This question is a little bit like the old one about race
: "It can be light, it can be strong, or it can be cheap
. Pick any two."
So a cruising boat can be fast (and weatherly, and fun to sail), can be comfortable, or can be cheap
-- pick any two.
Actually, it's more about size than cost. The smaller the boat, the more intense the conflict between performance and comfort becomes. Once you get up to 50' and beyond, you no longer really have to sacrifice one for the other.
Maybe there's a fourth factor -- seaworthiness. Our old boat, a 36.5 foot long-keeler, was neither comfortable nor did it perform well. She sacrificed both of these things for great, built like a brickhouse seaworthiness. She could not accomodate more than 3 people (two of them a couple). There was practically zero usable deck
space so you had to live in the cockpit
. She did have a nice head
, though, for a boat that size. As to performance, her slowness didn't bother me nearly as much as her inability to point. She tacked through about 130 degrees at best, so to actually get anywhere vaguely upwind you had to motor
. I like to sail (duh), so this was, to my mind, her worst quality.
The new boat is a 54 footer. I was even a little embarrassed at first by the volume of the accomodation below (but you get used to it fast!). She tacks through about 95 degrees or so true without pinching, so I have never yet motored to get somewhere upwind -- romping upwind at 7 or 8 knots at that angle, you can still make VMG of 4 or more knots directly upwind (yay!).
Of course she cost about 10x of the old boat, but that's where you would rather compromise, if you can afford to.
I guess weatherliness is maybe irrelevant on a trade
winds transat, but I doubt many of us spends most of our time in the trades, even those who have done a transat or two. For the rest of us, every degree of tacking angle can make the difference between sailing, or not.