Princess Cruises’ upcoming Sun Princess – the first ship in the new Sphere class and what will be the largest in the Princess Cruises fleet – already has an itinerary change for her inaugural cruise, due to a key tourist attraction undergoing maintenance at one port of call.
The new ship will no longer call on Santorini, Greece during that maiden voyage, but an alternate port of call is being arranged.
Sun Princess Maiden Voyage Itinerary Change
The much-anticipated Sun Princess, just one month away from welcoming guests on her inaugural cruise from Barcelona to Rome, has had an itinerary change for that first sailing.
The 10-night “Inaugural Grand Mediterranean” cruise that will depart Barcelona on February 8, 2024, was slated to have visited Santorini, Greece on February 15. Guests have now been notified, however, that the visit will not be possible and an alternate port of call has been arranged instead.
“Please be advised that Sun Princess will no longer call to Santorini, Greece on Thursday, February 15, 2024 as onshore activities will be limited due to the Santorini Cable Car being out of service for maintenance,” the email notification explained. “Instead, we will now call to Crete (Heraklion), Greece.”
The new port of call is scheduled from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on February 15, the same day as the original call to Santorini but with one hour shorter in port, as the ship was to have remained in Santorini until 6 p.m.
Any shore tours for Santorini that were booked through Princess Cruises are being automatically cancelled and refunded back to the original form of payment. New excursions for Crete are still being confirmed and will be made available online and through the cruise line’s app within two weeks, giving guests ample time to choose new tour options.
Guests who may have made independent excursion arrangements for Santorini will need to contact their tour operators directly for cancellation and refund options.
Other ports of call on Sun Princess‘ maiden voyage – Palma de Mallorca, Messina, Athens, Kusadasi, and Naples – are not impacted by this change, and the ship should still arrive in Civitavecchia (Rome) as scheduled on February 18.
At 175,500-gross tons, Sun Princess is the largest ship ever constructed for Princess Cruises, and is the first ship for the cruise line to be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG).
She can welcome 4,300 guests aboard at each sailing, with 21 decks of amazing features to explore, including the glass-enclosed, multi-purpose Dome, the classic Piazza in a glass sphere, the largest casino in the fleet, and so much more.
Why the Change?
Cruise guests are accustomed to itinerary changes due to poor weather, port damage, ship mechanical issues, and similar reasons, but it is unusual that an attraction in a port of call would have such a dramatic impact on a cruise ship’s itinerary.
Santorini, however, is a very unique destination. The port’s harbor is more than 700 feet below the town of Fira, which is perched above steep cliffs. The Santorini Cable Car, however, makes the dramatic ascent in approximately three minutes, smoothly connecting the port and the town and servicing 1,200 riders per hour. Tickets cost €6 ($6.57 USD) per rider for a one-way trip.
Without the cable car, cruise guests would need to walk up the 500 steep steps leading to the town along a twisting, winding path on the Karavolades Stairs, a physical feat that may not be possible for many passengers, particularly older travelers or those with limited mobility. Traditionally, donkeys are available to ride up and down the stairs as well, but availability can vary.
The cable car is scheduled to be out of service for scheduled maintenance until February 28, 2024. At this time, no other calls for any cruise line are scheduled for Santorini during February 2024, which is traditionally part of the slow season for Greek Island itineraries.