For comfortable accommodations, high-flying performance and a dash of flair, the latest express cruisers in the mid-thirty foot range are a sweet-spot in the marketplace. The Cruisers Yachts 330 Express is a great example.

Brand new, heavily optioned and 35 feet 6 inches on a beam of 11 feet 8 inches, this boat is still well under $300,000. You can get that down to less than $200,000 if you hold back on the wild stuff. So, what wild stuff is that?

How about twin Volvo 8.1 Gi Duoprop stern drive engines with a 50 mph top speed and Joystick control for docking! Our test boat also had underwater lighting, a generator, extra TVs and several other expensive options.

Starting at the stern, the Cruisers 330 Express has a full-width swim platform with a stainless steel boarding ladder under a fiberglass cover. The transom storage area opens through to the inside of the boat underneath the aft seat. There you can store shore cables, fenders and more. A handheld shower by the swim platform is a nice convenience.

To maximize interior space, the designers dispensed with the side decks. Forward access is through the windshield with a convenient handrail to help you up. The deck has low but stylish bow rails and remote controls for the anchor windlass by the locker.

The optional hardtop runs nearly from the transom forward to the windshield. Two large glass roof panels bring in plenty of daylight. Under the hardtop, the cockpit which is the main living area, greets you with an unusually large expanse of open flooring.

The wraparound cockpit seat has storage underneath and a side step pad to board from a high pier. Opposite is a wet bar with sink, Norcold refrigerator, 110V power and storage underneath including racks for big pop bottles. Ahead, the companion seat has a rear facing backrest and there are drink holders and a premium sound system including a big subwoofer.

You will love the sliding, double wide helm seat with flip-up bolsters for standing operation. The elegant steering wheel tilts and the instruments are directly ahead of the driver. It's a very friendly arrangement because most engine functions are on the digital readout keeping things visually clear. As we mentioned earlier, the test boat had the Electronic Vessel Control from Volvo Penta with the Joystick control for docking. In the Duoprop stern drive set up, we found the engagement a bit harsh compared to the hydraulic transmissions used in the diesel IPS Joystick, but otherwise this is a big advance in docking and slow speed control.

Driving the boat was impressive. The 8.1 Gi engines sound fabulous and the EVC system automatically trims the engines to the optimum level delivering acceleration that planed the 330 Express off in just over 5 seconds. We saw a top speed of 48 mph but factory performance data says 51 mph at 4950 rpm. Handling is safe and predictable and although the water was fairly calm for our test, it seemed to have a smooth comfortable ride. The 330 Express banked steeply into high speed turns but you could literally toss this boat around like it was a runabout.

You enter the cabin through a large curved hatch that has a sliding screen section. The head is to port. This is very nicely finished with four mirrored medicine cabinet sections, a large vanity for spreading out makeup and personal items, a Dometic MSD, stainless steel sink and handheld shower with a curtain. Headroom is 6’2”.

Positioned below the helm is the mid cabin. You would normally set this up as a conversation area with a removable table. It's a nice cozy area and can also be made up as a big double berth. Substantial storage area here will prove handy. Our test boat had the optional Toshiba flat screen television with built-in DVD player. There is also a hanging locker and a privacy curtain that snaps on.

Up the starboard side is the dinette and seating for three or four. Our test boat had a round table in cherry wood finish. Nearby are the electrical panel, premium Sony sound system and 16,000 BTU Cruise Air systems. Nice wooden Venetian blinds are included.

A desirable feature is the island queen berth forward. There are opening side portholes and an overhead deck hatch with privacy shade and screen. There is a cavernous storage space under the berth for bulky items, a hanging locker and a second smaller locker. For personal items, there are six side panel lockers as well. It's attractive but headroom isn't quite sitting height for me.

The galley is a highlight with an impressive amount of counter space including a place for spices, bottles and other items. Again Cruisers has fitted a wooden Venetian blind over the side ports. You get a large round polished stainless steel sink, convection grill microwave, large refrigerator and storage underneath with a trash bin and three drawers; one is fitted for dish storage. This is a galley you could really make a meal in.

In fact, the Cruisers 330 Express can really do it all. This is a strong contender in the mid-30 foot range.

By Andy Adams

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