Sun Princess Trip Report: Getting On Board and Settled

Introducing a new ship is challenging for any cruise line, particularly prototype ships that are the first in their class.

A Sun Princess cruise ship docked near a palm-lined promenade with people enjoying the coastal setting.
(Photo courtesy of Doug Parker/Cruise Radio)

On the one hand, you want to roll out new venues, tech, entertainment, and features, while on the other hand, if you want to ensure long-time favorites remain, returning guests feel like they’ve yet to enter a strange new world. 

It’s a fine line to walk, and this week, I’m getting a chance to see how well Princess Cruises has managed the balancing act where their new ship, Sun Princess, is concerned. 

So, welcome to my combined Sun Princess review/trip report. 

Where Sun Princess Is Going

Luxury Sun Princess cruise ship deck with a swimming pool and lounge area under a clear blue sky.
(Photo courtesy of Doug Parker/Cruise Radio)

The ship, introduced last month as the first in the new Sphere class, is currently undertaking a 10-day cruise. Although she left Barcelona, I flew to Athens to join the already-in-progress cruise.  

Here’s the itinerary for the rest of the trip:

  • Day 1: Athens 
  • Day 2: Kusadasi, Turkey (Ephesus)
  • Day 3: The island of Crete
  • Day 4: Sea day 
  • Day 5: Naples
  • Day 6: Rome (debarkation)

From Start to Finish

sun princess fincantieri shipyard italy
Sun Princess (Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises)

Readers might recall that this isn’t my first “meeting” Sun Princess. I was fortunate enough to be among a select few invited to her float-out ceremony in March 2023 and was invited back to tour the ship in December as the finishing touches were underway.

That was a particularly cool visit because while some venues were little more than shells of what they’d become, you could already sense that this ship would be special. This voyage is like our third date.

sun princess fincantieri shipyard
Sun Princess at the Fincantieri shipyard in March 2023

Before boarding, I saw how this ship would use modern technology to its fullest. The online check-in was done entirely on the Ocean Ready app.

So once I got to the port, they had to snap a pic of my passport and verify my information, and that was it. If only checking in for the international flight over had been that intuitive!  

Boarding the Ship 

Sun Princess 2

Embarkation was slightly different because I picked up the ship halfway through its original 10-night itinerary. I checked in for my cruise too late to get my Ocean Medallion, but one was waiting for me at the pier. 

We boarded at ground level because the Athens port has no jet bridge. Our rooms were ready when we got on the ship, making it easy. 

Sun Princess 13

After watching the required safety demonstration on the stateroom TV, checking into the muster station, and going through immigration (because boarding mid-voyage), it was cruise time. 

The sail away from Athens was peaceful and relaxing, and I couldn’t help but take a moment to reflect on how thankful I was to be there. Sometimes, you just stop and think, “Life is good.” This was one of those moments.

The Stateroom 

Sun Princess 3

I’m in a balcony stateroom toward the front of the ship. Your typical amenities were found here with some extra touches I noticed that seem new to this particular class if I’m not mistaken. 

A motion-activated light turns on under the bed so you can see the path to the bathroom in the middle of the night. As far as I’m concerned, the fewer stubbed toes, the better!

Sun Princess 17

In the bathroom, the shower handle is directly in front of you when you open the door, which is now glass instead of a curtain. The handle placement is great – you can turn the shower on without shocking your body with cold water. 

With my iPhone 15 having USB-C ports, adding USB-C outlets on both sides of the bed and standard USB ports was a nice (and welcome) touch. My room has 4 USB outlets, 4 USB-C outlets, and four plugs. You couldn’t ask for more. 

Sun Princess 16

I’m sure there are other fancy features in the stateroom that I have yet to come across, but we’re talking first impressions here.

Sun Princess 4

The balcony space is decent. Being just behind and below the navigational bridge, I’ve got a pretty spectacular view, which will be awesome when sailing in and out of some ports on this itinerary. 

First Experience with Ocean Ready

I’d just begun to explore the ship when I realized it had been hours since I’d had anything to eat. This provided the perfect opportunity to try one of the app’s many features: ordering food and delivering it anywhere on the ship.

This option was available when I was on the Discovery Princess in 2022, but several guests told me that delivery could have been faster, so I never wound up trying it.

Cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, and pickles served with a side of fries and ketchup along with a Sun Princess Review.
(Photo courtesy of Doug Parker/Cruise Radio)

I was impressed with how quickly my burger and fries arrived in my stateroom. It was 19 minutes from when I placed my order to when it showed up at my door. Best of all? It was an excellent burger!  

Given that I’m dealing with a major time difference and tend to work some pretty odd hours, this feature will prove handy over the next week.

A Trip to Guest Services 

Guests checking in at the Sun Princess hotel lobby with a modern design.
(Photo courtesy of Doug Parker/Cruise Radio)

With some time to kill before dinner, I did a little wandering around the ship. I know I’m not the only one who finds exploring a ship a favorite pastime. It’s usually not until day three or so that I can comfortably navigate from one place to another without making a wrong turn.

In any case, I had to stop by guest services, so I naturally headed to the atrium. After all, that’s where it’s found on most ships, right? But upon arriving, I remembered that they relocated it on Princess’ last class, which is also true here.

Sun Princess 11
Deck 6. (Screengrab via Princess Cruises)

I understand moving Guest Services out of the atrium and wish other lines would follow suit. The atrium is where so many activities — loud or involving bands — occur.

Although I had to ask the spa for directions to guest services, they pointed me in the right direction, which involved descending a corridor of staterooms on deck six.

The guest services area is like its own island in the middle of the ship. You have to be determined to get there, but once you find it, it’s nice and subdued – you don’t have to yell to be heard.

What’s For Dinner? 

Modern Sun Princess restaurant interior with sea views through large windows.
(Photo courtesy of Doug Parker/Cruise Radio)

More than just the layout of the ship has changed. The way they handle the main dining rooms is also different, and I think it’ll be interesting to see how people react.

There’s one big main dining room stretching over decks 6, 7, and 8. Collectively, the first two levels are known as Horizons. All three are at the back of the ship and stacked atop one another. However, each level offers something different.

Sun Princess 18

Deck 6 is for traditional dining, with two set times to eat. Tucked away in the corner is the Chef’s Table experience, a circular room with a curtain they can use to give guests enjoying the experience more privacy.

Sun Princess 12

There was also a piano, providing nice music to dine by. (I’m told some nights they also had a string trio.) And did I mention the killer views via the two-story windows or the sculpture spanning all three decks?

Deck 7 overlooks Deck 6, providing some very cool vistas. This is where those partaking in anytime dining wind up sitting, which means it features the same menu as deck 6 but with flexible dining times. Book early to get a table with one of the best views.

Elegant Sun Princess cruise ship dining room with tables set for a meal and a central circular glass sculpture.
(Photo courtesy of Doug Parker/Cruise Radio)

Deck 8 is where things get interesting, as it’s considered a part of the main dining room and yet features a different vibe, name (American Diner), and menu. As for what’s offered, it reminds me of The Local on Norwegian Cruise Line, although with a wider variety of options and a more upscale vibe.

The American Diner is open for lunch on sea days and offers some cool items. Caramel popcorn waffles, anyone? Or maybe cajun corn on the cob? We plan on eating dinner there one night.

Dinner tonight was in the main dining room, and I hit the spot. I went with the shrimp cocktail, pork chop with glazed apples, and an ice cream sundae.

sun princess menu mdr
Sun Princess 14

The service was attentive, and the food came out hot and delicious. Integrating the Ocean Medallion with the iPads makes things much more efficient, especially for someone who loses their card a lot.

Sun Princess 15

We were in and out in 90 minutes. We could have easily spent less time together, but we wound up relaxing and enjoying good conversation with our tablemates from Dubai.

Closing Thoughts 

Sun Princess 6

I’ve got much more to say about the ship and its offerings, but after traveling all day, I can barely keep my eyes open as I type this. So, instead, I’ll leave you with a tease about what’s coming up over the next few days.

I look forward to the new Spellbound by Magic Castle interactive experience and exploring everything the ship (including The Dome) offers. Plus, dinner at the Butcher’s Block is something to look forward to.

So all I can say is… stay tuned.

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