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First look at Sun Princess, Princess Cruises' next-gen ship

PHOTO: ANNE KALOSH CRUISE_Sun_Princess_The_Sphere.jpg
The Sphere rises nine decks and includes the three-story Piazza and six decks of accommodations
With its glass dome up top, nine-deck sphere midships and theater in the round, there are a lot of curves on the newly floated-out Sun Princess.

'Many cruise ships look like condominiums on barges. We wanted to soften the ship. Princess is a very feminine brand,' said Richard Parker, director, newbuild guest experience & product development, pointing to the seawitch logo adorning the bow.


The Princess seawitch logo adorns the bow of Sun Princess

'We wanted to look outward, celebrate the views and let the natural light in,' he added. This is clear from the big expanses of glass such as the triple-deck Horizons Dining Room aft and, forward, The Dome, a place for 'never-ending views.'

Media got a first look at Princess Cruises' next-generation ship with Parker and some the interior designers/architects at Fincantieri's Monfalcone yard on Wednesday.


From left, Richard Parker with the Sphere behind, The Dome atop the ship and an aft view of Sun Princess

The 175,500gt Sun Princess, 1,133 feet long, 21 decks high with 4,300 lower berths and 1,000 uppers, is the line's largest — and the largest ship built in Italy. It's also the first LNG-powered Princess ship and Fincantieri's first LNG-powered cruise ship (it has delivered an LNG-powered ferry).

Not an Excel-class ship

But it is not an Excel-class ship, like the latest of sister brands Carnival Cruise Line, P&O Cruises and AIDA Cruises, Parker pointed out.

The Sphere class sprang from a blank sheet, he said, and it's the first design from the ground up for the Princess Medallion experience, which impacted the positioning of galleys and other behind-the-scenes elements to make it more efficient for crew to provide 'Ocean Now' service — food and beverages delivered anywhere passengers request by app.

The Piazza

As always, the heart of the ship/town square is the Piazza which, on Sun Princess, takes up the lowest three decks of the midships Sphere. (The six upper decks of the Sphere hold accommodations.)

'This is designed as an entertainment venue,' Parker said. It sports a triple-deck LED screen that can move and reconfigure itself and will be a central part of the evening production shows. The Piazza floor comes up to form a stage, flying performances are enabled and the seating will be tiered.

The Piazza will be light and airy, with light gray tones and modern white oak details, while the circular shape brings attention to the big windows, said Victoria Hood of Jeffrey Beers International, which created the space. It will be relaxing by day and entertaining/energetic by night.

On Deck 7, Coffee Currents is a new space that's different from the International Cafe typical to the Piazza. This level also houses Bellini's with an entire wall of glass, the new Signature Restaurant (for suite guests) and designed by Jeffrey Beers International, shops and the Wheelhouse Bar. The 200-seat Reserve Restaurant (for Reserve Collection guests) opens into a 'jewelry box' wine hall and a space with sumptuous fabrics, according to Harry Allnatt, senior designer, Richmond International.


Richmond International's Harry Allnatt, right, describes the new Reserve Restaurant

Deck 8 houses Crooners piano bar by Jeffrey Beers International, a sushi restaurant and Sabatini's Italian Trattoria with its open pasta-making kitchen, more shops and the enlarged casino, also by JBI, with its added ceiing height.

Mysterious black door

Parker said there will be a black door on Deck 8 leading to a new, immersive experience but gave no further clues.

Deck 9 is the new home to the International Cafe and has Alfredo's Pizzeria with its open kitchen and an oven that reaches 968 degrees to create authentic Neapolitan-style pizza.

World Fresh Marketplace relocated/enhanced

World Fresh Marketplace will be relocated from the Lido Deck to Deck 9 with access to the promenade, and will offer additional outdoor food outlets, with more theming — details to come.


Fredrik Johansson shows off what will be the Horizons Dining Room

Horizons Dining Room and Wake View Terrace

The triple-deck Horizons Dining Room provides an open and flexible space with big wake views and natural light highlighting a decorative sculpture that spans from Deck 6 to Deck 8. Each deck will have its own personality, different dining experience and level of formality.

Horizons has light materials, organic curves and rounded spaces — that feminine touch again — with inspiration from nature and a coastal lifestyle, explained Fredrik Johansson, executive director and partner, Tillberg Design of Sweden, the coordinating architects for Sun Princess. (Johansson noted that Robert Tillberg, the firm's legendary founder, designed the first Princess ship, Sea Venture, which had ground-breaking features including a dining room with no pillars.)

The Wake View Terrace, also by TDoS, is one of Johansson's favorite places onboard. It has a South Beach vibe, great views — with all the seating facing outward, an infinity pool cantilevered over the side and a double-height bar. It's the ideal spot for cocktails before dinner in Horizons.

Two aft panoramic elevators rise up to Deck 18 and two sweeping staircases connect to Deck 9.

Princess Arena

Contemporary and versatile, the Princess Arena provides the most technologically advanced Princess theater design. By Richmond International, it has no pillars and three configurations: theater in the round, traditional proscenium style and keyhole proscenium — a 'very sophisticated space,' in Allnatt's words. Though it seats 1,050, it seems much more intimate by putting viewers around the stage.

A stunning visual above the center can become part of the show, and there's a double-deck LED screen.

Princess Live!

On Sun Princess, Princess Live! has evolved from a studio into a lounge space with great views, Allnatt said. 

Princess Live! is on Deck 7 and other venues on the same level include Crown Grill Steakhouse, the Good Spirits bar, a new bar concept TBA (the Princess deck plan shows an Irish pub) and the Gelateria.


A rendering of The Dome, designed by ICRAVE

The Dome

High on Decks 17 and 18, The Dome will be 'a new experience on a cruise,' according to its creator, Lionel Ohayon, founder & CEO, ICRAVE Design. It is inspired by views of the Greek Islands and covered in glass, making it ideal for soaking in the scenery. But The Dome is much more than a lounge. It will have a massive waterfall, an indoor-outdoor pool, and a terrace. It will be possible to deploy a stage over the pool and to project images on The Dome's surface.

More suites and private dining

There are 50 Signature suites that come with access to three dedicated venues: the Signature Restaurant, the double-deck Signature Lounge and a private sun deck. The Reserve Collection (formerly Club Class), comprised of mini-suites with VIP touches, also has its own dining room for the first time, the Reserve Restaurant.

Plus, there are cabanas on both sides of the ship that open to a cabana deck with sunken Jacuzzis on Deck 9 and, on Deck 6, cove balcony staterooms that are close to the water.

Altogether, more than 70% of the accommodations have balconies (and all balcony rooms have a sofa). There are 100 connecting rooms, ideal for families. No accommodations have obstructed views, and no bathrooms have shower curtains (instead, doors). Space has been optimized by doing away with walk-in closets.

The Landing

Deck 4 holds The Landing, where passengers will embark, whether by adjustable gangways that move with the tide or 'luxury launches' in tender ports. The Landing will provide space for security at ports that don't have it and serve as a lounge that's optimized for the tenders with a grab 'n' go drinks area and access to the midships and forward stairs/elevators.

'Instead of feeling like you're in a crew area, you're in a guest area,' Parker said. At sea, the space can be configured for other uses like meetings.

The redesigned tenders will have two decks, with outdoor seating on top and air-conditioned seating below.


Sun Princess Capt. Gennaro Arma with Princess President John Padgett on an earlier ship

Environmental features

Besides LNG propulsion, just a few of the Sun Princess environmental features include waste-heat recovery optimization, an air lubrication system to reduce hull friction and LED and high-efficiency lighting. Capt. Gennaro Arma said the LNG tanks are massive: each 25 meters long and nine meters high.

While this is a dual-powered ship, the goal is to use LNG as much as possible.

Sun Princess is scheduled to begin its inaugural season Feb. 8, 2024, debuting in the Mediterranean before heading to Port Everglades in November next year for its Caribbean season.