Jimmy Rogers


Different Types of Yachts Explained

In this article, I hope to dispel the confusion surrounding the categories of yachts that exist and explain what each means.  There is definitely a lot of overlap in the categories or “types” out there…

The types below are put into these categories:

1. Express, Express Cruiser, Cruiser, Sports Cruiser

2. Flybridge, Sedan, Sedan Bridge, Sport Bridge

3. Motor Yacht, Pilothouse Motor Yacht, Cockpit Motor Yacht, Skylounge

4. Tri-Deck, Mega Yacht

5. Sportfish, Express Sportfish, Flybridge Sportfish, Convertible

1. Express, Express Cruiser, Cruiser, Sports Cruiser

These are all terms to describe a yacht with a single deck above the hull and living quarters below.  This type is known for its sporty and sleek look, like the sports car of the yacht world.  The below photos and descriptions show the different styles that fall into this category

Riva 63 Virtus

This beautiful Riva 63 Virtus is called an open express.  Note the single deck above the hull and below is one level with living quarters.  This is also referred to as a “Mediterranean” style yacht…maximum space for sun and laying out with little to no shade or cover.  This particular boat has a bimini top that comes up via a hydraulic system to provide some shade

Sea Ray 51 Sundancer

This is an older 51’ Sea Ray Sundancer, which would be called a hard top express.  Note the hard top over the helm area to provide shade.  There is a gap between the windshield and the hardtop so it is still a totally open air area to provide a breeze.  Here that open air area has an “isinglass” enclosure, which is a rollable plastic material that you can still see out of and take on or off depending on how much breeze and open air you want.

Sunseeker 60 Predator

This Sunseeker 60 Predator is a hard top express with enclosed front windshield.  In this case there is no gap between the front windshield and the hardtop, creating an area above decks on the boat that is fully sealed off on 3 sides.  The back part is still open so the area above decks still has an outdoor feel, but the climate in that area is much easier to control, especially with the addition of some large A/C units.  In this particular model, there is a huge sunroof that will slide back to make the area feel much more open if you so desired.

Pershing 80 Express

The Pershing 80 is an Express yacht with a fully enclosed area above decks.

You can see here that even the back part of the hardtop has doors that close off the above decks salon from the open air aft deck.  This creates a fully climate controlled indoor living area above decks.  However, this Pershing 80 has many tricks up her sleeve like huge sun roof, sliding down side windows, and also the entire back glass enclosure pictured above will slide down into the floor to create a totally open feel throughout the entire upper deck…so you can have the total open feel, or total closed feel…just depends on your mood and the climate.

In summary, there are many different types of “express” boats, but the common thread that ties them all together is the 2 deck layout, one below the hull and one above the hull.

2. Flybridge, Sedan, Sedan Bridge, Sport Bridge

This is a yacht that has an area on the top of the superstructure that provides views all around the vessel, with a control station there as well as seating and lounging space.

Sunseeker 74 Predator Sport Bridge

To start with the smallest type of bridge, this Sunseeker 74 Predator Sport Bridge is essentially an express yacht with an area up top just big enough for a control station and a couple lounge chairs.  This gives a captain a place to run the yacht that is away from the owner and guests, or provides the owner a true open air feel while running the yacht if he chooses so from time to time.  There is still a control station below.  These sportbridges typically do not have any shade, not even a bimini top.

Ferretti 620 Flybridge

This Ferretti 620 is the traditional type of flybridge.  There is a large amount of enclosed living space on the main deck, staterooms below and a large amount of outdoor lounge space on the bridge up top.  There are two control stations, one on the bridge and one below…again giving the captain versatility to go wherever convenient, due to weather or to allow privacy for owner and guests.  The flybridge here is very open with only a small bimini top to allow for the most outdoor feel possible.

Azimut 80 Flybridge

The Azimut 80 Flybridge here provides a hardtop with a retractable soft top inside of it, giving the passengers the option of shade or sun.

Sea Ray 58 Sedan Bridge


This Sea Ray 58 Sedan Bridge has a hardtop on the flybridge with a full plexiglass enclosure around it.  This provides more permanent shade and the ability to have A/C or heat in the bridge area…allowing the flybridge area to be utilized even in more extreme cold, warm or rainy weather.  This Sedan only has one helm station, located on the bridge, to allow for the maximum amount of living space on the main deck.

Maritimo 48 Enclosed Bridge

The Maritimo 48 Enclosed Bridge offers the ultimate in climate control and protection.  For boaters that desire full protection from the elements this type of yacht will keep you comfortable regardless of the outside temperature.  This yacht also only has one helm station located on the bridge that offers the maximum amount of living space on the main deck.

3. Motor Yacht, Pilothouse Motor Yacht, Cockpit Motor Yacht, Skylounge

The term motor yacht is probably the most traditional and overarching of all these types, basically meaning “Large Recreational Vessel that is Motor Powered”…so technically that could include an express, flybridge, sportfish…anything with a motor.  But this denotation in the modern world of yachting typically refers to a multi deck vessel similar to a flybridge but with a larger interior main deck.

Hatteras 80 Motor Yacht

The Hatteras 80 Motor Yacht is an open bridge Motor Yacht with hard top.  As you can see motor yachts typically have a larger and further forward interior area and smaller outside bow space.  This is the preferred type of vessel for long stays aboard as they offer the maximum amount of living quarters per square foot of boat.  Most also have an upper and lower helm station, allowing for different piloting options, in the open on the bridge or on the main deck in a fully climate controlled environment.

Westport 112 Pilothouse Motor Yacht

The Westport 112 Pilothouse Motor Yacht is one of the most popular motor yachts in its size range.  From the above photo you can see that the pilothouse is located on a split level sort of area between the main deck and the flybridge.  It allows the captain to have a centrally located command center on the yacht that is away from the living and lounging areas.  There is still an additional command center on the bridge, but the main nerve center of the yacht is the pilothouse.  In smaller yachts, the pilothouse area may be located on the main deck and not in a totally separate area…the term pilothouse basically means “the area where the ship is controlled by the ship’s captain”

Lazzara 80 Skylounge Motor Yacht with Cockpit

This 80 Lazzara has both the Skylounge and Cockpit.  The Skylounge is a term for an enclosed flybridge with an interior living space that is fully climate controlled.  Many skylounges have windows that slide down or sunroofs also that allow you to get the open air feel as well.  With 3 decks that have an enclosed living area, this is by definition also a tri-deck…but that term is usually reserved for larger megayachts.

The cockpit is a nice addition on yachts where the owner or guests intend to do some fishing or diving.  It provides a great platform for the recreational sportsman that is right at the water level.

4. Tri-Deck, Mega Yacht

A Tri-Deck is a yacht that has 3 levels of enclosed living space.  Although smaller Tri-Decks exist like the 80 Lazzara above, the term is typically seen used in yachts in excess of 120 feet.

Many definitions exist for what defines a Mega Yacht, but I believe it to be a vessel in excess of 80 feet.

Westport 130 Tri-Deck

Notice on this 130 Westport that there are 2 decks above the hull with enclosed, climate controlled living areas and one deck below, for a total of 3 decks enclosed decks.  There is also a large flybridge above and multiple other open areas for lounging.

Christensen Shipyard Megayacht

The sky is the limit with mega yachts…a boatyard like Christensen Shipyard will build the yacht of your dreams, designed to you exacting specifications…

5. Sportfish, Express Sportfish, Flybridge Sportfish, Convertible

A Sportfish is any yacht that is geared towards fishing.  This will mean that they have a large cockpit with which to fish out of, designated storage for rods, bait, tackle and the day’s catch.  They typically will also be higher performance than a motoryacht, able to get out to the fishing grounds and back as fast as possible, as well as handle rough seas.

Cabo 52 Express

The Cabo 52 Express is the express sportfish style, in which it has 2 decks, one above the hull and one below.  The tower located above the hardtop is used by fisherman to help spot anything that will help them catch fish, be it a tide line, bait jumping or the prized marlin.

Hatteras GT63

This Hatteras GT63 is a Flybridge Sportfish, with an enclosed living area above the hull and bridge.  This yacht also has the tower for spotting above the hardtop.  She is bred for high speed performance in rough seas and can blast right through 6 foot waves and hit top speeds of over 40 knots.  This type of “Sportfish DNA” is for the yachtsman that wants to chase fish even if the seas are rough, and appreciates a yacht that is solidly put together to handle those conditions.

Hatteras 77 Convertible

The Hatteras 77 Convertible is an incredible yacht that incorporates the amenities of a motor yacht and a sportfish in the same package…hence the term Convertible…able to convert to a fishing or a cruising yacht as needed.  She also has an enclosed flybridge up top for climate controlled comfort.


Jimmy Rogers

OneWater Yacht Group

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