Review: Princess 56
British motoryacht builder Princess Yachts has launched the Princess 56 – a vessel that thinks it’s a sportsboat and which has all the luxury you’ll ever need. Allan Whiting was highly impressed with this silky-smooth stunner.
Princess Yachts is kicking plenty of goals this year. The new range of motoryachts has captivated visitors to recent shows and, having spent some time aboard the new Princess 56 on the Gold Coast, I can see why.
My introduction was when the 56 was being used as a chase boat while Trade-a-Boat was filming the new 72, so the mission was simple: stay with the big boat, get ahead of it, drop back, cut across its wake – you get the picture. The Princess 56 did more manoeuvres than most owners would ever attempt and showed its impeccable manners. The precise, light steering is particularly impressive.
That exercise was followed by a sprint back to shore, to "get Whiting to the airport" before his SE Queensland visa expired, so I spent half an hour at WOT in complete comfort, the rest of the world sliding past at 30kts-plus.
Manoeuvring to dock at the end of that blast was easy, thanks to twin, variable-speed thrusters and great vision from the flybridge.
Reassured that Princess Yachts hadn’t deserted performance in favour of fashion with the new 56, I caught-up with the boat in Sydney for a thorough assessment of this classy craft. Mariners familiar with the previous Princess 54 will find the 56 a quite different boat, thanks to a raised galley, more cabin space below and much larger flybridge.
Styling is sedan-like, with the flybridge profile kept deliberately low, rising to a targa arch aft. The side elevation view is particularly pleasing with flowing lines and oval ports forward. In a white-hulled boat the huge, black, oblong, midships ports are somewhat jarring to the eye but their worth is obvious when you discover the 56’s full-beam master cabin.
DECK AND COCKPIT
Getting aboard via a lifting, teak-faced swimplatform could hardly be easier, after which broad steps with fat handrails lead port or starboard entrants to a cosy cockpit. It’s no fishing station but casual angling is possible, especially if the swimplatform is fitted with optional handrails. T-slots for tethering a tender are provided and the platform has ample lifting capability of 400kg.
The cockpit has a forward-facing, U-shaped lounge seating four to six in front of a flip-top teak table that can be halved in size for ease of movement around it. When flipped, the half-size table top reveals a sturdy handhold and three drinkholders.
Cockpit coamings mount double-post mooring cleats and fairleads above cupboards with rope horns for easy stowage. Additional portside cupboards house a shower and shorepower socket.
Beneath the starboard stairway is a concealed entrance to what, on the test boat, was an air-conditioned water-toy cupboard, but can be optioned as a crew cabin – or rebellious teenager retreat – complete with strip window and modular shower/toilet. Manual bilge pump and electric pump controls are in the starboard cockpit cupboard.
While in below-cockpit mode, I raised a gas-strut-assisted cockpit hatch and stepped down a four-rung ladder into a spacious engineroom. This U-shaped mechanical, electrical and hydraulic system haven fits around the well-insulated aft storage area and runs forward the length of the twin 13lt D13-800 Volvo Pentas.
Every major pipe and electrical connection is clearly labelled and the various systems are logically grouped for ease of access. Twin, insulated fuel tanks flank the engines and double fuel filters are on the engineroom’s forward bulkhead. Also prominent is a Fireboy automatic fire suppression system.
I loved the friction-fibre-surfaced engineroom gangway that will provide grip even if soaked in
spilt fuel or oil, but regular engineroom visitors will benefit from some kneepads!
Heading forward from the cockpit to release the forward and midship mooring lines is somewhat squeezy, between handrail and cabin sides, so I don’t know that I’d fancy the trip in a rough seaway.
However, the forward deck area is spacious and incorporates the mandatory sunpad lounge with four inset drinkholders. A Lewmar windlass with plug-in control sits behind cleats and fairleads, flanked by a washer spigot to port and a massive chain locker to starboard.
Enough of the marine practicalities – the interior beckons...
From the cockpit the saloon is a step away via a three-piece stainless steel and glass sliding door that works in separate tracks, so that when opened there’s a double-door entry space. The ambience shifts from teak, gelcoat and vinyl to white leather, high-gloss Serotina Cherry woodwork and Panchen Pearl carpet.
Raising the galley reduces saloon space somewhat but the layout is practical, with the forward galley position close to the dinette. The cocktail area has a U-shaped lounge facing a two-seat couch, with a stable, oval-shaped coffee table in between. This area is entertainment heaven featuring a Vitrifridge icemaker, wine storage, bar fridge, Bose sound system with pod speakers, and a pop-up TV screen. Seating background is cherry wood, white mouldings and linen-faced roof panels with LED downlights. Privacy comes in the form of tuck-away venetian blinds.
Two steps up is the galley-dinette with U-shaped seating for six, supplemented by a pair of stools that tuck away under the sides of the forward cabin island bed when not required. Galley kit includes twin fridges, dishwasher, microwave, teak floor and black work surfaces.
Forward of the galley is a steering station with twin brown leather chairs, teak kick-plate with polished stainless steel wearstrips and a four-screen dashboard. A chart recess hides a circuit-breaker panel.
A five-step, carpeted companionway leads to the accommodation, with leather-covered, stainless steel handrail security on descent. Beneath a landing is a cupboard housing an optional Bosch washer/dryer.
For wow effect it’s best to check out the starboardside twin-berth cabin first, followed by the VIP forward cabin and then the master. The twin is beautifully finished with silk-like wall coverings, a fabric and padded leather headboard and suede-feel ceiling panels. Wood trim is high-gloss cherry and there’s a full wardrobe with mirror door.
The VIP cabin has an island bed, with two under-bed drawers, four deck-head cupboards, robes with mirrors, two oval ports and a large hatch.
Around the walls runs a leather-covered bench that has a lift-up desk section. To port is an en suite doorway opening into a black-tiled bathroom with gelcoat ‘planked’ ceiling, white basin and toilet and a separate shower – all very homelike. This en suite is shared with the twin-berth cabin through a door that opens into the companionway, making it a dayhead as well.
The master stateroom is a step down and aft with a door that opens into the cabin and an en suite that’s similar to the forward bathroom. But that’s where the similarity ends because the master cabin layout is illuminated by light streaming in through huge rectangular glass panes that set new standards for cabin ports in a boat of this size.
My first concern is probably yours too: how will these slabs of glass handle a smack from a big sea? A Princess Yachts representative allayed my fears with assurance that the glass panels are bonded to the hull and have been impact tested. Round, opening ports are cut into the panes, allowing a fresh cross-breeze when desired, while hidden venetians drop down for privacy.
Relaxed once more, I took time to appreciate this full-beam bedroom/dressing room/hideaway that has a two-seat leather sofa and generous wardrobe, cupboard and drawer capacity, and a bukhead-mounted TV facing the bed. Fabric covered walls, cherrywood trim and suede ceiling are the same style as found in the other cabins but there’s more of it! Additional woven trim echoes the same chevron-pattern highlights evident in the saloon cocktail area and in the galley.
PRINCESS 56 FLYBRIDGE
The flybridge on the Princess 56 has been designed so that the entire 15-person complement can ascend and enjoy the breeze and the enhanced view. A virtual replica twin-chair steering station is installed up there, but on the port side. To starboard is a forward-facing lounge that converts easily into a sunbed.
Getting there from the cockpit is via a straight, gently-angled stairway that emerges through a gas-strut-assisted, drop-down perspex ‘lid’. This hatch, when closed, keeps inclement weather
off the cockpit.
Behind the flybridge steering station is a catering module with barbecue plate, icemaker, fridge, sink and waste bin. There’s also a cooler box in the dashboard.
The rest of the flybridge area is taken up by a wraparound lounge area with a large centre-pedestal table. Befitting the Australian-market the test boat’s flybridge sprouted a tasteful bimini that covered around 2/3 of the upper-deck area.
As we noted in our appraisal of the 56’s larger sibling, the Princess V72, the fit, finish and interior styling is superb. If getting out of a Roller, Bentley or Aston Martin before boarding the V72 is appropriate and seamless, the correct choice of vehicle to commute to a Princess 56 would probably be a Range Rover or a Jag.
PRINCESS 56 SPECIFICATIONS
PRICE AS TESTED
MATERIAL Resin-infused FRP
TYPE Planing monohull
LENGTH 18.11m (overall); 17.53m (hull)
PEOPLE (NIGHT) 6
MAKE/MODEL 2 x Volvo Penta D13-800
TYPE Electronically injected turbo-diesel
RATED HP 800hp (each)
Grant Torrens International Marine,
Gold Coast, QLD, 4216
Phone: +61 7 5577 2299
Fax: +61 7 5577 2899
Originally published in Trade-a-Boat #444, September/October 2013
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