Princess S72 review: A sensational new British sportscruiser

If you want a sportbridge yacht that covers all bases, the Princess S72 could be the answer. Alex Smith takes it out for a sea trial

Modern boaters seem to love multi-purpose flexibility. That’s why so many expandable decks and convertible furniture solutions are permeating the market and flexibility is something that the Princess S72 offers in spades.

The love of flexibility is also why four-season adventure boats and voluminous power cats are gaining so much traction. And that’s why pretty much every major flybridge manufacturer seems so intent on offering its clientele a hybrid-style sportbridge alternative…

The sportbridge deck layout

The base principle behind any sportbridge motoryacht is to introduce a relatively compact flybridge further aft and deeper down – and the idea behind that is to help reduce the elevation and drop the weight, so the user can enjoy a great many of the benefits of a traditional flybridge but with looks and performance more akin to a sportsboat. Even on first acquaintance, it’s clear that the Princess S72 runs with that principle in a very big way.

Locating the wet bar at the aft end of the flybridge and the fridge to starboard frees up a lot of deck space

The fly deck is so low-slung that it has virtually no impact on the profile at all, and the furniture collaborates with that very effectively. The convertible dinette and sunbed on the foredeck, for instance, perch way down low, beneath the level of the peripheral side-deck mouldings.

It means that the Princess S72’s seating errs very much on the casual (rather than formal) side of things, but in addition to cleaning up the aesthetic, this approach also makes each zone feel significantly more spacious.

That’s particularly true on the flybridge, where the low-level seating is integrated around the periphery of the deck. While there is an option for a hard top (like that pictured), our test boat uses a bimini instead.

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It’s folded flat and flush, ahead of the low-profile wind deflector and it all helps this boat feel extraordinarily wide open, while looking about as sleek and raked as it’s possible for a flybridge-equipped boat to be.

It’s particularly interesting then that when you head down to the main deck saloon, the impact of that sunken sportbridge feels very minor indeed. You can see where the deckhead dips amidships, and in spite of the fact that the saloon is all on one level and step-free, a six-footer still gets at least a foot of space above their head.

It looks good too, not least because Princess has incorporated a set of winding, semi-linear LED strips into the ceiling that meander their way aft and continue out into the ceiling above the external cockpit seating.

Shifting the sunbeds forward and the seating aft works well on the tapering foredeck

It does a great job of providing a stylistic, as well as physical, link between the inside and outside zones, but before we investigate that further, it’s worth acknowledging another benefit of the sportbridge concept – a large sunroof above the lower helm for a main deck that feels far brighter and more open than that of a conventional flybridge motoryacht.

The saloon layout makes good use of that with three seating zones: a raised companion section opposite the helm; a central lounge area framed on both sides by plunging windows; and an aft L-shaped dinette, integrated into the port side opposite the aft galley.

In the standard fit-out, there’s a storage cabinet with a wine fridge and a lifting TV opposite the central lounge area but you can add a neat little armchair here too, built into the cabinetry for extra sociability without any major impact on storage space or functionality.

The S72’s wraparound aft galley integrates beautifully with the big aft cockpit

A better aft end

In contrast to the Y72, a relatively short saloon illustrates the fact that this boat is actually more about usable outdoor space than outright internal volume and the cockpit reflects that.

At the aft end of the saloon, the starboard galley projects out onto the external deck, thanks to a large bar with a hinge-up window and three-part sliding patio doors. A full-height fridge-freezer and ice-maker are well positioned to serve those in the aft cockpit and the seating is set up to take advantage of that.

In addition to a wraparound C-shaped dinette with fold-out table, there’s a neat little corner seat on the port side, nestling into the apex of the superstructure’s aft bulkhead for lovely protection from the elements.

You can also spec this as a service unit with storage and a fridge – and if you do so, it’s good to know that the dinette’s two inward-facing seats can be disconnected from the deck and relocated for a more natural face-to-face meal.

Thanks to plunging windows and a big sunroof, the saloon feels wonderfully bright

That said, the arrangement of the Princess S72 feels even more rewarding as you move toward the very back end. While the equivalent Y Class model uses a transverse crew cabin, the space here is split between a port tender garage and a fore-and-aft crew cabin on the starboard side.

There’s plenty of space in the garage for a 3.9m tender and the lid is also used for a clever cabinet that can be opened at chest height, enabling you to slide your Sea Bobs in and out with ease.

There’s also an elevated sunbed with raised headrests and peripheral rails on top of this big aft unit. That’s easily big enough for four or five people and although there’s no option to spec the twin ensuite crew cabin as anything else, it does a great job either for extra storage or as an overspill cabin, adding an extra couple of bunks to the berths provided by the four cabins further forward.

The way the engineroom is configured is also very user-friendly. The main section, which houses pretty much nothing but the engines, is cordoned off by a solid bulkhead from an engineering space further aft and to port.

More of the wraparound aft galley

That houses the generator, the Seakeeper and the batteries, and separating the two spaces off from one another like this has plenty of benefits. For a start, the smaller engine bay naturally helps limit reverberation, as illustrated by the fact that we register just 66.5Db of noise at the lower helm during a 20-knot cruise.

It also provides some useful extra separation between the noise of the generator and the lower deck accommodation. And while it certainly limits the space around the engines themselves, it also means that if you want to inspect your auxiliary equipment after a passage, you no longer have to do so in a hot engine bay.

Y Class accommodation

The Princess S72 adopts the same four-cabin arrangement as the Y72, with a forward VIP and a full-beam owner’s cabin, split by a pair of bathrooms and a pair of guest twins. But while the VIP’s starboard ensuite is relatively long, the port bathroom (and day heads) is orchestrated in a broadly transverse direction.

In spite of the saloon’s single-level deck, a six-footer still gets at least a foot of space above their head at the aft end

That enables the port cabin to shift a little further forward than the starboard one – and this cleverly staggered arrangement also helps free up some extra space further aft for that most welcome of features: a private owner’s staircase.

Accessed behind the main deck companion seating, the spiral stairs take you down to a transverse entry hall, with a full-height mirror and lots of storage built into the forward bulkhead. Stepping aft, the owner’s cabin itself occupies a completely regular space with no dip in ceiling height or fluctuation in deck level.

It’s bookended on either side by enormously deep hull windows and it’s backed up by a transverse bathroom that distances it from the engine bay. There’s also a big storage space back here, plus an integrated dressing table to starboard of the bed and a built-in settee to port.

The full-beam owner’s cabin is lavished with its own private staircase, generous headroom and masses of light

The VIP cabin is also a good size, with a raised central bed, high-level storage and plenty of hanging storage. In spite of the fact that there’s a big washer-dryer integrated into the central companionway’s starboard locker, the VIP’s starboard ensuite also does a good job with an uneven space, providing a good size of separate rain shower.

And in the smaller twin cabins, the management of space is equally thoughtful. Each drop in deckhead level is matched by a corresponding drop in the deck itself to help optimise ergonomics and ease of movement.

There is also plenty of storage, both in hanging lockers and in under-bed drawers and the satin walnut finish down here feels particularly attractive thanks to the use of contrasting fabric bulkhead panels.

The dinette’s side seats can be unscrewed and relocated elsewhere

Pace and poise

It’s a lively day in Plymouth, with robust southwesterlies stoking up some agitated four-footers so we nestle quietly into the shelter of Cawsand Bay to compile our performance figures.

Now according to the guys at Princess, the base MAN V12 1600s will see this boat to around 36 knots, but with the test boat’s uprated 1800s, we have no trouble at all pushing on toward the 39-knot mark. That’s a good haul for a 75ft boat that weighs more than 50 metric tonnes and our range is also pretty strong.

In fact, in addition to our standard 4,500 litre tanks, the test boat is fitted with the optional range-extending 900-litre bow tank so at cruising speeds, the test boat looks particularly long-legged.

Everything from 20 to 27 knots returns efficiency figures of 12 to 13 litres per mile for a range of 330 to 350 miles. But even without factoring in that optional tank, we’re still seeing a range of between 200 and 300 miles at everything from 20 to 37 knots.

There’s room aft for a tender garage, a Sea Bob locker and-a twin ensuite crew cabin

Once we pop out beyond the shelter of the headland, it’s also interesting to see how the Princess S72 handles itself. As you would expect of a boat with such significant forward volume, the ride is serviceably soft and dry rather than brilliantly so.

But while the wipers are busy clearing saltwater from the screen, it’s the refined and easy composure of the experience that really hits home. In spite of a thick frame for the skipper’s side door and a central stanchion in the two-piece screen, visibility is very good from the lower helm.

Sound readings are also every bit as cruise-friendly as the engine arrangement suggests they ought to be. And just as the handling of this low-slung cruiser feels crisp and obedient, so the windage is conspicuous by its absence, enabling you to helm this boat through complex sea states with very little to think about except your pace and direction.

A large transverse bathroom divides the owner’s cabin from the engineroom

Princess S72 verdict

The Princess S72 feels like a modern masterclass in conceptual common sense. While various other boats in the Princess fleet feel quite specific in their market and applications, this is a genuine crowd pleaser.

It marries the style and dynamism of a V Class sportscruiser with the space and practicality of an F Class flybridge, and it combines all of that with the kind of scale and luxury you might expect at the entry point to the celebrated Y Class.

There’s nothing radically new or different in that of course; nothing that leaves you especially surprised or taken aback. But from the cleverly arranged lower deck and the sleek S Class aesthetic to the brilliantly practical aft end, the wide-open external spaces, the bright, sociable saloon and the intelligently considered options, the line this boat treads is supremely well judged.

So whether you’re a committed Princess fan, a newcomer to the brand, a seasoned traditionalist or a youthful party boater, you can rest assured –, this is a Princess pretty much everyone can enjoy.

As a relatively large model, the S72 gets Böning’s integrated ship control system

Princess S72 specifications

LOA: 75ft 9in (23.09m)
Beam: 18ft 1in (5.52m)
Draft: 5ft 8in (1.72m)
Displacement: from 55,461 kg (light)
Fuel capacity: 4,500 + 900 litres
Water capacity: 836 litres
Engines: Twin MAN V12 1650-1800s on shafts

Princess S72 costs & options

Price: From $6,505,000 ex VAT.

Test boat includes the following options:
Twin MAN V12 1800s:
Extended range fuel tank: £POA
Electrically operated saloon sunroof: £POA
Seakeeper 18 gyro stabiliser: £POA
Variable speed bow and stern thrusters: £POA
Third helm to port of aft cockpit: £POA

Price as reviewed:

£5,102,782.00 ex VAT

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