It'll only take a moment for those familiar with this style and size boat to see how much more space you get when the dinette seating is a rectangular sofa rather than a curved salon settee. It's equally easy for the experienced boater to see that something beyond the norm is going on. A good something. Though thorough testing gave me cause to take a few shots at this new cruiser, my overall impression is that Cruisers Yachts' 330 Express is a leader in the crowded 33' cruiser segment.
Design by Design
When an interior designer is hired to do a boat's cabin-and that's what Cruisers Yachts did for the 330 Express-the results are better than having the boat company president's second or third trophy wife pick out the fabrics and patterns. Moreover, a boat cabin is a difficult space to lay out, with its curved sides, narrow bow, and multi-height ceiling. A professional who's comfortable working with space and color is better able to make an area pop, both aesthetically and practically.
And so, when you sit at the 330 Express' rectangular salon lounge, consider that the tips of a more common semicircular lounge would protrude an additional 8" or so inboard, narrowing the walkthrough space in the salon. And were this richly upholstered lounge a crescent, the faux-marble end tables, positioned so conveniently for resting a drink upon, wouldn't be possible. If this sofa were to incline, common on many boats, it would sleep two adults instead of this dinette's one, but it would have no stowage within. To my mind, more stowage is more important. After all, how often would you sleep six aboard a 33-footer? This is a place for hanging out and enjoying yourself and the company of friends. It's a space made brighter, and better, by six vertically installed portholes through which the sunlight pours. Wood blinds provide privacy and the wood table sports a faux-stone inlay, matching the end tables.
Now step up onto the master berth forward. It's an island queen with innerspring mattress. Experienced eyes will notice that, instead of just a shelf ringing this berth, there's an array of wood-grained cabinets hung from the headliner. Clothes and gear need not be flung around like in a college dorm. Also impressive is the button-tufted, padded headboard, done in tan Ultraleather. This looks great and provides comfort when sitting up in bed. More tufted Ultraleather frames the deck hatch overhead. This framing is dropped a few inches and punctuated with a trio of hi-hat lights, adding to the posh feel. There's an option for a bulkhead and door that would make this a true stateroom. My tester had the standard layout, which installs the privacy curtain in an innovative way. Often, these curtains are simply drawn aside and held with a strap, remaining in plain sight. Aboard the 330 Express, the hanging locker door is wider than the locker, so when the curtain is slid aside, it hides behind the overhanging door, tucked between the locker and the galley cabinets, and no one is the wiser.
The aft cabin is just as tasteful, and just as practical. The U-shaped lounge features 5'3" of sitting headroom and is open to the salon. A removable wood table with bull-nosed edges is provided. Reach into the hatch on the port side, beneath the companionway steps, and you'll find a bin for stowing the filler cushion and table pedestals. Two adults can sleep here without feeling like cave dwellers.
The galley is all wood grain, including the under-counter refrigerator. Wood blinds control natural light. The bull-nosed counter is a deep slab of faux-marble, featuring a two-burner stove and a large circular under-mount sink. The interior designer's hand is most evident above, as both the microwave and flat-screen TV are let in to the cabinetry, neither protruding from nor recessed below the surface of the book-matched wood cabinets.
Cruisers Yachts makes the coffeemaker an option. Sea Ray's 330 Sundancer ($263,299 with twin 370-hp MerCruiser 8.1S gasoline V-drives) offers a microwave with integral coffeemaker. Like the 330 Express, the 330 Sundancer is available with either stern drive or V-drive power.
Service by Design
Before heading topside, open the hatch in the aft cabin bulkhead. Reach in and grab the dipsticks, seacocks, and bilge pump, items that would be difficult to access, especially aboard a V-drive, without this hatch, which is vapor-proof and ABYC-compliant. It's just one example of the superior serviceability you'll discover aboard the 330 Express. In the cockpit, lift the engine hatch. No, it's not electric as you'll find aboard the Sea Ray, but once it's open, there's little to gripe about. Every-thing is labeled and stoutly secured. Electrical connections are all sealed, a detail that escapes many builders.
Close the hatch. Notice the push-button ignition at the helm. Stroke the two-tiered faux-marble wetbar. Sit in the aft lounge with its dedicated table stowage, rich upholstery, and access to the lazarette. Twist the single lever latch and head through the split windshield to the standard windlass at the bow. Stroll onto the extended swim platform with its four-step ladder. Function and style reign throughout, though when I removed the wetbar trash can, I could see that the receptacle into which the refrigerator is plugged may get wet. Cruisers Yachts says this will be fixed on production models, but check it out.
I was underwhelmed while docking the 330 Express. The props tuck 40 percent of their diameter into tunnels, so spinning into a slip requires the use of more throttle than I'd prefer. Of course, those same tunnels reduce the draft to less than that of the stern drive version and reduce drag at cruising speeds. In a choppy Atlantic, the 330 Express ran beautifully, lifting to a light, responsive feel at higher rpm while retaining the ability to maintain plane (a good measure of efficiency) at just 14.7 mph. Take it for a run.
EXTRA POINT: Heavily insulated fuel tanks limit noise by reducing engine-induced reverberation and drumming.