Princess Cruises’ highly anticipated new ship, Sun Princess, will now be delayed and the vessel’s inaugural sailing, scheduled to depart Barcelona on February 8, 2024, has been cancelled.
The news comes as a mutual decision between Princess Cruises and Fincantieri, the shipyard building Sun Princess in Monfalcone, Italy. Few details about the cancellation are available at this time, and so far, only the inaugural 10-night sailing is impacted.
Sun Princess Delayed
The new 175,500-gross-ton Sun Princess, first in what promises to be the revolutionary Sphere class of vessels for Princess Cruises, was to have been delivered to the cruise line this month. That delivery has now been delayed and the ship’s inaugural sailing has been cancelled.
“We understand that this news is disappointing, and we share in that disappointment,” said John Padgett, president of Princess Cruises. “We recognize the anticipation that surrounded this sailing, and we sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this cancellation causes.”
The nature of the delay has not been disclosed, but could be related to any number of factors. Supply chain issues may be impacting materials at the shipyard, labor shortages or disputes could slow down finishing work on the vessel, or there may be testing or inspection issues that need to be rectified before the ship will be ready for delivery and sailing.
The inaugural cruise was to have been a 10-night “Grand Mediterranean” sailing from Barcelona with visits to Palma de Mallorca, Messina, Athens, Ephesus, Crete, and Naples before arriving in Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy on February 18.
Because only the inaugural sailing has been cancelled at this time, the delay for the ship’s delivery and debut may not be long. The second cruise planned for Sun Princess is another 10-night “Grand Mediterranean” itinerary visiting Naples, Santorini, Ephesus, Athens, Messina, and Palma de Mallorca as the ship will make her way from Rome to Barcelona. No changes have yet been announced for that cruise.
Guests booked on the ship’s second planned sailing or any upcoming voyages in the next few weeks will want to stay in close contact with Princess Cruises in case the delay is extended to impact further sailings.
Refunds and Credit Offered
Guests who had already booked the highly anticipated inaugural voyage will be receiving full, 100% refunds of their cruise fare, taxes, port fees, and other pre-paid onboard purchases, such as spa reservations, shore tours, specialty dining, drink packages, or WiFi packages.
All guests will also receive a 50% future cruise credit (FCC) based on the cruise fare that can be used on any future Princess Cruises sailing, on any vessel in the fleet. The new cruise must be booked by November 30, 2024 and have a sailing date no later than December 31, 2025.
Princess Cruises is also offering up to $200 per person to cover any change or cancellation fees related to flights. Proper receipts and change fee documentation must be submitted for that reimbursement to be considered.
Guests who have made independent arrangements for tours at ports of call during the sailing will need to contact their tour operators to inquire about cancellations or refunds.
Delays Not Unusual
While the last-minute notification of the cancellation – just two weeks before Sun Princess was to have welcomed her first guests – is a surprise, it is not unusual for new cruise ships to be delayed and inaugural sailings to be impacted.
This has been especially true during the past few years with the knock-on effect pandemic shutdowns, labor shortages, and other factors have had, creating significant impacts on shipyard operations.
Earlier this month, the itinerary for the inaugural Sun Princess sailing was adjusted, but that change is unrelated to the delay and cancellation.