Due to its fall timing, the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show typically hosts dozens of new model introductions, and the 2022 event was no exception. But the world debut of the 50 GLS from Cruisers Yachts was clearly one of the most hotly anticipated launches at the show. Starting from the moment the gates opened on the first day, Hull No. 1 was filled to capacity with showgoers checking out the 50’s features and amenities.
Part of the reason for all the buzz about the boat were its twin fold-out “beach doors,” which were deployed at the show—a huge attention-getter. Another attraction was the brawny power package: triple 600-hp Mercury V-12 Verado outboards, which give this yacht a top end over 48 knots. Before the show was many hours old, the Wisconsin builder had taken its first order for a Cruisers 50 GLS–and certainly not its last.
“Interest was high. It was clearly a hot introduction at the show,” said Matt VanGrunsven, director of marketing at Cruisers Yachts.
The 50 is the new flagship of the builder’s Grand Luxury Sport (GLS) series, which also includes a 34, 38 and 42. Cruisers considered making the new model 48 feet in length overall, then upped it to 50-plus feet in order to create a voluminous, two-stateroom yacht that would serve equally well for entertaining and cruising. According to VanGrunsven, the 50 GLS is designed to appeal to a variety of boat owners.
“We have learned from building the GLS series that the customer varies,” he said. “There are people in larger boats stepping down, but also [those with smaller] weekenders who are trading up. With the success of the smaller GLS models, this boat gives them something to move up to.”
VanGrunsven invited us to sea-trial Hull No. 1 a week after the boat show at the MarineMax dealership in North Miami. There, with only VanGrunsven and MarineMax Capt. Drew Armao along for the ride, we finally had the elbowroom to explore the bells and whistles.
It was clear from the outset that the 50 GLS incorporates many of the best design concepts we’ve seen on large day boats in recent years, and they are seamlessly integrated into an offshore cruising-yacht platform.
The electric beach doors are a good example. They are not new to the GLS series; the 38 has one beach door, and the 42 has two. However, the 50 GLS takes the design to a new level, since the beach doors expand the boat’s beam from an already-spacious 14 feet, 6 inches to a far wider 21 feet.
Like many of today’s larger, outboard-powered dayboats, the 50 GLS has an open-concept main deck that invites guests to socialize, sunbathe and swim without having to encounter barriers like an aft sliding door or a high transom. Apart from the dais that holds the dinette, the main deck is a single level, facilitating an easy flow of traffic from the bow to the swim platform. The Flexiteek sole combines the stylish appearance of teak with the practicality of artificial flooring.
As with all Cruisers models, the design process for the 50 GLS included making a full-scale cardboard mock-up of the boat so the engineering team could experience its ergonomics first-hand. “We can touch it, we can feel it, we can sit in it,” VanGrunsven said. “You can’t get that experience looking at a CAD drawing.”
The yacht’s styling is American rather than Euro. Its Ultraleather-upholstered seating is generous, from the bench with automotive-style armrests in the bow to the dinette amidships to the trio of sofas that create an outdoor lounge aft. At the touch of a button, the aft cockpit also can be shielded from the sun by the standard Makefast shade that deploys from the coachroof.
Entertaining is facilitated in multiple ways. Opposite the dinette is a wet bar with counter space, a sink, storage and a refrigerator (a second fridge is optional). In the transom is a cabinet with an electric grill and sink. There’s an icemaker under the helm seat, as well as a chiller box forward. One of the coolest features on the 50 GLS also can be found in the bow: press a button, and the starboard sole panel rises up to become a cocktail table.
A sound system from JL Audio is standard. It has multiple zones with separate controls. We were impressed by the stylish fiberglass housings that Cruisers created for the system’s many large speakers, which are seamlessly integrated into the coachroof.
During the past few years, digital switching not only has replaced the complex cable runs that lurked in cabinetry, but also has changed the boating experience to be similar to what we enjoy in our cars. The 50 GLS has three 19-inch Simrad multifunction displays at the helm. Skippers can use any one of them to control the electrical equipment on board via the boat’s CZone digital switching system. That includes the side windows, sunroof, sliding door to the bow, optional pop-up TV in the main cockpit, lighting and more.
With all of its main-deck features, the 50 GLS is an ideal yacht for day cruising in coastal areas like the Miami waterways we were navigating during our sea trial. It also is ready for overnights on the hook. Belowdecks is a two-stateroom layout to accommodate two couples for a weekend or longer. The interior décor here is classic, with high-gloss mocha wood walls and cabinetry.
The master stateroom forward has an island queen berth, an entertainment system with a TV, skylights and a side window onto the walkaround with a port that owners can open for fresh air. It would have been convenient to have a second door from the master stateroom into the head, but there is a hanging locker in the space where that door would need to be. Stowage space on a cruise is always at a premium, so the design team made the better choice.
Accessed from the companionway, the head itself is spacious, with a sink, plenty of counter space and a large shower stall. A small microwave and fridge are in the companionway opposite, so owners can fix a cup of coffee in the morning before heading up on deck.
The midcabin has an athwartships double berth and a U-shaped seating area. This versatile cabin also could be used as a media lounge or simply an air-conditioned spot to get out of the sun. It has enough headroom for adults to sit up in the berth. It lacks a door, so when two couples are staying together on board, they would likely want to rig a curtain over the midcabin entry for privacy.
Cruising in the 50 GLS does not have to be limited to coastal and inland waterways. The boat has a deep-V hull with a 24-degree deadrise at the transom designed for offshore adventures. Stainless steel grabrails are strategically positioned around the boat to enhance safety at sea, and the portside walkway has high sides. There is only a small spot to stow a tender. However, thanks to the tiltable outboard engines, this yacht can get into shallow waters.
The 50 GLS is designed for an optional Seakeeper 6 gyrostabilizer system, which is housed in the machinery room along with the 16-kW Kohler diesel generator.
Driving the 50 GLS with the triple 600 Verados is a Lexus-level experience. The outboards purr powerfully in the background without being overly loud. While docking and undocking, the joystick provides fingertip control of the outboards, and there is a standard 240-volt bow thruster. The boat’s fuel capacity is sufficient to provide a range of 282 nautical miles at a fast cruising speed of 37 knots at 5000 rpm, according to Cruisers’ performance report.
Out on the Intracoastal Waterway, in a stretch with no speed limit, I settled into the helm chair (it adjusts back and forward, up and down). Next to it is a double-wide companion chair. As I opened the throttles, the boat planed quickly and advanced smoothly to the captain’s recommended cruising speed of 35 knots. At that pace, I was tempted to head for Bimini, 56 miles away, as we would be there in just an hour and 15 minutes. Instead, I tried some high-speed turns. The boat leaned into the corners, delivering a sporty performance for such a large cruiser. With half a tank of fuel, running in both directions on the ICW, we averaged about 48.2 knots at WOT, just shy of Cruisers’ tested top end.
Fast, feature-rich and comfortable, the 50 GLS lives up to its new role as the flagship of the Grand Luxury Sport series. It’s the embodiment of all three.
This article was originally published in the February 2023 issue.