Pick up your jaw from the floor – could Princess have reached peak luxury with the truly incredible and awe-inspiring 30m? Our expert reviewer certainly thinks so…
A crossover yacht, designed to bridge the gap between our flybridge range and our full on superyachts, giving the principle benefits of both’ is how Kiran Haslam, Marketing Director of Princess Yachts International, sums up the brand new 30M. Ostensibly a replacement for the Princess 98 – that model very firmly a flybridge boat – the 30M is an entirely different prospect, a fact that becomes obvious the moment I first clap eyes on PYI’s latest M-Class prodigy.
They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Sweeping in aboard a Princess S65 (ironically itself a ‘crossover’ yacht, bridging the gap between sports yacht and flybridge), my first sighting of the Princess 30M is anchored serenely in a quiet bay a few miles west of Port Adriano on the south coast of Mallorca, and it’s abundantly clear that the 30M doesn’t need one – it looks stunning. The rich dark blue topsides extend to the top of the bulwarks, disguising the proliferation of dark tinted hull windows, while the architecture of the topsides consist mainly of a confident arch rising gracefully from stem to aft tip of flybridge bisected by a second sweep from the top of the pilothouse down to the stern where it segues smoothly into the flow of the transom. Two years of intensive development, from first sketches at the Dusseldorf boat show in 2014 to the launch at the same show this year, have paid off – this is a very handsome yacht.
Once aboard, the differences between the 98 and this similarly sized vessel come thick and fast, nowhere more evidently than the master cabin. Where the 98 had a full beam master on the lower deck in line with almost all other Princess yachts in the flybridge range, the 30M cements its superyacht credentials with a main deck master up front. And it is magnificent; the feeling of space augmented by huge glass windows either side (bulwarks cut away for an uninterrupted vista) while further glazing overhead throws yet more natural light into this stateroom. The detailing is good too – witness the multi-faceted floating occasional table and airline chairs. Lined with pale marble, the en suite bathroom behind the forward bulkhead also benefits from those large side windows.
Head aft past the capacious concealed galley (containing access to the three berth crew cabins and side door access to the port deck as well as direct access to the dining area, allowing the crew to remain totally separate from the main accommodation) and you find the saloon. Huge glazing is evident once again, incorporating sliding glass doors to a drop-down balcony on the starboard side.
Princess Yachts claim 85% of the yacht is manufactured and built ‘in-house’ at its yard in Plymouth. It’s a fact made all the more impressive when you examine details like the graceful oval dining table. Finished in flawless high gloss Macassar Ebony with a contrasting cream leather padding beneath, it would grace any high-end West London furniture boutique. Vertically integrated from the entire hull moulding to seam welding the black water tanks, only items like engines and electronics are third party sourced, giving unprecedented control over sourcing, manufacturing and final supply, not to mention the sheer level of choice.
The only area where the Princess 30M’s superyacht crown slips slightly is interior layout choice, which is largely fixed. Only the lower deck standard layout of four large and equally sized guest cabins (two doubles and two singles, the latter of which feature beds that motor together to create further doubles if required) can be modified by swapping the aft pair of cabins for one huge single suite. Head up through the business-like raised pilothouse (another superyacht feature gained over the outgoing 98) to the flybridge however, and choice reigns supreme. The (slightly raised) upper helm is fixed, everything else is up for grabs. A perfect example of this exists aboard our test boat – the first 30M from the factory. The owner chose to have the (optional) jacuzzi brought forward and spun through ninety degrees to create room at the aft end of the flybridge for something rather special. A custom made Opacmare crane with 1.2 tonne capacity lives on the starboard side, poised to lift a bespoke stainless steel and toughened glass display case from dock to trailing edge of flybridge where locks in place, it showing off a fabulous Harley Davidson style motorcycle. And it’s no static display – the cabinet opens up once on the dock to release the bike for road use.
So far so 24-carat superyacht, but what of the exalted flybridge yacht crossover we came in with? Well to get to the bottom of this you first need to examine the specifications, where you’ll discover a load line length cunning pegged just below 24m, meaning that MCA MGM 280 (small vessels in commercial use) is all that’s required for charter. You’ll also discover a draft of just 2.3m, ideal for accessing shallow water areas like the Bahamas. But to really understand the dual-purpose nature of this yacht, you need to fire up the twin MTU 16V 2000 M94 engines (the largest of three options) and unleash the combined 5,000+ horsepower.
Situated right aft (the tender garage for a 7m Williams Dieseljet partly extends over them, however access is superb), the motors transmit their copious power through vee drives. Thrust bearing couplings allow gearboxes to be ‘soft mounted’, considerably reducing noise and vibration throughout the yacht. It works too, at speed – even in the aft cabins of the lower deck – the merest hint of vibration is quite simply nonexistent. It is properly quiet.
At 10 knots the 30M is sipping diesel at a (comparatively) miserly 100 litres per hour for a range of over a thousand miles. But ease the throttles forward and the result is distinctly un-superyacht and decidedly sporty, the (Bernard Olesinski designed) planing hull lifting its 100 tonnes and running with remarkable alacrity. Princess Yachts International claim to have seen almost 30 knots out of this boat, entirely believable given that it is nudging 27 knots fully loaded!
The Princess 30M delivers on that crossover promise in spades. With that sub-24m load line length, low draught and high levels of performance it nails the sports flybridge benefits part of the brief. But the joy of it is that you can keep all this to yourself if you wish – allowing the card carrying superyacht credentials to shine through. As promised, this is an entirely different proposition to the 98 flybridge Princess it replaces – indeed it is no understatement to suggest that what you are looking at here is the sub 100ft LOA state of the art.