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TravelPrincess Cruises welcomes its biggest ship ever with help from a star

Princess Cruises welcomes its biggest ship ever with help from a star

It took a star to welcome the sun.

The Sun Princess, that is.

Princess Cruises on Tuesday officially hailed the arrival of the giant new vessel — at 177,882 tons, its biggest ever —with the help of “Ted Lasso” star Hannah Waddingham.

The Emmy Award-winning actress and singer presided over a breezy, 19-minute christening ceremony in the ship’s main Princess Arena theater that included a traditional bottle breaking, with a twist.

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Serving as the ship’s godmother, Waddingham placed a triangular “sun ray” representing Sun Princess into a sun logo on stage to trigger the smashing of a massive nebuchadnezzar of Veuve Clicquot Champagne against the ship’s hull.

A nebuchadnezzar holds the equivalent of 20 traditional bottles of Champagne.

“As much as theater ripples through my bloodstream, I have the strongest history of maritime in my family,” a clearly proud Waddingham said moments before triggering the bottle smash.

She noted that her still-living, 107-year-old grandfather served on convoy ships crossing the Atlantic during World War II.

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“It’s in my blood and in my bones,” she added.

Built at the giant Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy, Sun Princess is the most notable new Princess ship to debut in more than a decade. Capable of holding up to 5,189 passengers with every berth full (a record for a Princess ship), it’s not only significantly bigger than previous Princess ships but packed with more onboard venues.

The naming celebration came two months after Sun Princess began sailing with paying passengers for the first time, a debut that came after an unexpected, 20-day delay due to construction issues.

“Sun Princess is incredible. It’s the largest, most luxurious love boat ever,” John Padgett, Princess president, said at the event, referencing the line’s longstanding tie to the hit television show “Love Boat” that ran in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Three stars from the show — Ted Lange, Bernie Kopell and Jill Whelan, who played bartender Isaac Washington, the ship’s doctor Adam Bricker and captain’s daughter Vicki Stubing, respectively — were in attendance at the event.

The “Love Boat” stars sat just a couple rows behind Carnival Corporation chairman Micky Arison and CEO Josh Weinstein.

Carnival Corporation is the parent company of Princess Cruises.

James Beard Foundation honoree Makoto Okuwa, who designed a sushi eatery for the ship, and celebrity Italian butcher Dario Cecchini, who has an eatery on the ship, too, also were in attendance. So was the artist Romero Britto, who sat to the right of Arison. Britto’s art is the theme for a high-end restaurant on the ship.

The biggest Princess ship ever

Under development for more than six years, Sun Princess is the first of Princess’ new Sphere Class of vessels. The ships have been designed to be significantly bigger than previous Princess vessels and offer several notable new-for-the-line features.

First look: Inside Sun Princess, the giant new ship from Princess Cruises

Among the most significant new offerings, Sun Princess is the first Princess ship with suites that come with exclusive access to a private restaurant, lounge and sun deck — part of an effort to draw more upscale customers to the brand.

Additionally, Sun Princess offers an innovative new type of “cabana cabin” along the ship’s extra-wide 10th deck that comes with access to a private deck area. Plus, the top deck of the ship received some unusual-for-Princess sizzle with the addition of a glass-dome-topped pool area that transforms into a nightspot after the sun goes down.

Other notable differences between Sun Princess and earlier Princess ships include the lack of a buffet restaurant on its main pool deck. But don’t worry, buffet lovers: There still is a buffet-like venue on the ship. Called The Eatery, it’s eight decks below the pool deck, closer to the ship’s central piazza and just off its outside promenade.

Sun Princess is the biggest Princess ship ever. PRINCESS CRUISES

The ship’s main theater, the Princess Arena, also has a new look. Its new-for-Princess, in-the-round shape can be converted into a more traditional proscenium-type theater or a keyhole-type theater to allow for different types of productions.

Among other standout venues, Sun Princess features a secret hideaway for magical performances designed in partnership with the Magic Castle performance venue in Los Angeles.

Related: My strange night out at Princess’s new magic-infused night spot

Princess also has revamped its main dining room program with the debut of Sun Princess. It now offers three distinct options for cruisers in its main dining rooms, ranging from a traditional fixed seating experience to a casual, come-when-you-want option that includes quick-served meals and even breakfast for dinner.

The arrival of Sun Princess marks the first time Princess has launched a new class of ship in nearly 11 years. With its debut, Princess now has 16 vessels in its fleet that collectively have room for about 50,000 passengers. That makes Princess the world’s fifth biggest cruise line, behind Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruise Line, MSC Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line.

Related: The 4 types of Princess ships, explained

A Deluxe Balcony Stateroom on Sun Princess. GENE SLOAN/THE POINTS GUY

Sun Princess is initially sailing in Europe through the fall. It’ll then reposition to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for voyages to the Caribbean. Fares start at $577 per person, not including taxes and fees, for a seven-night Caribbean sailing.

A second ship in the new Sphere Class series, to be called Star Princess, is on order from the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy, for delivery in 2025. Its first voyage is scheduled for Aug. 4, 2025, and will take place in the Mediterranean.

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