Shining Debut of New Sun Princess Just One Year Away: Inaugural Team of Esteemed Mariners Announced
The countdown is on! In just one year, Sun Princess will debut in the gleaming Mediterranean. The first of Princess Cruises’ next generation ships, Sun Princess will welcome its very first guests onboard for next-level vacations with a host of spectacular new vistas, venues and experiences, along with newly inspired signature spaces, all while celebrating the cruise line’s legacy as The Love Boat.
“With such an amazing opportunity to elevate the guest experience, it takes an equally talented team of revered mariners to oversee the ship’s final stages of construction at the Fincantieri shipyard, then officially take delivery of the ship and welcome the first guests onboard,” said Princess President John Padgett.
The highly experienced team, with a collective 150-plus years of service, that will guide Sun Princess through the remainder of her construction phase and bring her out for the anticipated inaugural season include Captains Craig Street and Paolo Arrigo; Staff Captains Brian Whelan and Valerio Esposito; Hotel General Managers Ralph D’Souza and Simona Stumberger; and Chief Engineers Gaetano Guida and Davor Pavlovic-Kalifo.
“Sun Princess promises something special for everyone and we’re pleased to announce the skilled and deserving team, led by Captains Street and Arrigo, who will guide Sun Princess through the remainder of the construction phase and ready her for her shining debut in just one year,” Padgett added.
Here’s a more in-depth look at the maritime professionals who will be instrumental in the ship’s progress, delivery and beyond:
Captain Craig Street: Captain Craig Street joined Princess as a deck cadet in 1990, following his time at the Warsash Maritime Academy in the south of England that also included training aboard cruise ships. Appointed third officer in 1993, Street worked his way up through the ranks, taking command of Star Princess in 2008, and has since served as captain of 13 Princess ships. Street developed an appreciation for travel at an early age as he spent much of his youth living with his family overseas in various countries including Nigeria, Singapore, Dubai, Tanzania and Saudi Arabia. He was educated at Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh, Scotland, before joining the Princess family. With a keen interest in flying, he also holds a private helicopter license and when time permits, enjoys playing golf in the amazing ports Princess visits. His favorite ports are those in French Polynesia and Hawaii.
Captain Paolo Arrigo: An accomplished mariner whose career spans more than a quarter century at sea, Captain Paolo Arrigo joined Princess Cruises as a deck cadet in 1996 after serving for a year in the Italian Coast Guard. After moving up through the ranks, serving as first officer, safety officer and staff captain, Arrigo was named captain at Princess Cruises in 2017. In addition to his role as captain, Arrigo has worked for Princess’ shoreside headquarters on a variety of high-profile projects, including the managing elements of the development and launch of the MedallionClass Experience. His extensive maritime experience and easy rapport with guests and crew made him a natural choice to serve as captain of the reality-based television program, The Real Love Boat, which recently completed its first season and attracted millions of new viewers to the brand.
Staff Captain Brian Whelan: A native of Galway City in Ireland, Brian Whelan began his maritime career 23 years ago with Princess Cruises, and over the years has steadily moved up the ranks to his current position of staff captain. A graduate of the Glasgow College of Nautical Studies, Whelan holds a Master Mariners’ Certificate and has been named one of 20 leaders under 40 by Seatrade Cruise News, a prestigious cruise industry publication. When he’s not onboard ship, Whelan enjoys traveling with his family and lists the Mediterranean as his favorite place to cruise.
Staff Captain Valerio Esposito: A native of Meta di Sorrento near Naples, Italy, Valerio Esposito’s career spans more than two decades, including the past 17 with Princess Cruises. He started as deck cadet on Golden Princess in 2006, and quickly progressed through the ranks up to his promotion to staff captain in 2018, becoming one of the youngest in the company to earn that position. Over the years he has commanded virtually every ship in the fleet, including Star Princess, Dawn Princess, Coral Princess, Emerald Princess, Crown Princess, Ruby Princess, Caribbean Princess, Island Princess, Diamond Princess and for P&O Australia - Pacific Pearl and Pacific Eden. He is currently staff captain of Majestic Princess. Esposito completed his studies in the South of Italy at Nautical Institute Nino Bixio, nearby his hometown, and holds a Master Mariners Captain License.
Hotel General Manager Ralph D’Souza: D’Souza joined Princess in 2006 as a junior purser and worked his way through the ranks and achieved his goal of becoming hotel general manager in 2019. The highlight of D’Souza’s career was being chosen to be part of the inaugural team for the new Royal Class series of ships. During his seagoing career, D’Souza has been part of the launch team for Royal Princess, Regal Princess and Majestic Princess. In 2017, he was selected to be part of the deployment team of the MedallionClass Experience, where he was an ambassador of this new and innovative way to cruise with Princess. D’Souza holds a degree in EMBA and a Ph.D. in business administration. When he is not sailing the sea, he enjoys spending time at his seacoast home where he soaks up the abundance of nature around his home by gardening and keeping fit.
Hotel General Manager Simona Stumberger: A native of Slovenia, where she studied language and hospitality management, Stumberger began her career at sea in the bar department and further diversified her hotel experiences by working in the guest services department and hand in hand with the hotel and food & beverage division. She is now proudly a hotel general manager, where she shares her passion for travel and impeccable service with each guest. When on vacation, she loves spending time with family and friends, hiking the beautiful mountains in the Alps and looking after her orchids, which are her passion.
Chief Engineer Gaetano Guida: Gaetano Guida joined Princess Cruises in 2002 and was named chief engineer aboard Royal Princess in 2017. After earning his nautical degree in July 1999 from Nautical Institute Nino Bixio in Piano di Sorrento, Italy, Guida joined the Italian Navy serving on the “M/V Vesuvio,” a refueling ship for other naval ships. He met his wife onboard Star Princess in 2015, and together they have two sons. His hobbies include reading, particularly, leadership and psychology books, and listening to music.
Chief Engineer Davor Pavlovic-Kalifo: Davor Pavlovic-Kalifo joined Princess Cruises in 2002, as second engineer and was named chief engineer aboard Sapphire Princess in 2014. A native of Croatia, Pavlovic-Kalifo worked as an engine cadet onboard a cargo ship and then went on to college, graduating as a marine engineer. His first assignment on a cruise ship was Tahitian Princess, where he met his wife. They are proud parents to a 3-year-old boy, and they love spending time as a family in Dubrovnik. When not traveling the world, Pavlovic-Kalifo enjoys deep sea fishing and exploring the Adriatic islands via his motorboat.
Several members of this group already are spending time in the Fincantieri Shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy, and over the course of several months they will be joined by nearly 1,600 teammates who will serve as the inaugural Sun Princess crew, ready to provide guests the vacation of a lifetime.
On sale now, Sun Princess is scheduled to debut in Europe on February 8, 2024, for a season of Mediterranean cruises, followed by Caribbean sailings from Fort Lauderdale later in the year.
The 175,500-ton, 4,300-guest vessel will be the largest ship ever constructed for Princess with an array of exciting new dining, entertainment and activity offerings, as well as luxurious staterooms and suites across a broad spectrum of categories. The ship will be highlighted by amazing, never-before-seen spaces such as The Dome, a transformational entertainment venue inspired by the terraces of Santorini, the next-level, brand-iconic Piazza and three-story Horizons Dining Room that are sure to have everyone talking.
Additional information about Princess Cruises is available through a professional travel advisor, by calling 1-800-PRINCESS (1-800-774-6237) or by visiting the company’s website at www.princess.com.