Sun Princess was built before "Personal Choice Dining," and it shows. The Regency Dining Room offers fixed sittings for dinner at 5:45 and 8 p.m. and open sitting for breakfast and lunch. The identical Marquis Dining Room is open for dinner from 5:30 until 10 p.m. and passengers can make reservations by telephone or show up at the door.
The ship's buffet restaurant, the Horizon Court, faces forward on Lido Deck; this large space (but not large enough at peak times) is accessed by two buffet stations, port and starboard. Additional buffet service is available in the main room, but it is difficult to access without previously passing through the buffet lines. Aft of Horizon Court is the Terrace Grill, an on-deck barbecue.
The location of Horizon Court in the forward part of Deck 14 means that there are too few seats outside to provide adequate seating as the deck around the pools is mainly taken up by sun beds. If you want to have breakfast at around 9 or 10 a.m., lunch around 2 p.m. and/or dinner at about 7 p.m., be prepared to find the Horizon Court congested. And yes: The buffet dinner option is popular as many people seem to like the casual option.
A full breakfast buffet is offered, ranging from cereals and meats to egg and waffle stations. After breakfast and lunch comes a sandwich buffet, dinner, a la carte bistro dining after midnight and early breakfast. Breakfast and lunch are crowded, but there are stewards to find tables and carry trays.
Room service breakfast is limited to continental, but selections from a 24-hour menu of cold and hot items are delivered promptly (and free) to your cabin.
Verdi's Pizzeria, decorated with tile floors and tables and wrought iron chairs, is open for lunch. In the evening it becomes a casual trattoria with a limited menu of pastas.
The biggest culinary disappointment is the Sterling Steakhouse, carved out of part of the Horizon Court. For $20 AUD, diners may order from among entrees of beef, seafood, lamb or chicken. The food and service are fair. This was the first ship in which I have sailed in which the dining room food and service were actually better than that in the specialty restaurant. The first night I dined I ordered cheese instead of dessert and was given sandwich slices. They were prepared for my second visit and gave me real chunks of cheese, but on my third visit I was back to sandwich slices.