(Updated 12:15 p.m. EDT) -- Princess Cruises revealed Thursday that its first new Sphere-class cruise ship will be called Sun Princess and offered up initial details about the experiences that will await passengers onboard the largest ship to ever debut for the line.
The first in an all-new class of ship for Princess, Sun Princess will carry over 4,000 passengers when it debuts in the Mediterranean in early 2024. Already under construction at the Fincantieri shipyards in Italy, Sun Princess will offer plenty of new features for the line, including multi-story dining rooms, a dedicated suite category with its own restaurant and lounge, panoramic Piazza atrium space, and the first-ever glass-enclosed geodesic dome at sea, which covers an indoor-outdoor space that is part pool deck, part entertainment venue.
It will be the 11th Carnival Corporation vessel to be powered by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) technology.
"Everything we're doing with Princess now is about how we can drive innovation," Princess Cruises president, John Padgett, told Cruise Critic in an exclusive interview. "We can take the guest experience up to the next level, but also simultaneously embrace our heritage.
"That's really what you see with Sun Princess. It is everything our guests have loved about the Royal-class, all taken to the next level with just some iconic features, more of literally everything."
The new Sun Princess -- the third vessel in the line's history to bear the name -- will debut in early 2024 in Europe before crossing the Atlantic to make its home in Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale), Florida, where it will operate a season of Western and Eastern Caribbean cruises.
"It is fundamentally Princess," Padgett said of Sun Princess. "It's not intended to be a revolutionary ship. It's intended to be evolutionary. And that's why we chose the Sun Princess name to ensure that we tell the world, 'Hey, we're embracing our heritage. We love what Princess is all about. And we can keep pressing into the future to give everyone more of what they love.'"
To that end, Sun Princess will still offer things past Princess passengers have grown to love, like Crooner's Martini Bar; the relaxing Sanctuary sun deck; and Princess's trademark Piazza Atrium that first debuted aboard Crown Princess in 2006 as a combination atrium and entertainment space.
Princess greatly expanded its Piazza atrium concept aboard its Royal-class vessels like Royal Princess, and now enhances it further aboard Sun Princess with convertible LED screens, an enlarged space, and panoramic ocean views.
Sun Princess will also debut a brand-new suite accommodation known as the Signature Collection, which will offer access to its exclusive Signature Restaurant, Signature Lounge and Signature Sun Deck, the latter of which is a private area of the Sanctuary sun deck.
Club Class accommodations aboard Sun Princess, and the rest of the fleet, will now be renamed The Reserve Collection. These prime-location mini-suite staterooms will offer a new category, Reserve Collection Cabanas that offer a private balcony and cabana, an extra-large outdoor lounge space.
Aboard Sun Princess, Reserve Collection cabins will also have access to the Reserve Collection Restaurant, designed exclusively for those staying in this level of accommodation.
The ship will also offer standard cabin grades to suit all tastes and budgets. What's more, standard balcony staterooms will now offer an in-room sofa; a significant change over Princess Cruises' past stateroom layout that has only offered a desk and chair in standard balcony cabins.
Princess has long utilized easily recognizable architectural elements to define its ships. The former Crown and Regal Princess of 1990-1991 included a "whale dome" at the top designed by architect Renzo Piano that made those vessels some of the most photographed of the 1990's. Early Grand Class ships had their elevated Skywalker's Disco situated high above the stern of the ship.
Now, Sun Princess will sport The Dome: a glass-enclosed space that easily identifies the ship at a glance. It covers a multi-level covered deck space that features an indoor/outdoor pool with a unique water feature and comfortable places to lounge. At night, the pool turns into a stage, and The Dome becomes a South Beach-style entertainment venue that will offer aerial performances and state-of-the-art lighting effects.
"The Dome is clearly a distinguishing feature and one that everyone is asking about and everyone's excited about," said Padgett. "It is the first geodesic glass-covered dome on a ship, which is really neat from an architectural standpoint. But more importantly, it's what it does for the overall guest experience. It allows a top deck multipurpose facility that has this terrace, has beautiful lounge for daytime experience and enjoyment out in the sun, but not really in the sun."
Padgett tells Cruise Critic that The Dome is also designed to function as a sort of secondary Piazza: an entertainment venue that passengers will want to hang out in by day and night.
Princess Cruises states that additional details about the forthcoming Sun Princess will be revealed as the ship's launch approaches.
Sun Princess will debut in early 2024 in the Mediterranean before later repositioning across the Atlantic to run Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises from Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale), Florida.
The ship's first three cruises will go on sale at 3 p.m. Eastern time on Friday, September 16, 2022 for the general public, though elite past-passengers with the line can book these sailings immediately.
A sister ship to Sun Princess is scheduled to enter service in 2025. Princess Cruises' most recent vessel, the Royal-class Discovery Princess, debuted earlier this year.