Cruise ship review: Sun Princess cruise, Princess Cruises newest ship

Author: Will Payne

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Dive into life on board Princess Cruises’ newest vessel Sun Princess on a sailing from Barcelona to Civitavecchia near Rome, says Will Payne

For someone with a crippling fear of heights, you might think climbing a building famed for its near four-degree slant would be out of the question. Determined to face my fears, however, I take the 251 steps to the summit of the Leaning Tower of Pisa in northern Italy.

“It may feel like the structure is about to fall over,” jokes my tour guide, Marie. “So take your time – and be careful.”

Despite feeling overcome with anxiety on the way up, the panorama makes the ordeal worthwhile. The tension lifts from my shoulders as I admire Tuscan houses fading into rolling mountains as far as the eye can see and listen to the birds nesting at the tip of the building singing to the swathes of tourists below.

After descending and regrouping with Marie and other passengers on my Sun Princess excursion, we stroll through the Piazza del Duomo. The sound of a practising choir whispers past my ears as I inhale the nutty aroma of fresh-baked cannolis.

The Climb the Leaning Tower excursion – which includes a tour of the piazza – is one of many shoreside adventures during my five-day sailing aboard Princess Cruises’ newest vessel, Sun Princess, which began in Barcelona three days earlier.

The Piazza houses Alfredo’s Pizzeria, International Café, Kai Sushi and the speciality piano bar Crooners. Credit: Princess Cruises

All aboard

As I embark, a smiling face greets me and guides me to The Piazza, a three-deck atrium that houses Alfredo’s Pizzeria and the International Café, as well as Kai Sushi and the speciality piano bar Crooners.

Classic elegance is interwoven with modern technology throughout the ship, with sleek panelling adorning the walls alongside interactive LED screens that give an overview of the vessel and all of its amenities, making it difficult to get lost.

Having checked into my Deluxe Balcony Suite – which has a queen-size bed, floor-to-ceiling windows, fridge, spacious wardrobe and a bathroom with a shower – I opt for room service, which arrives warm in 15 minutes.

After freshening up, I take a stroll round my home for the next few days. Soon getting my bearings, I find something new around each corner and options for cruisers of all ages.

The top deck waterpark, Park19, is ideal for younger passengers, while Good Spirits at Sea is the perfect hangout for adults who enjoy cocktails paired with mixology demonstrations.

The Catch by Rudi on deck nine, meanwhile, is a must-visit for seafood lovers, with fresh ingredients paired with maritime decor to create a seaside setting. The scent of lobster bisque permeates the air as I ponder the menu with sommeliers on hand to help pair my dish with a bottle of wine.

Opting for spicy prawns and a ‘sea and shore’ dish of filet mignon and lobster tail, I finish with a strawberry pavlova with Chantilly cream.

Umai Teppanyaki, an art-filled space where the chef fries fish, chicken and beef on a hotplate in front of you. Credit: Princess Cruises

Next, I take to The Dome – a spherical venue for entertainment and relaxation at the bow of the vessel – for a sneak preview of Cirque Eloize’s Artbeat show.

The hairs on my arms stand on end as an acrobat effortlessly flies around the venue on a trapeze against an LED backdrop splattered in wild colours. It’s an amazing performance and the perfect end to my first day.

After a good night’s sleep I head to the gym as the sun rises over Le Garlaban hill at our second stop, Marseille in the south of France.

Famed for its beaches, rich history and vibrant culture, today it is a modern metropolis with a backdrop of Renaissance architecture.

On a jaunt around the city I spot sleek yachts bobbing in the marina before re-joining the ship to find out more about the 4,300-guest vessel.

Sustainable sailing

The second in the line’s Sphere class, Sun Princess is powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG), a transitional fuel that reduces some emissions. The ship also houses the line’s largest casino, five entertainment venues and no fewer than 15 cafés and restaurants.

Dinner tonight is at The Butcher’s Block by Dario, a steakhouse curated by celebrated Tuscan butcher Dario Cecchini, where delicate cuts are prepared tableside. Bookable for a cover charge, it offers a range of vegan and vegetarian options too.

Being the line’s first vessel powered by LNG, sustainability is a vital cog in the ship’s day-to-day operations. That’s why it’s equipped with 26 biodigesters to process food waste without releasing the greenhouse gas methane – although I have to admit this is one piece of onboard tech I didn’t test, as there was never very much left on my plate.

That’s especially true after lunch at Umai Teppanyaki, an art-filled space where the chef fries fish, chicken and beef on a hotplate in front of you, performing mind-boggling tricks, flipping utensils and juggling fried eggs till they land on the edge of spatulas and the whites spill into heart shapes. Then, with an intoxicating smell of spices hanging in the air, it’s all promptly served, piping hot, into your bowl.

In Spellbound, the world of magic is paired with the art of mixology to create a Victorian-inspired interactive experience. Credit: Princess Cruises

In the limelight

This kind of extraordinary showmanship pervades the whole ship. In Spellbound, the world of magic is paired with the
art of mixology to create a Victorian-inspired interactive experience.

Hidden behind a nondescript door, moving pictures adorn the walls of a dimly lit wizard’s house.

Plush, plump sofas and a low-hanging chandelier make you feel like you’ve been transported back in time as you watch the magicians at work while sipping whimsical cocktails such as Houdini’s Chest, which is served in a leather box brimming with dry ice.

Elsewhere, the Princess Arena plays host to three new shows: Vallora, A Pirate Quest; Stage Struck and Viva La Musica, as well as returning favourite Fiera!. And thanks to the theatre’s ‘keyhole’ configuration, performances are in the round, with great views from every seat.

Princess Cruises’ vice president of entertainment experience, Denise Saviss, says, “It’s an engineering marvel that allows us to create awe- inspiring entertainment, offering guests a different experience every night.

Not only will our productions shine, but the venue itself, with its state-of- the-art stages, captivating lighting design and immersive surround-sound, will deliver show-stopping spectacles on every voyage.”

Sun Princess’s diverse selection of onboard features makes the vessel a perfect option for a wide range of travellers, whether you’re sailing solo or with your partner, children or grandparents.

But if you’re like me – with my debilitating fear of heights – you might think twice about climbing a 12th-century tower that’s famous for almost falling over.

Get onboard

Princess Cruises’ seven-night Mediterranean with France & Italy cruise aboard Sun Princess, from Barcelona to Rome (Civitavecchia) via Gibraltar, Marseille, Genoa and Pisa (La Spezia), departs on 3 August 2024, from £699.

Princess Cruises’ seven-night Western Caribbean with Mexico cruise aboard Sun Princess, return from Fort Lauderdale via Roatan, Belize City and Cozumel, departs on 1 March 2025, from £699.

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