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Catamaran Vs. Pontoon (Pros & Cons)

Despite their resemblance, catamarans and pontoons have a few minor differences to keep in mind. However, as a general rule, identifying the type of watercraft may be boiled down to a single observation.

It’s a catamaran if it has two separate hulls connected by some kind of wing construction. However, the fundamental differences between the two vessels are minor, and the name for either vessel will often rely on its intended use and its intended user.

In contrast to catamarans, pontoon boats can only be used on lakes and rivers with a slow current. Both vessels are afloat. Many factors determine how quickly and how powerfully a boat may be used, such as what it is intended to be used for and how much it costs to maintain and operate.

Let’s look deeper into these two fun vessels and class them correctly so we don’t offend any captains or sailors in general.

Catamaran Vs. Pontoon

By looking at how the two hulls are connected, you can easily tell which one is which. A wing structure joins the individual hulls of a catamaran, allowing it to float on the water. Should there be a deck on top of the floating pontoons, then this is a pontoon boat.

Additionally, several other qualities can be utilized to distinguish these two designs. Knowing the distinctions between a pontoon boat and a catamaran might help you make a choice. We’ll compare both boats so you can make an informed decision. 

First, let’s do a quick overview of both vessels.

An Overview of Pontoon Boats


A Minnesota farmer, Ambrose Weeres, built his first motorboat in 1951 using plans he found online. This is when the idea of pontoons was born. On top of the pontoon, a wooden deck may be installed with dependable stability thanks to the welding of steel barrels together.

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A pontoon production business has grown out of his entrepreneurial endeavors. Since he developed a successful business model that attracted enough competitors to form a distinct product category, you could call him the Wright Brothers of Pontoons.

You can build a pontoon out of a swimming pool float and plywood by super gluing them together. In addition, you cannot hold an event on the “deck” of the boat. In part, this is due to the swimming pool float’s lack of reserve buoyancy.

The steel barrel pontoons of Weeres have been replaced by much more modern designs. Pontoons are another name for the floats that support a pontoon boat. It is possible to support medium-sized boat decks on these airtight and hollow structures.

An Overview of Catamarans

how to pack for children on a cat cruise

In an Indian indigenous language, they used the word “kattumaram” to distinguish two logs linked together by rope. The word “catamaran” developed from this. The vessel’s visual appearance is described by the name, which approximately translates as “two linked logs.”

Catamaran boats, on the other hand, are not designed to float in the same way as linked logs. Pontoons, on the other hand, are more closely related to the ancient Indian vessels made of knotted logs.

These vessels’ buoyancy is based on water displacement, hence the term “catamaran” refers to two hulled vessels. Because of the action-reaction concept, a catamaran’s hull cuts the water like a monohull and creates an upward reaction by pressing down.

Pontoon vs. Catamaran: What’s the Difference?


When they’re out on the water, an amateur cannot discern the difference between catamarans and pontoon boats.

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Many people mistakenly believe that they are the same because of their similarity in body design. However, the main distinction is what connects them to the pontoons. You could compare them into a few other categories to determine where the real disparities lie.

Deck Position and Accessibility

Even though both catamaran and pontoon boats are built to be buoyant and maneuverable, the deck layouts differ significantly.

Decks on pontoons are, as the title suggests, built right on top of the pontoons’ floats. It’s impossible to get to the pontoons directly from the boat’s deck because of this. When it comes to design, they are considered a separate section of the vessel because of this.

Cats Have Larger Cabins

Because of the catamaran’s larger cabins, the hulls may often be accessed from the deck and are often designed to fit together.

To make the hulls accessible to passengers as well as crew, they are often designed with cabins or storage areas built-in. Many catamaran varieties have short staircases built into their shells to get from the main deck to the lower section.


Pontoons are better suitable for recreational use because of their modest size.

From 15 feet through 50 feet, you can come upon pontoon boats for rent or purchase. A 145-foot catamaran is one of the largest in the world.


A pontoon boat consists of a deck and up to three pontoons that serve as the vessel’s floatation gear.

Most pontoon boats have two aluminum pontoons that can’t be accessed from the top because of a deck that surrounds them. As far as catamaran sailors are concerned, the term “pontoon boat” doesn’t do justice to their craft.

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As part of a catamaran, the boat hulls can be used for both living quarters as well as storage space. Pontoons will be equipped with a net or canvas that can be hung from a mast. While pontoons have a more barge-like appearance, catamarans tend to be more well-engineered and manufactured.

Their Purposes

They can withstand rough seas better due to their bigger size. This is true for racing boats and major commercial ships.

Pontoons are most commonly used for fishing or lounging, but they can also be put to good use in saltwater.

Speed and Power Source

speed and power source

Although the power sources of a catamaran and a pontoon boat may be similar, there are several places where they differ. On a pontoon, you’ll just have to deal with one engine or motor. The pontoon will be able to go across the ocean thanks to this power source.

Although the pontoon can only go at a top speed of about 25 mph with one engine (depending on the boat and motor setup).

Many boats can give wind to your hair and wind in your hair more quickly than a loose-fitting hat. 

It’s possible to enjoy a day on the open ocean while traveling at no more than 25 mph (or less), but this allows passengers to take in the view rather than merely gliding over it. Catamaran boats have two engines, one on each of their two hulls, making them more powerful than a single-hulled boat. 

In a two-engine vehicle, each engine provides twice the horsepower, double the fuel, plus twice the navigational abilities of a vehicle with a single-engine. On a catamaran with a dual engine, you’ll be able to cruise at twice the speed of a pontoon boat. Because of this, you can expect a 50 mph road excursion in the future.

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However, catamarans can be quite costly. Just like anything else, the price is influenced by factors such as the product’s size, specifications, and brand. There may be a wide variety of prices, ranging from a few thousand to several million dollars.

A pre-owned pontoon boat can be yours for as little as $3,000 or less. That isn’t always the case with catamarans. Pontoon boats range in price from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars when you buy them new.

Pros and Cons of Pontoon Vs. Catamaran


Consider both their advantages and limitations to make a complete comparison of both kinds of boats.

Before making a final selection, the average boat owner should consider the following advantages and disadvantages.


To maximize passenger capacity and storage space, a catamaran’s pontoons might be utilized.


  • Stability: having two hulls gives a cat more stability than a single-hulled vessel. 
  • These vessels’ enhanced max speeds make long-distance travel easier.
  • Not known for capsizing
  • Reduced hydrodynamic
  • Spacious deck
  • Not known to cause much seasickness
  • Most can travel the world


  • Many recreational boaters are unable to fund the average $50,000 base model of a catamaran.
  • Ongoing maintenance and higher fuel prices
  • It takes more marina space and costs more to dock a boat like this.



  • Effortlessness: It’s usually accepted that this is the most accessible and easiest-to-maintain type of boat to operate.
  • Affordable: the price of a spanking new pontoon might cost around $10,000, while you might acquire a secondhand model for as little as $3,000.
  • Due to their dual or sometimes triple hull design, pontoon boats are incredibly stable on the water.
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  • There is a pontoon deck on this boat.
  • Only the high-performance version can go fast. 
  • Inability to move quickly
  • Catamarans have an advantage over pontoon boats when it comes to stormy seas.

Always remember, to consider where you plan to use the boat, his often and you’re budget before making a major investment.