As with everything else in life, there are levels to the yacht game. Perhaps when you were younger, you couldn’t conceive of a boat larger than that 60-foot motoryacht docked each summer at the most prominent slip your local marina had to offer. And maybe so recently as 10 years ago, an 80-footer felt like a truly grand yacht fit for moguls and movie stars. But the times, they do change. And presently, even an 80-footer, roundly impressive by most any other measure, won’t cut it for the lucky few. England’s largest yacht manufacturer, Princess Yachts, realizes this in full, of course. And thus, the builder has given us the Princess 30M.
At a single inch shy of 100 feet — which seems a little cruel, doesn’t it? — the Princess Yachts 30M can reliably call herself a true mega-yacht. And her role in the Princess fleet is to welcome owners sizing up from motoryachts to the real deal: that is, the right to call their yachts mega.
One of the most prominent ways that the Princess Yachts 30M distinguishes herself as a mega-yacht is with the placement of her master stateroom, which is on the main deck — not down below and amidships, as on most slightly smaller vessels. The design choice gives the master an inarguable touch of class, not to mention admirable amounts of space and natural light. (The latter trait is helped immensely by a large skylight overhead.) A forward-situated head nicely complements the living space, offering a large shower and his-and-her sinks well accoutered with swirling, nearly flawless marble.
Another main-deck, dead giveaway that the Princess Yachts 30M is in the mega-yacht class is her galley. Aft and to port, it is enclosed, ensuring that a top-rated chef will have all the privacy, stowage and prep space needed to produce five-star tasting menus in any anchorage. Perhaps as you sit in the Princess’s aft cockpit one lovely evening, enjoying the breeze off the Mediterranean and a chilled flute of Krug Grande Cuvée, you might decide you’d like to pair the bubbly with a nice truffle arancini. That can most certainly be arranged.
A raised wheelhouse also marks the 30M’s mega ambitions. The twin Raymarine screens on my test yacht should help the captain keep track of the vessel’s journey while windows provide sight lines that many other 100-footers would be hard-pressed to match. A plush bench seat and cocktail settee to port allow guests to keep the captain company and perhaps brush up on their seamanship skills as the yacht travels from exotic port to exotic port. At my test 30M’s wheel, the captain will man twin 3,600 hp MTU M94s that can get this Princess Yachts vessel up to 27 knots. Twin 2,217 hp MTU 16V 2000 M84s and twin 1,948 hp MTU 12V 2000 M94s are also available as capable options. When the captain is done wheeling the yacht for you, he will surely be happy to have some privacy, courtesy of his own cabin, while the crew splits two others.
And if all of these features aren’t enough to entice you to get a better look at the Princess Yacht 30M, here’s another one that will fire up any yacht fanatic: She’s simply, undeniably pretty. As I cruised out on a smaller Princess from the Mallorcan harbor in Spain that acted as a jumping-off point for my sea trial, I was enjoying the sea breeze and rugged, exotic coastline when I heard a soft, collective gasp from the others aboard who were seeing the 30M for the first time. We had just rounded a bend and entered a cove. Deep-blue water lapped lazily against beige rocks rounded smooth by the sea, and lush greenery sprouted from the tops of the imposing cliffs that surrounded us like sentries. And there in the middle of all this natural grandeur sat the Princess 30M, her dark-blue hull glistening in the bright sun, her silky smooth lines all but undulating, mirroring the sea.
There’s a stately ambience to her, both outside and in. With the master on the main deck, her lines stay fuller farther forward and combine with a bow that juts out like a proud jaw to lend a certain British gravitas. Suffice it to say, this boat makes a statement when you first lay eyes on her.
On board, that stately air is enhanced by a level of fit and finish that is, well, fitting of a true mega-yacht. The cherry woodwork in particular on my test yacht was exemplary. The seams were tight, the wood rich and smooth.
Princess can keep tabs on such details because it builds about 80 percent of the components on board its models in-house at its Plymouth, England, (yes, that Plymouth, of Mayflower fame) shipyard. The Princess complex includes seven facilities and facilitates the employment of more than 2,000 employees, who are expected to churn out a healthy 220 yachts this year. As mentioned, the company is the largest boatbuilder in all of England — no small feat when you consider the stiff competition the country has to offer.
Princess’s numerous skilled and knowledgeable workers also allow the company to customize its yachts. Sure, fabrics, woods and other materials are up to the owner, but creativity is also welcome, and Princess relishes a challenge. On board my test 30M,, the owner, a motorcycle enthusiast, had a glass enclosure built for one of his bikes on the flybridge aft, so the bike is clearly visible from the docks — a creative touch that truly defines “custom.”
Such attention to details should make the 30M a prime choice within an American market hungry for boats in this size range that have optimal amounts of personalization. I see this boat doing well in South Florida thanks in no small part to her relatively shallow 7-foot-6-inch draft, but she’s certainly versatile enough to pop up in almost any geographical location around the Americas.
The 30M is the kind of yacht that can change the way you’re perceived, and in turn, change the way you perceive the ocean itself. Once you’ve effectively leveled up into the mega-yacht class, there’s no turning back.
Of course, something tells me that by the time most people reach a place in life where they can acquire a yacht like the 30M, they haven’t been accustomed to turning back for quite a while.
Art of the Craft
At its Plymouth, England, factory, Princess takes care to keep the yard clean and orderly — an attention to detail that shines through in the products the builder turns out. Finishes are unblemished, seaworthy traits are remarkable and (it’s blasphemy, I know, to use a French phrase to describe an English product) the yachts have a certain je ne sais quoi of fastidiousness about them. Touring the Princess 30M, you get the unmistakable sense that her construction process went smoothly, and thus, so will her life at sea. It’s a hard feeling to describe, but it’s also very real.
Palma Your Ham
Palma de Mallorca, the island about 150 miles off the coast of Spain where we tested the Princess 30M, is a quintessential stopover on any Balearic Isles charter. The hilly, seaside city is interlaced with narrow, winding streets lined by charming shops, cafes and bars. Sitting under an umbrella at an outdoor table at one of those cafes on a drizzly late-spring afternoon, you might just find yourself sipping on an ice-cold Alhambra beer while biting into a jamon y queso sandwich on fresh-baked bread. And it might just be the best meal of your year. Sometimes in life, it really is the simple things.
Princess has an “ask and ye shall receive” philosophy when it comes to customizing its bigger yachts. Owners might just be surprised at what they can put on board.