On Test

Princess F55 Review (2022 Edition)

The 17m, three-cabin Princess F55 is a classy cruiser that ticks a lot of boxes for an owner operator

Princess has ranges that cover five distinct genres from traditional V Class sportscruisers to the pseudo explorer yachts of the X Class range, but this F55 is a staple of the modern Princess line-up and a timely reminder of what this British yard is all about. With three good cabins, well-arranged deck spaces and twin shaft drive propulsion it's a tempting proposition for an owner-operator who values space on board but doesn't necessarily want to rely on crew when they go cruising. 

Princess's partnership with Olesinksi Design and Pininfarina seems to produce consistently appealing designs and the F55 is no different. Its lines are well-proportioned and perfectly judged, as is the spacious three-cabin interior. The F55 might be the most competent all-rounder in a highly competitive market, keep reading to see what it's like on board and out on the water. 

Princess F55 Key Facts

Princess F55 illustration
  • LOA 17.68m
  • Model Year 2022
  • Cabins 3
  • Crew 1
  • Max Speed 29 knots
  • Status In Production
  • Generations 2
  • Yacht Type Flybridge
  • Use Type Cruising

Test & Review Video

Performance & Handling

5

The F55 is available with two versions of the Volvo Penta D13 shaft drive block, with either 800hp or 900hp. For the small increase in price, the 900s are worth the outlay. Being the same block as the 800s they take up no more space in the engine room than their less powerful counterparts and that extra 200hp in total will be felt mid-season when there's some growth on the hull and a full complement of cruising kit on board. 

Princess quotes a 31-33 knot top speed and, depending on load, that is perfectly achievable. The 12.8-litre in-line 6s have plenty of punch and make easy work of shifting the F55's 31-tonne (at half load) weight on to the plane, where it will happily sit at 25 knots with noise readings in the saloon of just 73 dB(A).

Around the Marina

The F55 is only offered with shaft drives but if the joystick manoeuvrability of IPS holds great appeal don't worry, because Princess has an answer for that. As a cost option, there is a Volvo Penta joystick, which combines the twin shafts and Sleipner bow and stern thrusters to offer pod-style joystick control on a twin-shaft drive boat. The joystick isn't quite as smooth and responsive as an IPS installation but it's not far off and if the idea of using throttles and thrusters independently is a bit intimidating this is a great option to have.

Personally, I don't think a joystick is a must-have option because you have such great control with the throttles and brilliant proportional thrusters, but I would probably opt for the stern thruster for fine adjustments if you're going to berth stern-to, as is the norm in the Med.  

The absence of a door at the lower helm means that crewing isn't as easy as it is on, say, the Absolute 56 Fly or Sealine F530 but there are electric windows on both sides of the salon to aid communication with crew and natural ventilation on the main deck. 

Most skippers will probably opt to berth the boat from the upper helm, where you can see both ends of the boat very clearly when coming alongside. 

Princess F55 exterior
An optional joystick is a boon for slow speed work © Princess
Princess F55 flybrisge
The helm aligns with the deck hatch so the skipper can see the bathing platform when berthing © Princess

At Sea

The day of our sea trial in Princess's home port of Plymouth brought with it stiff south westerlies and challenging sea conditions but the F55 took all of this in its stride. The twin 900hp engines have more than enough grunt to haul the boat out of deeper troughs without it getting bogged down and the hull irons out the worst of the bumps with ease. 

The handling is far more playful than you might expect of a boat of this style, the benefit being that amongst larger crests it is very easy - rewarding, in fact - to hand steer the boat through the worst of it. The steering is light but not artificially so and with just 2.5 turns from lock to lock, the boat reacts keenly to inputs from the helm station(s), banking eagerly and turning on itself within a couple of boat lengths.

It's quiet, too, with sound levels at the lower help barely registering above 70dB(A) at cruising speed, making this a very relaxing position to cover hard yards from. 

The driving position is good at both helms and with slide adjustment on the seats and adjustable steering wheels it should be easy for skippers of all shapes and sizes to get comfortable. At the lower helm, there is enough headroom to stand and drive, even for those over 6ft, and the lift bolster on each seat provides a comfortable spot to lean on. Both around the marina and at sea, the F55 is polished and easy to handle. 

Princess F55 running
The F55's is a rewarding boat to drive at sea © Princess
Princess F55 running
The F55 should crack 30 knots in good conditions © Princess

Our Test Speed & Range Data

0
Kn
0
Kn
0
Kn
  • 100nm
    100nm
    200nm
    200nm
    300nm
    300nm
    400nm
    400nm
    500nm
    500nm
    600nm
    600nm
    700nm
    700nm
  • 637 nm @ 9.5 knots
    eco
  • 251 nm @ 26.6 knots
    cruise
  • 241 nm @ 29.4 knots
    max

Princess F55 version 2022. *Data collected by Yacht Buyer during testing.
View Full Test Results

Design & Build

4
Princess F55 details
The attention to detail is outstanding throughout © Princess
Princess F55 profile
Clean, swooping lines give the F55 lovely proportions © Princess

The Princess/Olesinksi partnership is almost as old as time itself and the two brands appear to be able to knock out cohesive, ageless designs with staggering consistency. Adding the Turin-based design house Pininfarina into that mix has done nothing to upset that synergy and has bestowed the modern Princess with a swooping curvy architecture that is restrained and beautifully clean. 

Does the F55 lack a bit of visual punch? There's an argument that it does, certainly in contrast to the rakish Azimut 53 and more bombastic designs from the likes of Absolute and Galeon. 

Fit and finish are as high as we have come to expect from Princess and attention to detail are impressive. The quality and sculptural finish of the mooring gear alone sets the tone on a boat where it's clear that designers and engineers have gone the extra mile to provide aesthetic functionality. It's not just the stuff you can see, either. Digging behind the scenes is easy because access panels are hinged and open on simple pop catches, so getting behind the helm, for example, couldn't be simpler. 

It's the same story in the engine room where the motors are mounted with plenty of space around all sides, there is lashings of sound-deadening material and plumbing and wiring are neatly labelled with functions and flow directions. It's an easy boat to drive but, for an owner-operator, it's also a very easy boat to live with. 

Interior Accommodation

5
Princess F55 Saloon
There are four different wood choices for the interior, two walnut and two oak © Princess
Princess F55 galley
A top hinged window opens up the galley to the cockpit © Princess
Princess F55 master cabin
The full beam master ensuite amidships © Princess

The curvature that characterises the F55's exterior continues inside where the neatly rounded edges are not only good on the eye but much more friendly to knock into at sea, compared to a sharp corner. There is a variety of wood and upholstery choices but the mix of oak wood and blue upholstery on our test boat (not pictured) struck a somewhat austere tone without the personal touches of an owner.

The quality can't be faulted, though, from the execution of the woodwork to the delightfully subtle use of recessed lighting and the dedicated storage for everything from cutlery to crockery and glassware.

The galley's position aft works especially well with the top-hinged window to port, which opens the kitchen to the cockpit and creates a bar between the two areas. The galley itself features a domestic fridge-freezer and induction cooking plus a decent dishwasher, replacing the slightly hopeless drawer-style machine that was fitted to the Mk1 F55. 

Another change from the previous generation boat is that there is no longer the spear of GRP running into the saloon windows, which makes for even better views out of the vast glazed area. The bulwarks neatly drop with the window line so even when sitting in the main saloon area the views out are superb. The levels of natural light drawn into the main deck are superb, too. 

Our test boat had a stylish coffee table at the dinette but there is the option to have a proper table on a hi-lo mechanism for those who want the option to dine inside the boat. 

Cabins

The boat has a three-cabin layout with the option to add a (rather good) crew cabin in the transom as an option. The layout comprises three cabins and two bathrooms with the VIP and twin guest cabins sharing a bathroom, though the VIP has private access from inside the cabin. At this size, there is enough beam for the beds in the twin to be side by side, rather than bunks, and Princess has added to the functionality by adding (as an option) an electric mechanism so the two berths can slide together or apart in a matter of seconds to create a pair of twins or a decent double. 

The VIP ensuite is forward and has well over 6ft of headroom at the end of the bed and a good amount of floor space so it's easy to get changed.  There's a good variety of storage too with eye-level lockers all around, deep drawers built into the base of the bed and a large hanging locker on the starboard side. It would be good to see fiddled edges on the areas on either side of the bed, so loose items can't slide off when the boat is at sea. 

Heading amidships there is day head access to the VIP ensuite and, in the companionway leading to the master suite, a locker to house the washer and dryer, neatly placed between all three cabins.

The master cabin, as is the norm on boats in this sector, is full-beam with its own private ensuite on the port side. Princess has cleverly employed a pocket door here, which slides into the bulkhead, a neat space-saving trick that maximises the amount of room in an ensuite that isn't enormous but is nicely finished, though. 

The stateroom is spacious with plenty of headroom and a flat floor around the large double berth. Here, the hull windows are at their largest and the effect is wonderful. Princess has made the most of the view on the port side by installing a compact dinette where the owner could have a quiet coffee or do a bit of work in private. It's a great space and of more use than the ubiquitous chaise lounge.

Storage is impressive throughout as the starboard side of the cabin is almost exclusively dedicated to stowage solutions, be that deep drawers, a pop-out bureau or the double floor-to-ceiling wardrobe. In a trio of really good cabins, the master is the icing on the cake. 

A single crew cabin is an option but it's a well-designed space that could act as an ad hoc guest cabin if required. It's as nicely finished as the rest of the accommodation, has decent good light thanks to a strip of glazing in the transom and has 6ft of standing headroom. By putting the sink inside the cabin there is more space to move around in the ensuite wet room. If crew space is a priority, the Galeon 550 may be a better option as it has space for two crew.

Princess F55 guest cabin
The berths slide together/apart at the touch of a button in the third cabin © Princess
Princess F55 VIP cabin
The VIP ensuite, forward © Princess
Princess F55 profile
The single crew cabin is a cost option © Princess

Helm Station

4
Princess F55 upper helm
The curvaceous upper helm has good storage options © YachtBuyer
Princess F55 lower helm
An extra MFD is a cost option at the lower helm © Princess

Both helms benefit from good ergonomics thanks to sliding seats with bolster sections and adjustable steering wheels so most skippers will be able to find a driving position that suits them. The upper helm is more stylish than its counterpart downstairs, especially in the silver paint finish that comes as part of the optional Allure pack. 

Two large MFDs (one is standard) and a smaller engine data screen handle navigation and engine information. The amount of storage for loose items at the upper helm is particularly impressive with everything from shallow slots for mobile phones to cupholders and a deep glovebox that could swallow all manner of kit. 

The lower helm is similarly well designed, though the test boat only had one large MFD whereas most buyers will likely opt for two. The dashboard design is smart and clear, with dark materials dominating so you don't get a reflection of the dash top in the windscreen on really bright days. 

There are electric windows on both sides of the boat but no side door at the helm, which means the F55 isn't quite as easy to crew single-handed as the likes of the Sealine F530 and Absolute 56 Fly. 

On Deck

4
Princess F55 flybridge
The flybridge is well proportioned and packed with seating © Princess
Princess F55 profile
The F55 is a safe and easy boat to crew © Princess

The F55 is tightly proportioned - and all the better looking for it - but it doesn't feel as spacious on deck as a Sunseeker Manhattan 55 or Absolute 56 Fly. The spaces are well-balanced, and the inclusion of sun pads with angled backrests, a sofa and a walk-through section on the foredeck make the very most of this extra living space. 

Most boats in this sector stow their tenders on a hi-lo bathing platform (though the Prestige 520 has a tender garage) and the F55's has the capacity (450kg) to launch and recover a Williams 435 Sportjet. However, if the boat is fitted with the optional Seakeeper gyro stabiliser and a passerelle, the platform's capacity drops to 125kg. Worth thinking about if you want a decent tender on the back. 

There is symmetrical access on either side of the transom into the cockpit where there is a decent dinette with a hefty teak table. The quality stands out once again in the substantial stainless steel handrails built into the table support, inset cupholders and the finger slots that are carved into the table edge to make it easier to lift the sections. 

There is a gentle ascent onto the side decks from the cockpit where tall guardrails and well-placed grab rails on the flybridge structure make moving along the sides of the boat safe and easy.  Fender storage is a touch limited but then the crew cabin can double up as a store for the occasions when the fenders need to be off the decks. 

The flybridge is a really well-designed place with a focus on seating. The dinette bench runs right across the aft end of the top deck and there is enough space on the other side of the table for a couple of stools or free-standing chairs. The wet bar is compact but has all you need to serve guests up top including a sink, BBQ grill, fridge and optional icemaker. The bar's proximity to the flybridge hatch means those doing the cooking need to be careful not to step back and disappear down the flybridge staircase.

There is the option to have a hard top with a sunroof over the flybridge but the canvas Bimini with built-in LED lighting is a cheaper alternative that looks better and can be collapsed forward of the helm if shelter isn't required. 

Value For Money

4

You do tend to pay a premium for a Princess but it's easy to see where that extra money is going. The F55 feels a quality product through and through, uses high-end components and comes as standard with options that many rivals would charge extra for.

This eye on quality, the timeless styling and the fact that Princess doesn't produce in enormous numbers means residual prices tend to be better than the competition, too. 

At the time of the review in August 2022, the price of the boat we tested was £1.78 million inc VAT. 

Our Spec

The exact elements of the specification will be determined by where the boat is kept. If it's off to the Med then air-con, a passerelle and possibly the hard top are must-haves. 

No matter where the boat is going to live, the Allure pack is worth having as it adds an extra bit of polish here and there that really brightens up the deck spaces. 

The NAIM audio system is another good addition, not only because it sounds sensational but it also comes with an inverter that is linked to TV meaning you don't have to fire the generator up to raise/lower it when the boat is disconnected from shore power.

The larger engines are a no-brainer given the small increase in cost and the gain in performance, plus most secondhand buyers will probably be looking for a boat with larger engines. The Seakeeper is a very expensive option but a game-changer if you plan to spend a lot of time on anchor. Keep in mind that if you have that and the passerelle you won't be able to have a tender heavier than 125kg on the bathing platform. 

Our Verdict

There was a time when a boat of the F55's size would be a flagship for Princess but its range is in a different stratosphere these days. Even so, the F55 feels like a core Princess product and, in many ways, demonstrates Princess at its best. The styling is timeless, quality and attention to detail are outstanding and there are very few compromises on deck or within the impressive three-cabin interior. 

At sea, its twin 900hp engines provide effortless performance and a decent cruising band. The hull is soft riding and refined and the handling is far more engaging than one might expect for a boat of this style. 

It's a well-worn line but it still rings true: some will find the design a bit plain for this sort of money and if you agree with that statement then something from Azimut, Sunseeker or Galeon offers more visual punch. But as an all-round package there are few boats in this sector better executed or easier to live with than the F55. 

Reasons to Buy

  • Timeless appeal
  • Quality and attention to detail
  • Solid ride and handling
  • Excellent helm ergonomics

Things to Consider

  • No side door at lower helm
  • Styling may be a little safe for some

Rivals to Consider

This is one of the most hotly contested sectors in the market so, as good as the F55 is, it faces stiff competition from some of the biggest names in production boat building. 

One criticism that the F55 may face is that its styling is a bit safe, which isn't something you can accuse the Azimut 53 of. Designed by Alberto Mancini, it is dripping with Italian style inside and out and its IPS drivetrain promises easy close control and smooth performance out on the water. On board, there are three good cabins and the option for a crew space. It is expensive, however. 

There is strong homegrown talent in the form of the Sunseeker Manhattan 55. This is one of the most popular models that Sunseeker has built in recent times and it's not hard to see why. A class-leading flybridge deck, head-turning looks, three spacious cabins and 30-knot performance from the same D13 900s as the Princess make for a mightily compelling cruising machine. Those looks won't appeal to everybody, though. 

The Absolute 56 Fly is one of the cleverest boats in the sector and uses the available space on board brilliantly. It's IPS only, though, so if you don't want pods it's not for you. The reward is outstanding internal packaging including a very clever VIP double with the bed mounted facing forward on the centreline, creating one of the best guest cabins in the sector. It won't age as gracefully as the Princes but in terms of quality and attention to detail, Absolute is right up there these days.

Specifications & Performance

  • Builder Princess
  • Range F Class
  • Model Princess F55
Princess F55 illustration
  • Length Overall 17.68m
  • Beam 4.87m
  • Draft 1.41m
  • Hull GRP
  • Cabins 3
  • Berths 6
  • Crew 1
  • Yacht Type (Primary) Flybridge
  • Use Type (Primary) Cruising
  • Cruising Speed
    Max Speed
  • Fuel Capacity 2,750 Litres
  • Fresh Water Capacity 620 Litres
  • Engine Model 2x Volvo Penta D13-900

Performance Data

Princess F55 version 2022. *Data collected by Yacht Buyer during testing.

Test Engines Twin Volvo Penta D13-900

  •  
  • RPM
  • Knots
  • Liters Per Hour
  • Liters Per Mile
  • Range (nm)
  • Decibels
    •  ECO
    • 1,000
    • 9.5
    • 41
    • 4
    • 637
    • 62 
    •  
    • 1,200
    • 10.8
    • 67
    • 6
    • 443
    • 63 
    •  
    • 1,400
    • 11.8
    • 107
    • 9
    • 303
    • 64 
    •  
    • 1,600
    • 14.2
    • 143
    • 10
    • 273
    • 68 
    •  
    • 1,800
    • 18.3
    • 185
    • 10
    • 272
    • 70 
    •  
    • 2,000
    • 22.1
    • 230
    • 10
    • 264
    • 72 
    •  
    • 2,100
    • 24.7
    • 258
    • 10
    • 263
    • 73 
    •  CRUISE
    • 2,200
    • 26.6
    • 291
    • 11
    • 251
    • 75 
    •  
    • 2,300
    • 29.0
    • 309
    • 11
    • 258
    • 76 
    •  MAX
    • 2,500
    • 29.4
    • 335
    • 11
    • 241
    • 77 

Yacht Load: 85 Litres of water 97 Litres of fuel

Princess F55 Layout

  • Flybridge Princess F55

    A hard top is an option but it does the looks no favours; the bimini is a good compromise if you need shelter on the top deck

  • Main Deck Princess F55

    The aft galley layout makes it equally easy to serve guests in the saloon and cockpit  

  • Lower Deck Princess F55

    A crew cabin is an option. If you don't have it this area becomes a large dry storage space