Sun Princess Trip Report, Day 2: Exploring On Land and at Sea [PHOTOS]

I’m lucky enough to have sailed on every ship Princess Cruises has introduced since 2013, not to mention several older ones.

Sun Princess docked at Kusadasi Day 2
Sun Princess at Kusadasi (Photo courtesy of Doug Parker / Cruise Radio)

So, the real challenge when boarding a ship like Sun Princess is figuring out how to eat in as many of the newly introduced venues as possible while still fitting in with my longtime favorites.

Sometimes, getting a bite to eat is less about a venue being new than something familiar that has been given a new look. That was the case this morning when not being much of a breakfast person, I skipped the buffet in favor of grabbing a latte and a yogurt at the International Cafe.

international cafe sun princess

I love the way the Cafe is set up on this ship. It’s divided into a bakery and a coffee counter. That sounds simple, but if you just want to grab a pastry, you don’t have to stand in line with all the people waiting for coffee.

If you have the Plus or Premier packages, you don’t have to wait in line, as you can have your breakfast delivered straight to your room.

Princess Medallion on Sun Princess

A medal with the Princess Cruises logo held up in front of the Sun Princess cruise ship during a review.
(Photo courtesy of Doug Parker / Cruise Radio)

I’m a big fan of the Princess Medallion. This wearable tech is almost impossible to lose and can serve as everything from your room key to a credit card.

It’s the same thing as the Magic Band Disney rolled out a while back, although, with the Medallion, you have various options if you’re not into the idea of wearing it on your wrist like a watch. I keep mine on a lanyard looped around my belt, but it’s the dealer’s choice.

sun princess ocean ready

I’m the least fashionable person, so none of the other accessories interested me. A lanyard is perfect for me since I lose a keycard at least once on every cruise.

Plus, your door opening as you approach it is super handy, especially for someone like me who is always carrying a water bottle or a laptop, if not both.

‘Ephesus on Your Own’ Tour

Ancient ruins with tourists exploring the historic site on a sunny day.
Ephesus (Photo courtesy of Doug Parker / Cruise Radio)

Today, we were in Kusadasi, Turkey. I was up and about early, as we’d booked an audio-guided walking tour of Ephesus through Princess, which rang at $114.95. It was about a 30-minute ride outside of Kusdasi and a pleasant shore excursion lasting about four hours.

We met in the pub for our excursion and left promptly at 9:30 a.m. A motorcoach took us to the site, where we explored for a couple of hours.

Informational signboard describing the temple of domitian with text in multiple languages, accompanied by illustrations, a map, and located outdoors with vegetation in the background.
(Photo courtesy of Doug Parker / Cruise Radio)

There is so much history in the area, and walking down the same paths they did 2,000 years ago was pretty wild. Getting lost is impossible even for someone with no sense of direction, as you start at one point and then end at another. We walked past a centuries-old library, an ancient temple, and Turkish baths.

sun princess shore excursion

The day ended with a visit to a Turkish rug factory. While they ran a little rich for my blood, several people in our group happily bought the beautiful $6,000 rugs.

The couple sitting next to us used their ocean medallion at the rug store and got seven percent back in onboard credit—smart of them. The only thing I could think of was my using the rug as a scratching pad!

turkish rugs sun princess

The tour was cool, and doing it at your own pace was perfect. I recommend it as transportation, especially if you are more of an on-you-own person and want independence on shore excursions.

Dinner at Alfredo’s

Pizza at Alfredo's
(Photo courtesy of Doug Parker / Cruise Radio)

Having walked enough to work up an appetite, we opted to grab an early dinner at Alfredo’s once we’d gotten back to the ship.

This pizza place has long been a favorite among Princess cruise passengers. However, the line upset more than a few loyalists by slapping an upcharge on the formerly free venue for anyone who does not purchase the Princess Plus or Premier packages—more on the pricing in a second.

The ambiance of Alfredo’s is inviting. Located right off the Piazza, it’s the perfect spot — both in terms of convenience and food — for grabbing lunch, dinner, or a between-meal snack. And yes, a pizza can be a between-meal snack, at least in my book!

A neatly arranged restaurant interior with patterned flooring, a floral wall design, and a server in the background.
(Photo courtesy of Doug Parker / Cruise Radio)

Previously, the chefs took about seven minutes to cook one of the made-to-order pizzas. But thanks to their new flash ovens, your pizza can be cooked in 90 seconds, which is incredible. That means no matter how crowded it gets—and the place is very popular—there’s never a long wait.

I went with a mozzarella and tomato salad this round, which was perfect alongside a Margherita pizza. 

Mozarella and Tomato Salad
(Photo courtesy of Doug Parker / Cruise Radio)

So, how much will a meal here cost? A pizza will set you back $8.50, or you can have an appetizer, pizza/calzone, and dessert for $14.99. The dining experience here takes about 30 to 45 minutes. 

Our original intention was to try and grab a reservation to eat here early, but slots were few and far between. Eating at 5:30 was ideal, as we could walk right in without a wait. It turns out the early bird gets not only the worm but also dinner and good service.

It’s still a bit cool in Europe at this time of year, but we could’ve dined outside on the patio if we had opted. 

It’s worth noting that you can still get free pizza on the Sun Princess. While Slice Pizza, located on the pool deck, is comparable to what you’d get free on other lines, it’s nowhere near as good as Alfredo’s. 

Onboard WiFi Speeds

Sun Princess interior
(Photo courtesy of Doug Parker / Cruise Radio)

Before checking out that evening’s entertainment, I returned to the room to work out on the balcony for a while. I have to say, I was impressed with the internet speed.

Because I’m a tech guy who relies on the net for work, I did random speed tests throughout the trip using my iPhone, MacBook, and Google Pixel (a phone I use for a hotspot with a local SIM while in port). 

They were consistently in the 5-10 Mbps range, which is good for a cruise ship. I’ve been on ships that boast about their high-speed internet, only to have it be more than 1 Mbps.

Wandering Around the Ship

A kiosk labeled
(Photo courtesy of Doug Parker / Cruise Radio)

The onboard programming on Mediterranean cruises fascinates me because the itineraries are so port-intensive. Unless you’re a seasoned night owl, you must start the party much earlier than you would on a Caribbean cruise. Stay up too late; you might just sleep through your excursion the next morning!

The ship had its share of entertainment, minus the production shows, which were not ready yet since this was one of the first sailings. It’s not unusual for the first few sailings of a new ship to have this issue.

sun princess theater

When Norwegian Viva debuted, for example, I was excited to see their version of Beetlejuice, a show I’d loved on Broadway.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite ready to hit the stage yet. And that’s something to remember when booking inaugurals or even the first few sailings: Everything might not be quite ready, whether it’s shows or other aspects.

That said, once they are up and running, this ship is set to debut four new production shows.

However, the Piazza was going off with all kinds of dancing and movin’. The DJ had everyone’s ear, and the crowd ate it up. 

DJ SUN PRINCESS

I should stop here to praise the Piazza’s design in general and, more specifically, the wide variety of seating options available there.

On some ships, you can wander through the atrium without stopping because there is no seating available, and people are just leaning on the upper-level railings.

That’s not the case here. Several times, I found myself stopping and taking a seat to enjoy whatever event or production happened to be taking place there.

sun princess piazza daylight 2

There are plenty of places to stand or sit against the railing, tiered seating along the upper levels, and little tables and booths scattered.

During the day, this area is downright stunning, thanks to giant glass spheres on either side of the space that provide gorgeous ocean views. It quickly became my favorite spot to daydream while sipping my morning coffee. 

Walking After Midnight 

An empty cruise ship deck at night with a rattan cabana and blue lighting.
(Photo courtesy of Doug Parker / Cruise Radio)

I didn’t book a shore excursion or make plans in our next port, Crete, as I’ve been there a few times before. This meant I could stay up late and walk the ship long after most people had gone to bed.

I like to walk the decks on new ships, starting from the bottom deck, front to back, and working my way up. Since the ship is over 1,000 feet long and has 18 public decks, you clock some major steps in doing this, but it certainly gives you a good sense of the vessel.

Who doesn’t love feeling like you’re the only person on a ship? It’s cool and a little spooky at the same time.

Late-night Sun Princess Observations

the eatery sun princess

The first was the space in the Eatery, the casual dining area, which is lower on this ship. Located on deck 9, the food court starts around midship at the International Cafe and goes to the back of the ship. 

The real test would be to walk through it during a sea day, breakfast or lunch, to see how it handles the crowds. There seemed to be plenty of seating, though. 

At first, I wasn’t sure if this area could accommodate a ship with over 4,600 people, but as I walked back, I saw more seating. 

Overhead view of the Sun Princess, a modern multi-level cruise ship atrium with passengers relaxing on sofas, an illuminated purple pillar, and balconies.

Two specialty restaurants, The Catch by Rudi and Butcher’s Block, are located at the back of deck 9. Seating extends to the buffet area during breakfast and lunch, and stations are also set up there. 

My second observation was the number of venues right off the atrium or down a hallway. This ship manages to create intimate zones or spaces without even trying. I recently spoke with Jason Leppert of Popular Cruising, who agreed that it’s a seamless flow.

Illuminated outdoor bar on a cruise ship at night.
(Photo courtesy of Doug Parker / Cruise Radio)

If I wanted to be away from the noise and enjoy someplace quiet, I could sit in the Princess Live space or go to the Good Spirits cocktail bar. 

On the other hand, if you wanted to be part of the action, spaces like Crooners drew crowds. 

spell bound sun princess magic castle

In the next report, we’ll explore Spellbound by Magic Castle (Princess’ new interactive experience onboard) plus check out a couple of other dining venues onboard, including their Americana dining concept on deck eight of the main dining room. 

If you missed our previous trip report, you can catch up here, and learn more about the Sun Princess christening here.

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