Sun Princess Dining

Favorites like The Crown Grill return aboard Sun Princess (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
The gorgeous Horizons Dining Room features two storeys of glass looking over the ship's stern (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
Makoto Ocean offers an eight-course set tasting menu specialzing in sushi and Japanese delights (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
Sabatini's is one of the few windowless spaces onboard, but the room makes up for it with clever backlit panels showing the Italian countryside (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
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Aaron Saunders
Senior Editor, News and Features

Dining options aboard Sun Princess are so numerous it would take passengers several voyages to experience them all in their totality. And that’s a good thing: big-ship cruisers have come to expect variety and value when it comes to dining onboard, which is precisely what Sun Princess delivers.

Sun Princess also offers a good mix of complimentary and extra-fee dining options onboard. Food quality is good to very good throughout; you’ll never feel like you’re being pushed to spend money at a specialty dining venue – but to make the most of your sailing aboard Sun Princess, you’ll want to try at least a few of the for-fee restaurant options onboard.

To make the most of your dining experience onboard, you’ll want to be sure you have the newest version of the Princess Cruises app installed in your phone: you’ll need to make and manage dining reservations. Princess just replaced its former Medallion Class app with a brand-new one, so you’ll need to ensure you download that before you leave home.

Free Restaurants on Sun Princess

The gorgeous Horizons Dining Room features two storeys of glass looking over the ship's stern (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
The gorgeous Horizons Dining Room features two storeys of glass looking over the ship's stern (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

Horizons Dining Room (Decks 6 and 7): Open for breakfast and dinner each day, and lunch on sea days, Horizons functions as the traditional complimentary dining room aboard Sun Princess.

Breakfast here works differently than on past Princess Cruises’ ships: port days see a smaller “Express Breakfast” menu that promises to have you in and out in 30 minutes, while on sea days Princess offers its more traditional breakfast and brunch menu. Lunch is offered here, too, but only on sea days.

When it comes to dinner, Horizons functions as two distinct venues. Horizons on Deck 6 is for those passengers that have pre-selected to dine early (usually 5:30 p.m.), or late (usually 7:30 p.m.). Horizons on Deck 7 is for passengers that have “Anytime Dining”, or walk-in passengers. Lines can get long on the Deck 7 entrance to Horizons, so make sure to use your Princess app to make a nightly reservation in advance.

Dinners are more formal, traditional affairs, typically lasting between 90 minutes and two hours, depending on the size of the table. Passengers dining in Horizons will be expected to adhere to the dress code, which is casual for the most part except for one or two nights designated as formal nights.

The Americana Diner (Deck 8): Located on Deck 8 directly above the Horizons Dining Room, the Americana Diner is typically open for brunch (10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.) and dinner (6 p.m. to 10 p.m.). A casual venue offering a set menu of American classics like buttermilk pancakes, shrimp po’ boys, fish and chips and buffalo wings, fare here is tasty and uncomplicated – but beware the small portions for some dishes. We ordered the Breakfast Burrito and were disappointed to see it was about as thick as a single spring roll.

The Eatery (Deck 9): Sun Princess’ new buffet concept, The Eatery takes up most of the aft portion of Deck 9. On the positive side, The Eatery seems to offer more variety and better quality food than the previous buffet iteration, Horizon Court, on other Princess ships. Asian, Mexican and Indian-themed dishes are well represented alongside more standard American fare.

But The Eatery is hampered by a lack of available seating, particularly when inclement weather closes down the adjacent outer decks. Simply put, there just isn’t enough room for the amount of people who want to dine here. Expect to do several laps of the room and outer decks to find a place to sit. There are also no self-serve beverage machines here; a weird oversight for a ship of this size.

The Promenade (Deck 9): Several casual grab-and-go venues are offered outdoors on The Promenade deck. Selections here include burgers, pizza, tacos and ice cream, and while most of these areas remain staffed in inclement weather, it’s easy to forget these casual options exist, as they are not well marked or advertised on the ship’s deck plans.

The Lido (Dec 17): Much like The Promenade, The Lido hosts an assortment of grab-and-go food venues. Burgers, pizza, tacos and salads can be had here at various stations clustered around the midship staircase on both port and starboard sides of the ship. These options tend to be busier at peak dining times than those on The Promenade, thanks to their close proximity to the main swimming pools and their abundance of sheltered, shaded seating.

International Café (Deck 9): The place to be for coffees and light bites throughout the day, from breakfast croissants to freshly made sandwiches and sweet treats. The specialty coffees here cost extra, but food items are all (deliciously) complimentary.

Room Service: Complimentary room service breakfast is available to all cabin categories. Items outside of breakfast incur a small charge and nominal service fee.

What Restaurants Cost Extra on Sun Princess?

Pub grub is on offer at O'Malley's Irish Pub each evening (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
Pub grub is on offer at O'Malley's Irish Pub each evening (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

Alfredo’s Pizzeria (Deck 9, $): Formerly a complimentary dining venue on past Princess Cruises vessels, Alfredo’s Pizzeria now incurs an a’la carte charge for pizzas and appetizers. Most pizzas hover around the $13-14 area. Despite the upcharge, Alfredo’s remains as popular – and delicious – as ever.

Crown Grill (Deck 7, Reservations Required, $$): Princess Cruises’ signature steakhouse gets some swanky new digs aboard Sun Princess. While steaks are the real star here, don’t discount the seafood offerings, too: they’re easily just as good, if perhaps not as well-advertised. Book this one well in advance of your voyage; it fills up fast.

Sabatini’s (Deck 8, Reservations Required, $$): Another Princess mainstay, Sabatini’s offers up a full Italian feast that’s not to be missed. Better than your average Italian shipboard restaurant, this elegant and classy venue may be one of the most attractive Princess has ever designed in its iteration aboard Sun Princess – one that goes a long way to move Sabatini’s out of Olive Garden territory and firmly into the must-try arena of Italian restaurants at sea.

The Butchers Block by Dario (Deck 9, Reservations Required, $$): This brand-new specialty restaurant is all about the meats. If you hate vegetables getting in the way of your carnivore delights, this is the restaurant for you: you’ll find a few token veggies placed tableside but really, the star of this show is meat, meat, meat. The cuts of beef are exquisite, buttery, and melt-in-your mouth.

The Catch by Rudi (Deck 9, Reservations Required, $$): Located opposite The Butchers Block, The Catch by Rudi was spearheaded by seagoing culinary legend Rudi Sodamin, who for years served as Holland America Line’s top chef before being hand-picked to develop new venues for sister-brands Princess and Carnival. The Catch by Rudi does not disappoint, especially for those with a love of seafood.

Makoto Ocean (Deck 8, Reservations Required, $-$$): Formerly named Kai Sushi by Makoto when Sun Princess launched, this innovative sushi bar offers set tasting menus that differ for both lunch (sea days only) and dinner. The menu selections are adventurous even for sushi lovers; Makoto Ocean isn’t afraid to trot out the wasabi-infusion or use spices and ingredients that may be foreign to some. The result is an exquisite experience for dinner. Interested in dipping your toes in? Smaller tasting menus are offered for lunch for the reduced price of $25 per person and include both seafood and vegetarian tasting options.

Umai Teppanyaki and Umai Hot Pot (Deck 8 Midship, Reservations Required, $-$$): These distinctive venues share a single space and are open for dinner every day, along with lunch on sea days. Teppanyaki is a fun experience if you’ve never done it before – bring your appetite: you will not go hungry! And while the Teppanyaki experience is pretty standard aboard Sun Princess to what you’ll find onboard other ships, the real winner here was Umai Hot Pot, with its authentic flavors, soups and appetizers. Don’t forget to try one of the custom cocktails, too.

O’Malley’s Irish Pub (Deck 7, $): Traditional pub fare is served at O’Malley’s Irish Pub between 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. for a small a’la carte fee. Outside of those hours, however, no food is available at O’Malley’s, which is a shame for the late-night set, as this venue is open “Until Late”. Prices are reasonable, and the fare – fish and chips, burgers, etc. – is on-point.

Cruise Critic Restaurant Picks on Sun Princess

Makoto Ocean aboard Sun Princess offers up sushi and sashimi tasting menus (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
Makoto Ocean aboard Sun Princess offers up sushi and sashimi tasting menus (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

For us, the hands-down winner of all the restaurants we tried aboard Sun Princess was Makoto Ocean. Not only are the views from the adjacent Sphere exquisite, but the quality and presentation of the dishes at Makoto Ocean were faultless – an adjective that describes the service here, too.

Of course, it’s impossible to mention Princess without mentioning the Crown Grill steakhouse as well. Nothing has measurably changed here, and that’s ok: Princess has always had a strong steakhouse offering that has great value and excellent variety.

Dietary Restrictions on Sun Princess

The Catch by Rudi  specializes in seafood (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
The Catch by Rudi specializes in seafood (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

Allergies were well-catered-to aboard Sun Princess and taken seriously. Vegetarian and gluten-free options are available in most dining venues and are usually marked with a symbol identifying them as such – though it’s always a good idea to remind your wait staff of your dietary requirements when ordering.

Those with nut allergies should take care in the Spellbound by Magic Castle experience: the majority of cocktails listed on the menu include almond extract or bitters, though bartenders are happy to whip up something without nuts for those with allergies.

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