Author : David Toyer
The Princess 21 metre is a four cabin luxury, long range flybridge cruiser. As a private family cruiser, it is also equally suited to the task of corporate entertainment, private charter or other such similar roles.
More than 40 years ago, Princess Yachts had what can best be described as a very low keyed, rather insignificant start. Established in 1965 as Marine Projects, the companies sole purpose – known as “Project 31” – was to fitout and charter a 31 foot cruiser. With that project completed and the boat sold, further orders started to flow in and by 1970 the company turned to in-house GRP hull mouldings to produce what was to be the first Princess; the Princess 32.
More than 80 new model lines were to follow and today Princess owns and operates from 5 factories in Plymouth UK, covering more than 81,000 square metres and employing over 1550 people.
It wasn’t until the mid 1990s that Princess Yachts were readily available in Australasia through an approved dealership network and then at the 2006 Sydney International Boat Show details of a new distribution, sales and servicing arrangement between Princess Yachts and the Queensland based Riviera Group were announced by David Pyle, Sales Director of Princess Yachts International.
Simultaneously, the Riviera Group launched a new retail arm, R Marine, through which and amongst other projects, Princess Yachts would be sold and serviced in Australia and New Zealand. Only a selected few of those R Marine outlets would be dealers for Princess ensuring one in each state of Australia and one in New Zealand.
Of the many Princess boats on display at that 2006 Sydney Boat Show, one to attract quite a dealer of attention and a lot of visitors, was the 21 metre motor yacht. Without question, the sheer size; the price; and the fact that it was relatively accessible for the average boat show visitor accounted for a lot of ‘tyre kickers’ who went aboard, but that doesn’t detract from the pure quality of the boat, its fitout and its inclusions.
The Princess 21 metre was originally launched in 2004, being exhibited at Londons then-new boat show venue at the Docklands. At the time, this was the flagship of the Princess range, though that honour now sits with the 25 metre, and then will sometime in 2007, be the 95 motor yacht when it is launched.
From the dock, the Princess presents a very welcoming, easy to board appearance. The boat looks broad and spacious and the deep full width teak lined boarding platform that sits around 500mm or so above water level presents a very easy and safe means of boarding from a floating marina or jetty. On the other hand, if you are boarding from a fixed jetty or dock, then the telescopic passerelle (complete with fold down handrails) makes that transition from dock to boat so easy and safe.
Curved steps each side of the boarding platform lead you around the large moulded transom storage locker inside which you will find the external shower and washing facilities, the access hatch into the lazarette, storage space for a liferaft, among other things.
Stepping up onto the aft cockpit there is only the one fixed lounge immediately in front of the transom, but with so much storage space readily at hand either under the cockpit floor or in the transom, loose deck chairs and tables will be right at home.
Three piece heavy duty sliding glass doors separate the cockpit from the main saloon, and with these open, the integration of the boat interior with the aft cockpit space is superb despite the lack of any other cockpit feature other than the transom lounge.
This boat has a fabulous indoor/outdoor feel about it the moment you walk through the cockpit and saloon area, yet there is some clever segregation/subtle screening of the different areas and functions of the entire saloon area.
The curved, open stairs that lead up to the flybridge for example, masks the separation of the main dining area from the lounge area of the saloon, while the bench top curved glass screen (which with the flick of a switch can be changed from clear to opaque) designates the galley area, and screening it completely again from the saloon when it may be necessary to do so for things such as corporate functions.
The only area to be ‘isolated’ if that is such a thing on an open planned layout, is the helm station. But yet again, for private ownership be that for extended cruising or short term cruising with friends, this helm station is still in there with all the action. The styling of this console is very much in the vein of a larger sports cruiser with polished timber inlay to a curved sloping console that more than amply encloses all the instrumentation, gauges and electronics, and is topped off with a sporty polished timber and leather wheel. With electric hydraulic steering and controls nothing more is needed. A pair of leather helm chairs compliment the helm station fitout and a pilot house door off to the starboard side gives the skipper direct access to the side deck.
The flybridge epitomises an al fresco lifestyle with a layout working around a central island console housing a BBQ grill, hot/cold water wash sink, heaps of storage, all with a top accessed refrigerated ice box off to one side. Aft of this console is a large dining table with a wrap round lounge that will comfortably seat up to 8 people, while forward is the upper level helm station, fully equipped with electronics, gauges and controls, repeating most of those from the lower station.
Aft of the lounge is an upholstered sun lounge over the top of the storage locker designated to hold the mooring covers for the various components and accessories on this level. Behind that again, there is space for a rigid bottom inflatable dingy or some water toys with a 400kg capacity electric davit to get them on and off the deck. The arm of the davit is capable of reaching the aft platform should the likes of a PWC or dinghy be stowed there.
Dual access to the flybridge is via a neatly designed open style internal stair that gives an almost direct link between upper and lower helm stations, and the usual moulded aft stairs leading up from the cockpit. There are remote docking controls housed neatly into the outside of the stair moulding, and under these flybridge stairs, accessed directly off the cockpit are the hatch and stairs leading down to the crew quarters, the rear storage area and the small workshop as well as the engine room.
The crew’s quarters are not to the same quality and standard as the rest of the accommodation, but the twin berth cabin is comfortable with adequate storage and a decent size adjacent bathroom.
Below deck, there are 4 cabins opening off a short common companionway. There is a double berth guests stateroom in the bow, the main owners stateroom aft and amidships, with a double and twin berth guests cabins off to the starboard and port sides respectively.
Not one of these cabins offers any compromises. Each is fitted out and finished to the same high standard with quality furnishings and finishes, concealed lighting, intercom, CD stereo, and individually controlled air conditioning, with the owners stateroom having the added luxury of LCD TV/DVD.
This owners stateroom is impressive. Occupying the full width of the boat, this cabin is probably larger than most average bedrooms. Each side has is fitted out with built in lounge, vanity/powder console and storage drawers. Walk by the bed and through the built in hanging robes and you come upon the owners ensuite complete with stone top vanity bench, WC suite, bidet, and a separate shower room that is larger than a lot of the bathrooms on the more common size flybridge cruisers.
The guests stateroom in the bow also has its own ensuite – and in this instance is more in keeping with the size that you will seen normally – while both the 3rd and 4th cabins share the third bathroom via direct (ensuite style) access off the 3rd double cabin, and companionway access for the 4th.
The 21 metre can be ordered with twin 1200hp MTU 8V M93, or as per the boat reviewed, with a pair of 1360hp electronic V12 MAN diesels. These 21.9 litre 90 degree V12 engines weigh around 2000 kg each, plus gearboxes, and will produce a top speed is in the 33 to 35 knot range. Best cruising in suitable conditions is around 24 knots, and with 5000 litres of fuel, a cruising range of around 450 to 500 nautical miles is possible depending on those sea conditions and boat loading.
As is the case for the rest of the Princess range the 21 metre is a modified deep vee hull that incorporates a pair of propeller tunnels…. These tunnels allow the drive shafts to be installed at a flatter angle and the propellers tucked up closer to the hull. All of this reduces draft, provides a more direct and more efficient drive thrust, and results in a much flatter trim attitude both moving onto the plane and at speed.
The attention to detail and the quality of the finish throughout this boat is absolutely first class and it’s challenging to find even the smallest of defects. Did find one though – one of the doors used to close off the laundry (washer and dryer) under the stairs on the accommodation level cannot be fully opened. It is too wide by about 20mm and hits the opposite bulkhead. Small insignificant defect I know, and that’s how challenging it is to fault such quality work.
Is there anything missing: anything that needs to be added as an essential? Well yes there is. . . . a bimini or targa top over at least some of the flybridge. This is a big open area with plenty of white GRP and upholstery and under our sun there needs to be some shade. But that’s about all.
Princess Yachts have as their core values – “dedication to quality in both design and in build”. The company has grown on the basis of this with some of the finest production built motor and sports yachts and this is reflected in the Princess 21 metre.
- Design Name: Princess 21 Metre
- Year Model Launched: 2004
- Designer: Princess Yachts International
- Builder: Princess Yachts International
- LOA: 21.56m
- LOH: 21.23m
- Beam: 5.55m
- Draft: 1.57m
- Displacement: 41.3 tonnes
- Max. Speed: 33 to 35 knots
- Cruise Speed: 24 knots
- Construction: GRP / composite
- Fuel Capacity: 5000 litres
- Water Capacity: 1209 litres
- Holding Tank: 390 litres
- Engines: 2 x 1360 hp MAN V12