Princess 68 by Princess Yachts

Princess Yachts' 68 proves to be the perfect vessel for entertaining

Princess 68

Princess 68

Luxury doesn't end at the Flybridge on the Princess 68. As on the main deck, the focus up here is on elegant entertaining.Courtesy Princess Yachts
Princess 68

Princess 68

The full-beam master statesroom harks back to ranch-style homes of the 1960s.Courtesy Princess Yachts
Princess 68

Princess 68

An inside look at the Princess 68's full-beam master stateroom.Courtesy Princess Yachts
Princess 68

Princess 68

The yacht boasts a pair of 1,150 hp Caterpillar C18A engines.Courtesy Princess Yachts
Princess 68

Princess 68

The 68's salon uses resin infusion for its fiberglass, allowing for larger windows than previously available.Courtesy Princess Yachts
Princess 68

Princess 68

An electric-powered conversion can slide the starboard cabin bunks into a double.Courtesy New England Boatworks
Princess 68

Princess 68

A look at one of the 68's comfortably sized bathrooms.Courtesy Princess Yachts
Princess 68

Princess 68

Offering expansive views from every spot on board and having an ability to run efficiently, the 68 is as ready to explore as she is to entertain.Courtesy Princess Yachts

Princess Yachts seems to offer it all. The builder has 27 models ranging from 39 feet to more than 130 feet length overall. Flybridge vessels. Express cruisers. Performance yachts. They don’t leave many gaps. So, to shoehorn another model into the lineup means there has to be something different about the new player. As I saw recently, the 68 is exactly that: different.

Full of Surprises

The 68 falls between the Princess 64 and Princess 72. She shares the Bernard Olesinski-designed exterior DNA with her sisters. But as comparisons go, that's it. This yacht has her own personality. Take the galley. On the 68, it's positioned aft near the oversize sliding doors to the cockpit. With an electrically retractable rear window, the galley's aft counter becomes an open serving bar for the cockpit. This is alfresco living, with a seamless no-step transition from salon to cockpit, an outside table for dining and another opposite the galley. Want fresh air? Leave the doors open and enjoy that table for eight in the subtle mood lighting. When the weather is less than ideal, just close the doors and the galley is still convenient.

Princess 68

Princess 68

Big windows allow daylight to pour into all areas, including the stylish galley, which is one step down from salon level.Courtesy Princess Yachts

A word about the salon. It’s spacious, with a pair of couches on each side, but what I noted above all are the windows. Because Princess Yachts uses a resin-infusion system for its fiberglass construction, the strength in the cabin house is considerably increased, and this allows for larger windows than previously available. The resulting view is spectacular.

Most visitors will be surprised by the stairs from the main salon to the master suite belowdecks. This separate entry is an impressive privacy feature usually found on yachts above 100 feet. The stairs lead to a foyer with a door to the stateroom — and, once again, this is megayacht elegance.

A full-beam master harks back to ranch-style homes of the 1960s, with “picture windows” on each side. They’re big and bright, with a sofa under one and a bureau with hidden vanity under the other. These windows would make me want to anchor somewhere wonderful (the BVI? Nantucket? Catalina?) and look forward to mornings. The master head is a comfortable size, with a shower and yet another great view from a window.

This Princess 68 takes good care of guests too. A VIP stateroom forward (stairs descend from the helm area) surprised me with the amount of foot room around the double berth — it makes getting dressed easier. An en suite head also features room for real people, with a Lexan door on the shower stall.

Two more guest cabins are amidships. As part of the standard American package, the builder adds an electric-powered conversion that slides the starboard cabin bunks into a double. Each of these cabins shares the day-head in the central lobby, also with a stall shower.

At just under 70 feet length overall and a bit over 40 tons displacement, the Princess 68 is getting into the area where some owners might want a captain or mate. Again, the builder adds a civilized crew cabin abaft the engine room with a pair of single berths, a private head with stall shower and plenty of stowage for shirts with epaulets. Don't want a crew? The teenagers will claim this area.

Note to American Owners: Rest Easy

Though Princess is based in England, its yachts are constructed to U.S. Coast Guard and American Boat and Yacht Council specs. Each 68 also gets “Americanized” with larger engines, U.S. electrical systems, bigger gensets and an entertainment system (five TV/DVD/Blu-ray sets and dockside TV/phones). The builder also includes linens and pillows, so all you need to have is your destination in mind. —c.c.

Up High and Underway

One of the selling points for the Princess 68 has to be the flybridge. The teak-planked stairway from the cockpit offers gently spaced steps and solid handrails. As on the main deck, the focus up here is on elegant entertaining, with a spacious settee and dining table served by an L-shaped outdoor kitchen with electric lava-brick barbecue, sink and drawer fridge. The skipper and companion get pedestal helm chairs behind the instrument console, and another seating area opposite can convert to a sun pad.

Her entire bridge is protected by an optional fiberglass hardtop with an electric sunroof, so you can either get more sun or watch the stars. It doesn't cover the sun pads abaft the settee, but the Princess 68 doesn't skimp on space for sun worshipers.

Princess 68

Princess 68

Owner-operators will appreciate the space at the lower helm, as well as being in touch with the guests all around the flybridge.Courtesy Princess Yachts

The foredeck would quickly become one of my favorite spots, with its large seating area and yet another sun pad. This would seem like the ideal place to enjoy a sundowner. The layout is another clever idea that doesn’t impinge upon interior space.

Standard power for the Princess 68 in Europe is a pair of 1,150 hp Caterpillar C18As, but our test yacht had optional 1,400 hp MAN V-12 diesel engines (the midsize option is 1,200 hp MAN diesels). The builder scores points for upgrading the generator from 11 kW to 21.5 kW — Americans want their tropical air conditioning and piña colada blenders on at the same time.

With the twin MANs, our test boat ran just a freckle under 35 knots at 2,300 rpm. Look at those numbers again. That’s moving 80,000 pounds of pure luxury on the ocean at runabout speeds.

A Stand-Up Kind of Feature

There are times at sea when yachtsmen want to stand up when using the lower helm. Entering a harbor, dropping anchor, maneuvering — standing improves sight lines. But on some yachts, you either have to stoop or ... just sit back down. The Princess 68 has a “duck pond” to solve the problem. If you look forward on the salon overhead of the 68, you’ll see that the area above the helm and companion seat is raised a few inches. It’s done cleverly so it doesn’t show from the outside, but it allows tall guys to stand behind the wheel. So why is it called the duck pond? When the cabin top of the Princess 68 is being laminated at the factory, it’s upside-down and, being in a mold, reversed. While most of the cabin top is smooth, it has a deeper section at the forward end, which becomes the extra headroom when turned over. The laminating crew at Princess refer to this deeper area as the duck pond, while owners will refer to it as a godsend. —c.c.

Want a big surprise?

Dial your tachs back to 1,200 rpm, and the Princess 68 is making about 13 knots while the power plants sip just 28 gph. Feel like going farther without stopping for fuel? At 800 rpm, this yacht can cruise more than 1,500 nautical miles at about 10 knots. That gives you choices. Need to get home fast? You’ve got the power under your right fist. Want to make a passage? You can do that too.

A Family of Excellence

Not many yacht builders remain under the control of the original founder, nor do many have luxuriously elite sister companies. Princess Yachts has both. Founded in 1965, Princess was started in a small industrial unit on Newport Street in Plymouth, England, by ex-naval officer David King. Today, King continues to head up the company as chairman, and the factory now takes up the entire street, plus adjoining lands to build yachts as large as 131 feet. In 2008, Princess was acquired by LVMH to join its necklace of luxury brands. You know Vuitton and Chandon, of course, but Princess is also a sister company to Fendi, Christian Dior, De Beers Diamonds and, oh yes, Feadship.

Regardless of the power choice, the Princess 68 has the elegance to hang with the superyachts, the speed to get to exotic places faster and the character to stand out in harbors everywhere.

Manufacturers Supplied Numbers Princess 68
LOA (excl. pulpit) 69ft 9in (21.25m)
Max Beam 17ft 8in (5.38m)
Draft 5ft 2in (1.58m)
Displacement Approx. 37,500kg (82,673lbs)
Fuel Capacity 900 gal/1,080 US gal/4,100l
Water capacity (incl. calorifier) 200 gal/240 US gal/909l