Harris FloteBote Crowne 250: Luxury, Redefined

A pontoon boat with all the fixings.

2nd August 2014.
By Gary Reich

What would you think if I told you that there’s a pontoon boat on the market with a price point north of $180,000? You might get the urge to call me crazy, right? Well, I’m here to tell you that such a vessel actually exists. Say hello to the Harris FloteBote Crowne 250.

A Harris FloteBote Crowne 250 glides gracefully past the waterfront.

A Harris FloteBote Crowne 250 gracefully glides past the waterfront. The lack of traditional aluminum railing and flat panels give this pontoon an express boat look. (Single outboard model pictured.)

The boat we’ll be discussing in this review is essentially Harris FloteBote’s Crowne 250 model with just about every box on the options list checked. And by everything, I mean everything. How about twin 300-hosepower Mercury Verado outboard power with joystick controls, or proximity sensors that tell you how far away from the dock you are? There’s also a massive Polk Audio stereo system, custom molded arch, and even LED-accented drink holders.

Is there anything that isn’t included? Let’s take a closer look at this premium pontoon to find out.

Harris FloteBote has a solid reputation for building some of the most robust, longest-lasting pontoon craft out there. And let me tell you, you can feel and see those qualities as soon as you step aboard the Crowne 250.

Take, for example, the decking system. Harris FloteBote starts with full-length riser brackets versus the segmented ones usually used on these boats. Next, tongue and groove, ¾-inch plywood is mounted on cross supports spaced at every 16 inches. Harris FloteBote even uses a four-step process to waterproof the joints between those plywood panels. It all seems to work because the deck feels as if it’s made of solid fiberglass, not plywood.

Harris FloteBote is serious about the decks in its boats. The Crowne 250 deck has full-length riser brackets, 3/4-inch pressure-treated decks, and crossmembers spaced at 16 inches.

Harris FloteBote is serious about the decks in its boats. The Crowne 250 deck has full-length riser brackets, 3/4-inch pressure-treated decks, and crossmembers spaced closely at 16 inches.

The Crowne 250 also lacks the sometimes cheap-looking aluminum tubing and flat panel “fencing” that normally surrounds most pontoon boat decks. Instead, Harris FloteBote uses molded, curvy fiberglass panels that give the boat an appearance more like that of an express cruiser. All in all, the whole boat oozes sturdiness, rigidity, and quality, from the pontoons right up to the molded fiberglass sport arch.

On deck is where the boat shows off its comfort and luxury qualities. The urge to nap and relax on the Crowne 250 is enhanced by plenty of comfy chaise lounges and benches covered with buttery, supple leather. And they aren’t just comfortable, either—most of them are loaded with LED lighting, light-accented cup/drink holders, and the aft lounge even has remote controls for the Polk Audio stereo system.

Up forward are two lounges with a pop-in table between them for happy hour snacks or light lunches. They can serve either as bench seating for about five to six of your friends (they have plenty of back support), or as comfortable lay-back seating for that aforementioned napping.

A bit farther aft is another lounge that is set off to port, while an expansive helm area with a leather swiveling captain’s chair is set off to starboard. Forward of the captain’s chair is a nicely laid out dash with easy-to-view engine instrumentation, accessible switches, and well-placed controls. Look up and you’ll see a molded fiberglass arch that protects you from the sun with tinted Plexiglas panels. An array of LEDs beam down from the arch at night to help light the way.

Back aft are two more chaise lounges that face aft toward a large swim platform behind ample and sturdy stainless-steel tubing. The vantage point for watching other folks enjoy water sports or swimming is great here, but far enough away from the action to stay dry, too.

Forward seating includes two lounges than can also be used as benches with full back support.

Forward seating includes two lounges than can also be used as benches with full back support.

If you’re wondering where a big chunk of the Crowne 250’s $180,000 price tag goes, the best place is to look is on the stern. Base price for the Crowne 250 with twin, 300-hosepower Mercury Verado outboards is just north of $125,000. To give that some scale, the base Crowne 250 with a 90-horsepower Mercury four-stroke outboard starts around $60,000. So figure in about a $65,000 surcharge for the big Mercurys.

But you do get performance for that money. A lot of performance. The Harris FloteBote folks told me to expect a top speed well above 60 mph with those fire-breathing Verados. That speed is impressive on any boat, much less a pontoon.

The outboards are controlled via a pair of digital controls and a power steering wheel at the helm, or by a joystick controller armed with Mercury’s Joystick Piloting for Outboards system. There’s also a Skyhook panel wired into the setup that allows you to dynamically position the Crowne 250 in one spot on the water.

Twin, 300-horsepower Mercury Verado outboards can push the Crowne 250 well past 60 mph. That's fast for any boat, much less a pontoon.

Twin, 300-horsepower Mercury Verado outboards can push the Crowne 250 well past 60 mph. 

To deal with all the added performance and stresses added by those outboards, the Crowne 250 is fitted with Harris FloteBote’s XTR (Extreme Turning Radius Package) performance and handling package. The kit includes a center tube that is lowered three inches for enhanced tracking; lifting strakes for quicker planing and better handling; an aluminum skin kit for reduced drag; and beefed-up motor pod mounts.

Docking should be a snap, not only because of the joystick steering and digital controls, but also because Harris FloteBote has installed proximity sensors around the exterior of the boat. These sensors are much like what you find on some automobiles in that they beep at the skipper in shorter and shorter intervals as the boat gets closer to the dock or other fixed structure. I didn’t’ have a chance to test the system in a real-life situation, but the concept seems like it would be handy, especially when docking side-to on a seawall.

Specifications
Length 26’9″
Beam 8’6″
Draft (hull) N/A
Deadrise N/A
Displacement 4,300 lbs
Fuel capacity 45 gal.
Water capacity N/A

So, is there anything worth criticizing on this fully loaded Crowne 250? Quite honestly, there’s not much. That said, this is an awfully expensive pontoon boat. Sure, it’s marketed toward a very specific, upper-end buyer, and I get that. But remember that you’re not going to be able to cook daily meals of any significance, sleep overnight comfortably, or do any long-distance cruising on this boat. That’s a lot of money to spend on a single-purpose platform, if you ask me… but pontoon boat buyers generally aren’t planning to cruise down the Intracoastal Waterway, either.

All things considered, the Harris FloteBote Crowne 250 is a great fit if you’re looking for one of the most luxurious, comfortable, well-appointed, and well-built pontoon boats money can buy. The fact that this one can top 60 mph and still keep its occupants lounging in luxury makes the whole concept even more enticing.

Other Choices: If you’re looking for other luxury pontoon boats of this size, consider the Bennington 2575 QCW or Avalon Ambassador 27. If you’re looking for something bigger, perhaps a pontoon with a full-size standing bar, give the Premier 290 Grand Entertainer a look.

See listings for all Harrris FloteBote Crowne 250 pontoon boats.

For more information, visit Harris FloteBote.


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About the author:

Gary Reich

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Gary Reich is a Chesapeake Bay-based freelance writer and photojournalist with over 25 years of experience in the marine industry. He is the former editor of PropTalk Magazine and was the managing editor of the Waterway Guide. His writing and photography have been published in PassageMaker Magazine, Soundings, Fly Fishing in Salt Waters, Yachting Magazine, and Lakeland Boating, among others.
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