Express Cruisers 101: How To Shop For Your First Weekender

February 14, 2012

If your boating experience has consisted only of day trips, you’re missing out on a whole new side of the boating lifestyle that extends your time with friends and family past sunset, entrances you with the peace and serenity of a quiet cove, and lets you enjoy the best night’s sleep you’ve gotten in years.

Is it time for you to step up to an Express Cruiser? Let’s take a look at some things you should consider before making that decision.

What is an Express Cruiser?

Generally, an Express Cruiser ranges in size from about 23 feet to 45 feet. It has a cabin with one or more sleeping areas called berths, a full toilet/shower enclosure called a head, and a food preparation area called a galley. The main difference between an Express Cruiser and a traditional Cabin Cruiser (other than the size range) is that there is generally an open area behind the helm with exterior seating and other amenities.

What type of boating can you do on an Express Cruiser?

One of the great things about the Express Cruiser design is that you’ll have a tremendous amount of versatility. Of course, they are built for comfort while you’re cruising and entertaining, but you can also enjoy watersports and fishing. The option of spending one or more nights aboard is one of the key factors that “seals the deal” for many buyers.

What’s the difference between an Express Cruiser and a Cuddy Cabin?

Where Express Cruisers are built with extensive comfort features to make longer trips more enjoyable, Cuddy Cabin boats (often shortened to “Cuddies”) are generally smaller and offer somewhat more basic accommodations. Cuddy berths, for instance, are often used for napping, storage or to get out of bad weather.

Can I trailer an Express Cruiser?

Absolutely! Smaller-sized Express Cruisers (under 30 feet) can often be trailered. There are a few things to consider, however. First, is your tow vehicle and hitch system rated for the full weight of the boat, trailer and fuel? Also, is the width of the boat or beam, under 9 feet? Remember that local regulations may vary, so check with your dealer on this question.

What are some of the features I should look for in an Express Cruiser?

Well, handy is in the eyes of the beholder, so why not pull a list of standard features first? Some brands try to stay at a competitive price point by offering a stripped-down model, while others like Rinker Express Cruisers are packed with high-quality extras. When you’re able to get to the point where you’re comparing apples to apples, that’s when the real value comes through. But since we’re talking about the advantages of overnighting or “weekending” on an Express Cruiser, why not single out standard features or options that will help you enjoy your extended stay even more? Items on that list would include a motorized windlass for easy raising and lowering of your anchor, a pressurized fresh water system (who wouldn’t like a nice power shower after a day on the lake?), a full-featured galley with plenty of space and upgraded appliances, and top-of-the-line berth mattresses and bedding.

Those are just some of the things to think about when considering an Express Cruiser for your boating lifestyle. Other great sources of information and inspiration include other owners and knowledgeable dealers.