7 min read

Do You Know The Difference Between A Yacht And A Catamaran?

Do You Know The Difference Between A Yacht And A Catamaran?

It is common to get confused when talking about nautical vocabulary. Words that for captains and sailors are very easy to remember, for us they can mean something completely different. This same case applies to the types of vessels, so in this article, we will learn the main differences between vessels such as a boat, yachts, and catamarans.

What is a vessel?

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All vehicles that move on the water are known as vessels. The word vessel is used in the different nautical regulations and refers to any type of manned craft capable of navigating on or underwater. While the word boat refers to any vessel larger than 2.5 meters, so it includes everything from dinghies to ocean liners.


Since submarines and even surfboards (in some countries) can be considered vessels, there are many categories to divide them. In this case, we will show you the division by type of vessel:






Jet Skis

Transport vessel: Transatlantic liner, cruise ship, ferry and raft.

Merchant ship: Oil tanker, chemical tankers, cargo and reefer vessel.

Warship: Aircraft carriers, battleships, destroyers, frigates and more.

Special: Buoy tender, lifeboats, meteorological, cleaning and tugboat.

While transport vessels serve to move people and cargo, recreational vessels have the function of entertainment.

Types of recreational VESSELS

  • Sailboat: As its name indicates, these vessels move thanks to their sails and the force of the wind.
  • Catamaran: Famous for having two hulls and being very fast. It is used for leisure and sports.
  • Boat: Small boat for few passengers. They operate with oars, sail, or motor.
  • Jet ski: They use an internal propeller and are propelled by a turbine. Recently rated as the most environmentally friendly.


What is a yacht?

Many of us think of a yacht as a kind of boat, but a yacht is any pleasure vessel. Therefore, a dinghy, a catamaran, and a sailboat are considered yachts. A yacht does not carry cargo or people, nor does it perform any kind of work. It is only used for entertainment. It is not possible to point out the parts of a yacht, as the type of boat may vary.

The reality is that in the yacht charter world, the public identifies yachts as a single hull boat that is intimately linked with luxury and lifestyle


Motor yacht


Types of yachts 

Motor yachts: These are vessels that move at high speeds propelled by an engine and without sails. They focus on a navigation that does not inconvenience the passengers. They usually have capacity for smaller groups.

Large motor yachts: They are used for large groups of people and are designed for long trips. They are motor-driven and do not have sails. They are usually equipped for water sports.

Megayachts: These are large vessels measuring up to 180 meters from bow to stern. They are used to move large groups of people and are motor-driven.  The Azzam is a megayacht with 17 suites and 500 square meters and facilities such as swimming pools, helipads, and anti-paparazzi equipment.

Sailboat: As the name implies, they use their sails to propel themselves according to the direction of the wind. Sailboats are preferred for people looking for an authentic sailing experience.

Motor sailboat: They combine sail propulsion with engines. They become as large and have the same comfort as a motor yacht, but with the alternative of raising the sails and opening the windows.

Catamaran: These are basically two-hulled sailboats. They have greater stability than a single-hulled boat and more deck space and usually have trampolines or nets for lying down.

Schooner sailboat: These are boats propelled by sail with two or more masts. As a reference we can say that the schooner is a replica of an old pirate ship, long and with many sails. It gives the sensation of being in a movie of corsairs of the old world.


Famous yachts


The world of yachts is the world of luxury and extravagance and in this segment we show you 4 famous yachts that you probably didn't know (and that are really expensive).

1.-Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, owns a US$500 million megayacht called Flying Fox. This huge boat is 136 meters long, travels at a maximum speed of 15 knots and costs 4 million Euros per week to rent. Beyonce herself celebrated her birthday aboard Flying Fox.

2.- The sailing ship Sea Cloud is a huge ship considered the oldest passenger ship in the world. It was built in 1931 and served as a weather ship during World War II. Currently this sailboat is available for private charter with departures from the dock in Cartagena.

3.-The world's most expensive painting, "Salvator Mundi" by Leonardo Da Vinci, is inside the mega yacht Serene. This $134 million vessel is on the list of the 10 largest mega yachts on the planet, with a length of 134 meters. It can store a submarine and has an internal saltwater pool that can be converted into a dock.

4.-The motor yacht known as History Supreme is a yacht whose hull is literally made of solid gold and has a price tag of 3800 million dollars. It is covered with 100,000 kilos of precious metals, adorned with platinum, has onboard a bottle of liquor with diamonds, an aquarium made of 24-carat gold, and has a wall with a piece of art made of meteor stones and bones of a Tyrannosaurus Rex (the bones alone cost $89,000).


We already know it is a yacht, but what is a catamaran?

The catamaran is a recreational boat that is distinguished by having two hulls joined by a structure. Catamarans can be used for leisure, transport, or sport. It can be propelled by sail and/or motor. 

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As it has two hulls, it does not need ballast (or the weight that helps it to keep its balance) and has less resistance to water and wind, which makes it a fast and suitable boat for the sport. A catamaran is extremely stable and is unlikely to capsize. It is rare to suffer from seasickness on this type of boat.

As it has two hulls, it does not need ballast (or the weight that helps it keep its balance) and has less resistance to water and wind, which makes it a very fast and suitable boat for sports. A catamaran is extremely stable. It is very unlikely to capsize or suffer from seasickness on this type of boat.

Their design has inspired the development of models such as the Hydrofoil and the Wave-Piercing. Boats with 3 hulls are known as trimarans.


Meaning of the word catamaran

The word catamaran comes from the Tamil kaṭṭumaram, where kaṭṭu is bundle and maram is tree. Its meaning is trunks joined together.




A yacht is any vessel used for recreational activities regardless of its design. A catamaran is a boat that has two hulls instead of one and, depending on its use, may or may not be classified as a yacht.

Recreational catamarans are those used for sporting purposes like beach catamarans are used for tours and private charter catamarans.

Non-recreational catamarans are those vessels that fulfill a function or a job, such as the Pieter Schelte, a two-hulled vessel used to dismantle oil derricks in the water.


Partes de un catamarán

It's time to get to know the parts of a catamaran! On this occasion, we have as a reference one of Cancun Sailing's star catamarans, the fantastic Gypse from the Fountaine Pajot series. This incredible 43 feet boat has a capacity of up to 30 guests and the rental service includes open bar, snorkeling equipment, 3 crew, and 1 captain.

Cancun Sailing's Gypse catamaran

The fundamental parts of a recreational catamaran such as the Gypse are:

Hulls: The hull is the external structure of the boat. We can define it as the base of the boat that is in contact with the water and supports the other parts. Catamarans have two hulls joined by a crossbeam. 

Crossbeam:Crossbar that serves to join the two hulls and to support the trampoline.

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Trampoline:Mistakenly called a net, it is a flexible surface that forms part of the deck. On a catamaran like the Gypse, the net is used for relaxing and sunbathing.The material and type of trampoline knot vary according to the purpose of the catamaran.


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Deck: All surfaces or floors of a ship are known as deck. Since a ship may have several decks, the main deck is the largest deck. 



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Salon: This is the cabin of the catamaran, and its function is to protect the passengers from the weather. Inside Gypse's cabin we can find a small kitchen with bar, a living room, table and stairs on each side that lead to the bathrooms and rooms. In the covered outside area there is a lounge and seating space.

Mast: It is the main mast whose function is to hold the sails.

Boom: A horizontal pole anchored to the mast. It serves to support and guide the mainsail.

Mainsail: The main sail of the boat.

Jib: All triangular sails that improve the performance of the main sail are known as jibs.



Catamarans are very special boats. While single-hulled boats are more famous, catamarans have also left their mark on the nautical world. Read on and find out 5 curious facts about catamarans.



1.- The catamaran design is relatively new in modern boats, however, traces of two-hulled boats have been found in ancient cultures of the Malayo-Polynesian area and Taiwan. It is said that these boats are more than 3000 years old. 

2.- With 29 catamarans awarded with the Blue Flag insignia, Cancun Sailing is the company with the largest number of boats with this distinction worldwide. Some of the actions of the Blue Flag program that are carried out are: 

  • Educational talks on the marine ecosystem to guests.
  • Information stations on ecosystem care in marinas and boats.
  • Responsible waste disposal.
  • Recycling of garbage, snorkel tubes and fuels.

3.-The fastest catamaran is the F50. It is a racing sport boat that has sailed up to 53 knots of speed with an intensity of 20 knots. It is as if a racing car is moving at 250 km/h.

4.- The Pieter Schelte is the largest crane ship in the world. As it has two hulls, it is considered a catamaran. It is 382 meters long and 184 meters wide and serves to support offshore oil platforms. It is as long as the Empire Estate and as wide as the Big Ben tower and has a capacity for up to 571 crew members.

5.- The Hawaiian two-hulled vessel Hokule'a, completed a 3-year round-the-world voyage called Malama Honua (to care for the earth), to promote ocean conservation, sustainability, and the protection of indigenous cultures. The crew used ancient Polynesian navigation methods, guided by the stars, wind, and ocean currents.



1 - LowRes - Luv Cat - Isla Mujeres Catamaran Tour - Cancun Sailing

Catamarans are a very special and different type of boat, and there are several reasons to rent one. The first one is that you are less likely to suffer from seasickness aboard a catamaran since its two hulls give it stability and avoid side-to-side movements. Another reason is that they have plenty of deck space which makes them more comfortable.


You can rent a catamaran in Cancun at Cancun Sailing. Here you can find a wide variety of catamarans for private charter and catamaran tours from Cancun to Isla Mujeres.

A private catamaran is an original option that will serve you well to spend your vacations. On board a private catamaran, you will be able to:

  • Spend quality time with your friends and family in a private setting.
  • Enjoy a safer trip.
  • Get amazing selfies and pictures of the Caribbean Sea (without other people getting in the way).
  • Customize your experience by adding other elements such as food or decoration.
  • Build your itinerary.

We invite you to visit our website where you may filter catamarans by capacity or size in our catamaran catalog and choose the boat that suits you best. 

If you prefer to enjoy a tour that includes transportation, beach club access, a buffet, and a VIP open bar aboard a luxury catamaran, check out our Privilege Experience tour.


For an all-inclusive experience, we present our Isla Mujeres Full Experience tour, a 4-hour catamaran tour that includes transportation, food on board, a visit to Isla Mujeres and the option to choose between free time at a beach club located in Playa Norte (one of the most beautiful beaches in the world) or a tour of the island aboard a turibus to visit the most important points of this wonderful destination. 

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