You may also like
Dismiss
Hannah Waddingham holds up a sun ray ahead of the christening of Sun Princess
Hannah Waddingham christens Sun Princess (Photo: Adam Coulter)

Sun Princess Cruise News: Ted Lasso Star Hannah Waddingham Christens Sun Princess

Hannah Waddingham holds up a sun ray ahead of the christening of Sun Princess
Hannah Waddingham christens Sun Princess (Photo: Adam Coulter)
Executive Editor, U.S.
Chris Gray Faust
U.K. Executive Editor
Adam Coulter
Senior Editor, News and Features
Aaron Saunders

Last updated
Apr 23, 2024

(April 23, 2024, 6.30 p.m. CET) – Ted Lasso star and entertainer Hannah Waddingham officially christened Princess Cruises’ newest ship Sun Princess in Barcelona today.

Holding aloft a sun ray to signify the 16th ship in the Princess fleet, Waddingham, who has a strong maritime history in her family, said the words: “I name this ship Sun Princess. May God bless her and all who sail in her.”

At that point a mechanism swung a nebuchadnezzar (20 bottles) of Veuve Clicquot champagne against the side of the ship, successfully smashing it.

When asked at the ceremony what she thought when she was first asked to be godmother of the ship, Waddingham said:

“I thought it was a joke and somebody had made a ridiculous mistake, because I’ve seen over the years the magnificent godmothers that have been asked to be associated with the ships and I couldn’t believe it.

“I was so quick to reply to the email, because I don’t know if anyone knows, but as much as theatre ripples through my bloodstream, I have the strongest history of maritime in my family.

“I still have my grandfather, he’s 107 and he was on the North Atlantic convoy scraping the ice off the bow of the ship, so it is in my blood and in my bones, so it is a real great privilege to be on this grand diva, the first of her class, so I’m really, completely thrilled.”

Waddingham “Completely Thrilled” to be Godmother

Hannah Waddingham christens Sun Princess
Hannah Waddingham christens Sun Princess (Photo: Adam Coulter)

Speaking exclusively to Cruise Critic after the ceremony, Waddingham added: “Princess didn’t know I have a long nautical history, they saw me as an actress, theatre girl and TV and they didn’t realise my grandfather, who I still have, still very robust, was on the North Atlantic convoy.

“I think Princess asked me because I have a positive energy and they wanted – they said – someone who brings sunshine, which is so lovely. Little did they know that I learnt port and starboard before I learnt left and right."

Although she has never cruised before, she used to sail with her father back and forth to Dunkirk and up and down the Thames.

She added she was honored to be the latest in a long line of hugely famous and well-loved godmothers such as Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly and Queen Elizabeth II.

the bottle of champagne against the hull of Sun Princess
the bottle of champagne against the hull of Sun Princess (Photo: Adam Coulter)

“It’s just really a phenomenal, historical event and saying: “May God bless this ship,” I don’t take that lightly at all," she said.

“The fact that people love cruising so much and they will save up to do something like this, so yes, this is a great honor.”

She added: “This role shows women that if you put positivity out into the world, being vocal, not being quiet – look what it does – people hear you, people find you and then you join forces and this sort of thing comes about.”

She ruled out performing in a show onboard, but she did praise the technology in the Princess Arena [the main theater] which she said was better than many theaters in the West End of London.

She added she was hoping to bring her grandfather to visit the ship when it calls in at Southampton in September.

Princess Launches Ship-Within-a-Ship Concept, Sanctuary Collection

The Sanctuary on Sun Princess
The Sanctuary on Sun Princess (Photo: Adam Coulter)

Princess also revealed from October 14, when Sun Princess repositions to Fort Lauderdale, the line will introduce a suites-only complex called the Sanctuary Collection.

Currently, passengers can pay to enter The Sanctuary, but from October it will be given over entirely to suite guests.

This is a first for Princess, and will also be on Star Princess, the sister ship to Sun Princess, which launches next year.

“Our new Sanctuary Collection offers guests those ultra-private, tucked away spaces that rival any high-end resort and surpasses the offerings of comparable cruise lines featuring similar ship-within-a-ship amenities,” said John Padgett, president of Princess Cruises.

Speaking exclusively to Cruise Critic, Padgett also revealed that of all the guest feedback collected from the ship's first sailings so far, the main request was to make the new-to-Princess Irish-themed pub, O’Malley’s bigger.

-- Adam Coulter, U.K. Executive Editor

Award Winning Actress Hannah Waddingham Confirmed as Sun Princess Godmother

Hannah Waddingham is godmother to Sun Princess
Hannah Waddingham is godmother to Sun Princess (Photo: Princess Cruises)

(April 8, 2024) – Award-winning actress and performer Hannah Waddingham has been confirmed as godmother to Princess Cruises’ new ship, Sun Princess.

The naming ceremony will take place in the Port of Barcelona on April 23, 2024.

The British actress and singer is best known for her role as Rebecca Welton in Apple TV+’s “Ted Lasso,” for which she won a Primetime Emmy, Critics Choice Television Award and Screen Actors Guild Award, as well as two individual Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations.

“We’re delighted to welcome the illuminous and elegant Hannah Waddingham to serve as Godmother for our sensational new Sun Princess,” said John Padgett, Princess Cruises president.

“Just like Sun Princess, she exudes sophistication, beauty and wonderment through her inspiring work as a talented and award-winning actress and performer.”

After two canceled cruises, the 177,882-tonne, 4,300-passenger Sun Princess set sail on February 28, 2024, and currently is sailing a series of Mediterranean voyages before debuting in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, in October for the ship’s first Caribbean season.

Waddingham joins an esteemed group who have served as Godparent to Princess ships: Diana, Princess of Wales (Royal Princess, 1984), Kate Middleton, Princess of Wales (Royal Princess, 2013); Audrey Hepburn (Star Princess, 1989); Sophia Loren (Crown Princess, 1990); Martha Stewart (Crown Princess, 2006), among many notable celebrities.

• Check out our comprehensive photo tour of Sun Princess to see what Princess has done with its first new class of ship to debut in over a decade -- one that dramatically re-imagines the Princess Cruises experience.

Photo Tour of Sun Princess

(March 11, 2024) -- Cruise Critic has joined Princess Cruises' brand-new Sun Princess for a quick five-night jaunt between Barcelona and Athens.

Check out our comprehensive Photo Tour of Sun Princess to see what Princess has done with its first new class of ship to debut in over a decade -- one that dramatically re-imagines the Princess Cruises experience.

There are still some unfinished features onboard this second sailing. Princess has confirmed that the following features will be ready soon:

  • Dome shows will begin on March 19, 2024

  • Arena shows will begin rolling out on March 29

  • Park19 is open, minus the ropes course, which will be completed March 29, and RollGlider, which will be done on April 27.

  • Spellbound is being tested on this voyage; it should be operational by March 19, 2024.

Stay tuned for additional coverage here over the coming week.

-- Aaron Saunders, Senior Editor, News and Features

First Sun Princess Sailing Officially Begins in Rome

Sun Princess on its sea trials (Photo: Princess Cruises)
Sun Princess on its sea trials (Photo: Princess Cruises)

(February 29, 2024) -- Princess Cruises' Sun Princess has officially started out on its first revenue voyage.

The 4,300-passenger ship embarked on its maiden voyage on February 28 from Civitavecchia, the port for Rome, Italy -- and Cruise Critic members onboard are already posting about the experience and sharing photos of the ship, the cabins, deck spaces and more..

"We are having so much fun!!" writes Milly1966.

Sun Princess was initially scheduled to enter service on February 8, but the ship's first two voyages were scrubbed due to shipyard delays. Princess took delivery of the ship on February 14 from Italy's Finacntieri shipyard.

Cruise Critic will be sailing aboard Sun Princess on its next voyage, departing March 9, 2024 from Barcelona.

-- Aaron Saunders, Senior Editor, News and Features

Princess Announces New Experiences Onboard Sun Princess

Sun Princess on its sea trials (Photo: Princess Cruises)
Sun Princess on its sea trials (Photo: Princess Cruises)

(February 27, 2024) - Princess Cruises has announced new experiences available on Sun Princess ahead of the ship's first revenue sailing on February 28, 2024 from Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy.

Cruise Critic had the chance to preview one of these new initiatives - Spellbound by Magic Castle - at an exclusive preview event in Los Angeles.

Spellbound by Magic Castle will follow the line's creative 360: An Extraordinary Experience that debuted in 2023 aboard Discovery Princess and Enchanted Princess. Part magic, part dining experience, Spellbound by Magic Castle draws participants from the Horizon's Dining Room for dinner before transitioning to the secret Spellbound Bar for feats of illusion and craft cocktails. Pricing for this experience, which will be held nightly, is fixed at $149 per person.

Also new is Princess Cruises' Royal Afternoon Tea. An interactive event featuring Queen Elizabeth II's personal chef, Darren McGrady, who appears virtually via digital media, this sophisticated tea event is held in the Good Spirits at Sea Lounge on select sea days for an extra charge of $30 per person.

Wine buffs can also enjoy special wine tastings in the Good Spirits at Sea Lounge, which feature French winemaker Gerard Bertrand appearing via digital media to offer up insight into winemaking and wine appreciation. These special events are available for reservation at $40 per person.

Finally, Sun Princesswill offer Kai Sushi by Makoto Okuwa, famed for his Edomae-style sushi that dates back to the 1820's. Recognized by the James Beard Foundation, Chef Okuwa brings this unique style of Japanese cuisine onboard Sun Princess for the first time, with reservations available for $39 per person.

Cruise Critic will be sailing aboard Sun Princess from March 4 to 9, 2024, and will have new information and updates on this first-in-class ship for Princess Cruises here.

-- Aaron Saunders, Senior Editor, News and Features

Princess Takes Delivery of New Ship; Maiden Voyage Postponed to February 28

Sun Princess Exterior Render
Sun Princess Exterior (Photo: Princess Cruises)

(February 14, 2024) -- Princess Cruises took delivery today of its new ship Sun Princess at Fincantieri's Monfalcone shipyard.

The cruise line announced, however, that the second Sun Princess cruise has been canceled due “to additional technical work” that needs to be carried out.

Sun Princess’ February 18 cruise was due to depart from Rome on a 10-day voyage. The ship will now make its maiden voyage on February 28 from Rome.

The ship was originally due to launch on February 8, with a 10-day cruise departing Barcelona.

Passengers who were booked on the February 18 voyage will receive a full refund of the cruise fare along with any additional onboard services that were pre-purchased, as well as a 50% future cruise credit (FCC) that can be used on a future Princess voyage.

Princess is also offering financial reimbursement for select travel costs for guests who have already arrived ahead of their sailing and for guests who have not yet started their travel certain changes fees related to flights.

The line released the following statement: “The ship does need to remain alongside in the shipyard to allow for additional technical work to ensure an outstanding vacation is delivered. Accordingly, the cruise line regrettably is cancelling the February 18 voyage.”

-- Adam Coulter, UK Executive Editor

First Sun Princess Cruise Canceled

Exterior view of the Sphere on Sun Princess (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
Exterior view of the Sphere on Sun Princess (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

(January 24, 2024) -- The first cruise of Sun Princess has been canceled, due to a mutual agreement between the cruise line and the Fincantieri shipyard.

The ship was originally due to launch on February 8, with a 10-day cruise departing Barcelona. Only that cruise has been canceled so far, meaning that the new inaugural voyage will be a 10-day cruise starting February 18, departing from Rome.

Passengers who were booked on the February 8 cruise will receive a full refund of the cruise fare, along with any additional onboard services that were pre-purchased, as well as a 50% future cruise credit (FCC). They will also receive $200 per person for change fees related to air travel.

Cruise Critic members have been discussing the Sun Princess changes on the Princess boards.

--Chris Gray Faust, Executive Editor

Live From the Newest Princess Ship, Two Months Before Launch

Sun Princess at the Fincanieri shipyard (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
Sun Princess at the Fincanieri shipyard (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

(December 6, 2023) -- Here comes the Sun ... Princess. The newest ship from Princess Cruises and the first of the line’s Sphere-class vessels will set sail in February 2024 with a bunch of superlatives, including the most passengers (4,300), the largest (175,500 tons) and the first to have LNG power.

Still, those involved in its creation, including Princess President John Padgett, are quick to call Sun Princess an evolution, and not a revolution, even as he describes it as an “apex expression of Princess.”

“We’re not taking anything away,” he said on Zoom to an international group of journalists visiting the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy, where Sun Princess is being built. “People everywhere will see this is a Princess ship.”

Indeed, even through the dangling wires and noise of construction, it was easy to see where Sun Princess breaks new ground for the line, while still keeping the vibe that its passengers love. (Much more so than when Cruise Critic visited the ship back in March 2023). Although some elements of the ship have been seen on sister brands – the Cabana ship-within-a-ship complex is heavily influenced by the Havana cabanas on Carnival, while the glass Dome is drawn from P&O Cruises’ ships Iona and Ariva – Sun Princess has been built “from the ground up,” as its chief mastermind Richard Parker told us.

“We started with a blank piece of paper,” said Parker, who has the title Director of Newbuild Guest Experience & Product Development. He stressed that the ship is different from Carnival’s Excel-class – those vessels include Mardi Gras, Carnival Celebration and Carnival Jubilee, which will debut this month – even though they are a similar size; Sun Princess has 1,000 fewer passengers.

Pool deck on Sun Princess (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
Pool deck on Sun Princess (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

Feedback from guests informed many of the design decisions, Parker said. Among the wish list items: More outdoor space. More variety in the World Marketplace buffet. More places to have sea views. More things that multi-generational families could do together. And organized lobbies and elevators so guests could get around the ship easily, making the spaces feel small and intimate.

After a day touring the ship and mock-ups of its cabins, we think Sun Princess hit its mark, and we’re more excited than ever for it to debut. (It starts first in Europe, then moves to Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades). Expect more natural light throughout the ship; a lighter color palette in the cabins; more entertainment venues, with better technology; and a wider variety of dining venues. Here are some of the things that we’re looking forward to most.

The Sphere: A Ship Design, Not a Venue

Exterior view of the Sphere on Sun Princess (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
Exterior view of the Sphere on Sun Princess (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

Our first highlight is not a venue but a design feature – the Sphere that gives the class its name nonetheless needs to be called out first, as the light that it brings into the Sun Princess Piazza sets the ship’s tone. The line wanted Sun Princess to be “immediately recognizable” in port, Parker said, and the rounded glass that curves out from the middle of the ship on both sides does just that.

The curves of the Sphere influence the Piazza too. While the Piazza is a Princess standby, the Sun Princess version is larger and more rounded on the inside as well; essentially, the Sphere wraps around and encompasses the Piazza. The space also holds an enclosed Seawalk, where you can look down to the ocean below.

“There will be lots of Instagram moments on this ship, for sure,” Parker said.

Piazza on Sun Princess (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
Piazza on Sun Princess (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

While the Piazza has always been the “beating heart” of a Princess ship, the space on Sun Princess will also have increased focus as an entertainment space, Parker said. To that end, circular seating has been placed around the different levels of the Piazza, so people can easily look down. The entire area has LED capacity and there’s a large screen for projections. The staircases have been moved to the Piazza edge, so pedestrians moving between decks won’t block the view.

Even through the scaffolding, you could see that the Sun Princess Piazza will be an inviting place to gather, thanks to the lighter feel and smart placement of venues.

The Dome Provides Another Wow Area With Pools, Waterfalls and Entertainment

The Dome from the inside on Sun Princess (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
The Dome from the inside on Sun Princess (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

The new Dome area, located at the top front of the ship, will also be a recognizable Sun Princess design feature. The glass space is completely new for the line, and promises to be a place that draws you in, at various times of day for various purposes.

During the day, the Dome houses a pool with indoor and outdoor areas. It’s also air-conditioned, so perfect in humid climates. A 30-foot waterfall capable of special effects and lighting will serve as a focal point, with the aptly named Cascade Bar next door.

Interior view of the Dome on Sun Princess (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
Interior view of the Dome on Sun Princess (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

At night, a stage goes over the pool and it becomes the chief entertainment area for shows involving Cirque Eloize, known for “contemporary circus performances.” The troupe will put on three different shows that will involve flying and other special effects, Parker said. The space has a large LED screen that will also be integrated into the shows.

Outside the Dome, the Seaview Terrace will provide lounge space for the outdoor portion of the pool, and sunbathing. This area is open to all guests; the extra fee Sanctuary has been moved to the back of the ship. Engineers have worked to reduce wind on the panels at the front of the ship to make the area a more pleasant place to stay, Parker said.

Cabana Cabins Have A Fresh Indoor-Outdoor Take on Balconies

Balcony cabin on Sun Princess (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
Balcony cabin on Sun Princess (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

Our ship tour included visiting mock-ups of six different cabin categories for the ship, housed in a warehouse at the shipyard. “We’ve spent the last 12 months curating the stateroom experience,” Lorna Warren, vice president of hotel operations, told us.

What’s different in the Sun Princess staterooms: Sofas in almost every room category. The décor is also lighter, almost Scandinavian in coloring. Plenty of USB and mini-USB outlets and plugs, including several on each side of the bed. New towels, plusher bathrobes and slippers and higher thread count on linens. All showers now have glass doors, instead of clingy curtains, as well as a shower bar for shaving. Guests will find noticeably increased storage space. Even the duvets were redesigned so they would be cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, Warren said.

Interior cabin on Sun Princess (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
Interior cabin on Sun Princess (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

What hasn’t changed – the iconic Princess Luxury Bed, with its 5-inch adjustable mattress topper. And crew will still provide fun towel animals whenever possible, especially for celebrations, to delight guests young and old, Warren said.

Lounge area in Cabana balcony cabin on Sun Princess (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
Lounge area in Cabana balcony cabin on Sun Princess (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

The coolest cabin category is one that’s debuting on Sun Princess. The Cabana mini suites are placed in a special enclave within the ship that comes with its own sundeck. While the sundeck is in a prime location, what really impressed us was the cabana itself – essentially a covered outdoor area with a sofa, towels and a flat-screen TV, placed between the bedroom and the balcony. It’s a perfect place to read and enjoy outdoor views, while having sun protection. I can see spending hours out there.

Cabana deck on Sun Princess (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
Cabana deck on Sun Princess (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

Some Cabana mini-suites are completely private, while others face directly to the Cabana Deck. Which one appeals to you depends on how social you want to be.

Horizons Main Dining Room is Three Stories, Yet Each Deck Feels Intimate

Wake views from the Horizons dining room on Sun Princess (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
Wake views from the Horizons dining room on Sun Princess (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

The callout for more views is further satisfied in Horizons, the ship’s main dining room. Although it’s one venue that spans three floors, each one seems like an individual restaurant, as opposed to a large banquet hall.

Staircase in Horizons dining room on Sun Princess (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
Staircase in Horizons dining room on Sun Princess (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

While all floors will serve the same menu, there will be slight differences; Deck 8, for example, will be more casual for families who want to get in and out.

Server station in Horizons dining room on Sun Princess (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
Server station in Horizons dining room on Sun Princess (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

The back wall of Horizons is all windows, allowing for fantastic wake views. We also loved that the server stations are individually enclosed, cutting down on the chaos that you often hear during meals. All dinners in the Horizons on Sun Princess are anytime dining; there are no more set seatings.

Elsewhere, dining has been modified to suit today’s tastes. The World Marketplace buffet, in particular, will have more stations, in a space called Eat Street, as well as grab-and-go options. In a first for the line, one “storefront,” as Parker called it, will be vegan and vegetarian food.

O'Malley's Irish Pub on Sun Princess (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
O'Malley's Irish Pub on Sun Princess (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

Specialty dining on Sun Princess is a mixture of new and familiar. Favorites like Sabatini’s, the Crown Grill and Alfredo’s pizza are back, the latter with a Neapolitan oven. O’Malley’s Irish Pub, which debuted on Enchanted Princess, is an expanded venue, with space for entertainment and a menu with favorites like fish and chips.

Uami Teppanyaki restaurant on Sun Princess (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
Uami Teppanyaki restaurant on Sun Princess (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

Umai is a new teppanyaki/hot pot restaurant that is sure to appeal to that multigeneration demographic.

Good Spirits at Sea bar on Sun Princess (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
Good Spirits at Sea bar on Sun Princess (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

Finally, we were excited to see that one of our favorite Princess bars, Good Spirits at Sea, has been moved from the Piazza to its own tricked-out space. There’s a special show bar for mixologists to do demonstrations and a lovely ceiling map of the world. We’re definitely ready to belly up.

Spellbound by Magic Castle is a Different Cruise Ship Immersive Experience

Spellbound by Magic Castle on Sun Princess (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
Spellbound by Magic Castle on Sun Princess (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

Finally, we were able to go “behind the black door” on our Sun Princess tour, although the door itself wasn’t up yet. Spellbound by Magic Castle is a partnership with the Hollywood club that started as a private retreat for magicians. To go to the real thing requires an invite from a member, so having a version of it on a cruise ship that’s accessible to all is a real get.

The experience, which will carry an extra fee, takes place in various rooms, all decorated in Victorian style to mimic the California club. We’re not going to give away everything, but time spent in Spellbound will include puzzles, magic tricks done in an intimate setting by roving magicians and a stage show. It looks cool and definitely something that we can see appealing to different generations.

(The real estate given to Spellbound by Magic Castle replaces 360: An Extraordinary Experience, the multicourse, multisensory dining meal that, for now, only exists on Discovery Princess and Enchanted Princess).

Casino on Sun Princess (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
Casino on Sun Princess (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

If magic isn’t your bag, don’t worry, there are still innovations to be found. The Casino on Sun Princess has 50% more space, with 30% more machines. The ceiling is higher here, to accommodate the more modern games that are being developed, Parker said.

Princess Arena theater on Sun Princess (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
Princess Arena theater on Sun Princess (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

While we didn’t see everything on the ship – most notably, we couldn’t view the spa, the Park19 adventure area for families or the Wakeview Terrace at the back – we were impressed with the Princess Arena. This theater can be configured in different ways for different types of shows, and has 9 LED screens that will amplify the productions. There are no columns in the space, so there’s not a bad seat in the house. We can’t wait for showtime.

-- Chris Gray Faust, Executive Editor

How was this article?

Get special cruise deals, expert advice, insider tips and more.By proceeding, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

© 1995—2024, The Independent Traveler, Inc.