Princess Yachts are notoriously laconical in their own descriptions of their lovely yachts. Their website disposes of this exciting new boat in 100 words, many of them not superlatives. They are not being fair to themselves. Although the workmanship, design, build, handling and power/speed balance, utility and pleasure-in-use are everything that you would expect from a Princess (and more, because you always get more than you expect from a Princess), and they speak for themselves, as does the finished product, yet somehow, it’s not enough. So here goes.
There are many boats in the just-sub-60-foot zone, but few achieve the almost-stark simplicity of the external design of the Princess 55. Massive angled black glass windows, in one huge swathe for the main deck and three large blocks on each side for the lower deck, create a strong contrast with the white hull and superstructure.
When you get on board the windows are nothing like as dominant – they just do their job, which is to let in massive amounts of light, creating the tranquil environment that marks a Princess. Launched at the September 2017 Southampton Boat Show, the first model will arrive in Hong Kong this summer, so keep your eyes peeled.
Princess yachts aren’t intended for being parked year-round in a marina. They are serious sea-going yachts, with excellent handling, and they will go anywhere their draught permits. Sometimes “anywhere” means somewhere a long way away from home, even a long way from the trappings of civilisation, so it is a comfort that Princess throw in two years of cover by MedAire who provide medical and security assistance and can help if you find you have a medical or security emergency while cruising.
For the boat, let’s start at the top, on the large flybridge, with its adjustable double-seated helm position to port, and seating for 10 and a folding-leaf teak table for six. This seating can convert to a sunbed. There’s a wind-jammer wind-screen in front – an important feature on a boat that can move at 33kts even in the tropics. An even more important feature is the wet bar just behind the helm that can hold an electric barbecue for emergency sausage preparation while at anchor. Down the port companionway to the cockpit, which also has seating/dining for six, and access to the gangways that run along each side to the foredeck and its sunpads and some more seating.
The cockpit is much enhanced by having the galley, and its lifesaving refreshments, within stretching distance, and when the rear doors open up, it becomes contiguous with the rear saloon space. Sheltered by the flybridge, cockpit dining al fresco, weather permitting, is what you will want to do. The galley equipment includes a microwave/convection oven, a four-ring ceramic electric stove-top and a very large drought-proof fridge/freezer. Galley surfaces are solid-surface worktops, and the same finish carries on into the heads.
The dining/lounge part of the saloon is mid-ships, and gentle on the stomachs of those passengers without their sea-legs, and is a couple of steps up from the sternward part where the galley/cockpit space is. Another helm position is forward on starboard, together with the central companionway down to the cabins.
These comprise two doubles and a twin. The master cabin takes up the full 16-foot beam amidships, has its own head, and a breakfast table for two with comfy chairs just forward of the spacious engine room and its twin Volvo D13 800s. The forepeak has the other double, and its head is shared with the twin cabin, and also doubles as the day-head. There’s a sub-cockpit single berth cubby, with head, for crew or teenager, as required.
Visually, the saloon has a straight-through appearance, with the beautifully-crafted furniture and upholstery all working quietly together to provide a contemporary un-ostentatious comfort and luxury that appeals to all. Japanese wallpapers, hand-stitched suede, accent lighting all contribute their subtle effect to the whole.
The meticulously-detailed interior fittings incorporate leather, timber and glass, and in the coffee table, with its folding leaves that help transform it into a 6-seater dining table when combined with the u-shaped sofa. There’s a hi-fi and a pop-up 49-inch TV if it’s wet outside.
Range information isn’t available, but fuel tanks at capacity can hold 2,750 litres of diesel, so she’s good for more than a quick weekender when run at cruising speeds. No: you don’t run it at 33 kts all the time. Just when you want to! This cool oasis of calm that is the Princess 55 is one thing. The 33 kts of top speed is another thing entirely and being able to carve a turn at speed is something else again. Princess, yet again, manages to combine all this in one package of quiet strength, of somnolent power, of splendid contradiction.
Words Nic Boyde | Images courtesy of Princess