The all-new 390 EC is the product of an inspired design process that started around the time the Cruisers 328 Bow Rider won Boating magazine’s “Boat of the Year” in 2013. “We knew we had something,” said Matt VanGrunsven, director of marketing for the company. “Our dealers asked for a larger boat with similar social spaces and features, but with overnight accommodations.”
Cruisers’ product development specialists started thinking beyond the deck layout of the “traditional” express cruiser, and that’s when confidence collided with fun. The result? A boat with the largest cockpit in its class, the largest sunroof in its class and movable seating that creates the largest sunbathing area in its class. It was these highlights, among others, that led the 390 EC to be named a “2015 Top Product” by Boating Industry magazine.
Stepping aboard the 390 EC through the central transom walkway, I was struck by the larger-than-expected size of the cockpit. VanGrunsven explained that, by moving the sidedecks forward to mid-ship, the boat’s designers were able to craft a true full-beam cockpit — one that’s 20 inches wider than it might have been.
That extra space was put to good use, with facing L-shaped lounges that slide together to make a big U-shaped settee around a wood table. You can also add a sun lounge package here that includes filler cushions and power-actuated reclining backrests, so the entire upholstered area becomes one giant sun bed with direct access to the integrated swim platform.
Just forward of the cockpit, a standard wet bar with sink can be rigged with an electric grill and refrigerator, so you don’t have to stray far to flip those burgers or grab a cold one. Diagonal from the bar — but still on the same level; no steps up or down — the companion seat is another L-shaped lounge that allows for stretching out and enjoying the view.
And speaking of views, the 390 EC offers a couple of stunners. A full frameless windshield means unrestricted visibility across the horizon, while overhead, a canvas sunroof opens electrically, accordion-style, to let the light shine down and further expand the panoramic, at-one-with-nature sensation.
It bears noting that the entire bridge area can be enclosed and climate-controlled during inclement weather. A clever sliding door in the canvas-and-isinglass lets you easily get to the cockpit and sidedecks when you need to.
Impressive as the 390 EC’s exterior might be, the boat’s interior is no postscript. It starts with a galley to port and a head to starboard at the bottom of the companionway steps. Both are blessed with rich cabinetry crafted in-house at the Cruisers’ facility in Oconto, Wis. The galley comes well equipped with a sink, fridge, elective stovetop and microwave/convention oven. The head features full standup headroom at the vanity and in the walk-in shower, which is as roomy as I’ve seen in this size boat.
Both areas, as well as the forward dinette and full-beam master (more on this in a moment), enjoy exceptional natural lighting thanks to eight hull windows that extend from mid-ship to the bow. There’s also a fixed skylight and an opening hatch forward.
The dinette offers seating for seven or, when it’s time to call it a night, coverts to a V-berth with privacy curtain. To maximize accommodations, you can order optional flip-up backrests that make two additional sleeping bunks — ideal for cruising with kids.
The real showstopper below deck, though, is the amidships master, which has honest-to-goodness standing headroom in the cabin and a portside loveseat for relaxing and dressing. The step-down bed is a queen-size, and there’s a nightstand and chest, along with a full length, cedar-lined hanging locker. All in all, this mid-berth is light years from the coffin-like compartments we’ve saw on older, more “traditional” express boats. It actually made me want overnight there.
On the Run
On the day I was aboard in Sturgeon Bay, Wis., the water was calm as could be. The 390 EC we tested was powered with twin 380-horsepower MercCruiser gas sterndrives and equipped with Axius joystick control. Burying the throttles from idle caused a fair degree of bow rise, which lessened when I dropped the tabs and accelerated steadily.
The boat proved smooth and agile in turns, a testament to its hull design and steering system. While running back and forth across the bay, we reached a top end of 39 miles per hour (5100 rpm) and cruised comfortably at 29 miles per hour (4000 rpm).
We were in a tight slip in Skipper Bud’s, at the end of a fairway tucked behind another boat parked side-to, but the Axius system preformed flawlessly, allowing us to slide slowly and precisely into our spot. It was the perfect ending to a beautiful day, one that I’m confident could only be made better by a boat like the Cruisers 390 Express Coupe.
If only Joe Namath could have been there.
Cruisers 390 Express Coupe
Length Overall: 39’
Draft (I/O down): 3’3”
Weight (approx.): 20,000 pounds
Fuel capacity: 230 gallons
Water capacity: 70 gallons
Base price: TBD