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Is it a yacht, ship, or boat?

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What is the difference between a yacht, a ship, and a boat?

What is the difference between a yacht, boat, and a ship?

One naval recruit said that it is common lore that a ship rolls outward in a turn, while a boat rolls inward.

Other definitions:

  • You can fit a boat inside a ship, but you cannot fit a ship inside a boat.
  • A ship is a commercial vessel such as a passenger ship, a freighter, or a tanker. A boat is smaller – could be a fishing boat, a dinghy, a sailboat, a row boat, a charteryacht tender, etc., and could actually be fairly large.
  • Jana Sheeder, President of 1-800 Yacht Charters and 1-800 BAREBOAT says that a yacht is a personally-owned pleasure “boat,” often used for super yacht charters or crewed catamaran charters, and is either a sail boat or a power boat or both — but it is not a ship.
  • A ship is used for commercial purposes, whereas a yacht is used purely for recreational purposes, like yacht charter vacations. Size does not matter.
  • The distinction between a ship and a boat varies depending on regional definitions, but as a general rule, a boat can fit onto a ship, but a ship cannot fit onto a boat. A ship, in other words, is a very large ocean-going vessel, while a boat tends to be much smaller. Additionally, a ship usually is defined as having a displacement larger than 500 tons. During the age of sailing, a craft with three or more rigged masts was considered to be a ship, but this definition has been superseded, as different methods of power generation are used on modern ships.
  • Watercraft that we typically associate with the category of “ship” include cruiseships, container ships, aircraft carriers, destroyers, tall ships, and frigates. All of these ships are extremely large and are designed to endure potentially long ocean voyages. Traditionally, they required a very large crew of skilled sailors to manage them, although some ships, especially container ships, are growing increasingly easier to run with only a small crew. This is thanks to the development of sophisticated computer systems and improved mechanization, among other things. These ships are also capable of carrying a large volume of cargo, people, or a combination of both.
  • Typical examples of boats include powerboats, rowboats, canoes, kayaks, umiaks, and tugboats. Boats tend to be easier to maneuver than ships, but they are not capable of carrying as much cargo. Boats are also not equipped for long voyage, and some boats will not fare well on the open ocean.
  • A ship requires a crew of people to run smoothly, while a boat can often be handled by one person, alone. The system of authority on board a ship is also very clear-cut, with crew members organized into ranks. When a boat is large enough to have a crew, the members of the crew often work together under the captain. Depending upon the size of the yacht and the amenities and lifestyle promoted aboard, private luxury yacht charter vessels can carry as few as 2 crewmembers to as many as 40, with crew members including captain, first mate, mate, chef, hostesses, masseuse, and others.
  • Ships also usually carry boats on board, in the form of life rafts and rescue boats. These boats are also sometimes used to transport people and supplies between the ship and the shore, since very large ships cannot fit into some harbors, due to their draft or inability to fit under a particular bridge. [Thanks, wisegeek!] 


Many articles have been written about 1-800 Yacht Charters (aka SailAway Yacht Charters), crewmembers, celebrity clients, and yachting vacations.

Do you have another answer for the difference between a yacht, a ship, and a boat? Contact us HERE and let us know! 

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With Crew or Without – Which Private Yacht Charter Option is Right for You?

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“My husband and I are thinking about taking the family on a boating vacation in the Florida Keys late Spring/early Summer. I’m assuming it’s more affordable to rent a boat and run it ourselves.  Do you agree?”

Pam K, Coral Gables, FL


What a great idea, Pam – since you live in South Florida, a Florida yacht charter vacation in early summer is a great way to explore your “backyard,” at a time when most tourists have left the area.  Fewer crowds equates to quiet anchorages!

As a general rule, it IS more affordable to “DIY” (Do It Yourself) and drive your own bareboat (a boat that you rent without a hired crew). Affordability, however, is not the only important concern.

Deciding if a Florida Keys #bareboat yacht charter or a crewed Florida yacht charter is your best bet depends upon three primary factors:

  1. Capability
  2. Responsibility
  3. Budget

solid white power catamaran underway


CAPABILITY – When you rent a car, you are required to have a driver’s license.  While no license is required to rent a bareboat, you ARE required to demonstrate experience and competency.  If you are not capable of operating a bareboat, based on the submittal of a cruising qualifications resume, you will be required to retain a professional crew to operate your rental boat.

RESPONSIBILITY – Even if you are qualified to rent a boat without crew, you must decide if you want the responsibility of  operating your own yacht.  When you rent a bareboat, you do it all – from safe navigation, to cooking and cleaning.  Some people love the hands-on experience.  Of course, this is not for everybody, as some people prefer to sit back, relax, and leave all chores and responsibilities to someone else.  If this better describes you and your family, then a yacht with a crew is the way to go.  On a crewed yacht charter, your crew is fully-responsible for the operation of the yacht, as well as cleaning/maintaining the yacht and preparing the meals for the guests.

BUDGET – Like most vacations, your desired budget will often dictate which option is best for you.  IF you are capable and enjoy the responsibility of operating a boat on your own, a bareboat #yachtcharter will give you the best bang for your dollar. If you want and can afford more than a “bare bones” vacation – one where you are served and #pampered the entire time – then a private luxury crewed yacht charter is the way to go.

A 47 foot bareboat power catamaran in #Miami, suitable for 8 passengers, can be rented in the late spring, early summer for under $10,000 per week.  In addition, you need to factor in the local tax (about 7%) and mandatory damage insurance (estimated at $50 per day).  Of course, don’t forget to consider the cost of food and beverages for your family for the week (or for however long you charter your bareboat).

A similar-sized crewed yacht, such as a 51 foot power catamaran, will cost approximately $21,000 per week, but this rate includes your meals, beverages, and a professional crew of 2.  The only “unknown” expenditure is an optional gratuity for your crew.

Here’s the good news!  Whichever type of chartering is right for you – with or without crew — there is surely a boat out there within your budget and in line with your qualifications, capabilities, and desires.  Let’s go #boating!!!


For price quotes and availability, contact 1-800 BAREBOAT  for self-drive, DIY boating options, and 1-800 YACHT CHARTERS for fully-crewed luxury yachts. #1800yachtcharters #1800bareboat

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