56 Express — By Capt. Chris Kelly — June 2000
|Part 2: Neptunus 56 Express|
The second cockpit lounge can seat five people; it’s curved and to starboard and sits across from one of the most extensive outdoor entertaining areas I’ve seen. Here, packed into one console, is an electric grill, undercounter refrigerator with icemaker, cold-water sink, and plenty of lockers. While the console is solid FRP, the flip-up lids are supported by single, rather flimsy springs that may fail while running. Given the considerable weight and size of these lids, gas-assisted struts would be a more user friendly option here.
Fully forward in the cockpit, a raised bridge deck provides good visibility all around and 6'1" headroom for the owner’s stateroom beneath it. Two people can join the helmsman on a centerline lounge, and from the deeply padded helm seat–fully to starboard–it was easy to reach the mahogany wheel that tilts for sit-down or stand-up driving. A recessed console across the forward part of the dash is big enough to hold an array of cruising electronics, and the area’s blue color dramatically cuts down on glare. With helm seating for three and cockpit seating for 11, the 56 Express can entertain quite a crowd.
For overnighting you’ll have to leave most of those 11 guests ashore, but the 56 Express can still sleep two couples in luxurious accommodations. As soon as you step below, you’re greeted by a cherry-wood interior and a marble-sole galley area along the port side, where appliances include an AEG four-burner cooktop, undercounter Sub-Zero refrigerator and separate freezer, Panasonic microwave oven, and Black & Decker coffeemaker. I like the way the cherry wood doors hid the latter two appliances when not in use to create a clean, unified look between those cabinets and the rest of the galley’s lockers. To starboard an Ultraleather, C-shape sofa seats six around a small electrically raised table, but I was surprised that the entertainment center (in an undercounter locker at the end of the galley) contains only a small, 15-inch TV/VCR and an Alpine CD car stereo instead of a full-size unit. However, since Neptunus is a semicustom builder, you can upgrade the type and location of both units. I also appreciated the in-sole dry stowage locker in the saloon, which can hold several weeks’ worth of supplies.
There’s good access around the island double berth (with innerspring mattress) in the forward guest stateroom. Two cedar-lined hanging lockers and a built-in 13-inch TV/VCR are standard equipment here, while the head, which doubles as a day head, offers a separate stall shower.
Abaft the saloon, the owner’s stateroom is actually a huge midcabin, and its midships location should provide a stable sleeping platform even while underway. This stateroom features a double berth with built-in end tables, a huge closet, a small vanity with swing-out stool, and a hatch overhead that provides direct access to the wiring behind the helm–an electronics installer’s dream.
The master head is to starboard, and you must step up to enter it. Here you’ll also find a large shower stall with 6'3" headroom, marble-tile flooring, and plenty of mirrors to create a spacious feel.
Speaking of feel, out on the water few boats of this size feel as solidly built underway as the Neptunus 56. Our test boat topped out at a respectable 36 mph and accelerated gradually until the turbos kicked in at 1750 rpm. Despite her size, she was a breeze to handle and carved smooth, albeit wide, turns at speed. Even with the engines well aft, the 56 exhibited no excessive bow rise on the way to planing speed, and the combination of the Mathers electronic controls and Vetus bow thruster made her a nimble performer around the docks. The low windshield means you will take the full brunt of the oncoming wind when driving in the standing position, but that can be remedied with a bimini top and isinglass curtains.
The Neptunus 56 Express is both an impeccably styled cruiser and one of the most luxurious dayboats you’ll find. While her base price of nearly $900,000 might seem a little breathtaking, it is competitive for a boat of this size and quality, even if she is at the "entry level" for Neptunus.
Neptunus Yachts Phone: (905) 937-3737. Fax: (905) 937-9144. www.neptunusyachts.com.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.