As I walked around the Atlantis 55, one thought kept running through my mind: This would be a great boat for cruising with my kids. The 5'-long lounge aft to port in the cockpit would a perfect spot for them to lie on their stomachs, chins in the palms of their hands as they checked out their favorite DVD on the big-screen TV. Out in the sun, the 6'8"-by-6'8" aft cockpit lounge atop the garage is encircled with rails for security.
But the beauty of this boat goes deeper than supplying places for my progeny to lie around. Note the location of the fuel fills. They're up on each side of the pilothouse entrance. If there's any backsplash, it won't be in the walkways where little feet can track it into the salon. The garage can house a 9' tender that will likely serve as a tube tug when you're anchored in a cove. Plus there's plenty of space for fins, masks, and snorkels in carpeted lockers. Finally, the passageways into the cockpit from the swim platform close with full gates.
RESCUE HERO. When you're underway, the whole family will enjoy the 55's ride. Its 20-degree deadrise lets the boat nimbly slice through waves and carve smooth arcs. The top speed of 37.9 mph is comparable to what Sunseeker predicts for its Portofino 53 ($1,208,500 powered by twin 715-bhp Volvo Penta D12-715s). Uniesse predicts a nearly identical top end for its Sport 54 ($1,250,000 powered like our test boat). I liked the solid feeling the Atlantis has when underway. The boat is built with resin infusion for a better resin-to-fiberglass ratio and better distribution of the bonding agent. Molded stringers and bulkheads are built into the hull in what the manufacturer calls the Integrated Structural System-the internal structures are built-in modules that are bonded to the hull. The result? Strong construction and light displacement. The Atlantis weighs about 5,000 pounds less than the Uniesse and 3,500 less than the Sunseeker. The stout approach continued in the 55's engine compartment, which features full-length steel bearers bolted over the top of the stingers, a methodology usually reserved for 80' boats. Considering its garage, it's not surprising that there's not much headroom in the 55's engine compartment. In fact, the clearances were so tight that I couldn't even see the gear ratio stamp on the V-drive transmissions. But there was little to complain about when it came to accessing such maintenance items as the fuel/water separators, sea strainers, and genset. You'll get the best access to the steering system through a screwed-down hatch in the garage.
POWER RANGER. One area where the competition might have an edge is in driver comfort. I liked the overall instrument layout and that the whole panel was finished in dark gray and navy blue to reduce glare. The problem was that at 5'8", I felt most comfortable driving while I stood on the footrest with the fold-up forward half of the driver's seat in the upright position. Otherwise I didn't have a clear forward view, especially on a crowded waterway. Part of the reason for this was that the boat had a four- or five-degree ride angle once on plane. Lowering the trim tabs improves the view but scrubs speed and increases fuel consumption. I'd also label the tabs more clearly so you don't have to hunt for them. Having the battery switches at the helm is great for convenience. Although there are plenty of other stowage options, I'd still like to see a glovebox. When the weather permits you can push a button and let the sun shine in through the giant moonroof. Or step outside and have lunch at the power-retractable cockpit table. When not in use, this table folds away into the decking and secures with a fold-over tab. But the upholstery prevented the tab from swiveling into place. In addition to the aforementioned cockpit lounge, the 55 affords numerous seating options that are spread out so you can have some much-needed separation from the kids during a three-day weekend. A more traditional three-person couch is to starboard. At the forward end, it abuts an entertainment center that includes a sink, refrigerator, icemaker, and cooktop with a shutoff switch. The RTM top opens on a gas strut. Across from the helm, you can enjoy the cocktails at the horseshoe-shaped table that, believe it or not, has room for more than two glasses.
BARBIE DREAM BOAT. If it's just Mom, Dad, and two kids, the 55's three-stateroom layout means siblings won't have to share quarters, but if they each bring a friend, the cabin to starboard with two athwartships berths will prove comfortable. Mom and Dad get the best quarters in the midship cabin, which has an island queen, flat-screen TV, and large hanging locker. Watch your head when getting out of bed - there was 9" of seated headroom on the berth. And I especially don't like the sewage tank being located in the base of the berth. I liked the use of lighter oak woods as opposed to darker, more traditional cherry. Also, the entrance to the hanging locker and the finger grips for the drawers were so well hidden that I almost missed them. In the master head, there's a standup shower with ample elbowroom but no vent at the top of the door. The VIP cabin in the bow has a similar layout and amenities with excellent stowage in eye-level lockers. Three staterooms and a galley on the same level might make you think the 55 would feel crowded, but I never got that sense, thanks in part to the lighter wood plus the use of skylights and large ports in the hullsides. For extended cruising, I appreciated the access to service points. Sections of the galley sole pulled up on D-rings to reveal the water pressure pump, while similar panels let you check on the shower sumps. You can whip up some Easy Mac for the kids in the starboard galley, which has a microwave, a two-burner stove, and a shallow fiddle on a counter that has plenty of preparation space. The pullout stainless-steel pantry provides added stowage space, always a bonus. To port, the family can settle down after dinner and enjoy a movie on the Sharp flat-screen TV, provided of course you can all agree on the same flick. Isn't cruising with the kids great?
The HIGHS: Love the big lounge area in the cockpit as well as the overall seating capacity. Fold-out cockpit table is smart. Navy and gray finish at dash kills glare.
The LOWS: Clearances in engine compartment are so tight that I couldn't read gear ratio stamps on transmissions. Bow rides so high that I had to always stand to drive. Relocate sewage tank from master stateroom.
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Displacement (lbs., approx.): 39,860
Transom deadrise: 20°
Bridge clearance: 13'5"
Max. cabin headroom: 6'7"
Fuel capacity (gal.): 528
Water capacity (gal.): 171
Price (w/standard power): $1,267,000
Price (w/test power): $1,267,000
Standard power Twin 705-bhp CAT C-12 in-line-6 diesel inboards.
Optional power Twin diesel inboards up to 1,576 bhp total. ****
Test boat power Twin 705-bhp CAT C-12 in-line-6 diesel inboards with 732 cid, swinging 29.5" x 43" four-bladed Nibral props through 2:1 reductions. ****
Standard Equipment (major items) Fuel/water separators; 13kW generator; 1,500w windlass; 8-hp bowthruster; windshield wipers; cockpit bar w/hot- and cold-water sink, refrigerator, icemaker, cooktop; AM/FM/CD stereo w/waterproof speakers in cockpit; transom shower; 50a/120v and 50a/240v shorepower; garage; adjustable helm seat; magnetic compass; Raymarine Tri-Data; GPS/chartplotter; auto. fire suppression system; autopilot; VHF radio; flat-screen LCD TV w/DVD/CD player w/5 speakers and subwoofer; a/c; microwave; two-burner stove; refrigerator/freezer; master and VIP day heads w/vacuum-flush commodes and stand-up showers; washer/dryer; 2 house batteries; 2 engine batteries; genset battery; battery charger; 4 bilge pumps.