The line to get aboard the new S78 snaked around the palatial Princess booth during the first few days of the Düsseldorf boat show. Not one my friends would call especially patient, I did my best to skirt the crowd with some creative elbowing. But try as I might, I couldn’t fight my way aboard during show hours, so I had to sneak on after the show had officially closed for the day, and yet I still found potential customers milling about in the salon. It was that popular.
One of the attractions aboard the striking new model was the first thing I noticed: an optional, removable carbon fiber shower planted on the swim platform. It captured attention, in part, because it’s different—but more importantly because it’s practical. There’s nothing as refreshing as a hot shower after a cool swim, but you can only get so clean while holding a hose in one hand and a palm full of shampoo in another. I watched countless couples stop at the simple shower and give it a why-didn’t-I-think-of-that nod of approval. Look for other builders to steal this feature in the near future.
Walking from the swim platform up a center staircase, it was immediately clear why this model attracted so much attention: It’s a seriously unique boat from Princess with an obvious emphasis on entertaining spaces.
As I was inspecting the single-level layout, I was joined by Princess Yachts America VP and Marketing Director James Nobel. He was excited for Hull No. 1 for the U.S. to arrive on our shores later this summer (it will be making its official U.S. debut at Ft. Lauderdale), as he thinks the unique, casual feel of the boat will appeal to the American market.
“We have dual sunbeds aft, and instead of fixed furniture we decided to do something a little more modular. There are pin points in the deck where you can secure the furniture in various positions,” said Nobel as he slid a seating section from the starboard side of the cockpit amidships. “There’s a Teflon pad on the bottom of the furniture so it can easily slide on the deck without damaging it.”
I knew Princess prides itself on its furniture-making abilities, but these seats were so lightweight I thought they might have been outsourced. Nobel was proud to point out that they were in fact built by in-house craftsmen.
“We build 80 percent of what’s on the boat in-house,” Nobel said. “That includes furniture, tooling, fiberglass components, metal work, and that really allows us to custom design each individual piece on the boat, right down to the logo on the cleats.”
The casual feeling extends into the cockpit and past the salon doors that disappear when pulled open. In the salon, the floor-to-ceiling windows are impressive. Even in a convention hall on a cold German night, the space was plenty bright. I’ve been watching the (literally) growing trend toward larger windows over the last couple years, and it’s clear to me it’s continuing.
“In the last six to eight years we’ve gone to full resin infusion, even on the largest components like the superstructure, the deck and the hull,” added Nobel. The process gives the boat the perfect combination of durability and weight reduction. “Where we would have had to have really strong structural members for the vertical supports in the boat, we can now reduce that profile without sacrificing strength. That allows us to have bigger windows and near-unobstructed visibility.”
The S78 sports a smart layout with three guest cabins forward and an amidships master with private entrance. They’re comfortable-looking spaces, but it’s the outdoor areas that really shine.
The flybridge is so large you feel as if you’re aboard one of the brand’s motoryachts, not a model from its sporty S-class. A quick count shows that the space can easily accommodate a dozen or so guests. Even with a bridge of this size, the S78 still has a retractable sunroof over the lower helm.
The flybridge also features moveable furniture that lends it a casual vibe. But I should be clear—in the case of the S78, casual doesn’t mean flimsy. U.K. builders are used to battling the elements and they know the furniture needs to be completely weather-resistant. In fact, a couple days prior to the opening of the show, the boat sat out in the rain, yet it remained show ready.
Power for the new Princess will be twin 1,900-hp MAN V12s, which should lend the queen of the fleet a top end of 39 knots.
It really is no surprise that European boaters flocked to the S78 at Düsseldorf. It’s easy to appreciate the smart social spaces and proven level of construction and finish that the Plymouth builder is known for. If you’re at the Lauderdale show, I suggest checking her out. Just follow the line.