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Types of Yachts: An Overview

From small yachts to superyachts, many luxurious vessels are available for purchase on the market today. Each type of yacht has unique features that set it apart from the other types, so a certain yacht style might suit you better than another. To make sure that you are looking at the right one for you, you will need to know how to distinguish the different types of yachts from each other.

While there is no set definition that specifically sets yachts apart from other vessels, they are generally understood to be larger than average (at least 40 feet long or bigger) with a galley, a head, and cabins with sleeping quarters. Yachts usually have powerful diesel motors that can handle cruising, runs to distant fishing grounds, and watersports. Yachts can also be classified by numerous factors, including size, amenities, and method of propulsion.



Types of Yachts

There are four main categories of yachts: motor yachts, sailing yachts, motor sailers, and cruisers. Let's take a look at each one.


motor yacht


Motor yachts

A motor yacht is propelled with the use of a motor or, more commonly, multiple motors. As the most common type of yacht available today, motor yachts are built for entertainment with spacious social interaction areas and luxurious accommodations. Buyers often choose motor yachts because of their suitability for extended cruising ventures, entertaining large groups of guests, and charter trips.


Sailing yachts

A sailing yacht uses sails as its primary means of propulsion. While these yachts also have motors on board, they’re usually used only when there is not enough wind to propel the craft, when docking, or when operating in heavily trafficked harbors or channels. Sailing yachts are appealing because of the quiet and environmentally friendly way they operate, as well as their essentially unlimited range. Sailing yachts generally have a lower profile and due the the shape of the hull, less onboard space than other types of yachts.


Motor sailers

Motor Sailers are a hybrid between a motor yacht and a sailing yacht. They generally use a motor as the primary form of propulsion, but also have sails that can be used when the weather conditions are right. Though less popular than the other types of yachts there are subcategories of motor sailers such as the gulet (for information see What is a Gulet? What is it like to charter one?), and there are also some catamaran motor sailers.


Cruiser yachts

Yacht styles that do not quite fit into the previous categories are often called cruiser yachts or express cruisers. These yachts are generally modern looking, with sleek, streamlined hulls and open cockpit areas. They are on the smaller side for yachts, typically no more than 60 or 70 feet long, and are usually powered by twin diesel engines.


Types of Luxury Yachts

A luxury yacht is generally understood to be a yacht that is built with the latest in modern technology and features high-end finishes and materials. The word "luxury" can be used with any type of yacht that is exceptionally well-appointed, but some types of yachts are considered to be more luxurious than others. Let's take a look at what they are.


Luxury yacht Scheherazade in Croatia


Classic luxury yachts

Today's classic luxury yachts are designed to emulate the grace and style of the classic yachts of yesteryear while incorporating the latest technology in a non-intrusive way. These yachts tend to have large private cabins with full baths and Jacuzzis, spacious social areas that can accommodate many guests, and lavish accommodations featuring air conditioning, high-speed internet access, and expansive entertainment systems.


Mega luxury yachts

Mega luxury yachts are private yachts that can be hundreds of feet long and are crafted specifically to carry large numbers of family and friends in lush accommodations. They feature vast open areas for sunning and socializing, multi-level entertainment and relaxation options, and VIP staterooms with private en suite heads. Many have additional special features, such as saunas, gymnasiums, and spas.


Types of Small Yachts

Small yachts, also called sport yachts, are vessels that are less than 60 feet long and are designed to accommodate no more than a dozen people at a time. These yachts often have sleek designs and may be used for fishing trips, offshore excursions, and water sports. Like the term "luxury," the word "sport" can be applied to just about any style of yacht, but some types seem to fit the category better than others. More information: Small Luxury Boats with a Difference.


small yacht


Yacht Sizes

You can find yachts in three size categories: yachts, superyachts, and mega yachts. While you can find some variation in how these terms are used, yachts are generally classified as being up to 100 feet long. Superyachts are between 100 feet and 200 feet long. Mega yacht is the term used for any yacht that is more than 200 feet long.


Yacht Categories

Yachts are often categorized by their notable features, with the terms "sport" or "luxury" added to describe their level of opulence. Here are some of the most popular yacht categories.


Yachts moored in Porto Cervo, Italy


Catamaran yachts

This type of yacht is often made of fiberglass and has two hulls with an open space in the middle for greater stability and a smoother ride. They are available in both sailing and power varieties.


Flybridge yachts

Flybridge yachts are built with a spacious deck and living space atop the main cabin, called the flying bridge or flybridge. The layout of the flybridge may be open or fully enclosed with climate control. They also typically have a hardtop and a sizable seating and/or lounge area.


Sportfish yachts

Also known as sport fishing yachts, these yachts are built for speed and durability, making them great for fishing trips and sport fishing tournaments. They typically have a large cockpit and ample storage space to accommodate anglers on the water for long periods of time. Sportfish yachts may come equipped with outriggers, fishboxes, fighting chairs, and other fishing features.


Expedition yachts

Expedition yachts are designed for adventure, with a deep displacement hull to enhance stability and comfort during long trips. They are designed for passengers to remain safe and comfortable through long oceanic voyages, and tend to have extended range and plenty of accommodations.



Written By: Carrie Reed

Carrie is passionate about maritime law, which she studied for her International Relations degree. She began sailing when she was 15 years old and she has been passionate about it ever since. She also enjoys the occasional yacht trip.

More from: Carrie Reed

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