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Yacht, Superyacht, Megayacht…What’s the Difference?

Sarah Nadler | April 19, 2022

A Deep Dive Into Yacht Types

In the very technical, precise, and number-loving world of yachting–be it hull length, maximum speed, year built, and so much more–there seems to be much confusion in the categories of yacht types. Those in and out of the yachting industry often hear the terms yacht, superyacht, and even megayacht thrown around casually, and, quite often, interchangeably. So what is a superyacht, really? Is the term “yacht” all-encompassing? Is “gigayacht” really a thing? Do exact numbers come into play? Read on for a deep dive into the different types of yachts.

What Is a Yacht?

While the term “yacht” technically refers to any boat–sailing or motorized–that has sleeping accommodations aboard, the word is typically used for vessels under 80 feet in length. Usually used for pleasure, yachts can also be categorized as vessels specifically used for racing and/or cruising. While still the dream of many, the general term “yacht” usually refers to the “smaller” (we use that word very lightly) boats you may see cruising exotic locations. 


Check out this beautiful yacht: CERULEAN | 66′ Azimut 2018

What Is a Superyacht?

Much like a yacht, a superyacht is also a luxurious vessel used for pleasure; the distinction is in its size. Much of the confusion between whether a vessel falls under the yacht, superyacht, or even megayacht category is still pretty unclear amongst industry professionals. The numbers vary depending on who you ask. Generally speaking, though, a superyacht is usually a yacht whose length exceeds 80 feet. Since it’s all so unclear, we just like to think of it in approximate rather than exact terms: a superyacht is a really large yacht. Superyachts usually have a professional crew manning the vessel.


Spot a stunning superyacht: ODYSSEA | 154′ Heesen 2012

Megayacht: Myth or Fact?

But here’s where things get really puzzling. What really is “large”? Where on the spectrum do different yachts fall? And where does it end? Some industry experts have gone so far as to categorize some of the more massive yachts as “megayachts”. If “superyacht” wasn’t impressive enough, this added term has caused even more perplexity in the wide sea that is the yachting business. While the majority have not necessarily adopted this newer lingo, those that have usually use the term to roughly describe exceedingly large yachts, usually over 200 feet in length. Depending on who you ask, though, some pros argue that the term “megayacht” shouldn’t even be used.


Take a peek at this majestic megayacht: MOCA | 208′ BENETTI 2016

Going Gaga for Gigayachts

If yacht categories weren’t confusing enough, plus the arguments over the term “megayacht”, some shipbuilders have recently gone one step further, despite it all, and adopted yet another term for the most gigantic, crème de la crème of yachts: gigayachts. While the lines for this category are so completely blurred, it seems that these colossal yachts usually teeter over the 220-foot mark. An important factor that those who actually use this term highlight is that gigayachts are almost always custom-built, with the owner personalizing the boat to his or her liking and preferences.


Go gaga for this gigayacht: GALACTICA SUPER NOVA | 230′ Heeson 2017

Does Size Really Matter?

Other than literal size–mostly gauged and compared by the length of the vessel–you may be wondering what really is the difference between all these types of yachts. Some may think: the bigger the better. This all depends on what you value most. Usually, the bigger the yacht, the bigger the crew. With more crew members available to maintain a ship and serve passengers, often the service aboard superyachts (and megayachts) is of the utmost level. On the flip side, some may feel that regular yachts are more their speed–literally; smaller yachts can sometimes reach speeds that larger vessels can’t match, upping the action. Others feel that the “smaller” (read: yet still big) yachts are more intimate, or even more livable. At the end of the boat day, it is all about personal preference. Just like all the other countless options in the yacht business, there’s more than enough to go around. There’s an ocean of options just waiting out there.


Size up this sizable yacht: C144S Hull #3 | 144′ Conrad 2024


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