Chaparral offers a true hardtop express cruiser with the new 330 Signature, making it one of the smallest boats we have seen with a hardtop – an exception being the even smaller Chaparral 310 Signature. Cruising canvas comes standard so you can button up either boat for three-season operation. The 330 also has two layout options for the cabin which allows you to match your style of boating with the interior design. The boat is capable of sleeping up to five and entertaining twice that many with amenities that include a full galley, wet bar, barbecue grill and a power sunpad aft.
The new 330 Signature Cruiser from Chaparral has the utility of a 40-footer packed into a boat with an LOA of just 33’6”and a beam of 10’6”.
With the new Chaparral 330 Signature the builder is targeting the boater seeking a quality hardtop cruiser for boating with friends and family without having to make the financial commitment to a far larger boat. The concept is to provide a boat capable of sleeping four comfortably while offering big-boat entertaining features on deck.
Chaparral's Wide Tech, beam-forward shape is apparent from this angle.
Fuller above the waterline forward. The Wide Tech design feature found on the 330 Signature offers a broader beam farther forward than many vessels of comparable size, which allows the cabin to be wider.
Two different cabin interior options. There are not many builders who offer two completely different options for the boat's interior in this class. You can opt for a wraparound lounge seat in the salon or a more conventional bench seat settee.
Wood privacy door for mid cabin. This is a nice feature you see in forty-footers but this is the only 33-footer that has it as far as we know.
Hand-stitched diamond upholstery pattern. This is something usually found only in the most expensive boats in class. It is a small detail, but one that signals an up-market boat.
Inflatable cushions. The 330 Signature makes available optional twin inflatable mattresses for overnighting. One fits onto the lowered table forward. The other fits next the bench seat for the settee. In this way the boat can comfortably sleep five people in a pinch.
The 330 Signature has a fully adjustable separate helm seat plus a double-wide companion seat so that three people can sit facing forward, something quite unusual in express cruisers of any size.
Double-wide companion seat. Chaparral has taken good ideas from larger boats and incorporated them into the 330. Most express cruisers – no matter how large – do not have one, much less two, seats facing forward for companions. Rather, they have a bench “lounger” seat facing the helm on the port side which allows crawl-in head room for the mid cabin below.
Two-way adjustable helm seat easy at hand. The helm seat has adjustment controls right in its own armrest so you do not have to fumble under the seat for the adjustment. These lever controls are exclusive to Chaparral, we are told..
Standard fiberglass hardtop with camper canvas. The hardtop protects against the sun and rain and the standard camper canvas turns the boat into a three-season vessel. Raining? Just put up the front panel.
Kevlar keel. Only a couple of builders put bulletproof Kevlar into the keel and Chaparral is one of them. The Kevlar gives puncture protection if you hit a submerged object and it also allows the boat to be slightly lighter.
Triple battery set-up. This is something that normally only appears on far larger boats, nevertheless Chaparral installs it with switches for an added measure of safety and peace-of-mind.
There’s no need to duck low and frog-walk between the bow and the cockpit thanks to the 330’s walk-thru windshield and convertible hardtop cutout.
The hardtop. The 330’s standard fiberglass hardtop has a center opening hatch, grab handles, UL approved non-skid and integrated dash steps to make it safe and easy going to and from the bow when sunning, anchoring and docking duties call.
The hardtop becomes a great platform upon which to mount antennas for a VHF radio, GPS, or even a radar dome. The alternative in an express boat this size is a Bimini top which looks clunky and has a dozen screws and fittings that often work loose or break because the top comes under extreme pressure when running 35 miles and hour or more. A hardtop is simply the best solution.
The fiberglass helm console has aluminum dash panels and includes an integrated pinnacle mount for the twin throttle and shifter controls.
Instrument panel. The 330 Signature’s standard dash design includes compass, digital instrumentation, Power On illuminated rocker switches, a DC power plug, dimmer controls, windshield wiper and mahogany tilt steering. It is shown here with the optional Garmin 5212 navigation system. All you need to add is a VHF radio.
The standard helm features an adjustable captain's bucket and a double-wide passenger seat. Sacrificing armrests, each seating position offers side-entry access as well as flip-up front cushions for raised, bolster-style seating. Up/down and fore/aft controls are conveniently built into the sides of the power-operated captain's seat.
The port side companionway makes possible the triple-option helm seating on deck and the large entry to the mid cabin below.
One of the optional interiors features a traditional forward dinette and bench seating to port.
Note the standard flat screen TV to starboard, which is adjustable for viewing from either end of the cabin, and the large hanging locker to port. The wood cabin sole is optional.
At night the electric dinette table lowers to accommodate an optional air mattress filler to create a wide double berth forward. Note the track overhead for privacy drapes.
The other cabin layout offered by Chaparral replaces the dinette option with a permanent, traditionally shaped bed. In the above picture the bed is in its extended position. The aft end of it folds down to provide a seatback for the L-shaped settee when entertaining. There is storage under the bed.
Which Layout to Choose?
Everyone uses their express cruiser in a slightly different way. Some people use them for day trips and entertaining and almost never spend a night aboard. At the other extreme, some boaters use their express cruiser as a moveable summer cabin. One of the exciting things about the 330 is that you can pick the arrangement that best services your boating style. Further, no matter which one you choose, if you want to switch functions in a pinch or on a whim, the boat will allow that, too.
This view shows the Wide Tech feature from an overhead angle, illustrating just how far the beam’s width is retained forward of the helm.
Day tripper. The Wide Tech is more than marketing hype. The max beam of the vessel is actually carried roughly 5’ forward of where a conventional boat would begin to narrow as it goes toward the bow. This clever design results in a spacious and comfortable banquette for cozy gatherings while at anchor. For day trips it provides a large space for lunch if it is rainy. At night it provides a cozy, romantic spot for a couple to dine by candlelight. If you have never enjoyed the bonhomie of friends and family in such a cabin, particularly over a good bottle of red Burgundy, then you are missing one of the great treats of life and boating.
The optional layout keeps the bed in place but lowers the foot of it to make a backrest for the huge L-shaped settee. Obviously a large table can fit in front of the settee.
Coastal cruiser. Taking a vacation with the family or another couple presents its own challenges and opportunities. While the forward settee can be broken down at night and converted into a double sleeper, the fact is that is a hassle as bed linens must be broken out and put away. Far better is to have a dedicated double berth made up all of the time to eliminate this fire drill.
Because a couple of feet of the bed folds down to make the back of the L-shaped settee there is plenty of seating for four people around a table, very much as before. Once dinner and drinks are over, the table is stowed in its dedicated spot, the bottom of the bed is flipped up, the privacy curtain drawn, and lights out. Both couples or parents and kids have their private sleeping areas.
Further, for large families the settee can be made into a double for kids. We would give them a couple of sleeping bags and be done with it. No muss, to fuss.
The galley features stainless steel appliances including an AC/DC refrigerator below and a microwave and adjacent sink set in a solid surface countertop. There is a one-burner stove top. The area is ventilated and illuminated via a working port and there is also a standard power vent.
The mid cabin has a standard sliding, wood-grain privacy door, which is quite unusual in this size of boat. Note the optional solid hardwood steps and composite hardwood-like flooring. The boat comes standard with a 55-oz. removable carpeting which goes over the fiberglass cabin sole. We recommend at least getting the optional wood treads for the companionway steps as fiberglass steps can become slippery when wet or in a seaway.
An optional flat screen TV is offered in the mid cabin. Note the fiberglass ceiling liner for easy cleaning and to help keep the cabin mildew free.
A portable table is optional for the mid cabin and makes this an ideal spot for kids to play board games or have lunch on a rainy day.
The mid cabin’s bench seats slide out to form a large double-wide berth. Because of the sliding door across the entry two adult couples can use this boat on long weekend cruises with some degree of privacy.
The head features 12-volt lighting, opening frosted portlight with screen, storage cabinet, power vent, stainless and steel grab handle. The standard Vacuflush head has a china bowl and is connected to a holding tank with a level indicator. The sink includes a pull-out wand that doubles as the shower head. There is a standard shower curtain.
Molded fiberglass storage compartments are found under the U-shaped cockpit lounge seating area. Note the bracket for the standard cockpit table which has dedicated storage. We like the diamond pattern stitching in the seat backs which gives the vinyl and fiberglass cockpit a plush look.
The 330’s cockpit has a self-bailing fiberglass liner with a diamond pattern non-skid deck surface covered with standard sectional, snap-in carpeting. Cockpit seats are constructed using expanded vinyl with hand-stitched diamond-pattern accent panels. The cockpit is illuminated with indirect courtesy and Tri-Color overhead LED lighting. Note the integrated toe-kicks molded in under the fiberglass seat bases. This is an unusual detail and is indicative of how meticulously this boat was designed.
The cockpit wet bar is built with a solid surface countertop, sink, pull-out faucet fed by a pressurized water system, stainless steel grab bar, and a trash receptacle. A stainless steel refrigerator is optional.
The cockpit’s aft convertible bench seat sits atop a power-operated engine hatch. Check out the small stainless steel handrail to steady guests headed to and from the integrated swim platform via a stainless steel, self-locking transom gate.
Facing aft, a bench seat offers a full view of the large swim platform and serves as a handy seat to use when donning watersports gear. A transom shower is standard, as is the remote control pad for the stereo.
The dual-facing bench seat has another power feature that, with the push of a button, converts it into a full sun lounge.
Check out how wide the integrated swim platform is, which is accessed with a three-step telescoping ladder hidden under the hatch to starboard. The transom-mounted gas grill shown is an option and we like its location which keeps grease splatter away from the vinyl and smoke away from the hardtop. The aft-facing seat makes a good place for serving trays.
Chaparral offers nine power options for U.S. consumers ranging from the standard twin 5.0 L 260-hp engines from both Volvo Penta and Mercury to twin 5.7 L 320-hp engines from Volvo Penta. There is also a twin Volvo Penta 2.4 L 200-hp diesel option.
Joysticks are available with the 5.7 L options from both engine makers. Boaters using this boat in saltwater should definitely consider the Volvo Penta OceanX package or the Mercury Seacore model. Both of these packages employ special alloys, coatings and devices specifically designed to reduce corrosion problems.
We have not tested the 330 so can give no performance numbers or handling information.
Comparison with Other Boats in Class
When we use BoatTEST.com’s comparison feature we see that the 330 is one of the lighter boats at 12,900 lbs., dry, and has one of the narrowest beams at 10’6”. She also draws 41” which means her waterline footprint is less than other boats with roughly the same size designation. What does all of this mean?
First, it means that Chaparral is following the new trend in the industry by giving the boat a numerical model designation that is consistent with its length overall, which in this case includes the integral swim platform. Second, it means that the 330’s Wide Tech forward sections and interior layout options allow the boat to have more useable space inside than would otherwise be possible. Indeed, she has 6’8” headroom in the cabin, which is as much as any boat in class, yet she still has a pleasing profile.
Third, the light weight – helped in part by her Kevlar keel – makes the boat easier to push which should pay off in several ways: 1) getting good performance with smaller engines; 2) better fuel economy thus lower operating costs; 3) lower out-of-pocket cost in the first place; 4) higher WOT speeds if you choose to go with the big engines.
Chaparral’s 330 Signature comes standard with twin Mercury 5.0L MPI DTS (Catalyst) B3 260-hp engines for $234,598, with plenty of optional power plants also available.
Observations About the Chaparral 330 SIgnature
Like all boats the 330 has her compromises. The head is a wet head, but all boats in class make this compromise. The galley is quite small with no counter space except for the glass stove top burner. (A salon table comes standard so we would use that as the counter.) But these are small compromises compared to the tremendous amount of room, livability and versatility that the rest of the boat offers. Remember, this is a 33’ boat not a 40-footer.
We think the Chaparral 330 Signature is a remarkable boat for a number of reasons, including its interior layout option, its three-across helm arrangement, its mid cabin privacy door, its robust list of options, and of course its standard hardtop with cruising canvas. It is simply a well-thought out boat in a relatively small express cruiser package. To a great degree, we think you get the utility of a 40-footer in a much smaller boat for a lot less money.
Chaparral 330 Signature Cruiser (2012-) Standard and Optional Equipment
Outlet: 12-Volt Acc
Boats More Than 30 Feet
= Standard = Optional
Chaparral 330 Signature Cruiser (2012-) Warranty
Chaparral 330 Signature Cruiser (2012-) Warranty Information
Warranties change from time to time. While BoatTEST.com has tried to ensure the most up-to-date warranty offered by each builder, it does not guarantee the accuracies of the information presented below. Please check with the boat builder or your local dealer before you buy any boat.
Chaparral 330 Signature Cruiser (2012-) Price
Chaparral 330 Signature Cruiser (2012-) Price
Base Price (MSRP)
Price as Tested
Prices, features, designs, and equipment are subject to change. Please see your local dealer or visit the builder's website for the latest information available on this boat model.
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