Located on Promenade Deck 7 are both the Princess Theatre (forward) and Vista Lounge (aft) -- two of the largest and most popular entertainment venues on Sun Princess. Passengers can choose between an early or late show. On some nights, popular productions run twice to allow passengers to alternate between shows.
Shows include cabaret numbers, large-scale stage productions performed by Sun Princess singers and dancers with an orchestra, impressionists, vocalists, bands and comedians. The entertainment caters for all ages but is perfectly suited to the senior passengers onboard. The 'British Invasion' stage production featured hits from the 1960s from iconic UK bands such as The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and The Who.
The Princess Theatre is a steeply sloped palladium theatre with excellent sight lines, theatre seating and small stands for drinks. Seating is best in the front three rows and it's wise to arrive at least half an hour early to secure highly sought-after seats in this section. For latecomers or those that may not want to commit to watching an entire show, there is usually standing room behind the disabled seating at the back of theatre.
The intimate Vista Lounge offers cabaret seats around small tables, a row of stools against the bar and lounges and chairs scattered around the centre stage.
As well as headlining shows, the Vista Lounge hosts game shows, trivia quizzes, bingo, spelling bees and dancing sessions including line dancing and ballroom dancing. Some quizzes and games favour the seniors onboard with recent trivia nights testing passengers' knowledge of rock 'n' roll trivia from the 50s and 60s.
Passengers can check their daily Princess Patter newsletter for activities onboard. Staff-hosted activities include: carpet bowls, Fun at Sea games such as Pictionary, Jenga and memory challenges, paddle tennis play, a soccer shootout, a Wii at Sea video game competition and darts tournament. Around the pool, fellow cruisers team up against Princess staff to see which team can knock each other off life rings.
Unhosted activities include table tennis and shuffle board open play, casual meet-ups based on interests such as knitting, aviation, 4WDing and the very popular bridge groups.
Around the ship there are art auctions, hosted wine tastings with generous portions (at a fee), chefs demonstrating the art of making sushi or carving fruit, a 'Learn about smartphones' library lesson, cocktail-making competition, health and wellbeing seminars, photography workshops and lectures by a Princess Destination Expert on the next port. Some activities aim to upsell passengers on shore excursions or spa packages, but there is no pressure to buy or attend.
Sun Princess is organised around a four-deck atrium, decorated with lightwoods, chrome and glass, and connected by two glass elevators. The low-key entertainment onboard is impressive: a central piazza on the Plaza Level (Deck 5) features a duet on strings or pre-dinner melodies on the baby grand piano.
On formal nights, studios are set up around the ship for formal portraits. Passengers patiently line up for the popular Champagne Fountain pour. The photo is one of the fastest moving purchases in the Photo Gallery.
Princess celebrates 50 years of cruising with a golden balloon ball drop from the top of the Atrium. The Champagne flows as the balloon descends and is frantically popped by passengers. Contemporary covers from a live band fill the piazza with music and dancing.
Movies Under the Stars are available on the Lido Deck (Deck 14) most nights. Passengers can watch newer movies from the comfort of padded deck chairs. Princess has perfected this option, offering blankets, fresh-popped popcorn, cookies and milk.
On Deck 8, the Grand Casino features slot machines that take Australian currency (5 cents, 25 cents, AU$1 and AU$5) and roulette with AU$1 minimum bets, black jack, craps and Caribbean stud tables. The Casino also hosts a raffle draw with big cash prize and AU$1-AU$2 no-limit Texas Hold'Em Players Meet.
After a show, some passengers retire to their cabins while others remain out in the bars, clubs and lounges either mingling with the young couples starting their night or the parents that have found the babysitting service.
Crooners (Deck 7): This popular bar overlooks the Atrium on the Promenade Deck. Crooners Bar serves up Martinis to the tunes of the talented piano man. Passengers are free to join in on a sing-along to Billy Joel numbers and enjoy a few jokes around the bar, which is open from 9 a.m. till late.
Shooting Stars Disco (Deck 7): Enter through dark, rotating doors to a dimly lit room with a DJ pumping out Bon Jovi and other crowd-pleasing covers to the handful of late night patrons wanting a boogie. Rows of lounges and tables extend from the dance floor and are in prime position for a spot of people-watching and a nightcap. Other nightly events include karaoke contests and a music hit list of Elvis Presley favourites. Open 8 p.m. till late.
Wheelhouse (Deck 7): This is the bar of choice for most passengers decorated with old P&O and Princess memorabilia and tufted leather lounges. Passengers come for pre-dinner cocktails and live music. The 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. happy hour with 2-for-1 drinks also draws a crowd. Open from 3 p.m. till late.
Riviera Bar (Deck 12): Another popular place for a drink is on the deck overlooking the main pool. Sip on draft beer choices such as Dos Equis, VB, Crown and Pure Blonde. A great spot for a sail away as the live band plays uplifting summertime music. Wine and cocktails are also available. Open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Sundowners Bar (Deck 14): Located on Lido Deck aft, passengers can grab a beverage to enjoy in the hot tub or overlooking the stern of the ship. Sundowners Bar is opened noon to 7 p.m. in good weather.
Topsiders Bar (Deck 15): A quiet area on the forward deck above Terrace Grill, this bar provides pool views and services for passengers lounging on the Sun Deck or in The Sanctuary. Topsiders Bar is open noon to 7 p.m. in good weather.
Two good-sized central pools are located on Riviera Deck 12 and this is the best place to be during a summer's day out at sea. A lively atmosphere of convivial chatter combined with music or a movie on the big screen attracts large crowds to the outdoor deck space to lounge in the sun, sit in the shade or swim.
When the weather is good, the deck chairs directly around the pools are snatched up quickly, although singles can still be located. The upper section of the main pool and hot tub is for adult use only with lounges surrounding the pool. More sun lounges are located directly above on Lido Deck 14.
The undercover Lotus Spa Pool located on Deck 12, aft, adjacent to the Fitness Centre is for adult use only as are the two hot tubs. Benches encircle the pool for sitting. Lido Deck 14 is directly above and provides ample sun lounges.
Recreation activities are concentrated on Lido Deck 14. There's an area for shuffleboard with equipment and scoreboard for passengers to help themselves to a game. The Sports Court, Aft, offers soccer and cricket nets, paddle tennis, and basketball hoops. In the shade by Riviera Deck 12 is a ping pong table and gear for free play.
The Promenade deck (Deck 7) runs around the ship and is used for exercise by many people. It is wide enough to leave space for sun beds for most of its length, but at the stern it narrows significantly -- so if you are a brisk walker, this is not the place to overtake those on a leisurely stroll.
On Sun Deck 15 there are free deck chairs flanking the starboard and port side of the forward deck. For more exclusive lounging, passengers paying $20 have all-day access to The Sanctuary. Lounge on thick cushioned deck chairs under the shade of a fabric awning surrounding a private splash pool with light snacks and fruit infused water served. Smoothies are available for a surcharge.
On Lido Deck 14 are lounges along the starboard and port side of the ship, which are a good option during busy times if pool lounges cannot be located.
The wraparound Promenade Deck 7 is wide enough to accommodate traditional wood lounges and tables without obstructing the popular walkway. Soft cushioned lounges invite passengers for a quiet read of a book or a cocktail from Wheelhouse or Crooners, as the deck is undercover and away from the elements.
In the Atrium on Deck 6 are the shops. Latitudes sell logo goods, souvenirs, sundries, alcohol, tobacco and fashion apparel. Reflections offer fine jewelry, fragrances, cosmetics and watches as well as designer handbags, sunglasses and clothing. Effy just opened onboard selling fine jewelry.
The ship's library on Deck 7 offers paperbacks for trade, which include many novels (in English only) and a good selection of travel guides. Passengers can sink into oversize green leather chairs facing picture windows for a quiet read. Board games are also available for loan.
The Internet Cafe adjacent to the library on Deck 7 has fixed computers to access the Internet, or packages that will enable WiFi on personal devices throughout the ship. The most affordable is AU$99 for 200 minutes or 79 cents per minute pay-as-you-go. No food or drink is permitted.
On Deck 7, starboard, the Photo Shop sells passenger portraits and holiday snaps taken by onboard photographers. The Photo Gallery arranges photographs by date for passengers to peruse. Photos start from $20 a print, but expect a hard sell applied to assorted photo frames and Princess photo albums.
Self-service laundries are located on Decks 4, 5 and 7, forward or Decks 8, 9 and 10, Midship. It costs AU$3 for a wash or dry. Simply swipe your passenger card on the machine and collect a coin for the laundry.
An onboard doctor is located in the Medical Centre on Deck 4; staff can dispense emergency medication if required.
Future Cruise Sales office is located in a small room besides the entrance of Wheelhouse Bar.
Located on aft Deck 12, The Lotus Spa, with its attractive, contemporary Asian-themed decor, offers beauty treatments and massage packages. Specialty services include teeth whitening, acupuncture and Ionithermie lifts. Popular with passengers are the 50-minute Swedish massage for AU$131 and facials from AU$138.
The moderately sized Fitness Centre on Deck 12 has modern machines for resistance training plus dumb bells and benches for weight training. It also features a row of exercise bikes and treadmills. Headphones can be plugged into equipment to listen to TVs.
A separate section is dedicated to classes for core abs workout, total body conditioning and stretching classes. Classes where charges apply include Pilates, TRX suspension training, Tour De Cycle, Body Sculpt Bootcamp and Yoga.
The gym gets very busy in the morning and remains so well into the afternoon, so if you want to enjoy your training session in peace and quiet, it is worthwhile to get there early (say before 9 a.m.) or late (after 4 p.m.). Due to its location high up in the stern of the ship, you will feel the ship's motion quite well if the weather is bad or the ship is riding a heavy swell. If this is the case, take extra care.
The small jogging track surrounding the Sports Court is located two floors up on Deck 15; there is no outdoor lifting area.
Kids beg to go to the Camp Discovery Youth & Teen Center and parents are more than willing to take them. Camp Discovery, located on Deck 12 Midship, keeps Princess Pelicans (kids aged three to 7 years); and Shockwaves Kids (aged eight to 12) happily entertained. The beauty of this program is that it allows parents some free time minus their children to enjoy the ship.
Princess Cruises have partnered with Discovery to create a host of activities in the kids club program including science experiments made popular by Mythbusters, arts and crafts inspired by Animal Planet and a California Science Centre-endorsed solar system design. Other fun activities include: Nintendo Wii play, ice cream parties, movies, parent-free dinners, face painting, dancing, games and competitions.
The kids' program is open 9 a.m. to noon, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. breaking for lunch and dinner. There are no set times to go to kids club; kids are welcome to join at any time during these sessions. They can also skip a session or two and hang out with the family. On port days, the kids program is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and generally involves free play time -- with video games, art and craft, movies and board games the norm. Parents are able to leave the kids supervised onboard at the kids club while they explore the port destination. Most families go onshore together and make use of the kids club facilities in the afternoon.
Private in-room babysitting is not available. Group sitting in one of the two kids club rooms is offered from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. and costs AU$5 per hour per child.
Princess offers quad-share cabins with Pullman beds. The beds pull out from the ceiling forming two bunk beds on either side of the cabin. A ladder is used to reach the top bunks. The beds are not comfortable by any stretch and, being so high to the ceiling, there is a risk of kids falling out. A safety sticker recommends children aged nine years and older use the top bunk, with the younger kids sleeping on the much more comfortable bottom beds.
For babies and infants a portable cot brought from home can fit between two single beds. Children must be a minimum age of one year old to travel on Sun Princess from Australian ports. Parents must bring their own baby supplies. There are no baby items onboard -- that includes nappies, bottles, food and medicine. For toddlers beginning solids, there are plenty of soft vegetables, soups, fruit and pasta options. Infants and young children who are not toilet trained are not permitted in any of the pools or spas. There is no splash pool onboard.
The Teen Lounge, facilitated by one coordinator, is located in the room next door to the kids club. Teens aged 13-17 can participate in activities that include Zumba, karaoke and trivia quizzes. Teens can come and go as they please or just hang out and make use of the video games, movie library, board games and Fussball table. The room is empty most of the time, but groups of teenagers are often seen on Deck 15.