Sun Princess cruise ship: the Piazza
James Morgan, Getty Images for Princess Cruises

Sun Princess Cruise Ship Review: What We Love—and What Needs Work

May 8, 2024

Sun Princess, the latest addition to the Princess Cruises fleet, is the line’s largest ship to date, weighing in at 177,882 gross tons and able to accommodate 4,300 passengers. By comparison, the company’s Discovery Princess, which made its maiden voyage in 2022, is a mere 145,000 gross tons and can sleep almost 1,000 fewer cruisers. 

Sun Princess, the first in the line’s Sphere class of ships, is a 21-deck, next-level Love Boat with an innovative design aimed at bringing the outdoors inside and connecting passengers to the sea—and giving them some spectacular views. 

Additionally, the ship’s grand total of 30 dining and drinking venues outnumber the food-and-beverage offerings on any other Princess vessel, while a number of upgrades to suites, staterooms, entertainment, and kid-friendly attractions seem geared toward attracting more families and expanding the line’s appeal to a younger, hipper demographic. 

To find out what works—and what needs work—on Sun Princess, I took a weeklong cruise (at the invitation of the cruise line) from Rome to Barcelona, where the ship had its naming ceremony in April 2024. 

Read on to find out where the Sun shines brightest—and where its light is dimmed.  

Sun Princess Quick Facts

Launched: February 2024
Passengers: 4,300 (double occupancy)
Crew: 1,600
Size: 177,882 gross tons, 1,133 feet long, 139 feet wide
Booking:, 800/774-6237

Sun Princess cruise ship: the Dome
James Morgan, Getty Images for Princess Cruises
Where the Sun Shines Brightest: 7 Things We Love

1. The ship’s unique design—and dazzling views

The ship’s most striking design elements are its two “sun-inspired” concepts:

• a nine-deck-tall bubble in the middle of the vessel (visible on the ship's exterior) that has lots of windows to give wraparound ocean views and centers on the Piazza (pictured at the top of this story), an open and airy central atrium that spans three levels; 

• and the Dome (pictured above), a glass-enclosed structure that sits at the top of the ship and is being dubbed the first-ever geodesic dome at sea.

Due to its placement and design, the multilevel glass dome (decks 17 and 18) shows off expansive ocean views from its indoor and outdoor areas, where you’ll find cushy lounge chairs, an indoor-outdoor pool, and the Sea View Bar. Outdoors, the spacious terrace also offers seating with a view, and because the terrace is partially covered, there’s shade that makes this a perfect spot for relaxing during days at sea.

You’ll find some of the best views from inside the ship around the Piazza, including at International Café (deck 9), Bellini’s Cocktail Bar (deck 7), Alfredo’s Pizzeria (deck 9), and Makoto Ocean (deck 8), a new collaboration with renowned Japanese chef Makoto Okuwa. 

Dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows at Horizons, the beautifully designed main dining room (decks 6, 7, and 8), supply a look at the ship’s wake from the back of the vessel. Step out onto the Wake View Terrace (deck 8) and you’ll feel like you’re in an exclusive area (though it’s not), with loungers, a bar, and an infinity pool suspended over the back of the ship. 

Sun Princess cruise ship: Cabana Mini-Suite
Gwen Pratesi

2. Elevated staterooms and suites

As visually appealing—and view-enhancing—as the spherical atrium and geodesic dome are, it’s worth noting that the ship’s interior décor has a more modern and upscale feel than other Princess ships, thanks in part to a subtle color scheme with natural wood tones in staterooms and suites

I stayed in a Cabana Mini-Suite (pictured above), a new stateroom category for Princess that comes with a larger balcony than the next cabin category down (Deluxe Balcony) as well as more space (329 square feet compared to 235) and a few other perks, such as access to an exclusive outdoor lounge area on deck 9. At lower price points, there are Premium Oceanview and Interior staterooms, neither of which have balconies. (And at the other end of the price spectrum, Princess has launched with this ship a new set of luxury accommodations and amenities the line calls the Sanctuary Collection.)

Passengers on previous Princess ships will note that changes on the Sun involve closets (no longer walk-in) with frosted glass doors, lots of storage, plenty of hanging space, and large drawers. You’ll also find a plush robe and slippers inside. 

In the bathroom, another welcome addition awaits: a glass door to the shower—goodbye, shower curtain! Bath and skin care products are by Beekman 1802. 

On the tech front, there are plenty of U.S. electrical and USB/USB-C outlets in the room. A thoughtful touch you’ll discover after dark: a motion-detecting nightlight. 

Sun Princess cruise ship: Medallion technology
Princess Cruises

3. Tech that works

While we’re on the subject of staying connected, the Wi-Fi on Sun Princess was some of the fastest and best I’ve experienced at sea. Glitches were nil and I never had trouble doing anything online that I wanted to do—a first at sea for me. 

That said, connectivity comes at a price. The line’s MedallionNet Wi-Fi is available to purchase pre-cruise for $24.99 per device per day. For four devices, the cost (pre-cruise) is $44.99 per day. That's competitive with what you'll find on other cruise lines

[It might be more cost-effective to purchase a package such as the Princess Plus option, which goes for $60 a day per person and comes with Wi-Fi for one device, a beverage package, and other perks.]

In addition to being impressed with the quality of the Wi-Fi, I found that Princess’s Medallion technology worked flawlessly. I was “Ocean Ready” when I checked in, having completed my paperwork on the Princess app days before, so it took just minutes to receive my Medallion—a quarter-sized, wearable doodad (pictured above) to be used in many of the ways that key cards are employed on other ships.

The device makes ordering stuff like lattes or glasses of wine seamless (you don’t have to hand over a card every time), and you don’t have to fumble around in your pockets or handbag for a key to get into your stateroom, either; as long as you’ve got the Medallion on you, the door will unlock automatically as you’re coming down the hallway. 

Sun Princess cruise ship: Horizons dining room
Gwen Pratesi

4. New flexibility in complimentary dining

The ship’s complimentary dining venue—the three-level Horizons (pictured above)—features a unique and new-to-Princess flexible dining concept, offering guests a choice among traditional, reservable, or walk-in anytime dining.

Americana Diner on deck 8 is the anytime option, serving casual comfort food such as an all-day breakfast, old-fashioned chipped beef on toast, buffalo wings, chicken parmigiana, pub-style fish and chips, burgers, milkshakes, and apple pie. 

Alternatively, guests can have the classic cruise dining experience, with breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the same table with the same dining companions for every meal, on deck 6. For a quiet evening for two, make a reservation on deck 7 for a leisurely meal amid the space’s panoramic aft views from two-story windows. 

The three new complimentary dining options have been such a hit that Princess is rolling out this enhancement across the fleet. 

Sun Princess cruise ship: Umai Teppanyaki restaurant
Princess Cruises

5. Exciting new specialty restaurants—and solid standbys

Sun Princess maintains an impressive roster of new dining venues for cruising foodies along with longtime Princess faves, such as the Crown Grill steakhouse (deck 7), where I had one of the best meals of my cruise, thanks to well-prepared staples such as surf and turf and baked Alaska with cherries jubilee.

A fun addition is the line’s first Japanese teppanyaki restaurant, Umai Teppanyaki (pictured above; deck 8), which shares space with Umai Hot Pot. Lively meals here are overseen by talented, spatula-wielding chefs whose bag of showy cooking tricks don’t overpower the fresh, flavorful results. 

Another favorite: The Catch by Rudi (deck 9), a collaboration with award-winning master chef Rudi Sodamin, the line’s head of culinary arts. The menu features fresh seafood and showstopping desserts, such as a piled-high croquembouche.

On the other side of The Catch, The Butcher’s Block by Dario is a carnivore’s delight, with one meat course served after another—the Florentine steak is the mouth-watering highlight—engineered by Dario Cecchini, the “world’s most famous butcher.” 

Dining at any of the specialty restaurants comes at an additional cost unless you’ve sprung for the Princess Premier package, which includes a dinner at two specialty restaurants and a long list of other amenities, including Wi-Fi for up to four devices, a premium beverage package, reserved seating for theater shows, unlimited fitness classes, and more. The package costs a pricey $80 per day per person, so before you purchase make sure you’ll actually use the various components to make it worth your while. 

Sun Princess cruise ship: Spellbound magic show
Princess Cruises

6. A magical evening at Spellbound

Sun Princess's immersive dining-and-entertainment experience is an exclusive collaboration with L.A.’s Magic Castle, a club for expert magicians and their most devoted fans. On the ship, the evening begins with dinner in a private room at the back of the Horizons dining room. Afterward, guests are led by a caped and top hat–sporting gatekeeper through a nondescript door into a seabound version of the Magic Castle, a sexy and mysterious space where bartenders serve elaborate cocktails in cages and smoky boxes as a wandering magician performs close-up card tricks.

After drinks in the lounge, guests are ushered to a performance area for a display of more masterful magic from a headliner "handpicked from around the world," according to Princess (performers change about once a month). The top-notch skills of the magicians, the inventive drinks, and the overall floating-speakeasy vibe add up to an experience that's mesmerizing in every sense of the word. 

The price for the evening, including dinner, drinks, and entertainment, is $149 per person—not too bad, considering all that you get. There are three seatings each night and space is limited. I recommend booking one of the earlier seatings, at 5pm or 7pm, so you can linger at the bar after the show.

Sun Princess cruise ship: Good Spirits at Sea cocktail experience
Gwen Pratesi

7. Expertly mixed cocktails at a huge variety of bars

The fact sheet for Sun Princess lists 12 different bars, but that doesn’t include one of my favorite spots, O’Malley’s Irish Pub (deck 7). It’s classified as a restaurant since it serves pub fare, including bangers and mash, a Guinness-braised beef stew, and drunken mussels. Situated just off the Piazza, the space is handsome and the food is hearty, but perhaps the best thing about O’Malley’s is that it's glass-enclosed, so you can enjoy your traditional Irish fare with a side of traditional Irish music without being disturbed by noise from the lively atrium.

I’m also a fan of the sophisticated air and ocean views of Bellini’s Cocktail Bar (deck 7) for a glass of champagne or a well-made Aperol spritz. For more complicated cocktails, the expert mixologists at Good Spirits at Sea (pictured above; deck 7) prepare tasty drinks inspired by destinations around the world during the space’s Cocktail Experience. Check the ship’s daily schedule for times. 

Outside, some of the best spots to toast the view are the Wake View Terrace Bar (deck 8), the Sea View Terrace (deck 17), and the Sun Bar (deck 18).

Sun Princess cruise ship: The Piazza
Gwen Pratesi
Where the Sun Is Dimmed: 5 Areas That Need Work

1. Noise levels in The Piazza 

With the focus on attracting a younger demographic and new-to-cruising guests, Princess has amplified the amount of games and entertainment in the Piazza, installing a three-story LED screen, pumping out lots of music, flashing a lot of lights, and scheduling activities around the clock. 

Throughout the day, this area hosts game shows, dance classes, Zumba classes, live music of all genres, parties, a silent disco, and much more. Seating along the glass periphery on all three levels of the Piazza makes it easy to watch, listen, and play along. 

But all this action makes a lot of noise—and the commotion can feel inescapable, especially when you’re trying to have lunch at Alfredo’s Pizzeria during a dance class (one, two, cha, cha, cha), or enjoy a quiet pre-dinner cocktail at Crooners (where the live music at the bar has to compete with the noise from the Piazza), or eat your sushi in peace at the specialty Makoto Ocean restaurant.

Sun Princess cruise ship: Princess Arena theater
Gwen Pratesi

2. Not enough seating in the Princess Arena

The Princess Arena (deck 7) is the line’s most technologically advanced theatrical space, offering three different configurations for shows (the ship's April 2024 naming ceremony is pictured above). But since the venue can accommodate only 990 spectators, it fills up quickly when the ship is at its full capacity of 4,300 passengers—well over four times the number of people the theater can hold.  

The only production show that was ready for our sailing, Vallora, A Pirate Quest, was sold out when we arrived about 45 minutes before the performance, so we (and many other guests) were turned away. Two nights later, we took advantage of the reserved seating that comes with the Princess Premier package so we could catch the swashbuckling production. That worked, but even with the package, seating is on a first-come, first-served basis—and when seats are gone, they’re gone. 

That means that if you have your heart set on seeing a popular show during your cruise, you could be out of luck, especially when the full slate of productions isn’t available.

In addition to Vallora, future passengers can expect two new shows—Stage Struck and Viva La Música, neither of which was ready during my voyage—and Fiera!, a reimagined Princess staple. 

Sun Princess cruise ship: Princess Live! venue
Gwen Pratesi

3. Not enough seating in The Dome and Princess Live!, either

The same seating issue applies to The Dome, where evening acrobatic performances are staged by Québec’s renowned Cirque Éloize. This space has seating capacity for just 250 people, leading to more potential for disappointment—and cramped quarters. On the night I attended, crew members brought in extra chairs to squeeze in more people, but that can make things feel crowded and create terrible sight lines. My view of the performers, for example, was almost completely blocked by the person seated in front of me. 

Similarly, the venue on deck 7 known as Princess Live! (pictured above) often has only standing room available for its lineup of live music, comedy, trivia, and lectures. Not to mention that the spot’s close proximity to the Piazza means that punchlines are often drowned out by noise from the ship’s central gathering area. 

Sun Princess cruise ship: casino
Gwen Pratesi

4. Smoke from the casino

To an unusual degree, cigarette smoke wafting down the corridor from the casino (deck 8) toward the Piazza was an issue on my sailing. Many guests commented on the noxious smell—something I don’t recall encountering on other cruise ships. Maybe Princess needs to take a second look at the ship’s air filtration systems? 

Sun Princess cruise ship: The Butcher's Block by Dario
Princess Cruises

5. The Eatery is congested.

With the ship at full capacity, I found The Eatery buffet (deck 9) to be congested, especially in the morning on port days when everyone was trying to grab breakfast before getting off the ship. Finding a place to sit can be challenging. Pro tip: Try looking near The Catch by Rudi and The Butcher’s Block by Dario (pictured above) at the back of the ship. Seating options should be better on warm days when more passengers opt to eat outside on the deck. 

To avoid the morning madness in The Eatery, consider room service, especially if you have an early excursion. If you have a leisurely morning planned, go for breakfast in Horizons. You can also grab a quick bite and a latte or cappuccino at International Café. 

Related: 10 Tips and Tricks for Dining on a Cruise

Sun Princess cruise ship: family dining
Princess Cruises
What Remains to Be Seen: A Shift Toward Family Fun

With Sun Princess, the cruise line is making a stronger push to appeal to families with kids. A central piece of the strategy is a top-deck activity zone called Park19 (decks 19 through 21). 

The area was not yet open during my sailing. When it’s complete and passes muster with the regulators at sea, Park19 will feature Sea Breeze, a ride that takes cruisers suspended in harnesses around an electric track at speeds up to 11 mph. Park19 also has a climbing wall that leads to an observation deck with 360-degree views. Additionally, you can try out a ropes course, set the kids loose in a splash zone, or hit a multifunction sports court for fitness classes, ping-pong, and other activities. 

Park19 joins other expanded family offerings onboard, including kids clubs for three different age groups (preschoolers to teens), more connecting staterooms and suites for families traveling together, and a bunch of dining options for younger palates at The Eatery (deck 9) and on the Lido Deck (deck 16). 

Still, Sun Princess doesn’t match the extensive kid-centered activities on other megaships, where you’ll find go-kart tracks, 10-story slides, futuristic arcades, and elaborate stage shows for youngsters. It will be interesting to see whether Princess’s expanded but still comparatively modest pitch for family travelers is enough to compete with rival lines that are better established in the kid-friendly game. 

Sun Princess cruise ship from Princess Cruises
Princess Cruises
The Takeaway

Altogether, Sun Princess is a good-looking, cutting-edge vessel with many top-notch dining and beverage experiences. The outward-facing design and light-filled spaces feel modern and upscale, and have a way of showcasing the ocean views as more ships should do. 

An effort to liven up the Princess image, though, won't always impress loyal fans of the line. Too often, especially in the central Piazza area of the ship, a nonstop frenzy of activity generates more noise than anything else. And it’s not yet clear whether an expanded slate of kid-friendly activities will be enough to compete with rivals that go all out in that regard.

What’s more, as impressive as the ship’s design is, the crucial matter of providing enough seating in theaters and other performance spaces appears to have been overlooked. While I was on board the ship, Princess announced a delay in the delivery of its next vessel, Star Princess, by about two months. Here’s hoping the delay will be used to address some of the capacity issues in the Princess Arena and The Dome. 

Some relatively small fixes would go a long way toward pushing this next-level Love Boat to, well, the next level.

After sailing in the Mediterranean and Europe this summer, Sun Princess will debut in the U.S. in October 2024 with 7- and 14-day Caribbean itineraries sailing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Visit for more information