When Sun Princess was launched (way back when!) in 1995, it was not only Princess' largest ship but also the industry's biggest-ever vessel. Along with Sun-class vessels that followed -- such as Sea Princess, Dawn Princess and the former Ocean Princess (now P&O's Oceana) -- the ship was outfitted with innovative features and amenities, created a revolutionary impact on the industry, and served as a precursor to Princess' later introduction of Grand-class ships like Grand Princess.
These days, the ship, which is now one of the smallest in the fleet, is promoted with the "big ship choice and small ship feel" moniker. Is it accurate?
On a recent cruise aboard Sun Princess, it was clear that despite its handsome ambience, the ship has been a bit bypassed by more contemporary Princess innovations. Personal Choice Dining was unveiled long after this ship was designed and so the concept of flexibility isn't as smoothly incorporated into the restaurant scenario. Standard cabins, while efficiently appointed, can be a tight fit for two, and balconies (which number 400) are less than plentiful when compared to newer ships in the fleet. Kids' facilities -- particularly Off Limits, the teen center -- seemed anachronistic.
And, finally, the ship always seemed crowded. There are lines for every buffet, sale and activity. Comparing Sun Princess with the newer Island Princess and Coral Princess, which are 14,000 tons larger yet carry a similar number of passengers, it's pretty clear why the vessel consistently felt crowded.
On the plus side, Sun Princess is welcoming and well run. Princess still provides terrycloth robes and fresh fruit upon request. Boarding passengers are met at each stairwell and directed to their cabins, which is nicer than having to find your own way. Turndown service with chocolates is provided in the evening. And we love that wooden deck chairs with steamer blankets are available upon request.
The ship spent two weeks in a dry dock in Brisbane in the beginning of November 2007 prior to commencing Princess Cruises' first-ever year-round deployment from Australian ports -- mainly Sydney but also Fremantle. (Prior to the refit, furniture in some areas, such as La Patisserie and the adjacent atrium, looked well worn.)
Sun Princess Fellow Passengers
Sun Princess, which arrived in Sydney in late October 2007, now caters to the Australian market. As a result, most passengers are Aussies and the Australian dollar has replaced the U.S. dollar as the onboard currency. Announcements and television programs are mostly in English.
Sun Princess Dress Code
Casual dress is the rule. The ship's newsletter suggests attire for the evening. On a weeklong cruise, there are generally two "formal" nights, but most passengers do not wear black tie, suit or long dress; five nights are "smart casual." Shorts and T-shirts are prohibited in the dining rooms for dinner, but welcome in the Trattoria and Horizon Court.
Sun Princess Gratuity
Princess recommends $8.50 AUD per day. Fifteen percent is added to wine and bar bills. Tipping in the spa/salon/gym is left to the individual. Passengers may raise, lower or eliminate the service charge, but tips given out in cash are pooled up to the standard service charge. Only above that amount do stewards and stewardesses get to keep their tips.
March 2014 Davidwpickup@ntlworld.com
We left sydney end of march on cruise to Singapore..this was our first cruise.
The ship was looking dated...we had a balcony cabin and was disappointed that it was relatively small..just enough space for my wife and I to sit together on ...continue
Just got back from a New Zealand cruise on Sun Princess. I highly recommend this ship. Big but not too big, and the crew - mostly Phillipino - were excellent.
A couple of tips: Avoid the feeding frenzy at the buffet and use your allocated ...continue
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There were 6 of us that travelled Sydney to New Zealand & back to Sydney
Overall it was a great holiday. The food was great especially Sterling Steak House 10 out of 10 both times we went.
The staff were exceptional! the ...continue