Princess has fully immersed itself in the sport-cruiser world with its S65.
The new model follows the S72, but it’s different because it was designed and built from the keel up specifically as a sport-cruiser. The sport-cruiser is an interesting hybrid that falls between the Princess Flybridge Motor Yacht line and the company’s V Class vessels, which are sporty express cruisers. The S65 manages to keep the comfortable accommodations (four staterooms and three heads, plus a crew cabin) of a motoryacht, as well as the main-deck living and entertaining space of an express cruiser. In this case, that space stretches from the transom with settee and table to the foredeck with another settee, plus a sun pad.
But here’s where the S65 adds some spice to the recipe: It has a flybridge. Sorry, sport bridge. Granted, it’s not a huge one, but it’s enough that you can run the yacht in the open air or have an alfresco meal upstairs. This bridge is set well aft not just for aesthetic reasons, but also to allow a sunroof to open in the salon. It’s really the best of all worlds.
If you saw the S65 at a boat show crammed among other yachts, you missed an important feature. I was lucky to see the S65 sitting solo at a dock, and the proportions of this yacht are just right. There is a real wow factor when you see her across a harbor. She’s low and sleek, exuding a playful attitude. A surprising number of people don’t realize she has a sport bridge until they get aboard, and the foredeck entertainment area is equally well-concealed.
Unlike the S72, which had the galley down, the S65 has the galley up and centered between the cockpit and salon, which turns the main deck into party central. Adding to this are sliding doors leading to the cockpit. The doors nest into pockets out of sight, and the window by the galley tilts up electrically. Voilà! Completely open from the cockpit settee past the galley, past two seating areas with tables to the forward windshield. Slide the sunroof open, and you have a 65-foot runabout. This openness captures the essence of how most owners and guests use their yachts. When the galley window is open, an outside counter turns into a serving area for munchies or an open bar for drinks, and there’s no step between cockpit and salon to trip you.
If the day isn’t right for being outside, the windows in the salon still offer good views, whether you’re seated on one of the settees or standing in the galley. Add the three glass panes in the sunroof, and you have a bright, airy salon even when buttoned up. Princess uses a full-infusion method of construction that adds strength to the superstructure, thus allowing small window mullions that don’t inhibit the size of the glass.
The helm has unobstructed visibility, and the skipper and a companion enjoy a pair of upholstered helm seats that might have been swiped from an Aston Martin, based on their looks. A pantograph door next to the skipper’s seat leads to the side deck, which lets the skipper stick his head out while docking to get an improved vantage. Belowdecks you’ll find the same design philosophy as in the salon: windows and lots of light.
The master suite has a dramatic window on each side that is nearly the length of the room, making it one of the brightest suites I’ve seen on a yacht in this size range. This S65 had a high-gloss walnut interior, but satin finishes and oak woodwork are options. Walnut is growing in popularity and fit in nicely with the lighter fabrics on this S65. There are some upscale joinery touches too, such as the inlaid Makassar ebony around the TV in the master suite. Most yachts lack a full-beam head abaft the master suite until you get over 70 feet length overall, but the S65 has one, plus a walk-in closet.
The VIP has proportionately smaller windows, but the space is still bright, with an en suite head and shower. In between the master and the VIP are a pair of guest staterooms off the companionway (with washer/dryer). The starboard-side stateroom has twin berths (slide-together is optional) with access to the day-head, while the portside stateroom has bunks with a ladder. There’s also a single-berth crew cabin with head and shower abaft the engine room.
Up on the sport bridge, there’s room for everyone. A wraparound couch fills the aft area, and an L-shape settee is opposite the helm’s pair of pedestal chairs. As in the cockpit, teak covers the deck here. A hardtop would destroy the great lines of the S65, but Princess Yachts America does install a hydraulic Bimini top for sun protection.
That brings up Princess Yachts America, which imports the Princess and tailors the British-built yachts to fit American needs. The company upgrades the generator from 17 kW to 21.5 kW. Among the additional amenities are VacuFlush toilets, a central vacuum and an Americanized electrical system (120 volts/60 Hertz). Another touch is the Palm Beach Tenders 1200C, with its retractable-engine system, designed to tuck neatly into the yacht’s transom garage.
Speaking of engines, there are three choices on the S65, starting with twin 1,150 hp Cat C18 diesels (good for 34 knots) and followed by a pair of 1,200 hp MAN V-8s or a pair of 1,400 hp MAN V-12s. Our test boat had the top option, the V-12s, and they pushed the top speed to more than 35 knots, with a wonderful sound that you could bottle and sell to motorheads. It affected the hairs on my neck just like the sound of a Ferrari V12.
There are good points for engine-room access through a hatch in the cockpit sole, and the electrical system is an example of Princess quality. The wiring is color-coded and fed through runs for easy access, but here was what impressed me: Each wire was also labeled at each end. If you’ve ever pulled a wire in a boat and wondered what it was, well, you understand.
Our test S65 had the optional Seakeeper 9 stabilizer, which comes in a surprisingly compact package that makes a world of difference in lumpy seas. This particular yacht also had a Garmin electronics suite, sans a satcom package, but Princess had installed chase tubes to make a later installation easy.
I liked the S65 a great deal. I like good-looking boats, and this is a standout that combines great features, such as the open main-deck entertainment and lounge area surrounded by windows. You really have to stand in the salon and look around to appreciate how Princess has blended outside with inside. The lower deck is for the comfortable staterooms, and the sport bridge is a secret getaway that outside viewers barely notice. Then there’s the yacht’s sports-car performance too.
All in all, the Princess S65 seems to be a clear winner.