PRINCESS 78 MOTOR YACHT REVIEW
Oh, how I'd love to own a true luxury motoryacht, one large enough to motor vast distances, even cross oceans, in self-sufficient style and comfort, where onboard space isn't an issue and family and friends can be entertained and accommodated in luxury before backdrop of beautiful, exotic, sun-drenched islands. But whether that dream becomes reality no longer matters, for I can always recall this totally satisfying test of the Princess 78 Motor Yacht.
An elegant 24m luxury private liner, the UK-built 78 features four staterooms (each with en suite), superb living and entertaining areas, and accommodation to die for. Of course, Princess is part of the LVMH Group, the world's largest luxury brand conglomerate that includes such aspirational marques as Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Moet et Hennessy, Fendi, and Tag Heuer. And she is right at home keeping such esteemed company and, well, me.
A strikingly beautiful boat, with an elegant profile, the Princess 78 MY looked the part in international Sydney Harbour as much as she would in Cannes, Nice, St Tropez, or any other playground of the rich and famous. But looks aren't everything, right, and, as we discovered, this boat offers a lot more than snappy nautical style.
The attention to detail, both from an engineering standpoint and in her luxury appointments, is what sets the Princess apart. Everything from heated towel rails in the bathrooms, the Jacuzzi on the flybridge, hydraulic stabilisers (that continue to operate at zero speed and can be run off the generator) to the hydraulic gear such as anchor winch, thrusters and even the foldaway flybridge bimini, are designed to make life as effortless as possible. Indeed, popping the cork from the vintage Moet requires a bigger effort than casting the lines and going places.
BIGGER THAN LOOKS
But it's not until you get up close that you realise the enormity of the Princess 78. Step through the triple stainless steel-framed glass doors adjoining the cockpit and you're greeted by a sumptuous saloon that takes full advantage of the boat's broad 5.76m beam.
A combination of two- and three-seater sofas, a stylish coffee table, plush carpet and rich timber wall paneling combine to set a tone of real opulence. There's plenty of room to sit and move about amid all the necessities of five-star living such as a built-in entertainment centre with popup TV, Bose surround sound, cocktail cabinet loaded with glassware and inbuilt fridge, and mood lighting.
From the saloon you can see all the way forward, right through the dining area with eight-seater table and chairs, past the helm (that's subtly divided from the living areas by a glass panel fitted with a blind so that the skipper can get on with business while the guests are being entertained) through to the large windscreen. The elongated elliptical side windows let in all the light you need and are fitted with blinds for privacy at the marina.
While I imagined myself as the boat's skipper, the $6.9 million price tag is more likely to command a skipper on the reins to take responsibility. Add a part-time crew/chef - this boat is well setup to accommodate them - and you're ready for some cloud-nine cruising with the feet up.
Well-known celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay honed his skills working onboard superyachts but I think that even he would be delighted with the setup of the 78's galley. It's superbly appointed with marble bench tops, ceramic four-burner hotplate, convection microwave, twin-bowl sink, full-height fridge-freezer, icemaker, dishwasher, range hood with extractor fan, even a trash compactor. Galley access is via a sliding cavity door from the dining area, with a separate door to the sidedeck. There's also an electrically-operated screen that, when activated, closes off the galley from view of the living areas so that meals can be prepared out of sight of guests.
Forward, on the starboard side, is the lower helm. The boat's high-standard continues here, too, with electrically adjustable twin leather helm and companion chairs, a stylish leather-bound steering wheel, and a well-laid-out dash trimmed with matching leather and woodgrain. It's a comfortable driving position with good vision through the expansive windscreen and large side windows, while twin 12in Furuno screens, extensive electronics, engine monitoring systems, controls, buttons and switches are all easy to see and access. There's also a convenient helm door to the starboard sidedeck.
Beside the helm is an E-PLEX state-of-the-art touchscreen electronic-monitoring system, providing a centralised user-interface enabling access to, and monitoring of, most onboard functions. Control of power, lighting, battery, fuel and water are all from a central screen. Farther to port you'll find more seating around a table that's perfect as a breakfast nook or for sightseeing underway.
On the accommodation deck you can't help but notice the attention to detail: leatherbound door handles, mosaic tiles in the bathrooms, mood lighting with dimmer switches… it's the sum of all these little things that make the Princess 78 MY the real deal as far as luxury motoryachts go.
The full-beam owners' stateroom is setup like a five-star hotel suite with a king-size bed, inbuilt bedside cabinets, dressing table, occasional table with plush lounge chairs, and four huge, vertical-opening portlights either side for abundant light and ventilation. The portlights are fitted with sensors that alert the skipper if they have been left open before getting underway. There's a walk-in wardrobe and even an inbuilt safe. What was I saying about attention to detail?
I'm just pleased my partner wasn't with me on the day of our test, as I'm sure she would have been lost to the roomy en suite-bathroom, with marble bench top, twin hand basins, full-size bath (!), toilet, plenty of mirrored surfaces and loads of light courtesy of the twin, vertical portlights.
There are also three additional guest suites, all with en suite bathrooms and all the same high standard. These can be configured as two doubles and one twin, or with a second twin cabin incorporating beds that slide together for added flexibility.
Additional accommodation for occasional guests or for fulltime crew is situated aft of the engineroom with separate access from the transom or the sidedeck. The aft accommodation includes its own full-size galley, bathroom and a services area for a washer-dryer. And off the companionway is the standing-height engineroom.
Housing the twin C32 CAT engines and two generators (27kW and 13.5kW), the engineroom is to superyacht standards. Dual fuel filters for each engine are housed on the forward bulkhead, while seawater intakes with glass tops, and the coolant bottles, are all easy to access. With air-conditioning units, fire suppressant system and a couple of battery chargers there's not an overabundance of room, but everything is fitted neatly.
I imagine the owner of the P78 would have no shortage of friends and relations, and might even discover a few he never knew he had. Entertaining isn't a problem, with just so much space it's more a case of deciding where to head on this boat.
The saloon opens up to a large cockpit covered by the overhanging flybridge and comes complete with inbuilt wetbar. On the transom, is a large lounge with foldout table. Steps either side of the lounge lead down to the hydraulic swimplatform.
Alternatively, venture forward along the wide and safe sidedecks with raised bulwarks to the foredeck, relax on the large sunpad and maybe catch up on that suntan. Better still, head upstairs via the wide, moulded staircase to the flybridge and discover a whole new world of hedonistic cruising.
The single-level flybridge incorporates an inbuilt Jacuzzi, a relaxed seating area that converts to a sunbed, and a second full-size wetbar with inbuilt electric barbecue. Had enough sunshine? No problem, press a button to raise the hydraulically operated bimini and party on!
Of course, the flybridge is home to the second helm station, with instrumentation duplicated from the lower helm and incorporated into a clever dash panel that hydraulically closes when not in use. There's also a comfortable helm chair with seating adjacent to the skipper for guests. Located back aft is an Opacmere 450kg davit and tender storage. Meanwhile, there's also a third (docking) station in the cockpit. Which brings us full circle after a Trade-a-boat test to remember.
FACTS & FIGURES PRINCESS 78 MOTOR YACHT
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
At 24.10m overall (79ft1in in the old money), the Princess 78 MY was a lot easier to handle underway than I had expected. I was especially impressed with her performance when winding the big, twin C32 CAT engines up to WOT of 2350rpm for a sizzling 38kts. That's stunning performance for a boat that weighs in at 59 tonnes dry! At that speed we were burning fuel at the rate of… oh, what does it matter, if you need to know that you can't afford this boat anyway!
Normal cruise would be around 1800rpm and at that rate expect around 22kts. If you weren't in any particular hurry, 1030rpm will give 11.5kts and use 50lt/h per side and with the stabilisers in operation. They sure made for a very pleasant ride in conditions that would otherwise have spilt the vintage Moet. More power to the LVMH Group!
PRICE AS TESTED
Hydraulic sternthruster, bath, crew galley area, extra interior mirrors and dining chairs, hydraulic bimini with illumination,
passerelle, flybridge spa, cockpit chairs and wetbar, cockpit table, underwater transom lights, engine and thruster controls in cockpit, washer-dryer combo, calcium batteries, central vacuum system, satellite TV, dummy dome, premium audio/DVD/TV system, second 13.5kW Onan generator, Furuno 3D-DRS6A radar-chartplotter, twin 12.1in multifunctional screens for upper helm, VHF radio, and more
MATERIAL: Handlaid GRP
TYPE: Deep-vee monohull w/ prop tunnels
LENGTH OVERALL: 24.1m
WEIGHT: 59 tonnes
BERTHS: 8 + 2 crew
MAKE/MODEL: 2 x Caterpillar C32 ACERT
TYPE: Electronic V12 turbo-diesel
RATED HP: 1723 (each)
WEIGHT: 3152kg (dry)
Suite 3, The Boardwalk,
1 Rialto Quay Drive,
Hope Island, Qld, 4212
Phone: (07) 5514 1900
While $6.9 million is a lot of money in anyone's language, there are customers around who demand and are prepared to pay for the expected level of quality. As the saying goes, "you get what you pay for". With the Princess 78 MY what you get is uncompromised luxury and refinement that's evident everywhere you look and, just as importantly, in places you can't see. A true private luxury liner.