Captain's Report by Capt. Steve--
The mission statement for the Prestige 550 Flybridge is basically the same as the rest of the Prestige line. Build the best boat possible, and make her affordable by focusing on form and function and leave out the fluff. You will find solid composite countertops, wall-to-wall carpeting, and fiberglass overheads maximize interior room and utility. Prestige designers stay away from “flavor of the month” styling.
In 2011 Prestige earned praise in Europe for four new boats introduced: the 350, 400, 500 and 500S. Success breeds success – in the boating world just like anywhere else. The company has designed for two versions on a 58' 10" (17.92 m) LOA hull: The 550 express and 550 Flybridge motoryachts. All four of the new 2011 models were innovative in one sense or another, and we think the new intros are equally interesting.
Engines mounted forward.
Instead of putting the Cummins diesels directly in front of the pods, they are moved farther forward to more evenly distribute the weight around the boat's longitudinal center of gravity. This keeps the 550 from having excessive bow rise and allows for the ride at a more sedate 5-degree bow high attitude. The Zeus pods are located well aft, under the crew quarters berth, and a jackshaft connects the engines to the pods.•
Because her pod drives are in tunnels and she is of a moderate displacement her draft is only 3’ 8’’ (1.17 m), which is shoal for this size boat.•
Two control stations standard.
Typically we see a standard flybridge helm station and an optional control station below. Many builders will use this plan to create a roomier salon. Prestige feels, and we agree in this case, that the salon is roomy enough and chooses to put in a lower helm station as standard. In addition, an optional third station in the cockpit is available.•
Versatile VIP sleeping.
Virtually every boat on the market in this class has a queen bed in the forward cabin. This is fine for a couple, but what if you are have two gents or ladies, or teenage children to accommodate? Prestige has thought of that and had built its queen bed so that it can be split into twins with each berth being moved to the hill sides. We think this is a super design.•
Private entrance to a huge master.
Most yachts in class have one access to all accommodations. One problem with this design is that much valuable space is wasted on a long passageway. By creating a separate staircase to the master stateroom Prestige provides not only more privacy, but also more usable space for a walk-in closet and larger head.•
At just a little over one million dollars this is a lot of yacht for the money. Just look around and you’ll see what I mean.
Three stateroom layout.
The VIP guest stateroom is located forward. The port side guest stateroom has twin berths that can easily be converted to a queen. •
Cockpit access to the flybridge.
This is the only access to the flybridge, which eliminates a salon staircase that only takes up space, in our opinion.
Performance and Handling
With a pair of 600-hp Cummins QSC8.3 diesel engines powering our test boat we reached a top speed at 3080 rpm up 30.2 kts. At that speed we had a fuel burn of 62.85 gph for a range of 251 nautical miles. Best cruise came in at 2500 rpm and 22.4 kts. Now the fuel consumption to dropped to the 41.2 gph giving us a range of 284 nautical miles. We reached planing speed in 8.5 seconds and accelerated to 30 mph in 21.7 seconds.
When accelerating, the bow comes up roughly 8-degrees which means the horizon remains in clear view from the lower helm. Once on plane she'll settle into a 5-degree bow high attitude. Because of the maneuvering characteristics of pods, you won't find any break-neck turns on the 550. The throw of the pods is limited at speed so you will only get a 5-degree bank angle which allows for very slow turns. In fact, it took 70 seconds for the 550 to come around a full 360-degrees. Of course this is perfectly adequate for the short maneuvers, such as dodging the occasional trap buoy that seems to pop up all over the world. When you take power off, the 550 will settle back into the water and a level attitude, again producing no loss of visibility to the horizon.
While on the subject of visibility, the 550 Flybridge has outstanding sightlines. From the lower helm you'll find yourself looking through the bow rails, but the bow itself remains well below the horizon line. Naturally, from the flybridge you have a nearly unobstructed 360-degree view. More importantly, you have a clear view of the port quarter through the companionway hatch.
One interesting feature to note is that the upper and lower helms are on opposing sides so you can choose which helm to operate from based on which side of the boat you will be tying up to. Of course for backing into a slip or med-mooring you can't beat the optional cockpit control station.The 550 Fly had a very solid feel to her. While we were saddled with a relatively calm day I was able to pass through some sizable wakes which showed that she throws spray well off to the sides and down low producing a very dry ride. Her hard chines give her excellent stability and she shoulders beam seas off quite nicely with little effect to be felt from the flybridge helm.
In my opinion, the combination of Cummins diesels and Zeus pods is outstanding, and nowhere can this be felt to its maximum benefit than when maneuvering in close quarters. I easily brought the 550 in between two other yachts in the very close confines of a med-moor while controlling from the cockpit station. Even while standing in close proximity to the engines and pods, there was no "clunking" into gear and the operation was silky smooth. So smooth in fact, that the only indication that things were working normally was the gentle response that the 550 Flybridge had to my slight movement of the joystick. More to the point, when you make a control movement on the joystick the 550 follows precisely as opposed to you making a control input, seeing where the boat goes, and then correcting that movement to what you want it to be.
The 550 Flybridge motoryacht is set up to sleep six guests in three cabins, plus a crew cabin aft that we predict will serve as added guest accommodations in this boat that can and should be an owner/operator vessel. With pods making handling easier, yachts this size are should be owner-operated in most cases. No crew means the aft cabin will surely be taken over by one of the owner's kids who want to sleep as far from the adults as possible (and wash down the boat at night.)
In keeping with Prestige's practice of building master stateroom's as comfortable as possible given the length of hull available, the midships cabin on the 550 has a large centerline bed, a small booth-type seating for two to port and a walk-in closet. Of course, there is a large en suite head with separate shower stall. We especially like the private access via a curved companionway leading from the salon. The forward two cabins share a head.
The main deck houses the galley and dining areas, making preparing and serving food less of a trial for the cook. The tri-doors open onto a large aft deck almost completely covered by the flying bridge overhang – maybe not good for the sun tanning crowd, but overall more functional in a variety of weather. And -- it can be buttoned up with isinglass to prove for three-season living.
There is a sunpad forward, big enough for several to bake together. And, of course, there is the flying bridge.
The 15'6" (475 cm) wide stern platform will be hydraulically adjustable as an option, making it fine for carrying a tender.
On the Flying Bridge
Access to the flying bridge is a stairway from the forward port corner of the aft deck. The bridge is mostly seating and sunning space, with its after section taken by a shallow U-lounge, a big sunpad adjacent to the helm and room for chairs and a table.
There are several important things that we like about this new motoryacht. First is her size. She is not so large that she needs professional crew, but on the other hand she is big enough to take most anywhere and be able to handle snotty conditions without much fuss or concern. Secondly, her design is not the flavor of the month. It is not "Euro," nor "American," nor "Downeast," nor "Expedition" nor whatever. Rather, the 550 is a modern design based on classic lines that will stand the test of time and be as much in style 40 years from now as today; sort of like a pin-striped business suit or a herringbone sport jacket -- they are always in style anywhere in the world.She is a big motoryacht and people looking at larger yachts should ask themselved is they really need that much room. Conversely, people looking at smaller express cruisers should ask themselves if they might not be happier in the long run by spending a little more money now and get a boat that will probably last a lifetime.While the 550 Flybridge has a top speed of 30 knots we would probably cruise her at 2250 rpm, going almost 18 knots and burning 33 gal. (126 L) per hour. That is about as efficient as a boat this size can be operated. Drop her down to displacement speeds and she has a range of 1,000 nautical miles.We've been aboard several Prestige yachts over the past year and have been impressed with each one.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Prestige Yachts 550 Flybridge (2014-) is 34.7 mph (55.8 kph), burning 62.85 gallons per hour (gph) or 237.89 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Prestige Yachts 550 Flybridge (2014-) is 25.8 mph (41.5 kph), and the boat gets 0.63 miles per gallon (mpg) or 0.27 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 327 miles (526.26 kilometers).
- Tested power is 2 x 600-hp Cummins QSC 8.3.
Standard and Optional Features
Boats More Than 30 Feet
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!