A Glimpse Into Princess Yachts’ Perfectionism
Building a large yacht could be compared to constructing an elaborate dream home. Whether custom designed or building from a model, there’s a grand plan made up of thousands of little details that are carried out by an army of contributors. Just as a residential contractor may use a long list of outside vendors and sub-contractors for everything from flooring and fixtures to plumbing, electrical and cabinetry, so do many modern yacht manufacturers. However, Princess Yachts pride themselves in keeping as many aspects of production as possible executed in-house, by their very own experts. As Bill Barrow, International Sales Manager explains it, “Making our own components gives us the ultimate control. Not only control in quality, but the control of time.” As Bluewater Yacht Sales principals and salespeople can tell you, these are powerful and important traits to possess when working with some of the world’s most discerning customers.
Tech Meets Craft
The Princess ethos of in-house development is evident from the very beginning of the construction process. With over one million square feet of production space, the company operates two 5-axis cutting machines which allow them to make their own plugs and molds on-site. Princess first adopted resin infusion in 2005 and began with locker doors and small parts before moving on to their 40 and 43 foot hulls. Now, every model is resin infused up to 40 meters. The design arm is making extensive use of CAD and 3-D printing technology, and precision laser guided machines are utilized for wood and metal working. These modern machines remain tools operated by skilled tradesman working to create an elegantly precise piece. Run your hand down a simple stainless steel handrail or gaze upon a stunning walnut accented dining table; the results are always perfect.
To further appreciate Princess Yachts’ production philosophy and infrastructure, it’s helpful to learn more about their home. The city of Plymouth and the neighboring area of Devonport are located in the deep Southwest leg of England; areas that have long been home to a busy commercial shipping industry as well as the Royal Naval Shipyard. Fortunate to be founded in a region so steeped in maritime heritage and prideful shipwright lineages, Princess Yachts now operates 7 sites, including several enormous waterfront facilities supported by smaller ancillary fabrication shops. In all, the company can boast that over 80% of every Princess Yacht is produced directly in Plymouth, England by a team of tradesman and craftsmen of over 2,000 strong.
Beauty in the Detail
The skilled carpenters in the Plymouth furniture shop build every wooden piece for each Princess model. This includes “behind the curtain” framing that will never be seen by the customer, as well as the stunning built-in and free standing furnishing that owners and passengers will interact with each and every day. Each piece starts the journey as raw timber which is hand selected by the carpenters to become a masterpiece. With all of the timber construction happening under one very large roof, carpenters can match pieces to one another even if they are not built at the same time or with the same lot of wood. These artisans’ depth of training and flexibility are on display on any given day, when they could be asked to build any one of 3,500 different parts on the build list.
In the electrical department, experienced electricians configure hundreds of looms of wiring depending upon the Princess model they are working on. Each loom follows a schematic and is fully labeled before receiving wire wrap and/or heat shrink tubing in preparation for installation on the boat. This job is never mundane for the craftsmen in the loom shop, as no two boats are ever exactly alike. A customer may option their boat with different lighting features, different helm electronics or even add fixtures, appliances or A/V equipment that must all be discreetly wired. The Princess 40M (130’) superyacht alone requires over 800 looms of custom assembled wiring harnesses! Taking this scale and attention to detail to the next level, Princess seeks to keep each wire identifiable at any point in the cable run by careful labeling and documentation procedures.
Accountable & Traceable
Over the course of Princess’s 50 year history, they have produced over 16,000 boats and recorded detailed documentation of the entire build process for each hull. These archives will aid support personnel in answering customer questions in the future and also provide a blueprint of each specific build for Princess’s expansive dealer network. Not only does the company put a tremendous amount of effort into producing fantastic boats, but also supporting them long into the future.
Princess Yachts are carefully produced by the hands of thousands of passionate craftsmen who all share a vision of creating a masterpiece tailored to the customized vision of every owner. These yachts are floating works of art that exude perfection and luxury, while delivering superior seakeeping abilities—a first-class experience that only Princess knows how to fabricate first-hand, and Bluewater is grateful to offer its customers.