Over the years, Princess has carved out a very distinct reputation for itself. With its V Class sports yachts, its established trio of flybridge-equipped motoryacht lines and its range-topping M Class superyachts, it has become known for highly bespoke luxury, for the quality of its construction and for a proprietorial approach, which continues to see almost everything designed, developed and built in-house.
It’s a formula that has worked well. Based in Plymouth at the traditional maritime hub of England’s southwest, the company we see today employs more than 2,400 people across seven manufacturing plants, producing more than 300 boats a year. But for an established boat builder enjoying consistent success, its most recent launches seem like quite radical tangents. In 2018, we saw the launch of the R35, with its full carbon fibre construction and its world-first Active Foil System (AFS); and with the emergence of the new X95, we are now seeing that same freethinking ingenuity applied to the higher end of the Princess fleet.
With both main and fly decks that extend virtually the entire length of the yacht, allied to an enclosed, climate-controlled Sky Lounge and flexible open-plan layouts, the X95 appears to fuse the space and luxury of a superyacht with the range and purpose of a compact explorer vessel. In fact, with a relatively high superstructure and vast glass panels, tempered by the use of long, elegant horizontal lines, her volume-optimised design brings with it a striking external aesthetic that almost feels like the pioneer for a fresh form of motoryacht. To find out what really makes the new X95 special, we talked to Alan Knight, UK Sales Manager at Princess Motor Yacht Sales.
What’s different about the X Class?
The X95 is a unique design for us – one that has allowed us to take fresh steps toward the next generation of Princess. It’s much more open plan; there’s far more volume and space, but we’re still keeping it under the crucial 24-metre load line length, so it can still be an owner-crewed and driven boat and that’s quite an important thing. In addition to the sheer volume of space, the X95’s design means it’s pretty much the last size of boat you can graduate to while still keeping running costs at what you might call the pleasure boating level.
So is her chief strength the sheer volume?
It’s certainly one of them. Generally, if you go back five to ten years, then to get the same volume, you’d need a far larger boat – one that might take you into an ownership bracket you’d rather not inhabit. And that’s the beauty of the X95. When we get people on board, they’re just blown away by the amount of space on offer and that sensation isn’t confined to the main deck. With the X95, it feels just as spacious, whichever level you choose to inhabit.
Tell us the thinking behind that enormous fly deck.
On the very top deck you have a raised wheelhouse area that can be opened up or closed off as you wish. So if you have a captain and crew on board and you want a separate sofa area for guests, that’s easily achieved – and further aft, that flexibility gets even better. The flybridge aft deck area is basically a large flat space and, while we have various designs that can be utilised here, it’s almost a blank canvas that the customer can use to refine his favoured layouts, furniture choices and applications. As long as the client doesn’t request anything so heavy that it threatens to disrupt the boat’s balance, the X95 brings with it supreme flexibility, enabling you to make it almost as bespoke as you want.
Does Princess assist the customer in that tailoring process?
Absolutely. With any of our boats at this sort of size, you spend a lot of time with our interior and exterior designers and our tech teams to ensure that, if there are particular things you want to achieve with a space, it can be made to happen. As long as it doesn’t involve the structure or the stability of the boat, almost every customer request can be dovetailed with the base design to create exactly the boat the client wants. Of course, any boat of this size brings the owner the luxury of choice but the X95 enables us to deliver that to an extraordinary degree.
Is there anything special about the construction of the yacht?
We’ve been working a great deal with Pininfarina. They were involved with the R35 and they’ve also been involved with our recent flybridge designs, so their DNA can be seen in some of the style lines you see here. We’ve also been working for a long time now with resin infusion, which allows us to go lower into the boat and further out toward the sides, enabling us to utilise the space in a much more efficient way. And it’s worth noting that Princess is also very committed to interior style. We’ve got our own in-house styling team, which constantly monitors what’s going on in the world, whether it be private jets, supercars or high-end apartments in London. They monitor all of these markets and absorb anything that can be usefully fed into boat design. This means that, when the owner gets out of his private jet and steps on board his yacht, certain features, certain styles, certain designs that he is familiar with can be carried over and implemented there too.
So who is the customer for the new Princess X95?
On this size and flexibility of boat, it could easily be quite varied. It could be for charter use. It could also be for owners who have reached a certain point in their lives when they have more in the way of diary time – people who have a few months rather than a few weeks of the year to go exploring. After all, this is a boat that gives you more running time; more freedom to move around on board; and, with its long-distance range and the internal flexibility of its spaces, it’s a yacht that can take you in comfort to almost any cruising region in the world.