princess ship. Hailing from Sheffield and a World Snooker Championships fan, I likened it to my city's Crucible Theatre, with an almost central stage offering great views of the amazing production shows from wherever you sit.

For a unique experience, Spellbound gives you a touch of the extraordinary where you are taken to a relatively hidden chamber on the ship and encounter a mysterious melange of magic and mixology. Expect conjuring conundrums, spellbinding performances and theatrical cocktails in this exciting and spooky venue! (extra charges apply)

Family & Kids

Park19, a new feature on the ship’s top decks, features a variety of activities in the open air including the Coastal Climb, an obstacle course ending in 360-degree views from The Lookout observation deck (the highest point accessible to guests on the ship) and The Net ropes course. The Sea Breeze, billed as the first Rollglider on a cruise ship, sees passengers glide along the ship's top deck periphery on an ADA-accessible electric track.

I’m getting a bit technical now, but it’s important to mention that the Sun Princess is also next-generation in terms of its being powered by LNG (liquefied natural gas) fuel technology with the benefits of improved air quality.

Natural gas is the cleanest-burning fossil fuel, therefore vehicles running on LNG produce lower levels of toxic emissions and air pollution than equivalent diesel engines. Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) emissions are reduced by 40-50% and Particulate Matter (PM) emissions are reduced by approx 80%. Several other guests told me they felt it was ‘a smoother and quieter ride’ too!

Sun Princess’ other features include advanced air quality systems; advanced water systems that allow the ship to create its own water supply through reverse osmosis; energy-efficient LED lighting; air lubrication; and an advanced waste water treatment system.

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Science lesson over and in conclusion, our time on board the Sun Princess was a wonderful cruising experience with so much to see and do, and nigh impossible to write about it all.

I’ll simply sum up with the message emblazoned on the side of the ship: ‘I Love This!’... I’m sure you will too.

For more details or to book your next cruise, visit www.princess.com/sunprincess

Sun Princess 2025 Factbox

7-night Mediterranean with France & Italy sailing Barcelona to Rome (Civitavecchia), calling at Gibraltar, Marseille (Provence), Genoa, La Spezia (for Florence/Pisa). Departs on 5 Apr-25 from £849pp, plus $50pp free onboard spend.

14-night Mediterranean with Greek Isles, Italy & Turkey sailing from Rome (Civitavecchia) to Barcelona, calling at Naples, Crete (Chania), Istanbul, Mykonos, Athens (Piraeus), Santorini, Kotor, Corfu, Sicily (Messina). Departs on 3 May-25 from £1,899pp, plus $75pp free onboard spend.

Book before 30 Apr-24 for on-board credit. Terms & conditions apply. Prices subject to availability, and based on two people sharing an interior stateroom. Flights not included.

Top Tips

- Staterooms offer both European and US-style plug sockets, so adaptors will be needed

- USB ports are situated at each side of the bed for phone charging

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- The free Princess Cruises app is your vacation guide and key to planning and unlocking experiences onboard. Locate friends/family with it too in conjunction with your medallion! Download from the Apple Store (iPhones) or Play Store (Android)

- Your daily Princess Patter pamphlets are still delivered to your stateroom containing all the information you need to know. You can keep them and other paperwork tidy by securing to your cabin’s metal walls with magnets!

- No need to include a hairdryer in your luggage as a high-powered Drybar device is included in your stateroom.

Sun Princess Packages

PRINCESS STANDARD

All fares include accommodations, complimentary dining and entertainment along with our MedallionClass® experience.

PRINCESS PLUS® (£50 per day per guest)

Wi-Fi (1 device per guest)

Crew appreciation

Plus Beverage Package

(drinks up to $15 each)

Unlimited juice bar

Premium desserts (2 per day)

Fitness classes (2 per cruise)

NEW 2 casual dining meals per guest

NEW OceanNow® delivery

NEW Room service delivery

PRINCESS PREMIER® (£65 per day per guest)

Wi-Fi (up to 4 devices per guest)

Crew appreciation

Premier Beverage Package

(drinks up to $20 each)

Unlimited juice bar

Premium desserts (unlimited)

Fitness classes (unlimited)

Photo package

(unlimited digital + 3 prints)

Princess Prizes

2 speciality dining meals per guest

Reserved theatre seating

(for production shows only)

Unlimited casual dining meals

OceanNow® delivery

Room service delivery

Holiday Extras

With an early flight we made life that bit easier with a night’s hotel stay and parking with Holiday Extras.

Holiday Extras is the market leader in UK airport parking, hotels, lounges, and transfers – and last year its customers saved an average of £191 per trip by booking their airport parking in advance.

Booking an Airport Hotel with Parking means you can enjoy more holiday with less hassle. Plus with Flextras, if you need to cancel or amend you can without charge.

One night’s accommodation at the DoubleTree by Hilton with seven days’ Meet & Greet Parking at Terminal 1, Manchester Airport is available for £189.90 based on arrival on Saturday 18th May 2024.

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For more information and to book, HolidayExtras.com or call 0800 316 5678

Escape Lounge

Our break got off to a great start with a visit to Manchester Airport’s Escape Lounge.

This is available in all three terminals and offers passengers the chance to put their feet up, catch up on last-minute business, or simply enjoy some peace and quiet as they enjoy the complimentary food and drink on offer.

The lounge caters to passengers of all ages and offers fast unlimited WiFi, flight information boards, bar service for complimentary alcoholic and soft drinks, along with buffet service for seasonal meals and snacks.

Prices start from £31.99 when booked in advance. For more information or to book visit: www.manchesterairport.co.uk/at-the-airport/airport-lounges/