Cruisers Yachts 500 Express Review

Issue: December 2005


This boat takes luxury, performance and safety to a higher level.


Wouldn’t you know it, Sydney’s September westerlies had arrived in a big way, punching the wind gauge up to 30 knots, but it wasn’t just mother nature that blew the Modern Boating team away during this test.

We had a pretty good idea of what to expect from this 50-footer Express, after jumping the wake of a Cruisers Yachts 30 the weekend before. But we hadn’t expected a boat chock a block full of so many crowd-pleasing creature comforts. There were some real bonus features in the owner’s cabin and other interesting developments on the safety front.

Most big express cruisers have all the ingredients for luxurious fun. Simply mix two thumping great engines with a big swim platform (make sure it’s got room for a few water toys); then, blend in a forward sun pad, a few LCD TVs, a luxury main saloon and an icemaker.

Throw in some comfy lounges in the cockpit and there you have it, one tasty pleasure seeking seagoing feast.

The Cruisers Yachts 500 Express mixes these ingredients well to deliver a craft that will please any motorboat owner’s appetite for performance and style.

There are 13 models in the Cruisers Yachts range and this boat is one shy of the largest in this imported fleet.

This brand is fairly new to our shores, but Cruisers Yachts are well established in the USA, currently employing some 1000 people at factories at Oconto and Wilmington in North Carolina.

Although the Cruisers Yachts brand has only been around since the 1990’s, the company has origins linked to the Thompson Brothers Boat building business, which began in 1904.

Twin Volvo D12s, each capable of producing 715hp, power this Cruiser Yachts 500 Express. Tony Bennett, from Cruisers Yachts Sydney, says with a clean bum, this boat hit a top speed of 38 knots during recent trials. But when we took this vessel for a run up Sydney Harbour in difficult, choppy water, the conditions didn’t worry the 500 sea-keeping characteristics, but they did knock a few knots off the top end speed. Even so, the Volvos performed effortlessly, logging a top speed of 35 knots and a cruise speed in the late 20s. There was no slow idle setting on the engines, so at a 580rpm idle speed the boat travelled at 5.5 knots.

Depending on the conditions, at a fast cruise speed this vessel would use about 190lt per hour.

With a fuel capacity of 1893lt, she should have a range of around 300 nautical miles.

Like many cruisers these days, this hull carries her aggressive, down-turned chine well forward. This works extremely well with the flare in the bow and a sharp entry to deliver a soft and dry ride. The thickness of the fibreglass also ensures no drumming noise come through the hull when underway.

The well-equipped helm features two comfortable, bolster-style pilot seats overlooking an array of instruments including an Autopilot, which is linked to an E120 Ray Marine chartplotter. The Volvo instrumentation includes rpm, speed, temperature and fuel consumption.

One standout feature is the ‘MOBi-lert’ crew monitoring system located next to the helm. Mobi-lert is a Western Australian developed man-overboard system that uses six (or more) multi-coloured tags that can be attached to the passengers. If one should fall overboard, the system sounds an alert and marks the MOB position.

The Mobi-lert system is also linked in with the Raymarine Global Positioning System, so it will chart you back to the man overboard’s position. It’s a top safety addition to this vessel, especially if there’s going to be any children onboard.

Other features at the helm include controls for the bow thruster, rudder angle gauge, spotlight and anchor windlass remote and a top quality Clarion entertainment system.

Moving forward from the transom, a wide swim platform leads to the aft cockpit. Here, there’s a rear-facing heavily padded lounge with drink holders, plenty of lockers and under seat storage for a davit and water toys. A drop-down swim platform is an option.

The multi-level cockpit has a wet bar with icemaker and a handy barbeque to keep hungry masses happy. Outdoor dining on this boat would be great, because the lounges and settee are large for plenty of bums and there’s another circular lounge across from the helm.

Steps lead to the split-screen opening for those wishing to sunbake on the bow sun pad. The bow can also be accessed via the walkways around the main cabin. The bowrail is high enough for safety and grab rails along the cabin walls add security for anyone going forward.

With such a sport’s boat focus (people spending most of their time on deck) it is surprising to find so much packed in the air-conditioned areas below. The V-Drive engine set-up creates enough room for a large owner’s stateroom and en suite to be located amidships.

There’s a cavernous saloon, dual access to the main bathroom and a double island bed in the forward stateroom for guests. It would have been good if the tiled bathroom had natural light, but to make up for this shortcoming the owner’s berth has huge amidships windows offering lovely views.

The owner’s stateroom is finished in cherrywood veneer. There’s under bed storage, a camphor-lined wardrobe and a fl at-screen TV. On the cleaning front the boat has its own vacuum cleaning system and a washer/dryer located in the owner’s cabin. The forward cabin has plenty of stowage and a double island bed, with good access on each side and drawers underneath. The saloon is also finished in cherrywood. Here, there’s a leather lounge large enough to accommodate all the bums from upstairs. The galley is well equipped and features a Fisher & Paykel single-drawer dishwasher, fridge/freezer and the main LCD television.

At $1.58m, Cruisers Yachts 500 Express is a quality American cruiser that delivers solid performance and boasts plenty of onboard luxury. It’s also good to see the new MOBi-lert system in use as an added safety precaution. This is now an option on all Cruisers Yachts sold locally.

According to the team at Cruisers Yachts, with more than 50 years of boat design behind them, they approach yacht development as if creating a work of art.

Once the ideal blend of qualities and amenities are in place, they select the finest tools and materials for crafting the final product.

Nothing is incorporated without a purpose. Every design must benefit the buyer’s experience and bring a feeling of freedom and lifestyle.

On a Cruisers Yachts boat neither form or function take precedence. Instead, they strike a perfect balance.

The engine room is quite deep, has good lighting and houses twin 715hp V-Drive Volvo diesels.

With a strong westerly wind blowing, the Express 50 produced the following speed-to-rpm figures.

5.5 – 530
7.2 – 750
9.2 – 1050
24 – 1840
26 – 2000
29 – 2100
35 – 2350

LOA: 15.9m
BEAM: 4.7m
DRAFT: 1.1m
WEIGHT: 19000kg
PRICE: $1.58M

+ Below deck inclusions; MOBI-lert system
– No natural light in head