For over 40 years the Sea Ray series of Sundancer models has dominated the market for mid-cabin cruisers, probably the most competitive segment of the boating market for most of the past 30 years. It’s not that Sea Ray ever lacked for competition — Regal, Chaparral and Formula all enjoy great reputations for their quality express cruisers, but their products combined have never seriously challenged Sea Ray’s popularity and broad-based market acceptance. Simply put, Sea Ray pretty much owns the U.S. market for express cruisers.
Profiled below are eight Sundancer models notable for their remarkable sales success. All have similar mid-cabin interiors, most use V-drives to deliver the power, and each was state-of-the-art during their production years. Taken together, they provide readers with some insight as to why Sea Ray so dominates the market for express cruisers.
Sea Ray 260 Sundancer
At a Glance: The first of several trailerable 260 Sundancer models offered by Sea Ray over the years, this was the most popular by far. Starting with an uncluttered cockpit with wet bar, portside lounger, and transom door, the stern bench seat folds away when not needed and the rear facing bench seat converts to a sun lounge. A centerline companionway leads to the 260’s cherry-trimmed salon with full-service galley to port, convertible V-berth/dinette forward, mid-berth aft, and an enclosed head/shower to starboard. A walk-thru windshield leads to the foredeck, and molded access steps are built into in the sliding companionway door. An extended swim platform was standard. Built on a solid fiberglass hull, a single 310hp MerCruiser I/O will cruise in the low 20s (about 35 knots top).
Best Feature: Well-designed cockpit.
Price Range: From under $20K to the high $40s.
Sea Ray 280 Sundancer
At a Glance: A super-popular model, probably the best selling 28-foot express ever produced by any manufacturer. Sea Ray hit all the right buttons with the 280 Sundancer — leading edge styling, top-shelf amenities, and a spacious mid-cabin interior with cherry trim, full galley, and berths for six. There are two dinettes, something no other cruiser this size can boast. The hidden a/c vents are a nice touch, and the mid-cabin berth is properly sized for adults. The head compartment is on the small side. In the cockpit, the rear seat folds away when not in use, and the aft-facing bench seat converts to a sun pad by sliding the seat aft (no cushions to store). Built on a solid fiberglass deep-V hull with a wide 9'5" beam. Cruise at 24–26 knots with 220hp MerCruiser 4.3L gas engines.
Best Feature: Well-appointed interior.
Price Range: Mid the $30K range to $75–85K.
Sea Ray 310 Sundancer
At a Glance: An impressive blend of quality, comfort and performance, the 310 Sundancer ranks among the best selling cruisers her size ever produced. Her sleek styling was cutting edge in the late 1990s, and the workmanship and finish were a big step up from previous Sea Ray boats. The original interior with horseshoe seating lasted only a year before being replaced in 1999 with more conventional floorplan with a booth dinette. A wide-open cockpit with U-shaped rear seating and deluxe wet bar includes a double companion seat next to the helm seat — an unusual configuration. The entire bridge deck rises electrically for engine access — very cool. Offered with twin 260hp MerCruiser V-drive inboards (18–20 knots cruise) or twin 260hp MerCruiser I/Os (mid 20s cruise).
Best Feature: Huge cockpit with seating for eight.
Price Range: From the low $30s to the low $60s.
At a Glance: Another Sea Ray success story — this best-selling family cruiser combines the sleek styling and top-shelf amenities common to all recent Sundancer models. The Sundancer’s open-plan interior is notable for its oversized galley with cherrywood cabinets and more counter (and storage) space than many larger boats. There are berths for six including a comfortable kidney-shaped sofa opposite the galley that converts to a double bed. The sunken midcabin area aft serves as a secondary conversation area during the day and a guest stateroom at night. The cockpit sole lifts at the push of a button for access to the engines. Tiered dash with burlwood insets has space for electronic add-ons.The side decks are narrow. Offered with V-drive inboard or sterndrive power, MerCruiser 5.7L 300hp inboards cruise at 24–26 knots (low 30s top).
Best Feature: Great styling.
Price Range: From the high $50 to the low $100s.
Sea Ray 320 Sundancer
Sea Ray 340 Sundancer
At a Glance: The top selling 34-foot express ever, Sea Ray found the sweet sport with this popular model. Considered a "big" express cruiser when she was introduced in 1999. Luxurious accents like high-gloss cherry cabinets, faux leather upholstery, and quality hardware and appliances set the 340 apart from most of the competition. Roomy open-plan interior with large galley, sunken mid-cabin area sleeps six. Note pull-out TV above the galley. Built on a solid fiberglass hull with an integrated swim platform and moderate 11'5" beam. Cockpit features include a removable rear bench seat, wet bar with sink, built-in ice chest, cocktail table, and companion seat with storage under. Power engine compartment hatch is a nice touch. On the downside, the side decks are narrow. MerCruiser 370hp V-drive inboards cruise in the mid-to-high 20s.
Best Feature: Advanced styling (in her day).
Price Range: From the low $40 to the low $100s.
Sea Ray 340 Sundancer
At a Glance: Sleek styling, quality construction, and a sumptuous interior — nobody does family cruisers better than Sea Ray. The 340’s elegant open-plan interior is a rich blend of dark cherrywood cabinets, earth-tone wall coverings, and posh Ultraleather upholstery. Privay curtains separate the fore and aft berths from the salon, and the galley has more counter space than most cruisers this size. Single-level cockpit features a big U-shaped settee/dinette aft (converts to a sun pad), full wet bar with refrigerator, and twin captain’s seats at the helm. An electric hatch lifts to reveal the engine compartment. Note big transom storage locker. Great helm layout with room for electronics. Built on a deep-V hull with wide 12' beam. Cruise at 26 knots with twin 375hp MerCruiser V-drive power.
Best Feature: Well-appointed interior.
Price Range: From the mid $60s to around $160K.
Sea Ray 380 Sundancer
At a Glance: Sea Ray got it right with this mega-popular express yacht. Introduced in 1999 — an era of strong competition from European sport yachts — the 380 combined bold styling and a huge interior with many impressive features. Wider in the beam than European boats and with considerably more freeboard, none of the imports could match the 380’s huge interior with it’s spacious salon, home-sized galley (note full-size refrigerator), and generous headroom. Earth-tone decor — cutting-edge in its day — is a mix of cherry cabinets, leather upholstery, and premium appliances. The double companion seat is a nice touch on a boat this size. The bottom is balsa cored — Sea Ray had issues with some cored hulls from 1995 to 2002. Most 380’s were sold with gas engines. Twin 370hp V-drive inboards cruise at 18 knots (mid 20s top).
Best Feature: Spacious salon and mid-cabin area.
Price Range: High $60s to low $150s.
Sea Ray 400/410 Sundancer
At a Glance: Big Sea Ray express from the 1990s — long on styling, loaded with great features, and designed for cruising. Called the 400 Sundancer in 1997–99 and the 410 Sundancer beginning in 2000. (The 410 has slightly more cabin headroom.) A posh crescent-shaped sofa dominates the huge salon. Full-service galley is to port with cherry cabinets, upright refrigerator, and granite counter. Aft of the salon is a large mid-cabin area with a pocket door for privacy. A walkaround island berth is in the forward stateroom, and the head compartment includes a separate stall shower. The engine room is accessed via a power hatch in the cockpit sole with steps leading down to the machinery. The Sundancer’s hull is fully cored with balsa. Standard MerCruiser 385hp gas V-drive engines cruise at 16–18 knots. Cat 340hp V-drive engines cruise at 22–24 knot (high 20s top).
Best Feature: Well-appointed interior..
Price Range: Mid $80s to mid $100s.
Eight Sea Ray Sundancers that Crushed the Competition