Express Cruiser Boats

express boats and cruisers

There are a lot of different types of boats to choose from, and the nomenclature for distinguishing one from another can get confusing. The way to tell boats apart is partly by appearance and partly by their intended use. One subset is the express cruiser, or express boat, that is quite popular as a fast cruising boat and is part of the motor yacht/power cruiser family.

express boats

Explore Motor Yachts/Power Cruiser Boats


What is an Express Cruiser Boat?

An express cruiser looks different from a true motor yacht although it may serve roughly the same purpose.

  • Express boats tend to be sleeker with large open cockpits that mix indoor and outdoor living and entertaining.
  • The helm is tucked up by the windshield and is usually (although not always) slightly elevated from the rest of the cockpit amenities.
  • By design, express cruisers tend to have more outdoor space but they often come with multiple cabins and a head with shower below.
  • Some express boats keep the galley outside and offer multiple refrigerators, a grill and a sink.

Express cruisers are usually in the 30-50-foot range but they can be smaller or even quite a bit longer. They’re speedy—cruising 25-30 knots or more. They’re typically powered by twin diesels, sometimes with pod drives. Smaller express cruisers may be powered by stern drives with an inboard engine and an outdrive at the stern. Although traditionally express cruisers have not featured outboard engines, this is changing rapidly.

Learn More About Engine Types


What Can You Do With an Express Cruiser?

Boats today are becoming SUVs with the ability to morph and do much for many. That said, express cruisers aren’t the best watersports towing or angling boats. They’re high performance vessels meant to get anywhere at speed and are mostly used for day outings and entertaining. Yes, you can ski behind one and yes, you can weekend on one especially if it has below decks accommodations, but the typical use for an express boat is long fun days on the water with the family and entertaining friends with full dinners and cocktails in the evenings.

Express Cruiser Advantages

express cruiser boats

Express cruisers probably find the sweet spot for most families’ needs.

  • They can get to the sand bar quickly so the kids can play.
  • They can tow guests on water toys and in a pinch. 
  • You can probably do some basic fishing from the swim platform although most of these models don’t have livewells.
  • Although most of the activity is meant to be in the cockpit, express cruisers offer separation so some can listen to tunes aft while others read on the bow sunpad.

Depending on the model and size, express cruisers can be ideal for large lakes or coastal work. They’re all-around boats for sightseeing and absolutely excel at on-deck entertaining in good climates since everything is pretty much in the same place and usually on one level. Everyone is in the middle of the social action, even the chef and driver. Express cruisers can also be a sexy mélange of clean lines, low profiles and careful styling and their familiar profile tends to appeal to a broad audience.

Express Cruiser Disadvantages

Express cruisers are the boats that are meant to do that middle duty of boating and that means there are ends of the spectrum where they don’t excel.

  • Long distance cruising, especially in inclement weather, isn’t their specialty due to limited deck and cabin room and skimpy stowage space.
  • Their large engines offer good speed but not the best fuel economy and that means that express cruisers may have a limited range.
  • Big engines can also make these models pricey for their size.

Is an Express Boat Right for You?

In the end, if you're searching for specialized needs suitable for competitive watersports thrill-seekers or serious anglers, an express cruiser will not be a go-to—but for general family boating, it’s generally the people’s choice.

Read Next: Motor Yacht Buyer's Guide

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