On a steamy night in the Port of Newark, New Jersey, personnel were standing by to assist in the off-load of the latest shipment of vessels originating from Princess Yachts in the United Kingdom. On this particular evening, Bluewater Sales Professional John McDevitt helped oversee the unloading of a V52 Express and a 60 Motoryacht from the imposing container ship that had transported them safely over the North Atlantic. For nearly 15 years, McDevitt has been part of the small group of yachtsmen involved with launching, inspecting and running new Princess Yachts. This night the team was charged with running the 100+ nautical miles from Newark to New Gretna – home of the Viking Yachts facility. As McDevitt summarizes it, “these pre-deliveries are both challenging and interesting.” How the boats are prepared for shipping, loaded, secured, transported, launched and run to the Viking docks for quality control is an undertaking that not many boaters have likely thought or heard about.
With a staff of approximately 20 people, Princess Yachts America (formerly known as Viking Sport Cruisers) performs an array of logistical preparation in the design, delivery and support of these luxury motoryachts.
During this process, the role of Captain is greatly expanded as members of the transport team are made responsible for checking the boats’ condition prior to launch from the container ship, as well as creating a punch list of action items during the trip to the Viking facility. Power systems and battery conditions must be checked and confirmed before launching so that the boat can be safely started as soon as she’s lowered into the water by the sling crane. Onboard fuel is usually minimal as many of the container ships are not rated or approved to carry flammable and combustible liquids. In the past, much of the vessel’s gear was not installed in order to protect it during shipping or reduce clearances.
On this off-load the boats were scheduled to run to the Viking facility the next morning and despite tornado warning conditions, the new arrivals performed flawlessly. These particular stock boats were then prepped by the capable quality control team at Princes Yachts America before appearing in Bluewater’s “Princess on the Chesapeake” VIP Tour and subsequent season of boat shows.
Primping and Prepping
Typically once the new vessels arrive in the U.S., it takes two to three weeks to fully commission the vessels according to Marketing Director James Noble. Approximately 40% of these yachts are usually pre-sold hulls which are promptly delivered to their owners, while the remainder are inventory boats held by Princess for dealer and boat show demos. “In the down market a few years ago we were averaging six or seven new boats brought over for Fort Lauderdale and then another six or seven for the Miami Show. Now we’re approaching 40 vessels a year imported and commissioned between our two East Coast facilities.” It varies on each shipment, but the majority of vessels are outfitted at the Viking Service Center in Riviera Beach, Florida and the remaining in New Jersey at Viking headquarters.
At Princess, the process of appointing a European-built boat for North America consumers starts at the very beginning of the design phase. Princess North America staff are involved in specifying the differing features, electrical systems and appliances required to bring the boats to market. Out of necessity, the North American models have drastic differences in their electrical systems. Not only do the boats need to conform to different standards such as 110 volt alternating current, but circuit breakers, wire gauge and appliances all must be re-sized appropriately as well. The designs also feature more power outlets throughout, including GFI protection, and are also typically outfitted with retractable shore power cords. With the dawn of the global economy, the process of acquiring region specific appliances has become much easier, but about two containers a month are still sent from the U.S. to England, shipping over the more hard-to-acquire and custom-requested equipment for American customers’ boats. By this method, when the yachts arrive in the U.S., “there is very little that still needs outfitted besides perhaps some water maker options or completing and testing the satellite television,” Noble explains. Nevertheless, each boat is put through a thorough series of tests, sea trials and ABYC surveys, before being delivered to a customer or the show circuit. Says Noble, “The checklist is 200-300 items long.”
Expertly Run Companies
Princess and Viking have had a long (and to the uninitiated, confusing) relationship; but it’s really quite simple. Working at Viking Yachts in 1995, Tom Carroll initiated the partnership and importation of Princess Yachts to the U.S. and the company oversaw their commissioning. For some time these yachts were branded as Viking Sport Cruisers. But now that the Princess brand is flourishing in America, the companies have opted to discontinue the use of the Viking Sport Cruiser nameplate and rely solely on the strength of the Princess brand.
Both Princess and Viking have a wealth of similarities Noble says. “Both companies have been around for over forty years and their respective founders have been very hands-on managers throughout most of their history. Because of our relationship, Princess and Viking share some of the longest tenured dealers in the industry. Some of them, like Bluewater, have been working with us for 40-some years now.”
“A Princess Yacht is an amazing product as soon as it leaves the factory, but we’re here on the other side to see to its final sale, delivery and service, as well as provide steadfast warranty support. We are fully stocked with spare parts and our dealer network – which Bluewater is a very big part of – provides over 45 support locations along the U.S. coast.”
Princess Yachts America pride themselves in working closely not only with their dealers, but directly with customers as well. “Despite having delivered approximately 600 yachts over 19 years, we still know where pretty much every one of those boats is,” Noble says – an impressive feat of logistics in and of itself.