Cabin cruisers come in a wide variety of types, making the term a bit of a catch-all. If you're in the market for a powerboat with a cabin that can handle long distances at and above planing speeds, then a cabin cruiser is what you need. The options in this category are vast, but which ones stand out as the best? Which manufacturers excel in producing top-notch small cabin cruisers, and on the other end of the spectrum, which ones are known for their luxurious offerings? And what about the best cabin cruisers for families? We'll delve into these questions and more.
Top Manufacturers of Small Cabin Cruiser Boats
When it comes to small cabin cruiser boats, it's essential to find a vessel that offers enough space and amenities for overnight stays. This means that boats under 25 feet are too small, while those over 30 feet are not considered "small" cabin cruisers. Within this range, there are standout manufacturers known for their quality and design.
Crownline boats offers three models in the small cabin cruiser category: the 270 CR, 280 CRX, and 294 CR. These boats are designed with convertible cabins, featuring a forward U-shaped settee that can transform into a dinette or an extended V-berth. The galleys are fully equipped for cruising, even the smallest model includes a stove-top, refrigerator, microwave oven, sink, and cabinetry.
Ranger Tugs produces three models that fall into the small cabin cruiser category: the R-23, R25 Northwest Edition, and R25 Luxury Edition. These models share the same essential layout, including a forward lower V-berth, an enclosed head compartment, a small galley behind the helm, and a dinette to port with a second mini-berth underneath it.
Regal, a boat manufacturer since 1969, offers a range of small cabin cruiser boats including the 26 Express, 26 XO, and 28 Express. These boats, often referred to as "mid-cabin" cruisers, feature elevated cockpits with a small cabin just forward of the powerplant. Despite their smaller size compared to larger cabin cruisers, they are complete with saloons that convert to berths, enclosed private head compartments, and galleys.
Top Choices for Beginners in Cabin Cruiser Boats
When it comes to finding the best cabin cruiser boats for beginners, simplicity, ease of maintenance, and affordability are key factors to consider. Here are three top choices that fit the bill for novice boaters.
Although Defiance is primarily known for building fishing boats, they offer a model that is suitable for beginner cruisers. The 250 San Juan features an extended pilothouse with a V-berth forward, a dinette that can be converted into a second berth, and a small galley. This boat is compact, straightforward, and has an open aft cockpit, making it incredibly easy to maintain compared to boats with more complex interior features. The 220 San Juan is also worth considering for beginners, as it offers similar cabin features but with a smaller cockpit.
While Jeanneau is often associated with sailboats, they also have a diverse range of powerboats. The NC Weekender series, ranging from 24’5” to 41’, is an excellent choice for novice cruisers. These boats feature fully enclosed cabins, open aft cockpits, swim platforms, dinettes, and sleeping accommodations for at least four individuals, making them ideal for beginners looking for comfort and ease of use.
For beginners seeking to minimize maintenance efforts, Katanacraft offers a solution by constructing their cabin cruisers with aluminum. Built with 0.250” thick bottoms and 0.160” sides, these boats are exceptionally rugged and require minimal maintenance such as waxing or buffing. While Katanacraft specializes in fishing boats, their Monsoon 250 and Monsoon 280 models feature full cabins with V-berths and heads, making them suitable for cruising as well. Additionally, options for a galley with dinette and diesel heaters are available for those planning to venture out in colder conditions.
Top Picks for Family-Friendly Cabin Cruiser Boats
When it comes to choosing a cabin cruiser boat for your family, there are several factors to consider. While all boats can offer great family time, certain brands and models have unique advantages that cater to the needs of the whole crew.
Beneteau's Family-Friendly Features
Beneteau offers a wide range of sail and powerboats, but their Flyer series, particularly the 29’10” Flyer 9 SUNdeck and the 34’10” Flyer 10, stand out for family cruising. These boats can be equipped with a tow arch for water sports, making them an attractive choice for families with kids who enjoy activities like water skiing and wakeboarding. Additionally, the full cabin provides all the necessary amenities for a comfortable cruising experience, making it a hit with both parents and kids.
Boston Whaler's Unbeatable Safety
Boston Whaler's Conquest line, including the 285, 325, and 405 models, offers full cabins with home-like comforts, making them ideal for family outings. What sets Boston Whaler apart is its fiberglass-foam-fiberglass sandwich construction, making their boats unsinkable. This safety feature alone provides unparalleled peace of mind for families, solidifying Boston Whaler's position as one of the best choices for family-friendly cabin cruiser boats.
Sea Ray's Modern Family-Focused Design
Sea Ray's Sundancer series, available in various sizes from 32’10” to 37’8”, is designed with family boating in mind. Their modern approach includes bow cockpit seating above the cabin and relocating food prep areas to the topsides, maximizing cabin space. This design allows for expanded outdoor areas, perfect for parents and kids to enjoy, without compromising on the luxurious and spacious accommodations inside the cabin.
Top Picks for Cabin Cruiser Fishing Boats
When it comes to cabin cruisers designed for fishing, there are specific features and accessories that set the best ones apart. From ample space to fish to well-equipped cockpits, these boats are tailored for anglers who want both comfort and functionality while out on the water.
Boston Whaler is a brand that consistently delivers when it comes to fishing boats, and their cabin cruisers are no exception. With a focus on angling right out of the box, these boats come equipped with all the necessary gear for a successful fishing trip. Additionally, they offer impressive cruising speeds and extended ranges, making offshore fishing a viable option.
Grady-White is known for creating boats that cater to serious anglers, and their cabin cruiser models are no different. From the Express Cabin 330 and 370 to the Marlin 300 and 456 Canyon, these boats are designed to meet the needs of avid cruisers. Featuring essential fishing elements such as livewells, fishboxes, and rod holders, these boats are ready for any angling adventure.
For those looking for a luxurious fishing experience, Mikelson Yachts offers a series of cruising yachts that are equipped for serious angling. Despite the higher cost, these yachts provide a level of luxury that is unmatched. With private staterooms, spacious saloons, and flying bridges, they offer unparalleled comfort. Additionally, their open aft cockpits are specifically designed and outfitted for offshore fishing, making them a top choice for those who want both extravagance and functionality.
Top Picks for Luxury Cabin Cruisers
When it comes to luxury cabin cruisers, what sets them apart from yachts? While there may not be a clear distinction in the dictionary, the cabin cruiser brands we are about to explore could easily be considered yachts. If you're seeking the ultimate floating luxury experience, take a closer look at these top picks.
Decades ago, Cruisers Yachts redefined the cabin cruiser with its Cantius series, and to this day, these models remain incredibly popular among boaters who prioritize cruising in absolute comfort. Ranging from 42 to 60 feet, the Cantius series is known for trademark features such as expansive saloons, hull-side windows, retractable sunroofs (excluding flybridge models), spacious staterooms, cedar-lined closets, and bow lounges.
Spanning from 38 to 58 feet, the Sabre lineup boasts impeccable fit, finish, upholstery, and woodwork throughout. What truly sets these boats apart, however, is their traditional Downeast designs. Built in Maine and reminiscent of classic lobster boats, Sabre Yachts effortlessly capture attention in a way that few other cabin cruisers can.
Tiara Yachts offers a range of dayboats and cruisers from 34’9” to 60’3”, all infused with luxury. These models also feature remarkable elements such as spacious loungers and sofas that can rotate 360 degrees, saloons encircled by windows, and naturally illuminated full-beam staterooms courtesy of expansive hull-side windows.
Top Aft Cabin Cruiser Boats
In many markets, it may seem unusual to focus on the best aft cabin cruiser boats, as this type of boat has largely disappeared from production by most major American boat builders. However, these boats can still be found on the used boat market, and there are a few European builders who continue to manufacture them.
Hardy Motor Yachts
The UK boatbuilder Hardy Motor Yachts offers a variety of aft cabin cruisers, with the 65DS being one of the largest available. These boats make use of their extra interior space by incorporating private staterooms, while the area above is designed as an elevated cockpit. The 65DS was awarded Best Passagemaker in the 2019 Motorboating & Yachting awards.
Norwegian builder Marex features the 320 Aft Cabin in its lineup, which includes a substantial aft cabin below a sunpad, located aft behind the helm deck. This design allows for two separate private staterooms, a saloon, and a fully enclosed head with shower, all within a 32’5” LOA. The 320 Aft Cabin received multiple awards upon its introduction in 2013, including Motorboat of the Year, European Yacht of the Year, Best Boat over 25 Feet at the Oslo International Boat Show, and Adriatic Boat of the Year.
While these top aft cabin cruiser boats may seem appealing, it's important to remember that buying a boat is a significant decision that requires careful thought, research, and consideration. It's a lengthy process, but now you have some top prospects to consider.
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