Back in the 1980s and early ‘90s Princess Yachts tried to enter the U.S. market but did not have much success. The respected U.K. (Plymouth, England) production motoryacht builder was well-known in Europe but still the Princess brand could get very little acceptance in the North American market. Then something very unusual happened.
Princess Yachts America
In 1995 a division of the leading American convertible builder, Viking Yachts, became sole distributor of Princess Yachts for North America, Central America, the Caribbean and Venezuela. This arrangement is unique in as much as no other major American builder is also a distributor for another brand, much less one from Europe. Today, that distributorship is known as Princess Yachts America. For the last 18 years this unusual relationship between two of the world’s best boat builders on different sides of the Atlantic has been a remarkably successful one. The result has been a win-win-win for the builder, distributor and their customers in the Western Hemisphere.
East is East, And West is…
For those who haven't noticed
, European-built production motoryachts are different from those traditionally built in North America in several important ways: 1) They tend to have less beam 2) Accommodations are often tighter 3) They generally go faster 4) They are certainly more glamorous-looking 5) They usually have smaller engine rooms 6) They are rarely fitted-out well for serious cruising 7) Their interior décor is inspired by the haute couture of Milano 8) Generally, if they have A/C, it is not geared for brutal tropical climates 9) Their notion of warranties and customer service are often quite different 10) And, of course, their external lines are generally what we would call ItalianThese are generalities, of course, but these factors were once the major barriers to European builders being able to penetrate the American motoryacht market in the last century. But in the 1990s, several companies began to change that paradigm and one of them was the group that we now call Princess Yachts America.
Since the folks at Viking Yachts knew American tastes and yachtsmen as well as anyone in the country, they communicated those differences to Princess. Together, they collaborated on the changes and modifications that would be made to the Princess yachts sent to the Western Hemisphere both to appeal more to consumers here, but also to make the boats more serviceable in the way Americans typically used their motoryachts.
Princess V52 – American Style
60 Hz and ABYC.
Many things were tackled by the British and their American counterparts in order to make a successful boat for the Americas. But perhaps the most basic was the electrical system. It was redesigned from the ground up to handle 120/240V 60 Hz, and the tremendous loads required in tropical locations for robust A/C systems that had to be effective in warm water. Further, even though Princess was (and is) a premier European builder when it comes to strong, durable, seaworthy large fiberglass motoryachts, all vessels had to meet the American ABYC Standards which were different than CE requirements.
And, while no one has mentioned it, our guess is that the boats being imported also had to meet Viking Yacht's own set of standards. After all, it had built thousands of yachts over the years for this market and knew what worked for the long haul. Naturally, it would want to make sure the boats that its affiliate sold were as good as they could be based on its own experience.
There Were Other Changes, Too.
For example, Americans are used to tying up to docks -- and hitting docks -- broadside, whereas in Europe mooring is usually done stern-to or bow-to. As a result the rub rails and supporting structure of the boats coming west had to be substantially beefed-up. Often, accommodations had to be made more spacious or some items of gear had to be up-graded. For example, refrigeration and A/C had to be robust. In many cases American appliances were shipped to Plymouth, England and installed. And, bidets were omitted from vessels going to the U.S., unless they were specially requested. The result of all of this and much more is that Princess Yachts became remarkably successful in the Western Hemisphere thanks to Princess Yachts America.
Princess V52 Test
The Princess V52 has a LOA of 53’2" (16.2 m), a beam of 14'7" (4.45 m), and a draft of 3'9" (1.14 m). With an empty weight of 48,995 lbs. (22,224 kg), 80% fuel and three people onboard we had an estimated test weight of 52,134 lbs. (23,648 kg). With a pair of 715-hp CAT C12 engines driving through ZF V-drives turning 27 x 37 four-bladed props we reached a top speed of 34.8 kts. at 2340 rpm. At that speed we were burning 61.3 gph, giving us a range of 225 nautical miles.
came in at 2000 rpm and 29.4 kts. That speed reduced the fuel burn to 44.6 GPH which the V52 could keep up for 10 hours and 39 minutes and 314 nautical miles while still holding back a 10% reserve of fuel.
The V52 has a bow rise of roughly 13-degrees upon hitting the throttle. This brings the bow up to just below the level of the horizon. The turbos take approximately 7 seconds to kick in and then the speed really starts to pick up.
Once on plane she takes on an approximately 3-degree bow-high cruise attitude. There are trim tabs but I didn't feel the need to use them. However, they are a good thing to have to level out the boat with a strong beam wind or with an uneven distribution of weight once the boat is fully loaded with friends and family.
She leans 9-degrees
into the turn which keeps everyone comfortable. She'll come around a full 360-degrees in approximately 4 boat lengths, but of course slowing down will shorten that considerably. With her electric-assist steering she responds exceedingly well to the helm.
As mentioned above, the V52 we tested has twin V-drives. Twin-screw boats have been relatively easy to dock (once the operator got a little experience) since they were first introduced roughly 100 years ago. But since the advent of pod drives and joysticks eight years ago, many consumers don't want to use anything else, thinking it will make docking and maneuvering in tight places easier.
"It ain't necessarily so,"
as the old song title goes. Princess Yachts America has installed variable-speed bow and stern thrusters on the V52 and we like them more than a joystick. Why? Several reasons: 1) Don't assume the boat will always go where you point the joystick. Our experience is that if they are not properly calibrated to the individual boat, the joystick may not produce the result wanted. 2) Joystick software is something else to go wrong. 3) Both joysticks and pod drives add a lot of upfront extra cost to the boat. We found the Princess V52 quite easy to maneuver and dock with the bow and stern thrusters and, in fact, we prefer them to a joystick both for docking and for weaving through a tight marina to an inside slip.
Interior Features Inspection
The V52 combines the open and airy feeling of an express cruiser with the security and comfort in adverse weather of an enclosed sport yacht. To accomplish this, Princess has built a massive, three-panel opening sliding glass door to separate the salon from the aft cockpit.
was given full consideration for both the passengers and the starboard mounted helm station as there are massive windows surrounding the entire pilothouse and salon. The side windows start low and go high and are not obstructed by horizontal mullions or an intersecting design element. This treatment also has the added benefit of allowing the seated guests to have a clear sightline to the horizon -- an attribute that has proven its value for reducing discomfort for more "land-based" guests.
While the sheer volume of glass allows plenty of natural light into the deck, Princess Yachts also added three skylights in the sunroof. So, even when it is closed, natural light floods in from the forward overhead during the day. The builder went with halogen lighting in the overhead. We'd rather see LED lighting as it puts lower demands on the electrical system, is more durable, and is considerably cooler.
The V52 is essentially set up for day boating and entertaining on the main deck. The dinette is large and comfortably seats four adults. Add two folding chairs inboard and the table easily seats six for dinner. Because the center of the deck is open and there is no galley here, there is plenty of room for the folding chairs. Across from the dinette is the credenza which houses the yacht's china (standard place settings for six), stemware, glasses, and stereo system. Behind is a flatscreen TV that automatically raises and lowers at the touch of a button.
This space was made for entertaining. The aft deck has an-eye pleasing, rich yachty look because of its standard teak decking. Its L-shaped seating is one of the largest we have seen on any boat in class. The upholstery is Movida Metallic with a PVC coating for extra durability outside. For al fresco dining the teak table with fold-out leafs comfortably seats six with the addition of two folding chairs placed inboard.
The table’s end leafs can be folded up to make access behind it easier during a cocktail party. The fiberglass console to starboard has a Kokoura Avonite top and therefore is ideal as a sideboard for drinks, a wine bucket and trays of finger food – and the owner does not have to worry about stains on the standard teak top. Under the counter is an electric grill and sink. Immediately to the left is the lid to the top-loading refrigerator. While top-loading refrigerators are unusual in U.S.-built boats, they are actually much better adapted to life aboard because its contents won't slide out and roll across the deck when the boat rolls. Further, there is no need to worry about a safety latch.
Naturally the table can be lowered to form a large sunpad with a filler cushion stored under the seat. In addition there are two large sun pads that live permanently on the bow.
Versatile Swim Platform
Princess Yachts America outfits a hydraulically-actuated platform as standard equipment aboard the V52. The reason is that because this boat is for cruising she absolutely must have a tender and this is the only place to put it. By putting removable chocks on the platform the tender can be carried horizontally and be launched and retrieved with a minimum amount of effort.
This is a better system than something such as a Weaver device because it looks far better, and is less of a struggle when retrieving. Of course it costs a lot more, too. It is also better, in our opinion, than a tender garage that we often see in European-style boats of this size. In these boats, the garages are necessarily small and it is usually difficult getting the tenders launched and retrieved. They also can encumber whatever is below them, be it the engine room or a lazarette.
By having removable chocks for the tender cradle, the hydraulic stern platform can serve double and triple functions. Because the platform can be lowered, it is an ideal teak beach. Mom and the kids will love lowering it a few inches below the water so they can cool down while still sitting on the platform. We can’t think of a better place to teach kids and grand kids how to swim. Above water it becomes a good place to set up a couple of folding chaise lounges when at anchor and catch the sun.
When anchored out on a club rendezvous, the large platform becomes a dock for friends' tenders to be tied up. The 6’-plus fore-and-aft platform then becomes a hospitable reception area. For this reason we would put a couple of pop-up cleats on the stern quarters to be a handy place for dinghy painters.
With the tender cradles removed and stowed away the hydraulic stern platform is transformed into a “teak beach” for watersports activities or sun bathing.
Moving below, the lower decks are accessed through a center companionway and both the galley and dinette area directly across reap the benefits of natural light from the open overhead. The galley is to port and fully equipped for spending long periods away from the dock and cooking full meals, not just lunches or light snacks. There is a stand-up refrigerator/freezer, three-burner stovetop, and microwave/convection oven. There is an exhaust fan over the stove and an opening portlight over the sink. The solid surface counter top is Bronze Avonite which is a synthetic resin that is far more durable for yachting use than is granite which is heavy and brittle. Perhaps even more important, it can be repaired or replaced easily.
Dinette or Third Stateroom?
Directly across from the galley, our test boat was fitted with one of two optional layouts, this one being the dinette version. This option provides a third location for dining, in addition to the main salon and cockpit deck. If an owner desires, it can be swapped out for a third private stateroom with over/under bunks. Considering that there are already two other dining areas -- and this yacht, which is bound to generate a lot of friends -- the third stateroom might be the way to go. However, adding a bulkhead to this location would certainly take away the open and airy feel. The dinette can be converted in a pinch to a bunk, so this option must be carefully considered.
The Master Stateroom
Abaft the galley is the star of this show -- the full beam master stateroom. Large hullside windows, port and starboard, fill the stateroom with natural light. A portside sofa not only makes a comfortable place to sit while putting shoes on but also an inspirational place to relax with a view. The Walnut interior and beige carpet provide a quiet, subdued retreat from the hurly-burly above. And with the yacht’s 14'7" (4.45 m) beam, the U.K. king-size berth (60”/1.52 m) still leaves plenty of room to move about.
The forward VIP stateroom has the same décor elements of dark Walnut paneling and black leather accents that we have seen in the rest of the boat. The deck is carpeted. Most forward staterooms are pretty much identical, but Princess has done something that we rarely see. Its VIP berth arrangement can be either two single beds or they can be pushed together to form one island berth.
Why all builders don’t do this is a mystery to us because the concept provides so much added versatility to the yacht. When the beds are used as singles, and laid up against the hull sides they can be used in many guest situations. When cruising with a second couple, the beds can be easily moved together to form a queen-size bed. All that is needed is a separate set of linens. We prefer this stateroom in twin bed mode because it opens up the center of the cabin, providing deck space making it easier for guests to move around. We also think it makes the cabin look bigger.
Storage and Light.
Princess has not forgotten the need for storage and has placed two pull-out drawers under the foot of each bed. In addition there is a hanging locker with shoe cubby, and cabinets over the portlights port and starboard which make use of the bow flare. Light comes in from two hatches overhead that make an attractive skylight and from the opening oval portlights in the hull sides. All four can be opened for plenty of air.
Details on Deck
The Engine Room
The engine room is reached through a hatch in the aft deck and has crouching headroom. There is enough room between the engines to make fluid checks as well as to get from one end of the engine room to the other. All through hulls can be reached, but make no mistake about it, this engine room is tight and is crammed with equipment. This is a phenomenon that we are seeing increasingly as consumers emphasize living space over engine room size.
From a styling standpoint we think that the V52 can hold its own with virtually any boat in class anywhere in the world. Because she does not have faddish design affectations she is likely to stay in style for sometime to come, making her a better investment. As far as its boat building goes, in our opinion Princess has been at the very top of European production motoryacht building consistently for over the last 35 years. That is why its collaboration with Princess Yachts America has been so synergistic – both entities have the same mindset when it comes to build quality.
In 2008 Princess became a member of LVMH which owns 60 of the most prestigious brands in the world, including Louis Vuitton, Dom Perignon, Moet Hennessy, De Beers, Bvlgari, and Feadship. This membership has given the brand a financial security beyond reproach and one that can weather the vagaries of the world economy which in times of stress can bring most boat builders to their knees. The icing on the LVMH-buyout cake is that Princess is still run by the same people who ran it in the first place and who know what they are doing.
Princess Yachts America
takes advantage of the Viking Yachts infrastructure for its customers in the Western Hemisphere, as well as stocking $1.5 million in Princess spare parts. All owners are given a 24-hour emergency service phone number. In addition to its use of the Viking yards in New Gretna, New Jersey and Riviera Beach, Florida, the company has 65 affiliated service locations in it’s Princess territory. Clearly, it is the intention of Princes Yachts America to give its customers the kind of service that Viking Yachts owners are used to.
Major Features on Tested Boat
• Power-assisted steering system• Bow and stern thrusters, variable speed• 13.5 kW Cummins Onan generator• Air conditioning• Remote control electric anchor winch• Electro-hydraulic trim tabs• Remote control searchlight• Harmon Kardon 5.1 Blu-Ray system with KEF speakers• 3 LED flatscreen TVs• Cockpit wet bar including sink and top loading coolbox• Electric quietflush toilets• Salon LED TV/DVD/Radio/CD/MP3• Teak-laid transom platform/cockpit deck/stairs to side decks• Cockpit seating/dining area with sun pad conversion• Electrically operated sliding sunroof• Electro-hydraulic raise/lower transom platform• Transom door• Hot and cold transom shower• Complete linen package• Complete China dinnerwear and stemware for 6• Cockpit cover• Solar film fitted to underside of skylights• Central vacuum• Forward sun pad cushion cover
Electronics on Tested Boat
• Autopilot• VHF • Chartplotter/GPS• 4 kW open array radar• Data repeater• Speed and distance log• Echo sounder with alarm
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Princess V52 (2014-) is 40.0 mph (64.4 kph), burning 61.30 gallons per hour (gph) or 232.02 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Princess V52 (2014-) is 33.9 mph (54.6 kph), and the boat gets 0.76 miles per gallon (mpg) or 0.32 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 361 miles (580.97 kilometers).
- Tested power is 2 x 715-hp CAT C12.
Standard and Optional Features
Boats More Than 30 Feet
|Oil Change System||Optional|
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!