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A "hidden" experience, Spellbound aboard Sun Princess is filled with no end of mystery and whimsy (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
A "hidden" experience, Spellbound aboard Sun Princess is filled with no end of mystery and whimsy (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

Spellbound on Sun Princess: What to Expect from the Magic Castle Onboard

A "hidden" experience, Spellbound aboard Sun Princess is filled with no end of mystery and whimsy (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
A "hidden" experience, Spellbound aboard Sun Princess is filled with no end of mystery and whimsy (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
Assistant SEO Editor
Marilyn Borth

Last updated
Mar 14, 2024

Read time
6 min read

Cruise Critic's editors have visited the highly anticipated Sun Princess in the shipyard on two separate occasions to fully grasp the new ship, which debuts in early 2024. Although these visits were insightful and exciting, some areas of Princess Cruises' soon-to-be largest cruise ship weren't quite finished. One such example is Spellbound.

Spellbound will be an area on Sun Princess built in collaboration with The Magic Castle, an exclusive and highly prestigious clubhouse for magicians. Spellbound is to be a miniature likeness of The Magic Castle in Los Angeles, an old Victorian house in Hollywood that's a gathering place for members of the Academy of Magic Arts (an internationally recognized organization for learning about magic and growing interest in the art).

The best way to get a better idea of the Spellbound space and experience prior to Sun Princess' first sailing was to see The Magic Castle itself -- so I took a tour of it. My tour was led by the President of The Magic Castle, Erika Larsen. Larsen is also the daughter of Bill and Irene Larsen and niece of Milt Larsen, all three of which were The Magic Castle's founders.

Here's what we discovered about the iconic Magic Castle in Hollywood and how it will translate onboard Sun Princess -- and how it may not. (Note that we weren't permitted to take photos or videos beyond the entryway to The Magic Castle).

Spellbound on Sun Princess: What You Need to Know

The Magic Castle in LA at night
The Magic Castle in LA at night (Photo: Marilyn Borth)

Priced at $149 per person, Spellbound is not an inexpensive experience. But the price not only allows Princess to capacity-control this venue, but also to provide a better experience overall.

A special dinner, as well as performances in Spellbound, are included in the experience. A full menu of specialty cocktails, crafted just for Spellbound, are inclusive, as well -- and Princess tells us you can enjoy as many as you'd like.

Guests can also enjoy Spellbound as a sort of private lounge for the entire evening. That means if you'd like to leave the immersive experience and return to your cabin, or catch another show, you can always re-enter at your leisure.

Spellbound will only have three different times available for reservations: 5:00, 7:00 and 9:00 in the evening.

Reservations will open on March 19, 2024 and the experience is expected to debut on April 8, 2024.

The dress code is still to be determined. Formal wear in the evenings is strictly enforced at The Magic Castle, and we hope Spellbound aboard Sun Princess will have a somewhat similar dress code to preserve this element of glamour.

Expect plenty of surprise and whimsy at Spellbound, which will draw like-minded people who simply enjoy the art of magic and are looking to have a different kind of fun onboard their cruise ship, to laugh and to leave their worries at the door (or, maybe, the sliding bookcase).

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Spellbound on Sun Princess: The Victorian-style Magic Castle Downsized to Just Four Rooms

Spellbound aboard Sun Princess includes several distinct spaces - with hidden surprises (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
Spellbound aboard Sun Princess includes several distinct spaces - with hidden surprises (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

Spellbound aboard Sun Princess is a "miniaturized," four-roomed version of The Magic Castle: an entrance with a piano, two bar rooms with tables for magicians to perform close-up magic and a theater for performances.

The decor did catch my eye repeatedly in The Magic Castle, which was aligned with the Victorian era -- picture plush fabrics, golden tassels, chandeliers, candelabras and infinite gaudy picture frames displaying long-gone strangers. "There's a story behind every piece," remarked Larsen on our tour. Touches of Gothic design are present as well, which is present through the dark wooden fixtures, wallpapers and dim lighting.

Spellbound, too, offers Victorian design and ambience, brimming with plush carpets, chandeliers, magic memorabilia, and plenty of hidden whimsy. Don't be surprised if you put your drink down on the table in front of you, only to find it's rotating ever so slowly!

Spellbound Will Also Celebrate the "Magic" of Mixology

The Conjuror, an old-fashioned-esque cocktail at Spellbound that gets its look from black charcoal (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
The Conjuror, an old-fashioned-esque cocktail at Spellbound that gets its look from black charcoal (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

Spellbound aboard Sun Princesscelebrates the intricacies of mixology at its sole bar as the Magic Castle does at its six bars. Not only will Spellbound offer mixologist-crafted cocktails, but guests can also expect a side of magic with their delicious bevvie as well (which are complimentary, too, with admission).

While waiting for my Magical Moment cocktail (Hendrick’s gin, St. Germain liqueur, Monin Passion Fruit and Chandon Brut Rose sparkling wine) at one of the six bars at The Magic Castle, I noticed my chair making a knocking sound. After asking Larsen in pure confusion what was happening to my seat, she said with a smirk, "You're sitting in a sinking chair."

It wasn't until that very moment that I realized I was indeed sinking, and was now almost eye-level with the bar. My cocktail arrived at that very moment, which had smoke housed in a large bubble on top. The bartender instructed me to pop the bubble with a toothpick, which he handed over to me. I did as I was instructed and -- like magic -- my chair shot up to its original height and smoke rose into the air from my drink. I guess my cocktail was more aptly named than I'd realized when I ordered it.

Similar small-scale, whimsical moments like this one are available aboard Sun Princess.

Spellbound Will Also Have Nooks for Close-up Magic Along with Larger Performances

A magician performs magic tricks in Spellbound aboard Sun Princess (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
A magician performs magic tricks in Spellbound aboard Sun Princess (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

During our tour of The Magic Castle, we saw three magicians -- one of them twice -- perform close-up magic. Close-up magic is held in smaller rooms with one felt table, usually encircled with chairs for guests to enjoy "close up." These magicians mainly used cards and coins, along with other random items, like lemons and even pieces of shrimp.

The first magician, Jeff Kaylor, was easily my favorite. I'm still stumped on how he made a raw shrimp disappear and reappear as a piece of fried shrimp. Or how he had it reappear later as raw once again, but this time on a guest's shoulder. Or how he put two coins in my hand and somehow, when I opened my fist, there were three coins.

Much like The Magic Castle, Spellbound will have several small tables and chairs set up for close-up magic. While they won't have their own walled rooms, they'll be dispersed in the bar room - and are even available upon request at the bar, as Cruise Critic discovered onboard. Guests will be able to sit down and witness (and even play a part in) close-up magic with some of the world's best magicians.

Spellbound on Sun Princess Will Cater Much More to Families, Including Multi-Generational Families

Spellbound recreates the Magic Castle experience aboard Sun Princess (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
Spellbound recreates the Magic Castle experience aboard Sun Princess (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

Aboard Sun Princess, Spellbound will be available for booking for guests aged 13 and up, in keeping with Princess's commitment to family entertainment -- at least, to start with. Princess did tell Cruise Critic they would continue to assess the experience (certainly, a 13-year old can't really enjoy the experience's cocktail component).

We do know that Spellbound desires to make the Magic Castle experience more multi-generation friendly, which aligns with Sun Princess' goal of providing onboard activities for multigenerational families.


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