A Full Sun Princess Cruise Review – New for 2024 Ship

Travelista Editor Jessica Ruth Gibson shares her in depth Sun Princess review, after cruising on the ship 7 days during the ship’s inaugural 2024 season in the Mediterranean. 

As I sit down to write this Sun Princess review, staring at a blank page, it’s hard to know where to begin to tell the story of my experience. I saw, felt, tasted and experienced so much in those 7 days that putting it all into words (and doing it justice) feels like a challenge – even for me – the writer. 

Let me set the scene if you’re new to Travelista. I am a huge advocate for cruising and I have cruised as a solo traveller, as a family with my son and now in a couple with my boyfriend. This was my fourth Princess cruise in total and I also had the pleasure of flying to Venice in December 2023 to see the ship cruise under construction in the Monfalcone ship yard. I also created a lot of coverage around the launch of Sun Princess, so it’s safe to say I was pretty well acquainted with the ship before this cruise. 

What I will say, is that none of the computer generated images I saw or press releases I read could have prepared me for just how spectacular this ship is in real life. It is – by far – the most innovative, luxurious and stunning cruise ship I have ever sailed on and despite knowing this new ship very well pre-departure, I was constantly finding more to love throughout the cruise.

Read on for my honest Sun Princess review, based on the ship’s inaugural season through the Mediterranean. 

This article has been written in partnership with Princess Cruises. All words and views are unique to the author. 

A Full Sun Princess Cruise Review based on a 7 Day Mediterranean Cruise

Stepping on board in Barcelona 

Our Sun Princess cruise began in Barcelona, so we flew in the day prior and spent a night at the 4 star Vincci Maritimo Hotel. We made our way to the Port of Barcelona the next day at around 1pm. We chose this time on purpose to avoid the peak time as the majority of guests had already embarked by this time.  Just as we hoped, we breezed through the cruise check-in process and received our personalised Medallions, which would be our key to almost everything onboard the ship. I’ll cover more about the Medallions later in this article. Suitcases are also checked-in at the terminal and taken directly to your stateroom.

Top Tip: Make sake sure you have completed all the pre-departure information in the Princess app including your passport details. By doing this you can use the ‘green lane’ at the terminal.

First Impressions of The Ship 

There was a great atmosphere in the ship as we walked through the gangway and into the central piazza of the ship. Guests were already enjoying drinks and relaxing into their cruise by the time we stepped on board. As with all cruise ships, it can feel a little overwhelming at first as you familiarise yourself with the layout of the ship. I loved the interactive maps that are spread throughout the ship to help you get your bearings. The Princess app also tracks your location so you can native around the ship easily.

As our stateroom wasn’t ready until around 2pm, we went up to the lido deck to take a look around and grab a casual lunch by the pool. We went for tacos – which we’re so delicious that we actually ended up returning 3 more times during the cruise. It was amazing to see so many of the completed spaces after seeing them under construction in Italy. I particularly loved seeing the The Dome, The Sanctuary and the Horizon’s Dining Room.

Entering our Cabana Mini Suite 

The cabana mini suite is a brand-new stateroom type for the Sphere-Class generation of ships, and so we were lucky to be some of the very first people to experience one. The unique selling point of this stateroom is that it has an additional cabana room between the lounge area and the balcony which provides you with an indoor-outdoor space. The bi-fold cabin doors of the cabana room can open out to become an extension of your balcony, or close to become an extension of your lounge. There is an additional television in this space and I can imagine on colder cruises, it’s a great place to relax and enjoy the views without any wind or colder temperatures. For us on a Mediterranean cruise, it was a lovely shady space to escape the sun and still enjoy the sea air. 

Our cabana mini suite also had the deepest balcony on any cruise I’ve done, as well as full reclining sun loungers as opposed to chairs. We definitely spent more time on the balcony as a result of this. This was the set up for cabana mini suites on Deck 12, but the cabana mini suites on Deck 9 are configured slightly differently. 

The cabana mini suites on Deck 9 come with exclusive access to a private cabana deck, complete with sun loungers, outdoor showers and a hot tub. This is an additional outdoor space which can only be used by cabana mini suite holders (so only 146 guests have access to this space). If you love the thought of stepping out of your suite straight onto a sun deck, this option is for you. I would say that the only downside to these type of cabana mini suites is that your balcony is not private as you could have people walking past on the deck and looking into your space. If you really value the privacy and seclusion of a balcony and the immediate sea view, I would suggest booking a cabana mini suite on Deck 12 – like ours. 

Other aspects of the cabana mini suite was the supremely comfortable bed, the plush robes and slippers, the ample storage space and the luxurious lighting. The bathroom was very impressive and more spacious than other mini suites I have experienced on other Princess Cruise ships. I have experienced. I appreciated the full-sized bathroom toiletries and the spacious walk-in shower with no shower curtain.

Dining on Board Sun Princess 

With a total of 30 new and signature dining options on board Sun Princess, getting around to eat at every single one would have been an impossible task on our 7 day cruise. After writing our Sun Princess Cruise Ship Bar & Restaurant Guide, I had a pretty good idea of what restaurants were on offer onboard before the cruise and so it was a case of prioritising which restaurants I most wanted to try across the week. 

Speciality Dining 

Having done three Princess Cruises before, I was keen to return to some of the cruise line’s signature restaurants such as Sabatini’s, Crown Grill and Alfredo’s Pizzeria to see how they had evolved on this brand-new Sphere Class ship. I have eaten at both of these restaurants on board Regal Princess and Enchanted Princess and I can safely say the versions of these restaurants on Sun Princess provide an elevated and even more elegant dining experience. 

It was nice to see some of the signature dishes still on the menu, along with a lot of new additions. The ambience, interiors, service and quality of food in these two iconic establishments would impress even the most discerning diners. At a $45 per head additional charge, I would say these restaurants are perfect for a special occasion on board or during one of the formal nights. 

Alongside the Princess speciality restaurants, I was also keen to try some of Sun Princess’ new dining concepts and exclusives, so we spent a fabulous evening at Umai Teppanyaki. Umi is the first of its kind on any Princess cruise ship and involved an evening of entertainment, show-cooking and sumptuous meats and seafood freshly cooked infant of you on the ‘Teppan’ grill. Other speciality restaurants that we did not get time to in during the cruise include the Butcher’s Block and The Catch by Rudi – so these would be my priority for any future cruises on Sun Princess. 

You can dine at the speciality restaurants for a per-head surcharge of $45 – but you can also eat like a king without having to pay a penny extra over your standard cruise fare.

Inclusive Dining 

As well as indulging in the speciality dining, we also ate at lots of the venues that are inclusive of the cruise fare including Horizons Dining Room (the main dining room and a la carte restaurant on the ship with spectacular views), The Eatery (the ship’s main buffet restaurant with a new addition of 2 outdoor dining terraces) and all of the lido grill casual dining options (including poolside tacos, burgers, salad bowls and pizza). A generous amount of the ship’s room service is also inclusive of your cruise fare and can be ordered 24 hours a day. 

For a full breakdown of all the restaurants we dined in on the new Sun Princess and my thoughts on each one, be sure to read My Sun Princess Food Diary next. 

Here’s a full list of all bars, restaurants and dining options available on Sun Princess.

Find out more about Sun Princess drink and dining packages; Princess Plus and Princess Premier.

Sea Days

As much as I love travel and exploring a new place, I have to admit that sea days are one of my absolute favourite things about cruising. People often ask; ‘don’t you get bored on the ship during a sea day?’ The answer is absolutely not. If anything, I always wish they could last longer. You can make your sea days as busy or quiet as you like and it’s on the sea days where you really feel that you’re truly cruising – surrounded by a mass of glittering ocean as far as the eye can see.There is something so powerful yet peaceful about being surrounded by that much ocean. If you know – you know!

On our first sea day on board Sun Princess we had a leisurely al fresco breakfast at The Eatery followed by a workout at the ship’s gym. The gym is at its busiest on sea days but we still managed to get a good session in. There is cardio equipment, weight resistance machines, a small free weights area and a fitness studio where various classes take place throughout the day.

Another amazing way to stay active on sea days is to walk or run around the running track in Park19 on the very top deck of the ship. Here you’ll also find a children’s splash zone, adventure play area with slides and an aerial assault course (which are set to open later in 2024).

The Sanctuary Club

We then spent mid morning to late afternoon at The Sanctuary Club, the ship’s exclusive adult only pool deck. From October 2024, access to The Sanctuary Club is reserved exclusively for Sanctuary Collection guests. However, as we cruised before this date were able to spend the day here for a fee of £99 and got access to a unique poolside food and drink menu that is inclusive and unlimited all day. We enjoyed a few glasses of Whispering Angel rose wine, bento boxes, fruit plates and delicious sandwiches and salads which you can’t get anywhere else on the ship. 

Beyond the food, this is undoubtably the most luxurious and peaceful poolside setting on the whole ship. We could only hear the sound of the ocean as we cruised through the Mediterranean, although my boyfriend and I both said it would be enhanced by a little music – maybe a chilled Ibiza soundtrack. I particularly appreciated the ambience of The Sanctuary because I thought that the music and movies that are played all day on the big screen of the Lido deck are too loud – not all guests want constant entertainment to that degree. If you are thinking of indulging in a Sanctuary collection stateroom, this area will hugely enhance your cruise experience.

Other Sanctuary Collection amenities include priority specialty restaurant reservations, and premium stateroom amenities. The new Sanctuary Collection aboard Sun Princess includes three levels of stateroom types – Signature Collection Suites (80), Mini Suites (123), and Premium Deluxe Balconies (12).

The poolside sun beds (both singles and doubles) are incredibly comfortable – I could have laid there all day. Our day at The Sanctuary Club was total indulgence and was probably the most relaxing day of my entire year. The service was attentive and I didn’t have to lift a finger. The best thing is that you can make a whole day of it – or come and go as you please.

If you are cruising before October 2024, be sure to take advantage of The Sanctuary by pre-booking a visit on the first day of your cruise. If you are cruising after this date, you will only be able to access this space as a Sanctuary Collection guest.

The Wake View Infinity Pool

Generally, we found the main lido deck too loud as films were played on a big screen overlooking the pools, so on our second sea day we enjoyed the quieter setting of the wake view bar and the wake view infinity pool. This pool is such a unique and special feature of the ship, and to swim in it whilst the ship is at sea is truly a memorable experience. We enjoyed some delicious frozen Pina coladas on a double sun bed and in one of the two hot tubs, then waited until around 4pm when the pool had cleared out. We had it all to ourselves – which made the experience even better. 

Port Days 

The port days of our 7 day Mediterranean cruise on Sun Princess included Gibraltar, Marseille France, Genoa Italy and La Spezia. As with all cruises on port days, you have the option to book the ship’s shore excursions, to explore on your own or to make your own independent tour arrangements. We chose to do a combination based on the port and how easy it felt to explore independently. 

Exploring Independently – without booked tours 

For Gibraltar and Marseille, we explored in our own time. This felt very leisurely as we disembarked the ship in our own time. Both of these ports are ideal for exploring on foot. For Gibraltar, you can walk from the ship straight into the town or catch the bus to the foot of the Rock of Gibraltar for the cable car experience. For Marseille, we took the ship’s return coach from the ship to La Vieux Port which cost $15 for a round trip. We did, however, notice there is also a free shuttle bus from Marseille Port into the centre of the city. There was a long queue, so clearly lots of other cruisers from the ship had cottoned on to this free alternative. 

I love exploring independently during a cruise as each port day feels like a mini adventure and a separate chapter in the cruise experience. 

Shore Excursions 

We chose to book two Princess shore excursions for Genoa (Portofino on Your Own) and La Spezia (A Tuscany Farmhouse Experience with lunch and horse-drawn carriage ride). Although we got caught in the rain, the day in Portofino ended up being my favourite day of the whole cruise. I like the ‘on your own’ tours as the transport and guide is provided but you still get to explore the destination in your own time and pick where you eat lunch. They are also cheaper than the other fully guided day tours. 

The only fully hosted tour we did was the Tuscany Farmhouse Experience which included coach transfers, a horse and carriage ride and a lunch at an authentic Tuscan farmhouse. We booked this tour in advance of the cruise so it cost us $149.95 per person. The tour itself was hosted by the farmhouse owners, Davide and Francesca, which made it feel very personal and we were served a lunch of pasta and wine on an idyllic terrace looking out over rolling Tuscan fields. The excursion definitely felt different to other shore days as we were part of a larger group and with a tour guide – but this meant that we could switch off and just enjoy the ride knowing that everything had been organised for us.

Shore excursions may not be for everyone but in certain ports where a bit of a transfer is required, they really take the hassle out of organising something on the ground. If you’re going on your first cruise, I recommend trying both shore excursions and days of exploring independently to figure out which style of exploration you prefer.

Standout Moments and Memories 

Spellbound by Magic Castle 

There were so many standout memories and experience as part of our Sun Princess cruise, but one that immediately comes to mind is Spellbound by Magic Castle. This evening experience consists of an exclusive dinner in a secret private dining room, drinks with a pre-show and the main magic show in the Spellbound theatre – a totally new venue for Princess Cruises. The whole experience is very intimate, with only approximately 20 guests per night. Filming and photography were not allowed as part of this experience, so not to ruin the surprise for others. I don’t want to give away too much, but if you are lucky enough to get a place for Spellbound, it’s going to be a highlight of your cruise. 

My favourite aspects of the experience were the pre-show and the show itself. I enjoyed the dinner with so many incredible dining options on the ship, I would have happily skipped this part and gone straight for the show. However, this isn’t an option and so the dinner and show surcharge is $145 per head. We did get to catch the most magnificent sunset during the Spellbound dinner which I managed to share and capture in an Instagram reel. 

Formal Nights 

During our 7 day cruise we had two formal nights, both of which took place on the sea days. After relaxing in the sun during the sea days, it was lovely to get dressed up at night. Formal nights are a cruise tradition across all cruise lines and in my experience, the vast majority of the guests truly embrace and enjoy this tradition. Booking a speciality dining restaurant is a great option on a formal night, and be sure to get a professional photo taken with the photographers around the ship. 

In terms of what to wear, most men wear dinner suits or even tuxedos and women wear dresses or trouser suits. The main thing is to wear what you feel most comfortable and happy in!

Entertainment & Shows in the Princess Arena  

I absolutely love going to the theatre so the fact that I can go and see a high-production show every night of cruise is another aspect of cruising that I truly love. The Princess Arena is a dynamic theatre space which can transform into different layouts depending on the production. Seating 990 people, it’s the ship’s largest entertainment venue, showing two performances each night. My favourite production on board our cruise was Fiera, which was an all-singing, all-dancing spectacle based around a circus theme. There were lots of familiar songs, spectacular costumes and a very talented cast. Catching a show in the Princess Arena was my favourite way to round off an evening on board the ship. 

In terms of alternative evening entertainment beyond Princess Arena, there are games, quizzes and live music taking place in The Piazza, Princess Live and O’Malley’s Irish Pub every night.

Good Spirits at Sea

We also loved visiting Good Spirits at Sea cocktail bar which offers guests an interactive cocktail making experience, featuring live demonstrations on cocktails from around the world. With 2-3 shows per night, you can catch the demonstrations and even try your hand at making a fresh cocktail which you get to take back to your seat. I ended up being the volunteer one night in Good Spirits which was a really fun and memorable experience. In my opinion Good Spirits at Sea is hands down the place to go for the very best cocktails and alcoholic drinks on the ship as they use the freshest and highest quality ingredients. 

The Sun Princess Medallion

Like every ship in the Princess fleet, Sun Princess is a MedallionClass ship, meaning so much of the guest experience is enhanced by a personalised coin-sized wearable device. This smart Medallion enables so much on your cruise. It acts as the key to your stateroom as well as being used for touch-free boarding, contactless payments and as a way to locate your loved ones anywhere on the ship. The medallion makes everything feel so effortless, particularly when entering your state room and ordering food and drinks around the ship. Your Medallion profile appears on cash registers, so the staff can charge your order to your account without even having to tap anything. It’s magic really! 

The MedallionClass Experience includes MedallionNet – super fast Wi-Fi onboard each ship – and I can absolutely vouch for this. Accessing the Wi-Fi does come at an additional cost but once you’re connected, it’s as fast as being on land. 

The Verdict

My cruise onboard Sun Princess was a full-circle experience, after writing so much about it on Travelista and seeing the ship being built in Venice. The finished product is nothing short of stunning and it was by far the most luxurious and innovative Princess ship I have ever cruised on. It was a total pleasure to be a part of the Sun Princess inaugural season in the Mediterranean (May 2024) and I would love to cruise on Sun Princess again in the future. 

Thank you Princess Cruises for this unforgettable cruise experience. 

Did you think this Sun Princess review helpful? Feel free to ask any questions by leaving a comment in the community comment box below. We will do our best to answer any questions within 48 hours.

Good to Know

Sun Princess will sail to Fort Lauderdale in September 2024 for her first Caribbean season, and will return to the Mediterranean at the end of March 2025 for another Mediterranean season through to Sept 2025.

Star Princess cruise ship will launch in 2025 – browse all Star Princess cruises here.

Are you thinking of booking a cruise on Sun Princess? To get the best Sun princess cruise deals with lots of added extras, be sure to book on princess.com

Read more Travelista articles about Sun Princess 

Read more Travelista articles about cruising and other Princess ships

Jessica Ruth Gibson is the Founder and Editor of Travelista and an award-winning travel content creator of 10 years. She lives in York, UK with her son and has travelled to over 50 countries; her favourites being Italy, Canada and Vietnam.

Leave a comment

Travelista is an online publication and community for the adventurous modern woman covering travel, style, family, home, career and wellbeing.