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The Express Cruiser - One of the Most Popular Powerboats.

Updated on August 14, 2013

The Express Cruiser One of the Most Popular Powerboats

Boating is all about fun. The express cruiser, pictured here, is one of the most popular of all recreational boats. They have a lot going for them, but it may not be the boat for you depending on your needs and desires as a boater. Express cruisers can be large, in excess of 45 feet, or small, usually around 24 feet, small enough to trailer.

Some of the biggest names in boating are manufacturers of express cruisers. They include Bayliner, Chaparral, Cruiser Yachts, Regal, Rinker and Sea Ray.

Below are a few of the earmarks that make an express cruiser such a popular type of boat. If you're shopping for a boat, it's useful to keep these factors in mind. Like any major purchase, buying a boat should be a rational exercise not an emotional one. You should have a checklist of what you are looking for in a boat. Visit boatyards, take your time and talk to boat owners about their experiences. What real people have to say about their boats is the best reference you can get. Do your research.

A Sea Ray at Sea


The typical express cruiser is powered by one or two powerful IO or inboard-outboard engines. The hull is designed for planning, that is skimming across the surface of the water. Once you get "up on plane" the hull offers little resistance to the water, and you think you are in a speed boat. If your boating plans include getting there fast, an express cruiser will deliver. Its planning hull, combined with its sleek aerodynamic design that cuts down on wind resistance, make for a fast boat. Although the express cruiser is not considered a high performance boat, you should know the specifics of handling a fast boat.

Creature Comforts

Express cruisers take the amenities of a typical cabin cruiser and combine them with speed. The typical express cruiser has all of the comfort features to make it a cruising boat, not just a day boat. Size, of course, is an important consideration. Even with well-appointed bunks, if the boat is small, say less than 26 feet, you're going to want to look for a motel on an extended cruise. But the features are there. On a feature laden model you can expect to see a microwave oven, a swivel flat-screen TV, a galley with a stove on a gimbal, a refrigerator, a settee area that usually converts into additional bunk space, and, of course, a head. A head, for total landlubbers, is a nautical bathroom. It's good to know nautical terms no matter what type of boat you are interested in. On larger models the head will include a shower.

Problems With Express Cruisers

Express cruisers are great boats, to be sure, but they come with a few trade-offs that you should be aware of.

· Moving about on deck. It's no engineering secret where an express cruiser gets all of that luxurious interior space. The deck is molded to create the space. This is good news when you're below, but it can be a problem when you're topside on deck. Say you or a crew member is on deck preparing to throw a line onto a dock. If there is any chop to the water you will need the balance of a trapeze artist. My first boat was an express cruiser, a Chaparral 25. I bought it new off the showroom floor. Because the showroom didn't rock, I had no problem moving about the deck. But when I put the boat in the water, things got dicey. I spent a great deal of time on my butt. The cockpit was comfortable enough, but going forward was always a challenge.

· Docking and anchoring. As touched on in the above paragraph, docking can be a difficult task with an express cruiser, sometimes even dangerous. It's essential that you know how to maneuver the boat properly into the dock to cut down as much as possible on the need for line handling. Depending on the size of your boat, guiding your anchor is done on your knees. Anchoring is a tricky operation. Again, the forward part of an express cruiser is not friendly to a human being on two legs.

· Fishing. If fishing is your passion you should think seriously before you buy an express cruiser. They are simply not designed for fishing. The problems raised in the paragraph about moving about on deck are compounded when you are trying to land a fish. Unless you are content to go for small fish, an express cruiser is not for you. Landing a large fish means walking around to keep it hooked. That's why most serious fishermen look for a variation of a boat called a walk around. As the name implies, you can walk around. On an express cruiser, unless you are an acrobat, you will crawl around.

· Aesthetics. Beauty, obviously, is in the eyes of the beholder. But I will go out on a limb here and state that most old salts hate the appearance of an express cruiser, especially smaller ones. Unlike the nautical rake and upswept bow of, say, a trawler, the express cruiser looks like it's bow is pointing downward. It just doesn't look nautical.

But the problems I discussed may not be problems if you are agile enough to get around the deck, and the fishing problem is not even a problem if fishing is not your thing. If its physical appearance doesn't bother you, then that problem goes away. The express cruiser is a type of boat that has a lot going for it. This article is not intended to turn you away from this type of boat, just to point out to you some concerns.

Copyright ©2012 by Russell F. Moran


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    • rfmoran profile image

      Russ Moran 5 years ago from Long Island, New York

      I never liked my express cruiser

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'll never own one but it was interesting reading about them. Thanks for the education!