How to Choose the Right Cruising Boat

Are you a leisurely cruiser or a long-distance adventurer? The answer to this question will better guide you on your way to finding the perfect cruising boat for you and your needs. Are you planning to meet up with friends at a local sandbar, or would you rather go for a few overnight visits to a new destination? Let’s go through the three types of sport cruisers and give you a more robust look at the various options each type offers. There are Day Cruising (or Social Cruising) boats, Destination Cruisers, or Long-Distance Cruisers.

Social Cruising – Day or Short Stay Cruisers

This style of boat is often referred to as cuddy cabins. A cuddy cabin is simply a boat that offers small area below deck that provides compact sleeping accommodations usually best for very short trips and only one or two people. Often boating friends meet up at a sandbar island, a dockside restaurant or simply raft-up in a scenic cove. Manufacturers have recognized this trend and have been making boat models that maximize this very social style of boating. These types of boats are generally 18 to 28 feet long with a beam (width) averaging around eight feet and usually provide no galley or head. On a cuddy cabin style boat you will find more of a basic toilet head that is right there in the sleeping quarters, they also do not usually come equipped with air conditioning, and if you do want to feel the brisk chill of the AC you’ll need something more powerful than your boat battery. Most people get a compact generator to run their AC units on deck.

  • Let’s recap some aspects of your average social cruising boat:

    • 18-28’ long
    • Average 8’ beam
    • Basic head
    • No galley on most
    • Accommodates 1-2 adults comfortably


    There are usually an array of options including upgraded entertainment centers, navigational systems, joystick maneuvering systems, and air conditioning. Currently trending are day cruiser models powered by outboard motors; this provides significant storage or machinery space below where the inboard engines would have been.

Quick Trip – Destination Cruising Boats

Heading to a new destination is one of the most rewarding adventures boaters enjoy, and some simply don’t want to leave after a few hours on the water. Cabin cruisers feature many upgrades from a cuddy cabin boat and provide more amenities and accommodations for longer trips and more people. Cabin cruisers are generally 28 to 40 feet in length and are still considered trailer-able, so you can always hitch it up and get on the water at your leisure. Beam measurements vary depending on brand but most fall within an 8.6’ to 11’ width.

  • If you’re looking for comfort when hopping from sandbar to sandbar, look for these key features on your destination cruising boat:

    • Fully functional head with privacy door
    • Galley
    • Swim platforms
    • Larger decks
    • Comfortably sleep four to six people

Manufacturers have noticed this increasing trend in destination style boating and have created several styles of cabin boats with accommodations that allow crew and guests to stay onboard once they reach their target destination, these include: coupes, sport-yachts, and flybridge models.

  • Coupes – characterized as cabin cruisers with a cockpit near the back of the boat that leads to an enclosed salon (living room) with the helm (steering compartment) and companion seated located near the front of the boat.
  • Sport Cruisers -tend to be larger, more luxurious versions of the coupe. Sport yachts often include a master stateroom and multiple guest staterooms allowing for more guests to stay onboard. As the name implies, these boats are known for speed and agility, allowing their owners and their guests to arrive to their destination quickly and with style.
  • Flybridge Yachts - luxury yachts which offer an upper deck above a raised salon with a helm station. The flybridge deck can be extensive and have a dining area outdoors, a wet bar, and a large sun pad in front of the helm. Often Flybridge Yachts have an aft deck that leads to the salon and a dinette with the primary helm mounted forward of the salon.
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