best family cruising yacht uk

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Best family boats: 6 quality options for saltwater cruising

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Once you’ve been bitten by the boating bug, it’s only natural that you’ll want to take the whole family with you, but what are the best family boats for saltwater cruising?

Boating can be a lot of fun as a solitary pursuit, but once you start taking the family with you, your horizons start to expand rapidly.

Here at MBY, we’ve tested hundreds of top-quality family boats – the below is our selection of sub-40ft boats that would suit a family making their first foray into the exciting world of saltwater cruising.

Brig Eagle 8

BRIG is the largest RIB manufacturer in the world – not bad for a Ukrainian company that emerged 25 years ago from the ashes of a former Soviet fighter jet factory.

So when it launched a new 8m model aimed squarely at the family boats market rather than the high-performance niche which RIB builders tend to favour, we couldn’t resist taking a closer look.

Key features ticked off in this design include flexible seating and a large heads compartment, which can double as storage for watersports gear and cushions.

Read more about the Brig Eagle 8

Article continues below…

Absolute 47 Fly review: Impressive all-rounder would make an excellent family boat


Princess F45 yacht tour: A (relatively) small but perfectly formed family boat

The smallest model in Nimbus’ outboard-powered sportsboat range could actually be the best of the bunch, and a top option for a family boat.

One major selling point is that it’s just narrow enough to fit on a trailer, meaning you don’t have to shell out on marina fees.

It’s an exceptionally safe, easy craft to move around with deeply bulwarked decks, sturdy guard rails, grab handles exactly where you’d expect to find them and an attention to detail rarely found on this size of craft.

Read more about the Nimbus T8


Jeanneau Merry Fisher 895 Marlin

One of the most popular ranges from the world’s biggest boatbuilder, the Jeanneau Merry Fisher has been a family boats favourite for decades, but we think they hit the sweet spot last year with the launch of the 895 Marlin.

With two cockpits, you can easily seat six for lunch back aft, before moving forward to enjoy the wind-in-your-hair experience from the bow while powering along at more than 37 knots.

The enclosed wheelhouse makes this a true all-weather boat, while two cabins below decks mean you can spend the whole weekend on board.

Read more about the Jeanneau Merry Fisher 895 Marlin


Beneteau Flyer 10

Crowned as the European Powerboat of the Year in 2020, the flagship of Beneteau’s Flyer range is a highly versatile design.

Part sunny weather plaything, part family boat, the Flyer 10 fits in a six-person cockpit with adjacent galley and a four-seat helm station, as well as a watersports tow arch.

Below decks there’s enough room for six adults to sit around the dinette, which can convert into a double bed, and there’s a second double berth amidships.

Read more about the Beneteau Flyer 10

Only just launched in September at the 2021 Cannes Yachting Festival , the new Marex 330 has all the hallmarks of a future family boats classic.

Finished to a typically high Norwegian standard, the 330 includes Marex’s famous curtain canopy system, which requires just the pull of one bungee to become rain and windproof without the need to fiddle with numerous tie points.

We’re very excited to test drive this new model and will be publishing a full review in the coming months.

Read more about the Marex 330

Sealine C330

The oldest design on our list, but still winning over family boat buyers six years after its launch, the British-designed and German-built Sealine C330 delivers excellent packaging and fun handling for a competitive price.

The spacious accommodation is the star here, making the C330 a genuinely usable weekender for four and week-long cruiser for a couple with kids or visiting friends.

But that’s not to say it’s not fun to drive – the twin sterndrive setup, linked to a pair of Volvo Penta D3 220s, makes for a fun, agile and safe driving experience and should make the C330 a treat to thread through a following sea.

Those are just a few of the reasons why we bestowed one of our much-coveted Motor Boat Awards on the Sealine C330 back in 2016.

Read more about the Sealine C330

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Best Sailboats For Families

Best Sailboats For Families | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

December 28, 2023

Sailing has always been a family activity and a great way for families to bond. But what sailboats are best (and safest) for the whole family?

Family sailboats are spacious, easy to sail, heel gently, and safe in rough weather. The best production family sailboats are the Catalina 22, the Catalina 30, the Lagoon 470 catamaran, and the Beneteau 49.

In this article, we’ll cover in-depth four of the best sailboats for family cruising. We’ll go over what to look for when choosing a family sailboat, along with what to avoid. Additionally, we’ll compare single and multihull designs and cover the benefits and drawbacks of each.

We sourced the information in this article from the sailing community and specifically sailing families who’ve embarked on extended voyages.

Table of contents

‍ Family Sailboat Sailing Characteristics

Beyond obvious considerations (such as size and accommodations), what is the most important aspect of a family sailboat? It’s sailing characteristics—and this is especially true for monohulls. Sailing characteristics play a large part in the safety of the vessel and also the comfort of its less experienced crew.

There are several factors that contribute to sailing characteristics and a family-friendly boat. First and foremost, a boat’s heeling tendencies should be taken into consideration. Boxier modern boats tend to heel (lean over under sail) much less dramatically than older, more rounded designs. This is also true for wider boats, which are more stable.

Heeling is natural under sail, but it can be alarming to kids and inexperienced sailors. Additionally, it makes it much more difficult to cook or move around the boat safely—especially out on the deck but also in the cabin. A boat with milder handling is much better suited to families.

Another factor to consider is seakeeping. A comfortable boat is one that doesn’t pound excessively and takes waves gracefully—and this is not always the case. Some sailboats (particularly narrow and flat-bottomed versions) are notorious for being dreadfully uncomfortable in rough weather.

Larger, wider, and more rounded hulls handle waves much better than flat-bottom boats, though other factors also contribute to seakeeping abilities. The best family boats are a bit sluggish due to their increased displacement but far more comfortable when the weather gets rough.

Family Sailboat Size

What’s the ideal size for a family sailboat? Well, the answer clearly depends on the size of your family—however, we can start with a simple rule that a family sailboat should be able to accommodate at least four people comfortably.

Four people should be able to be in the same place at the same time—for example, in the cockpit or in a common area in the cabin. Some sailboats may accommodate six or more people in the cockpit, but only two or four around the dining table—which is not the ideal arrangement for a family.

The average size of a family sailboat is between 30 and 40 feet. This applies to both monohull and multihull sailboats. Sailboats of this size generally have standing headroom and enough sleeping spaces for the whole family. Additionally, virtually all sailboats of the size have a shower and toilet, and sometimes two.

Monohull Vs Multihull Family Sailboats

Monohull sailboats are vessels with a single hull. Monohulls are probably what you think of when you picture a typical sailboat. Multihull sailboats have multiple hulls, and the most common types are two-hull catamarans and three-hull trimarans.

Monohull sailboats are significantly less expensive than multihull sailboats. This makes them the most common choice for families who are more budget-sensitive when it comes to recreational equipment.

But when it comes to handling and cabin comfort, the multihull has several distinct advantages over the monohull. These sailboats distribute the force of the wind between multiple hulls and a wide stance, which makes them extremely safe and stable.

Additionally, virtually all cruising catamarans and trimarans have extensive center cabin space and several private stateroom areas in the hull. This allows families to give each person adequate space on long voyages. Many cruising families opt for a multihull, as the additional space is paramount to long-term comfort.

Best Family Sailboat Models

Hundreds of sailboat designs have been sold over the years, and a few stand out as spectacular family coastal cruising and long-distance sailboats. This list will include an example of each common family sailboat type, and we’ll specify the best uses for each vessel. Here are four of the best and safest family sailboats on the market today.

1. Catalina 22 Trailer Sailboat


The Catalina 22 is one of the most popular sailboats of all time. It was introduced in the 1960s as a family sailboat for lakes and coastal waters, and it was produced in many variations over the years. Thousands of Catalina 22 sailboats are still on the market today, which serves as a testament to their robust design and timeless utility.

Most Catalina 22 sailboats are trailerable, which means you don’t need to rent a permanent slip to store it. The vessel is 22 feet in length and can be towed by a reasonably sized SUV or standard pickup truck. It’s constructed with marine fiberglass, which is low maintenance and extremely durable.

The Catalina 22 is not designed for extended cruising. Instead, it’s a day boat with a reasonably sized cabin for short overnight trips. It is a perfect alternative to camping, and there’s usually enough space to sleep four.

All things considered, the cabin space aboard a Catalina 22 is generous. Some versions of the boat came with a pop-up companionway hatch, which turned sitting headroom into standing headroom towards the aft end of the cabin. This is exceedingly rare on small trailer sailers, and it’s a big perk of having a Catalina 22.

The Catalina 22 is the perfect starter boat for a family. It’s heavy and stable and offers excellent sailing characteristics (even in higher winds). Additionally, it’s easy to rig and small enough to be handled by one or two people. Kids can learn the basics of sailing and get experience piloting a “big” boat—at least when compared to a dinghy or a Sunfish.

The Catalina 22 can be found on the used market for between $5,000 and $15,000. Outliers exist, and you may be lucky enough to find a Catalina 22 in operable condition for less than $3000–trailer included.

2. Catalina 30 Cruising Sailboat


Catalina makes the list again with its extremely popular 30-foot sailboat. The Catalina 30 is a fiberglass sloop that was introduced around the same time as the Catalina 22. Unlike the Catalina 22, the Catalina 30 is more than capable of open ocean sailing—but it’s also easy to handle on short trips in coastal waters.

Catalina 30 sailboats have a wide beam which makes them stable under heavy sail and in rough water. They also have a high freeboard, which keeps the cockpit relatively dry and prevents excessive spray over the bow. These characteristics also minimize heeling, which makes it a comfortable boat for inexperienced sailors.

The cabin is another huge selling point of the Catalina 30. These vessels have standing headroom throughout, along with enough sleeping space for six adults or more. Additionally, the Catalina 30 features a full kitchen (or galley) along with a sitting area and table that’s large enough for the entire family to sit down for dinner.

This vessel is more complex than the Catalina 22. However, anybody who can handle a Bermuda-rigged sailboat that’s larger than 20 feet can easily transition to a Catalina 30. Like the 22-foot model, this sailboat was produced in great numbers during the 20th century, and hundreds are available on the used market in excellent condition.

The Catalina 30 is ideal for a family who wants to take an occasional bluewater voyage. A trip between Florida and the Bahamas is well within the capabilities of the sailboat, and more adventurous sailors frequently sail it between San Francisco and Hawaii.

It’s also a great day boat for coast cruising, as it absorbs bad weather better than smaller boats and handles surprisingly well in low winds.

3. Lagoon 470 Cruising Catamaran


Do you have a large family, or do you place a premium on space and comfort for long-distance sailing? If so, the Lagoon 470 could be your best option. It’s a large, 47-foot cruising catamaran that offers better speed and stability than any similarly-sized monohull.

The Lagoon 470 is a typical catamaran in many respects—it has a large center cockpit area that’s covered and features communal spaces such as the galley and a large sitting area. This space alone is wider than most monohull cabins and offers the family a great place to hang out.

Below decks in the hulls, the Lagoon 470 has several separate bedrooms and private bathroom/shower combinations. This gives family members their own space and reduces the risk of conflict when it comes to showering and sleeping.

Catamarans like the Lagoon 470 have many advantages but also a few drawbacks. This vessel is more difficult to operate in tight spaces and requires more docking space than a traditional monohull. That said, if you can manage the additional stress during docking, you’ll enjoy a much safer and more pleasant time on the water.

Due to its spectacular sailing characteristics and large size, the Lagoon 470 is best suited for long-haul sailing or full-time living. It’s definitely not a day boat—and its high price makes it an unreasonable choice of occasional sailing.

If you want to travel the world with your family, this is the boat for you. If you’re cruising around the bay on the weekends, you may want to consider something like the Catalina 30.

4. Beneteau 49 Bluewater Monohull Sailboat


Here’s an exceptional monohull that stacks up with the best multihulls in terms of space, comfort, and seaworthiness. The Beneteau 49 is nearly 50 feet long and provides accommodations fit for the largest families.

The Beneteau 49 is the quintessential cruising sailboat. It’s wide, fast, and agile—and it has handling characteristics that put it in line with the hardiest recreational sailboats. Plus, the cabin is modern and spacious and includes everything you need to spend weeks (or months) aboard comfortably.

Separate enclosed sleeping areas give each family member privacy, and a sense of ownership over their space—which many families affirm is key when living in tight quarters. Plus, it’s a recent Beneteau design, which means it comes equipped with the latest technology and amenities.

Many of the more difficult aspects of rigging and sailboat control are automated on the Beneteau 49, meaning you can control them from the cockpit without sending anyone out on deck. This keeps the family safe and comfortable in foul weather and reduces the grunt work associated with sailing.

And when it comes to safety, it’s hard to beat a big hardy monohull like the Beneteau 49. This vessel has a wide stance and a semi-flush deck, meaning it’s well-balanced and designed to take on the toughest weather conditions. Additionally, its extended length increases hull speed, reducing the time it takes to get between stops.

As far as price is concerned, you’ll probably pay about the same for a Beneteau 49 as you would for a mid-ranged multihull. This can easily enter the $100,000+ price point, which is steep—but worth it if you and your family intend to live aboard and do extended cruising.

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I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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best family cruising yacht uk

16 Best Cruising Catamarans for a Family (Buyer’s Guide)

best family cruising yacht uk

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Many dream of a life on the water, and the only way to make that dream even better is to bring the ones you love. When choosing a catamaran for you and your family, you’ll want to look for something with large living areas. that is very safe and well suited for your type of sailing. But where do you begin?

The 16 best cruising catamarans for a family are:

Fountaine Pajot Astrea 42

Fountaine pajot helia 44, hudson powercat 56.

  • Lagoon Sixty7

Leopard 53 Powercat

Nautitech 47 power, outremer 5x, privilege signature 510, seawind 1600, fountaine pajot victoria 67.

In the rest of this article, I will give you details on each of the best brands and models of family-sized catamarans and discuss why each one is ideal for family cruising. In addition, I will discuss what to look for in a family catamaran and what factors to consider before buying a cruising boat. 

Best Catamarans for Family Cruising: Buyer’s Guide

Catamarans are motor or wind-powered boats set apart by their build structure: they have two hulls instead of one. This design choice makes the boats more stable and secure in windy and rough conditions and reduces the boat’s rocking. 

Great for long or short cruises with your family, and the best catamarans all have one thing in common: the quality of the build. Each of the brands on this list has mastered the art of building durable and safe catamarans that stand up to years on the water. 

All of the boats in this article would be ideal for a family cruiser – it just depends on what you and your family need individually – as some specifications and customizations differ per boat. 

Below, I’ll go over a few key points that will make all the difference to you and your family for cruising in comfort. 

What To Look For in a Family Catamaran

If you’re looking at a catamaran specifically for cruising with your family, be prepared to do a lot of research. It’s a significant investment, and to ensure you buy a boat that fits your family’s specific needs, try and consider all of the factors that change with each brand and performance make of catamaran . 

As you look around, be sure to pay extra attention to:

  • The number of cabins
  • The overall size and space available
  • The price, including any extras

The Number of Cabins

The amount of cabins in a catamaran is a vital part of sailing as a family. Most cats offer at least four cabins, but if you have a larger family and everyone needs their own room, you might want to buy a larger boat with up to six cabins. 

Many catamarans also offer the “Maestro” option, where one hull consists of the master suite and the rest of the cabins are together on the other side. This provides an added level of privacy in what is usually a smaller space than your average holiday home.  

Cabin layout is also crucial for a family sailing together. Some catamarans have multiple cabins and a loft, but most are just a set amount of rooms. 

Where they are in relation to the galley and lounge areas is essential to know and varies based on brand and model. 

The Overall Size and Space Available

Ideally, you want enough space to house and feed everyone comfortably on your journey. This will vary depending on the size of your family, which size catamaran you buy, and how that brand prioritizes cargo and living space over other things. 

When traveling with family for longer cruises, having ample space will necessitate a comfortable trip – too small a space might lead to cabin fever and friction amongst the crew (a.k.a. familymembers).

Payload is also vital to pay attention to – if you overload a catamaran, it will ride lower in the water and won’t be as fuel or sail-efficient. Plan carefully what you will bring and how much space your particular boat will have available – and remember that there will be people on board as well! 

The Price, Including Any Extras

A catamaran is a considerable investment, and the price can be daunting. However, as long as you’re purchasing a yacht of good quality, you can go for a cheaper option. Many cats hold their resale value better than most other vessels, meaning you can expect to recoup most of your money should you choose to sell later. 

You can also reduce the upfront cost by opting out of certain luxuries. Though these additions may seem exciting and like must-haves, they soon add up. It’s up to you to decide on whether or not you can survive without TVs in every cabin.

And remember that everything thats on a boat will sooner or later either break or need maintenance so calculate that in your budget.

While catamarans will always be pretty expensive, you can reduce your up-front costs by buying a used boat. If you do buy a used catamaran, remember that the refit history of the ship is more important than the age or size. A smaller, older boat without many huge refits will be better than a larger, newer one with multiple issues. 

16 Best Catamarans for Family Cruising

Below you’ll find my recommendations for the 16 best cruising catamarans for a family. Although there are many technical aspects to each of these catamarans, there’s not enough time to discuss them all in detail here. 

Instead of talking too much about the sailing technicalities, I’ll focus on practicals, touching on the overall features of each catamaran and what makes them ideal for cruising with a family. 

Although Bali cruisers are more often used for charter boats, they have thrived in the hands of private owners. The helm and lack of a full flybridge lead to greater visibility and stability, making it easier to sail the boat in rougher conditions. There is also a platform running between the two hulls for extra accessibility. 

The Bali 4.1 is a relatively small ship for sailing with a family but still offers three to four cabins and a remarkably spacious master cabin. 

It has the extra interior volume and a spacious galley and saloon. This ship is created to sail in comfort while handling adverse weather conditions safely. 

From $395 000

At fifty feet (15.24 meters), the Catana 50 is an amazingly spacious catamaran. The cabins are large, and the showers are tall, a feature hard to find on any cruising boat. 

There’s enough space for everyone to have some storage and a bunk, and the Catana 50 can be sailed individually or with a crew. 

This catamaran was made for long distances, with its size and speed making the boat ideal for traveling through choppy or windy conditions. If you’re traveling with a family, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more comfortable and powerful combination than the Catana 50. 

Fountaine Pajot is represented twice on this list, and for a good reason. They are one of the best brands in sailing boats and specialize in making catamarans for cruising and family life. 

The Astrea 42 was designed with a family in mind – the layout maximizes living and cargo space, even in a small boat. 

On the Astrea 42, the lounge is the heart of the boat, and windows surround the living space for fantastic ocean views. 

The cabins also have impressive space, with options for a master cabin suite on one hull and two smaller rooms on the other or four regular-sized cabins split between the hulls. 

Another Fountaine Pajot ship, the Helia 44, was made for long-distance journeying in comfort. There are several customizable options in this boat, including the number of cabins and the size of the galley. 

The version with the owner’s suite includes a separate shower and toilet, as well as laundry (a must for any family traveling long distances on a small boat). 

The Helia 44 is larger than the Astrea but more on par with its sister ship, the Fountaine Pajot Elba 45. The saloon is bigger than previous models, and the steerability of this yacht continues to impress. Fountaine Pajot’s dedication to quality comes through with the Helia 44. 

If you want to take your family on a trip in style and with speed, look no further than a Gunboat catamaran. 

Gunboat is famous for its fast boats and spacious cabins while not compromising on power and performance. With a Gunboat 68, you can take your entire family around the world comfortably.  

The Gunboat 68 is one of the newest members of the Gunboat lineup and is a large catamaran while still being lightweight. You have the option of anywhere from four to six cabins, all of which have been ergonomically and practically designed for comfort. 

The galley and lounge areas are also spacious, making this boat ideal for family living. 

The Hudson Powercat 56 is one of the few catamaran cruisers with as many outdoor living spaces as there are interior. There are multiple decks to relax on while sailing, including the large outdoor dining area on the boat’s flybridge, and you can choose between a completely covered, hardtop, or open flybridge and helm. 

Inside, the Hudson Powercat gives a sense of more space, with a standard of four cabins and a large galley. The galley features a full-size refrigerator and an excellent setup for cooking. 

This is an excellent power option for a family that likes the catamaran setup but are not as interested in the actual sailing.

The Lagoon brand of Catamarans is perfect for beginner sailors because each Lagoon boat is built with sophisticated technology to make it easy to pick up and sail. 

The Lagoon 440 has all the space a family could need, and most are also equipped with the newest electrical motor to power the boat without burning diesel. 

Lagoon is starting to offer more electric-powered boats, and this one doesn’t disappoint. The dual battery system works just as well as a diesel engine without an enormous carbon footprint. 

This catamaran is easy to use and incredibly eco-friendly, so you can take your family on long cruises without worrying about the adverse environmental effects. 

Lagoon Sixty7 Power or Seventy7 Sail

If you want a lagoon cruiser with even more space and luxury, the Lagoon features a luxury cabin setup and multiple smaller cabins for the kids. 

It has the same ease of use as the Lagoon 440, with almost twenty feet more living space. If you buy a new Lagoon, you can even customize your design style. 

The most exciting feature of the Lagoon is the cockpit lounge and access to the flybridge. The cockpit is entirely reversible, so you can face the sea or the lounge while sailing. It’s also effortless and safe to get to the flybridge from the cockpit, especially when you’re at sea. 

The Leopard 53 Powercat is one of the few power cruisers that are also (somewhat) environmentally friendly. Because of the design of the ship, it’s able to save fuel and travel longer distances. 

The three-cabin layout offers a master cabin with a full walk-around bed and extra storage space. 

The galley features domestic-sized equipment and a large dinette. You can eat inside or outside because the flybridge also has seating. 

This double-deck design makes for amazing views and lots of entertaining options. There’s plenty of space and comfort on board the Leopard 53 Powercat.

The Manta 42 consistently comes up as one of the best catamarans available. 

It’s slightly smaller than the other catamarans on this list but has spacious cabins (enormous thanks to the galley being in the saloon instead of the hulls). The layout of the Manta is ideal for family cruising, despite its smaller size. 

Another benefit of buying a Manta 42 is that you will almost certainly be able to buy it used. As long as you ensure that the boat’s refitting history is good, you can buy a sturdy ship with all of the previous owners’ upgrades. This process will save you money and get you an excellent cruiser! 

Nautitech is an excellent cruiser brand, and its power line delivers some of the fastest and most potent catamarans in the business. While these yachts are not as energy-efficient as some of their counterparts, they can make a journey shorter and more enjoyable with their speeds and engine capabilities. 

The saloon on the Nautitech 47 Power has a 360-degree view from large windows, and with four cabins and extra-large living spaces, you’ll be able to fit your entire family into this boat and still have room.

Outremer is a catamaran brand known for speed , as well as the comfort of life. 

The Outremer 5X is a huge boat measuring almost 60 feet (18.29 meters) long, with options for three or four cabins. The rest of the space is used for the lounge and living areas, the galley, and ample storage space. 

The Outremer 5X is an excellent boat for longer cruises with a smaller family or shorter trips with many people. The amount of deck space is perfect for outdoor dining and parties. 

Despite its size, the Outremer 5X is remarkably easy to handle and can easily be short handed. 

Made for long-distance traveling, the Privilege Signature 510 boasts a centered owner’s cabin for extra space and views from the master bedroom. There are also two hull cabins and a smaller crew cabin on board for the kids, which is ideal if you want some space between the primary and master cabins. 

This catamaran is one of the larger in its class, built for comfort and livability. The main living areas focus on space and light, making them ideal for family living. If you’re planning on living on a boat with your family, you can do no better than the Privilege Signature 510 for luxury and space. 

Prout catamarans are known for their sturdy and dependable frames. The company has built boats for long-distance cruising for years and is an expert in sailing ships’ comfort and safety. 

The Prout 50 is one of the lighter ships on the line and adds speed and seaworthiness to its dependability. Designed for sailing long distances, the Prout 50 offers excellent visibility and the option to sail single-handedly. 

It boasts four cabins and an enormous saloon with high-quality furniture. There’s a lot of space on this boat for a party, a short family outing, or to live in! 

The Seawind brand is known for its safety precautions and simple boats. While catamarans are very unlikely to capsize, Seawinds are exceptionally sturdy due to their mast configuration. 

These boats are incredibly easy to control and work well for new sailors, and the Seawind 1600 is no exception to this rule. 

At 52 feet (15.85 meters) long, this boat has lots of space for a family to live and sail. There is an option for three or four cabins, with the fourth held as storage on a three-cabin boat. 

The sleeping quarters take up most of the hull, leaving the galley and lounge areas in the ship’s center. 

Another large catamaran, the Victoria 67, will have plenty of space for long cruises with a family. Users are impressed by the amount of space and comfort available in this yacht, as well as the functionality for a boat of this size. 

The Victoria 67 features simple wiring and solar panels on deck to help maintain energy levels, and the flybridge and cabin options are massive – there are four extra double bed cabins on board with an owner’s suite. 

For ultimate comfort for a crowd, look no further than the massive and spacious Victoria 67. 

Final Thoughts

If you’re ready to leave land behind and hit the seas with your family, a catamaran is an excellent and safe choice of vessel. 

In any of these luxury yachts, you’ll be able to sail long distances with ample living space. Whichever one you choose, use it to get out there and enjoy the open seas! 

Owner of A minimalist that has lived in a caravan in Sweden, 35ft Monohull in the Bahamas, and right now in his self-built Van. He just started the next adventure, to circumnavigate the world on a Catamaran!

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Yachting Monthly

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25 of the best small sailing boat designs

Nic Compton

  • Nic Compton
  • August 10, 2022

Nic Compton looks at the 25 yachts under 40ft which have had the biggest impact on UK sailing

25 of the best small sailing boat designs

There’s nothing like a list of best small sailing boat designs to get the blood pumping.

Everyone has their favourites, and everyone has their pet hates.

This is my list of the 25 best small sailing boat designs, honed down from the list of 55 yachts I started with.

I’ve tried to be objective and have included several boats I don’t particularly like but which have undeniably had an impact on sailing in the UK – and yes, it would be quite a different list if I was writing about another country.

If your favourite isn’t on the best small sailing boat designs list, then send an email to [email protected] to argue the case for your best-loved boat.

Ready? Take a deep breath…

A green hull Centaur yacht, named as one of the 25 best small sailing boat designs

Credit: Bob Aylott

Laurent Giles is best known for designing wholesome wooden cruising boats such as the Vertue and Wanderer III , yet his most successful design was the 26ft Centaur he designed for Westerly, of which a remarkable 2,444 were built between 1969 and 1980.

It might not be the prettiest boat on the water, but it sure packs a lot of accommodation.

The Westerly Centaur was one of the first production boats to be tank tested, so it sails surprisingly well too. Jack L Giles knew what he was doing.

Colin Archer

The Colin Archer - one of the 25 best small sailing boat designs

Credit: Nic Compton

Only 32 Colin Archer lifeboats were built during their designer’s lifetime, starting with Colin Archer in 1893 and finishing with Johan Bruusgaard in 1924.

Yet their reputation for safety spawned hundreds of copycat designs, the most famous of which was Sir Robin Knox-Johnston ’s Suhaili , which he sailed around the world singlehanded in 1968-9.

The term Colin Archer has become so generic it is often used to describe any double-ender – so beware!

Contessa 32

Assents performance in the 1979 Fastnet Race earns the Contessa 32 at place on the 25 best small sailing boats list. Credit: Nic Compton

Assent ‘s performance in the 1979 Fastnet Race makes the Contessa 32 a worth entry in the 25 best small sailing boat designs list. Credit: Nic Compton

Designed by David Sadler as a bigger alternative to the popular Contessa 26, the Contessa 32 was built by Jeremy Rogers in Lymington from 1970.

The yacht’s credentials were established when Assent , the Contessa 32 owned by Willy Kerr and skippered by his son Alan, became the only yacht in her class to complete the deadly 1979 Fastnet Race .

When UK production ceased in 1983, more than 700 had been built, and another 20 have been built since 1996.

Cornish Crabber 24

A Cornish crabber with a blue hull and white sails

It seemed a daft idea to build a gaff-rigged boat in 1974, just when everyone else had embraced the ‘modern’ Bermudan rig.

Yet the first Cornish Crabber 24, designed by Roger Dongray, tapped into a feeling that would grow and grow and eventually become a movement.

The 24 was followed in 1979 by the even more successful Shrimper 19 – now ubiquitous in almost every harbour in England – and the rest is history.

Drascombe Lugger

A Drascombe lugger with orange sails

Credit: David Harding

There are faster, lighter and more comfortable boats than a Drascombe Lugger.

And yet, 57 years after John Watkinson designed the first ‘lugger’ (soon changed to gunter rig), more than 2,000 have been built and the design is still going strong.

More than any other boat, the Drascombe Lugger opened up dinghy cruising, exemplified by Ken Duxbury’s Greek voyages in the 1970s and Webb Chiles’s near-circumnavigation on Chidiock Tichbourne I and II .

An Eventide lunch with white sails and a blue hull sailing offshore

The 26ft Eventide. Credit: David Harding

It’s been described as the Morris Minor of the boating world – except that the majority of the 1,000 Eventides built were lovingly assembled by their owners, not on a production line.

After you’d tested your skills building the Mirror dinghy, you could progress to building a yacht.

And at 24ft long, the Eventide packed a surprising amount of living space.

It was Maurice Griffiths’ most successful design and helped bring yachting to a wider audience.

A Fisher 30 yacht with blue hull and red sails

You either love ’em or you hate ’em – motorsailers, that is.

The Fisher 30 was brought into production in 1971 and was one of the first out-and-out motorsailers.

With its long keel , heavy displacement and high bulwarks, it was intended to evoke the spirit of North Sea fishing boats.

It might not sail brilliantly but it provided an exceptional level of comfort for its size and it would look after you when things turned nasty.

Significantly, it was also fitted with a large engine.

A Folkboat with white sails and blue hull

Credit: Rupert Holmes

It should have been a disaster.

In 1941, when the Scandinavian Sailing Federation couldn’t choose a winner for their competition to design an affordable sailing boat, they gave six designs to naval architect Tord Sundén and asked him to combine the best features from each.

The result was a sweet-lined 25ft sloop which was very seaworthy and fast.

The design has been built in GRP since the 1970s and now numbers more than 4,000, with fleets all over the world.

A Freedom 40 yacht with a blue hull and two masts carrying white sails

Credit: Kevin Barber

There’s something disconcerting about a boat with two unstayed masts and no foresails, and certainly the Freedom range has its detractors.

Yet as Garry Hoyt proved, first with the Freedom 40, designed in collaboration with Halsey Herreshoff, and then the Freedom 33 , designed with Jay Paris, the boats are simple to sail (none of those clattering jib sheets every time you tack) and surprisingly fast – at least off the wind .

Other ‘cat ketch’ designs followed but the Freedoms developed their own cult following.

Hillyard 12-tonner

A classic sailing boat with a white hull and white sails

The old joke about Hillyards is that you won’t drown on one but you might starve to death getting there.

And yet this religious boatbuilder from Littlehampton built up to 800 yachts which travelled around the world – you can find them cruising far-flung destinations.

Sizes ranged from 2.5 to 20 tons, though the 9- and 12-ton are best for long cruises.

The yacht Jester with a junk rig and yellow hull at the start of the OSTAR

The innovations on Jester means she is one of the best small sailing boat designs in the last 100 years. Credit: Ewen Southby-Tailyour

Blondie Hasler was one of the great sailing innovators and Jester was his testing ground.

She was enclosed, carvel planked and had an unstayed junk rig.

Steering was via a windvane system Hasler created.

Hasler came second in the first OSTAR , proving small boats can achieve great things.

A yacht with a white hull and blue and white sails

Moody kicked off the era of comfort-oriented boats with its very first design.

The Moody 33, designed by Angus Primrose, had a wide beam and high topside to produce a voluminous hull .

The centre cockpit allowed for an aft cabin, resulting in a 33-footer with two sleeping cabins – an almost unheard of concept in 1973 –full-beam heads and spacious galley.

What’s more, her performance under sail was more than adequate for cruising.

Finally, here was a yacht that all the family could enjoy.

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Nicholson 32

A Nicholson 32 with a blue hull. Its solid seakeeping qualities means it is one of the best small boat sailing designs produced

Credit: Genevieve Leaper

Charles Nicholson was a giant of the wooden boat era but one of his last designs – created with his son Peter – was a pioneering fibreglass boat that would become an enduring classic.

With its long keel and heavy displacement, the Nicholson 32 is in many ways a wooden boat built in fibreglass – and indeed the design was based on Nicholson’s South Coast One Design.

From 1966 to 1977, the ‘Nic 32’ went through 11 variations.

A yacht with two masts sailing

Credit: Hallberg-Rassy

In the beginning there was… the Rasmus 35. This was the first yacht built by the company that would become Hallberg-Rassy and which would eventually build more than 9,000 boats.

The Rasmus 35, designed by Olle Enderlein, was a conservative design, featuring a centre cockpit, long keel and well-appointed accommodation.

Some 760 boats were built between 1967 and 1978.

Two classic wooden yachts with white sails sailing side by side

Credit: Larry & Lin Pardey

Lyle Hess was ahead of his time when he designed Renegade in 1949.

Despite winning the Newport to Ensenada race, the 25ft wooden cutter went largely unnoticed.

Hess had to build bridges for 15 years before Larry Pardey asked him to design the 24ft Seraffyn , closely based on Renegade ’s lines but with a Bermudan rig.

Pardey’s subsequent voyages around the world cemented Hess’s reputation and success of the Renegade design.

A Rustler 36 yacht being sailed off the coast of Falmouth

Would the Rustler 36 make it on your best small sailing boat list? Credit: Rustler Yachts

Six out of 18 entries for the 2018 Golden Globe Race (GGR) were Rustler 36s, with the top three places all going to Rustler 36 skippers.

It was a fantastic endorsement for a long-keel yacht designed by Holman & Pye 40 years before.

Expect to see more Rustler 36s in the 2022 edition of the GGR!

An S&S 34 yacht sailing offshore with white sails

It was Ted Heath who first brought the S&S 34 to prominence with his boat Morning Cloud .

In 1969 the yacht won the Sydney to Hobart Race, despite being one of the smallest boats in the race.

Other epic S&S 34 voyages include the first ever single-handed double circumnavigation by Jon Sanders in 1981

A yacht with a red, white and blue spinnaker sailing into the distance

Credit: Colin Work

The Contessa 32 might seem an impossible boat to improve upon, but that’s what her designer David Sadler attempted to do in 1979 with the launch of the Sadler 32 .

That was followed two years later by the Sadler 29 , a tidy little boat that managed to pack in six berths in a comfortable open-plan interior.

The boat was billed as ‘unsinkable’, with a double-skinned hull separated by closed cell foam buoyancy.

What’s more, it was fast, notching up to 12 knots.

The Sigma 33 yacht - named as one of the 25 best small sailing boat designs

Credit: Dick Durham/Yachting Monthly

Another modern take on the Contessa theme was the Sigma 33, designed by David Thomas in 1979.

A modern underwater body combined with greater beam and higher freeboard produced a faster boat with greater accommodation.

And, like the Contessa, the Sigma 33 earned its stripes at the 1979 Fastnet, when two of the boats survived to tell the tale.

A lively one-design fleet soon developed on the Solent which is still active to this day.

A replica of Joshua Slocum's Spray. Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

A replica of Joshua Slocum’s Spray . Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

The boat Joshua Slocum used for his first singlehanded circumnavigation of the world wasn’t intended to sail much further than the Chesapeake Bay.

The 37ft Spray was a rotten old oyster sloop which a friend gave him and which he had to spend 13 months fixing up.

Yet this boxy little tub, with its over-optimistic clipper bow, not only took Slocum safely around the world but has spawned dozens of modern copies that have undertaken long ocean passages.

James Wharram drew many pioneering designs during his lifetime, which is why Tangaroa, which opened up cruising to many, is on the 25 best sailing boat designs list. Credit: James Wharram Designs

Credit: James Wharram Designs

What are boats for if not for dreaming? And James Wharram had big dreams.

First he sailed across the Atlantic on the 23ft 6in catamaran Tangaroa .

He then built the 40ft Rongo on the beach in Trinidad (with a little help from French legend Bernard Moitessier) and sailed back to the UK.

Then he drew the 34ft Tangaroa (based on Rongo ) for others to follow in his wake and sold 500 plans in 10 years.

A Twister yacht with a white hull and white sails

Credit: Graham Snook/Yachting Monthly

The Twister was designed in a hurry.

Kim Holman wanted a boat at short notice for the 1963 season and, having had some success with his Stella design (based on the Folkboat), he rushed out a ‘knockabout cruising boat for the summer with some racing for fun’.

The result was a Bermudan sloop that proved nigh on unbeatable on the East Anglian circuit.

It proved to be Holman’s most popular design with more than 200 built.

A black and white photos of a wooden yacht

Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

Laurent Giles’s design No15 was drawn in 1935 for a Guernsey solicitor who wanted ‘a boat that would spin on a sixpence and I could sail single-handed ’.

What the young Jack Giles gave him was a pretty transom-sterned cutter, with a nicely raked stem.

Despite being moderate in every way, the boat proved extremely able and was soon racking up long distances, including Humphrey Barton’s famous transatlantic crossing on Vertue XXXV in 1950.

Wanderer II and III

Wanderer 3 yacht sailing with red brown sails

Credit: Thies Matzen

Eric and Susan Hiscock couldn’t afford a Vertue, so Laurent Giles designed a smaller, 21ft version for them which they named Wanderer II .

They were back a few years later, this time wanting a bigger version: the 30ft Wanderer III .

It was this boat they sailed around the world between 1952-55, writing articles and sailing books along the way.

In doing so, they introduced a whole generation of amateur sailors to the possibilities of long-distance cruising.

Westerly 22

A Westerly 22 yacht with a white hull and a white sail

The origins of Westerly Marine were incredibly modest.

Commander Denys Rayner started building plywood dinghies in the 1950s which morphed into a 22ft pocket cruiser called the Westcoaster.

Realising the potential of fibreglass, in 1963 he adapted the design to create the Westerly 22, an affordable cruising boat with bilge keels and a reverse sheer coachroof.

Some 332 boats were built to the design before it was relaunched as the Nomad (267 built).

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Practical Boat Owner

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Best 30 foot boats: Seaworthy British cruisers available for under £30k

Peter Poland

  • Peter Poland
  • June 15, 2022

Peter Poland shares his expertise on British-built second-hand yachts costing less than £30,000, which are comfortable and seaworthy...


You might think £30,000 sounds like a lot of money for a ‘starter boat’. But tracking down a comfortable and seaworthy yacht that’s 30 foot long, less than around 40 years old and capable of taking a crew on coastal cruising trips costing less than £30,000 on the second-hand market can be a challenging project.

It’s stating the obvious, but sailors who are happy with smaller yachts have far more to choose from. In the days before the ‘smallest’ new starter boat became a costly 30-plus footer, many builders used to offer popular ranges stretching from 20ft to 32ft.

But if you are looking for the best 30 foot boats within a £30,000 budget, you will have to start delving into the realms of older yachts.

14 of the best 30 foot boats


The Westerly Centaur White Lady

Westerly Centaur

Those looking for smaller GRP starter boats – myself included – often settled on the ground-breaking 26ft Westerly Centaur. Between 1969 and the early 1980s, 2,444 were built; outselling any other British production cruiser.

To a large degree its success stemmed from the exceptional space, headroom and comfort that it offered in its day. Three layout options were available and – more by luck than judgement – I bought the most popular.

It had a twin berth forepeak, enclosed heads compartment, L-shaped saloon settee with drop-down table, linear galley to starboard and twin quarter berths aft. Thanks to designer Laurent Giles’s thorough tank testing, the Centaur’s twin keels also broke new ground.


The Westerly Centaur Viento Seco

These tests showed a substantial loss in efficiency when keels were aligned exactly fore and aft. So the LG team settled on splayed and identical (as opposed to asymmetric) keels with a 2° toe-in.

I bought my second-hand Centaur as a floating cottage from which to follow and photograph the successes of our Hunter Sonata and Impala 28 One Design classes in the late 1970s.

The Centaur did a great job. It sailed adequately, motored well and provided excellent overnight accommodation. And it still will today; especially if you find a tidy example with refurbished headlining panels and a recent engine.


A Nicholson 32 beating through the Sound of Mull, Inner Hebrides. Photo: Genevieve Leaper/Alamy

Nicholson 32

Going back to 1963, the evergreen Nicholson 32 is another candidate for a seaworthy and comfortable cruiser that just keeps going. Peter Nicholson sketched out his ideas for an all GRP Camper & Nicholsons fast cruiser that he hoped would become the new ‘people’s boat’.

He envisaged a quick and seaworthy hull, a distinctive two level coachroof (featuring a raised doghouse aft) and a spacious and nicely fitted out interior.

His father, CE Nicholson, drew the lines and Halmatic was signed up to mould the boat. Peter Nicholson planned the marketing and prepared the brochure: which was probably the first GRP yacht brochure produced in the UK. Jeremy Lines took on the day to day running of the project and the Nicholson 32 hit the sailing scene in 1963.

Success was instant. The Mark 1 version sold at £4,900. This may not sound much, but apply about 60 years worth of inflation and this comes to around £109,000 (+VAT) in today’s money. Which was a lot for a 32-footer.

Article continues below…

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Coming of age: the 1970s yacht designs that have stood the test of time

Sailing in the 1970s was characterised by innovation, enthusiasm, mass participation and home boatbuilding. Rupert Holmes reports


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But it’s as one would expect for a high quality yacht with a lead keel. Interestingly, the LWL had been fixed at 24ft – the holy grail for offshore racers – because this was the minimum permitted length for RORC events.

The first 32 produced, aptly named Forerunner, did well in Solent racing with Charles and Peter Nicholson on board. Then the young Claire Francis made the headlines by sailing her Nicholson 32 Gulliver single-handed across the Atlantic .

And the success story just ran and ran. Jeremy Lines continued to mastermind sales, control changes and liaise with Halmatic until the final couple of years, when Halmatic took over the whole project with the Mark X and Xl versions.

From 1963 to 1981, the 32 was in continuous production and including a few built under licence in Australia, around 400 were built. Peter Nicholson summed up the 32’s success by saying: “I think the most important thing about the 32 was that owners felt very safe in her in really bad weather.

“We had numerous letters and comments about this from people who had been caught out.”

Nicholson 32 Mark X and Mark XI

Over the years no fewer than eleven new ‘Marks’ of the 32 were introduced, incorporating numerous changes. Many of these related to small details but some were more significant, such as scrapping the pilot berth and pushing the saloon settees further out to make space for an occasional double berth.

The Mark X (introduced in 1972) and Mark Xl featured an all-new deck moulding and raised hull topsides, resulting in major changes and a completely new look. With extra headroom and space provided by the raised topsides, the ‘dog-house’ part of the coachroof became longer and lower.

At the same time the cockpit changed dramatically (it could now accommodate a wheel) and the companionway moved from its unusual but practical offset position to the centreline.

Down below, the galley and chart table changed sides, the chart table changed orientation, the saloon became more spacious and the amidships heads area got a bit bigger. While many liked the new Mark X look, others preferred the more traditional profile of earlier models. You pays your money (usually more for a Mark X or XI) and you takes your choice.

‘The evergreen Nicholson 32 is a seaworthy and comfortable cruiser that just keeps going’

From a personal perspective, I like the Raymond Wall designed deck and coachroof on the Mark X and Xl. But I’ve always admired Wall’s designs, especially such beauties as the Nicholson 35, 43 and 55. And after an enjoyable test aboard a 1969 Mark 8 version, I concluded that: “A ‘classic’ such as a Nicholson 32 will not suit everyone.

But if you want a boat with character, a boat that will look after you, a boat that just feels so good (whether sailing or relaxing down below) and a boat that will turn heads wherever she goes, then take a look. A Nicholson 32 is not just a boat; it is more a love affair and a way of life.”

To give an idea of prices today, I came across a couple of Mk 8 versions (1971 and 1972) asking £9,000 and £9,500 and two Mk Xs (1972 and 1974) asking £12,950 and £24,500.

Prices vary a lot depending on condition, spec and engine age etc, and a professional survey is advisable – as is the case when considering the purchase of any elderly boat. A visit to the Nicholson 32 website and becoming an associate member (£15) also gives access to a prodigious amount of information.


The restored Contessa 32 Bugler of Hor (PBO, December 2018)

Contessa 32

As the 1960s slid into the 70s, a new British-designed and built 32ft contender – the Contessa 32 – hit the market in 1972. And, like the Nicholson, it has become a popular classic.

However, having been launched eight years later, several new design features gave this 32-footer a very different look. The 1970s ushered in a new generation of yacht design.

The most obvious changes are beneath the waterline. Instead of a traditional long keel, the Contessa followed the new trend of fin keel (albeit a long one by modern standards) and separate skeg-hung rudder.

From a performance point of view, drag is reduced and manoeuvrability increases. But the Contessa’s vital statistics are surprisingly similar to the Nicholson’s, with the same LWL (that magical RORC minimum of 24ft again) and 5ft 6in draught. And her beam is only 3in more.

But when it comes to weight, there’s a substantial drop from the Nicholson’s hefty 6,198kg to 4,309kg. Yet the ballast ratio remains around 50%.

The Contessa’s finer ends and reduced underwater body explain the overall reduction in weight and mean that she is smaller down below – and quicker that the Nicholson. The 1972-designed Contessa 32 soon became a top seller with a reputation for seaworthiness, performance and classic good looks.

‘Synonymous with the word “safe”, many Contessa 32s have girdled the globe’


Around 700 Contessa 32s were built and she’s still in demand today. Photo: Carolyn Jenkins/Alamy

Around 700 were built and she’s still in demand today. Prices range from £14,000 (a 1972 example with original engine) to £27,000 (with newer engine) to £36,000 (a later example with newer engine) to ‘six figures’ for a recent boat. Jeremy Rogers Ltd still builds new 32s.

The word ‘safe’ has become synonymous with the Contessa 32. Many have girdled the globe. Others have raced across the Atlantic, a recent example being Amelie of Dart built by Jeremy Rogers’s new company.

Stephen Gratton entered her in the 2005 Amateur Single Handed Transatlantic race and raised over £50,000 for an MS charity. Jeremy Rogers told me: “He took 30 days to do the crossing, which was an extremely rough and testing one.”

But perhaps the most famous Contessa 32 is Willy Ker’s Assent . She shot to fame as the smallest yacht to complete the storm-tossed 1979 Fastnet Race , when many larger yachts had to retire.

Then Ker took to the ice and Assent completed successful cruises to the Arctic and Antarctic oceans. Contessa 32s, it seems, can take their crews anywhere.

The Contessa 32’s layout is similar to the earlier Nicholson 32 design, albeit slightly less voluminous. In the saloon, the main U-shaped settee converts into a double berth, thanks to a slide out panel.

The chart table is full sized and forward facing, with a secure quarter berth aft. The galley is a seagoing wrap-around U-shape that provides plenty of work-surface.


Contessa 32 Class racing during Cowes Week in the Solent, off the Isle of Wight. Photo: Peter Titmuss/Alamy

“Cooking and navigating at sea are safe and simple”, one owner told me; “You don’t get thrown around too much if it gets rough. She has a gentle motion at sea. She doesn’t bounce around and catch you off balance.”

Like the Nicholson 32 and other cruisers of this era, the Contessa’s heads compartment is amidships, between the saloon and the forepeak.

This isn’t as palatial as the aft heads compartments on beamy contemporary cruisers but when the heads are forward, valuable saloon space aft at the widest part of the yacht is not sacrificed.


Andrew Gardener’s Rival 32’s comfortable cockpit, wide side decks and moderate width bow and stern. Photo: Andrew Gardener

Rival 32 and Rival 34

At much the same time, the Rival 32 (1971: 200 built) and Rival 34 (1972: 174 built) hit the scene and also made their names as reliable and capable offshore cruisers. Designed By Peter Brett, the Rival 34 was an extended version of the already successful Rival 32, having a slightly deeper afterbody and longer overhangs to give steadiness in a seaway.

There were two basic hull versions, one with a deep keel at 5ft 10in and a shallow one with 4ft 8in draught. The Rival 34’s prowess in offshore sailing was soon put to the test. Four Rivals (a 31, two 32s and the first 34) entered the inaugural AZAB race (Azores and back – around 2,500 miles).

Then Brett lent his own deep keel Rival 34 Wild Rival to a young naval officer, Geoff Hales, to enter the 1976 OSTAR (Observer single-handed transatlantic race). Hales told me that it was one of the roughest OSTARs ever. “Out of 126 entries, only 76 finished. Wild Rival took it all in her stride and we finished 23rd… and we won overall on handicap.”


Rival 34 Wild Rival competing in a Round the Île de Bréhat Race in the Classic Channel Regatta. Photo: Peter Poland

Hales said that the 34 was so well balanced that she often sailed herself (with the Aries self-steering disconnected) and that the high bow proved its worth in the heavy head seas.

The only damage was a split mainsail, caused by a knock down when Wild Rival was hit by a rogue wave during a storm when winds touched 60 knots. “Needless to say,” Hales added, “ Wild Rival was straight back on her feet!” What’s more Wild Rival is still racing today and a regular competitor in The Classic Channel Regatta.

I’ve crewed on a Twister twice in this splendid event and admired Wild Rival racing round the Île de Bréhat … and she’s already entered for 2022. To get a professional opinion on how the Rival 34 has stood the test of time, I contacted Scottish yacht designer and surveyor Ian Nicolson.

When I heard he’d changed his championship winning Sigma 33 for a Rival 34, I was keen to hear his opinions on his latest and less sporty steed.

Ian said: “Restoration of my Rival 34 was a middle of the road job. I worked on her over three and a half winters and now she’s more comfortable, but these boats tend to be basically safe and not a lot was needed structurally. I’m pleased with the new book-case which has a traditional teak grating front!”

‘The most obvious changes of the 1970s’ new era of yacht design are beneath the waterline’

And what about her handling and performance? Ian added: “When I get our Rival into a tight marina berth with half a gale on the beam, I wish she had the short keel of the Sigma 3 for swift, tight turning.

“But when I am out alone and have not linked up the autohelm, the Rival’s steady plod in one predetermined direction is an asset. In squally conditions the Sigma needed firm handling and we won races by keeping the boat on its feet, while others were broaching.

“There is none of this problem with the Rival. If I had a choice for Scotland I would go for the deep draught version.”

Many other Rivals have gone on to cruise long distances. The design has a distinctive sheerline, and the interior, although smaller than some modern 34-footers, is particularly well fitted out for serious seagoing. On the second-hand market, I found 1978 and 1979 32s on offer at £16,000 and £17,500 (with a replacement Beta 25) and a 34 at £29,000.


The more modern Sadler profile is perhaps more functional than the Contessa’s classic look. But the Sadler 32 will be a dryer boat to sail as a result of this. Photo: Tim Woodcock/Alamy

The Sadler 32 is also worth considering. Designed by David Sadler, around 300 were built between 1979 and 1989. It’s interesting to compare dimensions with Sadler’s previous Contessa 32 design. At 31ft 6in overall the Sadler 32 is slightly shorter.

But her LWL is the same: namely the old RORC minimum 24ft for offshore races. Fin keel draught is also the same at 5ft 6in (shoal draught and twin keels were also offered), but beam is a foot broader at 10ft 6in.

Displacement is similar at 4,309kg but the ballast ratio is a slightly lower 44.2%. However the Sadler’s extra beam and form stability compensate for this. The Sadler’s masthead rig is also a similar size to the Contessa’s.


The Sadler 32 is a more spacious boat than the Contessa 32. Photo: Adrian Muttitt/Alamy

So what does this all add up to? Being a more modern design, the Sadler’s increased beam, higher freeboard, cambered side decks and straightened sheer definitely pay dividends down below.

The Sadler is a more spacious boat than the Contessa. Her fin keel is also a bit shorter, so there’s a small saving on wetted surface. This was borne out by early successes on the IOR racing scene.

I recall Cowes Week dices in our Impala 28 against the Sadler 32. We tended to edge ahead when off the wind (especially in a blow) but were hard pressed to hang on to the Sadler beating to windward in a stiff breeze.

Martin Sadler also sailed a 32 in the 1979 Fastnet and came through it with flying colours. Unlike the Contessa 32 Assent that completed the course, Martin decided to rest his crew and retire to Cork after surviving the ferocious front unscathed.

When it comes to looks, you enter the realms of personal taste. The more modern Sadler profile is perhaps marginally more functional than the Contessa’s sweeping and classic look.

But the Sadler 32 will be a dryer boat to sail as a result of this. Typical asking prices vary from £15,000 to £24,000 subject to boat and engine age.

Westerly Longbow and Westerly Renown

In 1972, Westerly asked Laurent Giles for a new 31-footer. And in its various guises, this makes a very popular first cruiser. It started life with a fin keel, as opposed to the ubiquitous and successful twin keels that had helped establish the Westerly brand.


The Westerly Longbow is a powerful performer, especially in a breeze. Photo:

So in 1972 the Westerly Longbow hit the scene, to be followed a year later by its ketch rigged centre cockpit sister, the Westerly Renown.

These two models have the Centaur’s signature knuckle in the bow and small ‘step’ in the roof line; but the extra five feet in length gives a generally sleeker appearance. They also took performance to a higher level.

The Longbow in particular is a powerful performer. She can surprise more modern cruisers in club handicap races – especially in a breeze – after which her crew can lie back and relax in traditional Westerly comfort.

The Longbow’s accommodation is spacious, featuring an L-shaped saloon settee arranged around a table to port. Two alternative galley positions were offered; one forward in the saloon and one aft. And a decent sized heads is amidships.

All in all, it’s an extremely practical and pleasing sea-going interior with plenty of wood to enhance the ambience. The centre cockpit, with wheel steering and optional ketch rig, Renown added a separate twin berth stern cabin to the equation.

Of course this is small compared to the palatial pads found in the wide sterns of many of today’s broad beam cruisers, but it is genuinely ‘separate’ and accessed via its own companionway at the back of the cockpit.

The Renown’s saloon is slightly shorter than in the aft cockpit Longbow, but remains a cosy and welcoming lair, with the galley aft to starboard and chart table to port.

Sales of these two fin keel cruisers level pegged, with the Longbow chalking up 265 compared to the Renown’s 273.


The centre-cockpit Westerly Pentland. Photo:

Westerly Berwick and Westerly Pentland

But customer demand for twin keels won out in the end, and a couple of years later Westerly launched the Berwick (aft cockpit) and the Pentland (centre cockpit) sisters.

Their efficient twin keels reduced the draught by around a foot – enabling upwardly mobile Centaur owners to retain their drying moorings and to continue creek crawling as they graduated from 26 to 31ft.

And, like their fin keel sisters, the Berwick and Pentland had sensible seagoing interiors. Sales between aft cockpit and central cockpit versions were also similar, with the aft cockpit Berwick winning at 309 to 241.

As sales continued to boom, the interior layouts of these successful 31-footers were occasionally tweaked. And towards the end of the run – as with other Westerly models nearing their sell by date – the fibreglass furniture mouldings gave way to an attractive (and more costly to build) all wood look.

Interestingly, the final total of these 31-footers built is evenly split between fin and twin keelers at around 540 of each. And that’s a lot of 31-footers. Today’s second-hand prices vary between around £10,000 to £18,000; depending on age and condition of boat and engine.


Excellent Westerly build quality as found in the 33ft Discus. Photo:

Westerly 33/Discus

One of the last classic Laurent Giles cruising yachts designed for the Westerly range was the Westerly 33/Discus, produced between 1977 and 1984.

Many regard this 33ft hull – with its well-proportioned keel (giving a 40% ballast ratio), generous displacement (6,848kg), and sensible beam (providing ample comfortable space below) – to be the best of the lot.

As usual, there are choices of keel (fin or twin), rig (sloop or ketch) and cockpit position (central or aft).

But it is the accumulated experience of thousands of Giles-designed Westerlys that makes these 33-footers a cut above the norm – with desirable small details such as backrests that move to become solid lee cloths for sleeping at sea.

Around 300 were built and asking prices vary from around £20,000 to £25,000.

Westerly Fulmar 32

In 1979, perhaps influenced by the success of racier cruisers imported from France, Westerly decided to step up a gear in the performance stakes and go for a new look and a new designer.

Out went Laurent Giles and in came the young Ed Dubois. It was a bold move, but Westerly pushed ahead in 1980 with a replacement for the popular 31ft Longbow family.


Excellent performance and handling qualities in both fin and twin keel formats from the Westerly Fulmar. Photo:

The result was one of Westerly’s most popular and enduring models; the Fulmar 32 (1979 to 1992: 437 built). Like her 26ft sister the Griffon Mk I and Mk ll (1979-1989, 329 built), Dubois’s Fulmar 32 enjoys excellent performance and handling qualities in both fin and twin keel formats.

And, being 6ft longer than the Griffon, she has classier and more elegant lines. Westerly gambled that extra performance would not deter its existing customer base, but rather boost existing brand loyalty while attracting new converts to the marque.

With fin or twin keels, the Fulmar took off. She also became a favourite with sailing schools requiring a spacious, seaworthy and stable floating classroom. The Fulmar’s seagoing interior layout, long cockpit and ability to take heavy weather in her stride make her the ideal workhorse.

With a sail area of around 560ft2, beam of 10ft 11in and ballast ratio of around 42% she offers a fine balance between cruising comfort and good performance.

Despite her long cockpit, the Fulmar’s interior volume is extensive. Her traditional layout – with twin berth forepeak, amidships heads, straight-sided saloon settees, big galley, sensible chart table and aft quarter berth – works well at sea.

It is not dissimilar to the Contessa 32’s accommodation, but more spacious. And many reckon that a well-sailed Fulmar will see off a Contessa 32 under sail in many conditions.

An impressive 437 were built and current prices vary between around £21,000 and £35,000 depending on age, condition and whether they have a replacement engine.


A Moody 27 in Plymouth Sound. Photo: Graham Snook/Yachting Monthly

Best 30 foot Moody boats

Many Moodys can also fit under the £30,000 ceiling, including earlier Primrose designs (Moody 33, 30, 36, 33S, 29, 333) and early Dixon designs (Moody 27, 31, 28). Most of these were offered with fin or twin keels.

There are far too many to go into detail here, but the excellent Moody Owners Association ( contains information galore.

Best 30 foot boats: Yacht broker favourites

To get an experienced yacht broker’s view, I asked Andy Cunningham of Michael Schmidt and Partner (based at Hamble Point) for his favourite boats selling at under £30,000.

He listed the Westerly Konsort , Sadler 29 , Vancouver 27, as well as the Hunter Channel 27 and Ranger 245 twin-keelers.

He also mentioned the Victoria 30, Westerly Fulmar and Hunter Channel 32 twin-keeler – with the proviso that the last three can sell for more than £30,000 when in top condition.

Sharing Andy’s bias towards David Thomas twin keel designs, I would also mention the Hunter Horizon 232 twin-keeler as owned by 82-year-old Murdoch McGregor who won the British Yachting Awards 2021 Sailor of the Year accolade for his epic solo round Britain trip.

And its later, larger sister the Ranger 245 found almost unprecedented approval from the testers at PBO. David Harding wrote: ‘There was a lot to like about this spirited little ship back in 1996 when she had just been launched as the Ranger 245.’

Andrew Simpson, PBO’s associate editor at the time and not one to lavish praise on a boat unless it was well earned, concluded his test in 1997 with the words ‘a cracking little winner if ever I saw one’. The choice is far wider when looking for a small yacht priced under £30,000. So it’s impossible to list all the likely candidates.

Buying a 30 foot boat: Top tips

As a rule of thumb, it’s important to seek out a model with the backing of an active owners association. Rallies and social gatherings are fun and of course there’s extensive valuable information available.

A pre-purchase survey is also important; as are any recent invoices for major items such as engine and standing rigging replacement to show insurers.

Regarding standing rigging some insurers stipulate inspections on change of ownership, further inspections thereafter and rectification of faults found. So it’s sensible to check this with your insurer first.

Navigators & General, which has been insuring yachts since 1921, states on its website: ‘We will generally require surveys on boats greater than 23ft which are over 20 years in age. Once satisfactorily completed we will not ask for another for at least five years.’

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43 of the best bluewater sailboat designs of all time

Yachting World

  • January 5, 2022

How do you choose the right yacht for you? We highlight the very best bluewater sailboat designs for every type of cruising

best family cruising yacht uk

Which yacht is the best for bluewater boating? This question generates even more debate among sailors than questions about what’s the coolest yacht , or the best for racing. Whereas racing designs are measured against each other, cruising sailors get very limited opportunities to experience different yachts in real oceangoing conditions, so what is the best bluewater sailboat?

Here, we bring you our top choices from decades of designs and launches. Over the years, the Yachting World team has sailed these boats, tested them or judged them for European Yacht of the Year awards, and we have sifted through the many to curate a selection that we believe should be on your wishlist.

Making the right choice may come down to how you foresee your yacht being used after it has crossed an ocean or completed a passage: will you be living at anchor or cruising along the coast? If so, your guiding requirements will be space, cabin size, ease of launching a tender and anchoring closer to shore, and whether it can comfortably accommodate non-expert-sailor guests.

Article continues below…

best family cruising yacht uk

The perfect boat: what makes an ideal offshore cruising yacht?

Choosing a boat for offshore cruising is not a decision to be taken lightly. I have researched this topic on…


European Yacht of the Year 2019: Best luxury cruisers

Before the sea trials began, I would have put money on a Hallberg-Rassy or the Wauquiez winning an award. The…

All of these considerations have generated the inexorable rise of the bluewater catamaran – monohulls can’t easily compete on these points. We have a full separate feature on the best bluewater multihulls of all time and here we mostly focus on monohulls. The only exceptions to that rule are two multihulls which made it into our best bluewater sailboats of 2022 list.

As so much of making the right choice is selecting the right boat for the venture in mind, we have separated out our edit into categories: best for comfort; for families; for performance; and for expedition or high latitudes sailing .

Best bluewater sailboats of 2022

The new flagship Allures 51.9, for example, is a no-nonsense adventure cruising design built and finished to a high standard. It retains Allures’ niche of using aluminium hulls with glassfibre decks and superstructures, which, the yard maintains, gives the optimum combination of least maintenance and less weight higher up. Priorities for this design were a full beam aft cabin and a spacious, long cockpit. Both are excellent, with the latter, at 6m long, offering formidable social, sailing and aft deck zones.

It likes some breeze to come to life on the wheel, but I appreciate that it’s designed to take up to five tonnes payload. And I like the ease with which you can change gears using the furling headsails and the positioning of the powerful Andersen winches inboard. The arch is standard and comes with a textile sprayhood or hard bimini.

Below decks you’ll find abundant headroom and natural light, a deep U-shape galley and cavernous stowage. For those who like the layout of the Amel 50 but would prefer aluminium or shoal draught, look no further.

Allures 51.9 price: €766,000

The Ovni 370 is another cunning new aluminum centreboard offering, a true deck saloon cruiser for two. The designers say the biggest challenge was to create a Category A ocean going yacht at this size with a lifting keel, hence the hull had to be very stable.

Enjoyable to helm, it has a practical, deep cockpit behind a large sprayhood, which can link to the bimini on the arch. Many of its most appealing features lie in the bright, light, contemporary, clever, voluminous interior, which has good stowage and tankage allocation. There’s also a practical navstation, a large workroom and a vast separate shower. I particularly like the convertible saloom, which can double as a large secure daybed or pilot berth.

Potentially the least expensive Category A lift keel boat available, the Ovni will get you dreaming of remote places again.

Ovni 370 price: €282,080

best family cruising yacht uk

There’s no shortage of spirit in the Windelo 50. We gave this a sustainability award after it’s founders spent two years researching environmentally-friendly composite materials, developing an eco-composite of basalt fibre and recycled PET foam so it could build boats that halve the environmental impact of standard glassfibre yachts.

The Windelo 50 is an intriguing package – from the styling, modular interior and novel layout to the solar field on the roof and the standard electric propulsion, it is completely fresh.

Windelo 50 price: €795,000

Best bluewater sailboat of 2022 – Outremer 55

I would argue that this is the most successful new production yacht on the market. Well over 50 have already sold (an equipped model typically costs €1.6m) – and I can understand why. After all, were money no object, I had this design earmarked as the new yacht I would most likely choose for a world trip.

Indeed 55 number one Sanya, was fully equipped for a family’s world cruise, and left during our stay for the Grand Large Odyssey tour. Whereas we sailed Magic Kili, which was tricked up with performance options, including foam-cored deckheads and supports, carbon crossbeam and bulkheads, and synthetic rigging.

At rest, these are enticing space ships. Taking one out to sea is another matter though. These are speed machines with the size, scale and loads to be rightly weary of. Last month Nikki Henderson wrote a feature for us about how to manage a new breed of performance cruising cats just like this and how she coaches new owners. I could not think of wiser money spent for those who do not have ample multihull sailing experience.

Under sail, the most fun was obviously reserved for the reaching leg under asymmetric, where we clocked between 11-16 knots in 15-16 knots wind. But it was the stability and of those sustained low teen speeds which really hit home  – passagemaking where you really cover miles.

Key features include the swing helms, which give you views from outboard, over the coachroof or from a protected position in the cockpit through the coachroof windows, and the vast island in the galley, which is key to an open plan main living area. It helps provide cavernous stowage and acts as the heart of the entertaining space as it would in a modern home. As Danish judge Morten Brandt-Rasmussen comments: “Apart from being the TGV of ocean passages the boat offers the most spacious, open and best integration of the cockpit and salon areas in the market.”

Outremer has done a top job in packing in the creature comforts, stowage space and payload capacity, while keeping it light enough to eat miles. Although a lot to absorb and handle, the 55 offers a formidable blend of speed and luxury cruising.

Outremer 55 price: €1.35m

Best bluewater sailboats for comfort

This is the successor to the legendary Super Maramu, a ketch design that for several decades defined easy downwind handling and fostered a cult following for the French yard. Nearly a decade old, the Amel 55 is the bridge between those world-girdling stalwarts and Amel’s more recent and totally re-imagined sloop designs, the Amel 50 and 60.

The 55 boasts all the serious features Amel aficionados loved and valued: a skeg-hung rudder, solidly built hull, watertight bulkheads, solid guardrails and rampart bulwarks. And, most noticeable, the solid doghouse in which the helmsman sits in perfect shelter at the wheel.

This is a design to live on comfortably for long periods and the list of standard features just goes on and on: passarelle; proper sea berths with lee cloths; electric furling main and genoa; and a multitude of practical items that go right down to a dishwasher and crockery.

There’s no getting around the fact these designs do look rather dated now, and through the development of easier sail handling systems the ketch rig has fallen out of fashion, but the Amel is nothing short of a phenomenon, and if you’ve never even peeked on board one, you really have missed a treat.


Photo: Sander van der Borch

Contest 50CS

A centre cockpit cruiser with true longevity, the Contest 50CS was launched by Conyplex back in 2003 and is still being built by the family-owned Dutch company, now in updated and restyled form.

With a fully balanced rudder, large wheel and modern underwater sections, the Contest 50CS is a surprisingly good performer for a boat that has a dry weight of 17.5 tonnes. Many were fitted with in-mast furling, which clearly curtails that performance, but even without, this boat is set up for a small crew.

Electric winches and mainsheet traveller are all easy to reach from the helm. On our test of the Contest 50CS, we saw for ourselves how two people can gybe downwind under spinnaker without undue drama. Upwind, a 105% genoa is so easy to tack it flatters even the weediest crewmember.

Down below, the finish level of the joinery work is up there among the best and the interior is full of clever touches, again updated and modernised since the early models. Never the cheapest bluewater sailing yacht around, the Contest 50CS has remained in demand as a brokerage buy. She is a reassuringly sure-footed, easily handled, very well built yacht that for all those reasons has stood the test of time.

This is a yacht that would be well capable of helping you extend your cruising grounds, almost without realising it.

Read more about the Contest 50CS and the new Contest 49CS


Photo: Rick Tomlinson

Hallberg-Rassy 48 Mk II

For many, the Swedish Hallberg-Rassy yard makes the quintessential bluewater cruiser for couples. With their distinctive blue cove line, these designs are famous for their seakindly behaviour, solid-as-a-rock build and beautifully finished, traditional interiors.

To some eyes, Hallberg-Rassys aren’t quite cool enough, but it’s been company owner Magnus Rassy’s confidence in the formula and belief in incremental ‘step-by-step’ evolution that has been such an exceptional guarantor of reliable quality, reputation and resale value.

The centre cockpit Hallberg-Rassy 48 epitomises the concept of comfort at sea and, like all the Frers-designed Hallberg-Rassys since the 1990s, is surprisingly fleet upwind as well as steady downwind. The 48 is perfectly able to be handled by a couple (as we found a few years back in the Pacific), and could with no great effort crack out 200-mile days.

The Hallberg-Rassy 48 was launched nearly a decade ago, but the Mk II from 2014 is our pick, updated with a more modern profile, larger windows and hull portlights that flood the saloon and aft cabin with light. With a large chart table, secure linear galley, heaps of stowage and space for bluewater extras such as machinery and gear, this yacht pretty much ticks all the boxes.


Discovery 55

First launched in 2000, the Discovery 55 has stood the test of time. Designed by Ron Holland, it hit a sweet spot in size that appealed to couples and families with world girdling plans.

Elegantly styled and well balanced, the 55 is also a practical design, with a deep and secure cockpit, comfortable seating, a self-tacking jib, dedicated stowage for the liferaft , a decent sugar scoop transom that’s useful for swimming or dinghy access, and very comfortable accommodation below. In short, it is a design that has been well thought out by those who’ve been there, got the bruises, stubbed their toes and vowed to change things in the future if they ever got the chance.

Throughout the accommodation there are plenty of examples of good detailing, from the proliferation of handholds and grabrails, to deep sinks in the galley offering immediate stowage when under way and the stand up/sit down showers. Stowage is good, too, with plenty of sensibly sized lockers in easily accessible positions.

The Discovery 55 has practical ideas and nifty details aplenty. She’s not, and never was, a breakthrough in modern luxury cruising but she is pretty, comfortable to sail and live on, and well mannered.


Photo: Latitudes Picture Library

You can’t get much more Cornish than a Rustler. The hulls of this Stephen Jones design are hand-moulded and fitted out in Falmouth – and few are more ruggedly built than this traditional, up-for-anything offshore cruiser.

She boasts an encapsulated lead keel, eliminating keel bolts and creating a sump for generous fuel and water tankage, while a chunky skeg protects the rudder. She is designed for good directional stability and load carrying ability. These are all features that lend this yacht confidence as it shoulders aside the rough stuff.

Most of those built have had a cutter rig, a flexible arrangement that makes sense for long passages in all sea and weather conditions. Down below, the galley and saloon berths are comfortable and sensible for living in port and at sea, with joinery that Rustler’s builders are rightly proud of.

As modern yachts have got wider, higher and fatter, the Rustler 42 is an exception. This is an exceptionally well-mannered seagoing yacht in the traditional vein, with elegant lines and pleasing overhangs, yet also surprisingly powerful. And although now over 20 years old, timeless looks and qualities mean this design makes her look ever more like a perennial, a modern classic.

The definitive crossover size, the point at which a yacht can be handled by a couple but is just large enough to have a professional skipper and be chartered, sits at around the 60ft mark. At 58ft 8in, the Oyster 575 fitted perfectly into this growing market when launched in 2010. It went on to be one of the most popular models from the yard, and is only now being superseded by the newer Rob Humphreys-designed Oyster 565 (just launched this spring).

Built in various configurations with either a deep keel, shoal draught keel or centreboard with twin rudders, owners could trade off better performance against easy access to shallower coves and anchorages. The deep-bodied hull, also by Rob Humphreys, is known for its easy motion at sea.

Some of the Oyster 575’s best features include its hallmark coachroof windows style and centre cockpit – almost everyone will know at first glance this is an Oyster – and superb interior finish. If she has a flaw, it is arguably the high cockpit, but the flip side is the galley headroom and passageway berth to the large aft stateroom.

This design also has a host of practical features for long-distance cruising, such as high guardrails, dedicated liferaft stowage, a vast lazarette for swallowing sails, tender, fenders etc, and a penthouse engine room.


Privilege Serie 5

A true luxury catamaran which, fully fitted out, will top €1m, this deserves to be seen alongside the likes of the Oyster 575, Gunfleet 58 and Hallberg-Rassy 55. It boasts a large cockpit and living area, and a light and spacious saloon with an emphasis on indoor-outdoor living, masses of refrigeration and a big galley.

Standout features are finish quality and solid build in a yacht designed to take a high payload, a secure walkaround deck and all-round views from the helm station. The new Privilege 510 that will replace this launches in February 2020.

Gunfleet 43

It was with this Tony Castro design that Richard Matthews, founder of Oyster Yachts, launched a brand new rival brand in 2012, the smallest of a range stretching to the flagship Gunfleet 74. The combination of short overhangs and centre cockpit at this size do make the Gunfleet 43 look modern if a little boxy, but time and subsequent design trends have been kind to her lines, and the build quality is excellent. The saloon, galley and aft cabin space is exceptional on a yacht of this size.


Photo: David Harding

Conceived as a belt-and-braces cruiser, the Kraken 50 launched last year. Its unique points lie underwater in the guise of a full skeg-hung rudder and so-called ‘Zero Keel’, an encapsulated long keel with lead ballast.

Kraken Yachts is the brainchild of British businessman and highly experienced cruiser Dick Beaumont, who is adamant that safety should be foremost in cruising yacht design and build. “There is no such thing as ‘one yacht for all purposes’… You cannot have the best of all worlds, whatever the salesman tells you,” he says.

Read our full review of the Kraken 50 .


Wauquiez Centurion 57

Few yachts can claim to be both an exciting Med-style design and a serious and practical northern European offshore cruiser, but the Wauquiez Centurion 57 tries to blend both. She slightly misses if you judge solely by either criterion, but is pretty and practical enough to suit her purpose.

A very pleasant, well-considered yacht, she is impressively built and finished with a warm and comfortable interior. More versatile than radical, she could be used for sailing across the Atlantic in comfort and raced with equal enjoyment at Antigua Sailing Week .


A modern classic if ever there was one. A medium to heavy displacement yacht, stiff and easily capable of standing up to her canvas. Pretty, traditional lines and layout below.


Photo: Voyage of Swell

Well-proven US legacy design dating back to the mid-1960s that once conquered the Transpac Race . Still admired as pretty, with slight spoon bow and overhanging transom.


Capable medium displacement cruiser, ideal size and good accommodation for couples or family cruising, and much less costly than similar luxury brands.


Photo: Peter Szamer

Swedish-built aft cockpit cruiser, smaller than many here, but a well-built and finished, super-durable pocket ocean cruiser.


Tartan 3700

Designed as a performance cruiser there are nimbler alternatives now, but this is still an extremely pretty yacht.

Broker ’ s choice


Discovery 55 Brizo

This yacht has already circumnavigated the globe and is ‘prepared for her next adventure,’ says broker Berthon. Price: £535,000 + VAT


Oyster 575 Ayesha

‘Stunning, and perfectly equipped for bluewater cruising,’ says broker Ancasta International. Price: £845,000 (tax not paid)


Oyster 575 Pearls of Nautilus

Nearly new and with a high spec, this Oyster Brokerage yacht features American white oak joinery and white leather upholstery and has a shoal draught keel. Price: $1.49m

Best bluewater yachts for performance

The Frers-designed Swan 54 may not be the newest hull shape but heralded Swan’s latest generation of displacement bluewater cruisers when launched four years ago. With raked stem, deep V hull form, lower freeboard and slight curve to the topsides she has a more timeless aesthetic than many modern slab-sided high volume yachts, and with that a seakindly motion in waves. If you plan to cover many miles to weather, this is probably the yacht you want to be on.


Photo: Carlo Borlenghi

Besides Swan’s superlative build quality, the 54 brings many true bluewater features, including a dedicated sail locker. There’s also a cockpit locker that functions as a utility cabin, with potential to hold your generator and washing machine, or be a workshop space.

The sloping transom opens out to reveal a 2.5m bathing platform, and although the cabins are not huge there is copious stowage space. Down below the top-notch oak joinery is well thought through with deep fiddles, and there is a substantial nav station. But the Swan 54 wins for handling above all, with well laid-out sail controls that can be easily managed between a couple, while offering real sailing enjoyment to the helmsman.


Photo: Graham Snook

The Performance Cruiser winner at the 2019 European Yacht of the Year awards, the Arcona 435 is all about the sailing experience. She has genuine potential as a cruiser-racer, but her strengths are as an enjoyable cruiser rather than a full-blown liveaboard bluewater boat.

Build quality is excellent, there is the option of a carbon hull and deck, and elegant lines and a plumb bow give the Arcona 435 good looks as well as excellent performance in light airs. Besides slick sail handling systems, there are well thought-out features for cruising, such as ample built-in rope bins and an optional semi-closed stern with stowage and swim platform.


Outremer 51

If you want the space and stability of a cat but still prioritise sailing performance, Outremer has built a reputation on building catamarans with true bluewater characteristics that have cruised the planet for the past 30 years.

Lighter and slimmer-hulled than most cruising cats, the Outremer 51 is all about sailing at faster speeds, more easily. The lower volume hulls and higher bridgedeck make for a better motion in waves, while owners report that being able to maintain a decent pace even under reduced canvas makes for stress-free passages. Deep daggerboards also give good upwind performance.

With bucket seats and tiller steering options, the Outremer 51 rewards sailors who want to spend time steering, while they’re famously well set up for handling with one person on deck. The compromise comes with the interior space – even with a relatively minimalist style, there is less cabin space and stowage volume than on the bulkier cats, but the Outremer 51 still packs in plenty of practical features.


The Xc45 was the first cruising yacht X-Yachts ever built, and designed to give the same X-Yachts sailing experience for sailors who’d spent years racing 30/40-footer X- and IMX designs, but in a cruising package.

Launched over 10 years ago, the Xc45 has been revisited a few times to increase the stowage and modernise some of the styling, but the key features remain the same, including substantial tanks set low for a low centre of gravity, and X-Yachts’ trademark steel keel grid structure. She has fairly traditional styling and layout, matched with solid build quality.

A soft bilge and V-shaped hull gives a kindly motion in waves, and the cockpit is secure, if narrow by modern standards.


A three or four cabin catamaran that’s fleet of foot with high bridgedeck clearance for comfortable motion at sea. With tall daggerboards and carbon construction in some high load areas, Catana cats are light and quick to accelerate.


Sweden Yachts 45

An established bluewater design that also features in plenty of offshore races. Some examples are specced with carbon rig and retractable bowsprits. All have a self-tacking jib for ease. Expect sweeping areas of teak above decks and a traditionally wooded interior with hanging wet locker.


A vintage performer, first launched in 1981, the 51 was the first Frers-designed Swan and marked a new era of iconic cruiser-racers. Some 36 of the Swan 51 were built, many still actively racing and cruising nearly 40 years on. Classic lines and a split cockpit make this a boat for helming, not sunbathing.


Photo: Julien Girardot / EYOTY

The JPK 45 comes from a French racing stable, combining race-winning design heritage with cruising amenities. What you see is what you get – there are no superfluous headliners or floorboards, but there are plenty of ocean sailing details, like inboard winches for safe trimming. The JPK 45 also has a brilliantly designed cockpit with an optional doghouse creating all-weather shelter, twin wheels and superb clutch and rope bin arrangement.


Photo: Andreas Lindlahr

For sailors who don’t mind exchanging a few creature comforts for downwind planing performance, the Pogo 50 offers double-digit surfing speeds for exhilarating tradewind sailing. There’s an open transom, tiller steering and no backstay or runners. The Pogo 50 also has a swing keel, to nose into shallow anchorages.


Seawind 1600

Seawinds are relatively unknown in Europe, but these bluewater cats are very popular in Australia. As would be expected from a Reichel-Pugh design, this 52-footer combines striking good looks and high performance, with fine entry bows and comparatively low freeboard. Rudders are foam cored lifting designs in cassettes, which offer straightforward access in case of repairs, while daggerboards are housed under the deck.

Best bluewater sailboats for families

It’s unsurprising that, for many families, it’s a catamaran that meets their requirements best of increased space – both living space and separate cabins for privacy-seeking teenagers, additional crew or visiting family – as well as stable and predictable handling.


Photo: Nicholas Claris

Undoubtedly one of the biggest success stories has been the Lagoon 450, which, together with boats like the Fountaine Pajot 44, helped drive up the popularity of catamaran cruising by making it affordable and accessible. They have sold in huge numbers – over 1,000 Lagoon 450s have been built since its launch in 2010.

The VPLP-designed 450 was originally launched with a flybridge with a near central helming position and upper level lounging areas (450F). The later ‘sport top’ option (450S) offered a starboard helm station and lower boom (and hence lower centre of gravity for reduced pitching). The 450S also gained a hull chine to create additional volume above the waterline. The Lagoon features forward lounging and aft cockpit areas for additional outdoor living space.

Besides being a big hit among charter operators, Lagoons have proven themselves over thousands of bluewater miles – there were seven Lagoon 450s in last year’s ARC alone. In what remains a competitive sector of the market, Lagoon has recently launched a new 46, with a larger self-tacking jib and mast moved aft, and more lounging areas.


Photo: Gilles Martin-Raget

Fountaine Pajot Helia 44

The FP Helia 44 is lighter, lower volume, and has a lower freeboard than the Lagoon, weighing in at 10.8 tonnes unloaded (compared to 15 for the 450). The helm station is on a mezzanine level two steps up from the bridgedeck, with a bench seat behind. A later ‘Evolution’ version was designed for liveaboard cruisers, featuring beefed up dinghy davits and an improved saloon space.

Available in three or four cabin layouts, the Helia 44 was also popular with charter owners as well as families. The new 45 promises additional volume, and an optional hydraulically lowered ‘beach club’ swim platform.


Photo: Arnaud De Buyzer /

The French RM 1370 might be less well known than the big brand names, but offers something a little bit different for anyone who wants a relatively voluminous cruising yacht. Designed by Marc Lombard, and beautifully built from plywood/epoxy, the RM is stiff and responsive, and sails superbly.

The RM yachts have a more individual look – in part down to the painted finish, which encourages many owners to personalise their yachts, but also thanks to their distinctive lines with reverse sheer and dreadnought bow. The cockpit is well laid out with the primary winches inboard for a secure trimming position. The interior is light, airy and modern, although the open transom won’t appeal to everyone.

For those wanting a monohull, the Hanse 575 hits a similar sweet spot to the popular multis, maximising accommodation for a realistic price, yet with responsive performance.

The Hanse offers a vast amount of living space thanks to the ‘loft design’ concept of having all the living areas on a single level, which gives a real feeling of spaciousness with no raised saloon or steps to accommodation. The trade-off for such lofty head height is a substantial freeboard – it towers above the pontoon, while, below, a stepladder is provided to reach some hatches.

Galley options include drawer fridge-freezers, microwave and coffee machine, and the full size nav station can double up as an office or study space.

But while the Hanse 575 is a seriously large boat, its popularity is also down to the fact that it is genuinely able to be handled by a couple. It was innovative in its deck layout: with a self-tacking jib and mainsheet winches immediately to hand next to the helm, one person could both steer and trim.

Direct steering gives a feeling of control and some tangible sailing fun, while the waterline length makes for rapid passage times. In 2016 the German yard launched the newer Hanse 588 model, having already sold 175 of the 575s in just four years.


Photo: Bertel Kolthof

Jeanneau 54

Jeanneau leads the way among production builders for versatile all-rounder yachts that balance sail performance and handling, ergonomics, liveaboard functionality and good looks. The Jeanneau 54 , part of the range designed by Philippe Briand with interior by Andrew Winch, melds the best of the larger and smaller models and is available in a vast array of layout options from two cabins/two heads right up to five cabins and three heads.

We’ve tested the Jeanneau 54 in a gale and very light winds, and it acquitted itself handsomely in both extremes. The primary and mainsheet winches are to hand next to the wheel, and the cockpit is spacious, protected and child-friendly. An electric folding swim and sun deck makes for quick fun in the water.


Nautitech Open 46

This was the first Nautitech catamaran to be built under the ownership of Bavaria, designed with an open-plan bridgedeck and cockpit for free-flowing living space. But with good pace for eating up bluewater miles, and aft twin helms rather than a flybridge, the Nautitech Open 46 also appeals to monohull sailors who prefer a more direct sailing experience.


Made by Robertson and Caine, who produce catamarans under a dual identity as both Leopard and the Sunsail/Moorings charter cats, the Leopard 45 is set to be another big seller. Reflecting its charter DNA, the Leopard 45 is voluminous, with stepped hulls for reduced waterline, and a separate forward cockpit.

Built in South Africa, they are robustly tested off the Cape and constructed ruggedly enough to handle heavy weather sailing as well as the demands of chartering.


Photo: Olivier Blanchet

If space is king then three hulls might be even better than two. The Neel 51 is rare as a cruising trimaran with enough space for proper liveaboard sailing. The galley and saloon are in the large central hull, together with an owner’s cabin on one level for a unique sensation of living above the water. Guest or family cabins lie in the outer hulls for privacy and there is a cavernous full height engine room under the cabin sole.

Performance is notably higher than an equivalent cruising cat, particularly in light winds, with a single rudder giving a truly direct feel in the helm, although manoeuvring a 50ft trimaran may daunt many sailors.


Beneteau Oceanis 46.1

A brilliant new model from Beneteau, this Finot Conq design has a modern stepped hull, which offers exhilarating and confidence-inspiring handling in big breezes, and slippery performance in lighter winds.

The Beneteau Oceanis 46.1 was the standout performer at this year’s European Yacht of the Year awards, and, in replacing the popular Oceanis 45, looks set to be another bestseller. Interior space is well used with a double island berth in the forepeak. An additional inboard unit creates a secure galley area, but tank capacity is moderate for long periods aboard.


Beneteau Oceanis 473

A popular model that offers beam and height in a functional layout, although, as with many boats of this age (she was launched in 2002), the mainsheet is not within reach of the helmsman.


Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 49

The Philippe Briand-designed Sun Odyssey range has a solid reputation as family production cruisers. Like the 473, the Sun Odyssey 49 was popular for charter so there are plenty of four-cabin models on the market.


Nautitech 441

The hull design dates back to 1995, but was relaunched in 2012. Though the saloon interior has dated, the 441 has solid practical features, such as a rainwater run-off collection gutter around the coachroof.


Atlantic 42

Chris White-designed cats feature a pilothouse and forward waist-high working cockpit with helm position, as well as an inside wheel at the nav station. The Atlantic 42 offers limited accommodation by modern cat standards but a very different sailing experience.

Best bluewater sailing yachts for expeditions

Bestevaer 56.

All of the yachts in our ‘expedition’ category are aluminium-hulled designs suitable for high latitude sailing, and all are exceptional yachts. But the Bestevaer 56 is a spectacular amount of boat to take on a true adventure. Each Bestevaer is a near-custom build with plenty of bespoke options for owners to customise the layout and where they fall on the scale of rugged off-grid adventurer to 4×4-style luxury fit out.


The Bestevaer range began when renowned naval architect Gerard Dijkstra chose to design his own personal yacht for liveaboard adventure cruising, a 53-footer. The concept drew plenty of interest from bluewater sailors wanting to make longer expeditions and Bestevaers are now available in a range of sizes, with the 56-footer proving a popular mid-range length.

The well-known Bestevaer 56 Tranquilo  (pictured above) has a deep, secure cockpit, voluminous tanks (700lt water and over 1,100lt fuel) and a lifting keel plus water ballast, with classically styled teak clad decks and pilot house. Other owners have opted for functional bare aluminium hull and deck, some choose a doghouse and others a pilothouse.


Photo: Jean-Marie Liot

The Boreal 52 also offers Land Rover-esque practicality, with utilitarian bare aluminium hulls and a distinctive double-level doghouse/coachroof arrangement for added protection in all weathers. The cockpit is clean and uncluttered, thanks to the mainsheet position on top of the doghouse, although for visibility in close manoeuvring the helmsman will want to step up onto the aft deck.

Twin daggerboards, a lifting centreboard and long skeg on which she can settle make this a true go-anywhere expedition yacht. The metres of chain required for adventurous anchoring is stowed in a special locker by the mast to keep the weight central. Down below has been thought through with equally practical touches, including plenty of bracing points and lighting that switches on to red light first to protect your night vision.


Photo: Morris Adant / Garcia Yachts

Garcia Exploration 45

The Garcia Exploration 45 comes with real experience behind her – she was created in association with Jimmy Cornell, based on his many hundreds of thousands of miles of bluewater cruising, to go anywhere from high latitudes to the tropics.

Arguably less of a looker than the Bestevaer, the Garcia Exploration 45 features a rounded aluminium hull, centreboard with deep skeg and twin daggerboards. The considerable anchor chain weight has again been brought aft, this time via a special conduit to a watertight locker in front of the centreboard.

This is a yacht designed to be lived on for extended periods with ample storage, and panoramic portlights to give a near 360° view of whichever extraordinary landscape you are exploring. Safety features include a watertight companionway door to keep extreme weather out and through-hull fittings placed above the waterline. When former Vendée Globe skipper Pete Goss went cruising , this was the boat he chose to do it in.



A truly well-proven expedition design, some 1,500 Ovnis have been built and many sailed to some of the most far-flung corners of the world. (Jimmy Cornell sailed his Aventura some 30,000 miles, including two Drake Passage crossings, one in 50 knots of wind).


Futuna Exploration 54

Another aluminium design with a swinging centreboard and a solid enclosed pilothouse with protected cockpit area. There’s a chunky bowsprit and substantial transom arch to house all manner of electronics and power generation.

Previous boats have been spec’d for North West Passage crossings with additional heating and engine power, although there’s a carbon rig option for those that want a touch of the black stuff. The tanks are capacious, with 1,000lt capability for both fresh water and fuel.

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Top 6 Trawlers For Cruising With Families [Yacht Buyer’s Guide]

Fast, slow, large or small — these are the best trawler yachts for family fun on the water..

Looking for a boat to accommodate your family? Look no further than the trawler, boating’s distinct type of vessel that’s designed for long distanced cruising or extended vacations. Livability and practicality make trawlers a perfect family yacht . They offer spacious accommodation and versatility in performance while being easy for the captain to maneuver.

We’re featuring the top 6 trawlers for cruising with families, currently for sale with Denison Yachting. No need to pack light when setting out on an unforgettable boating adventure aboard one of these vessels.

1. Beneteau Swift Trawler 41

best family cruising yacht uk

The Beneteau Swift Trawler 41 is a new addition to the swift trawler fleet and an excellent option for families. She’s affordable, spacious, and great on fuel — at a top speed of 23 knots, she can drive to the Bahamas from Fort Lauderdale with plenty of fuel left to cruise around and return without a refill.

Large interior windows create an ideal galley for parents to watch the kids play in the water while making lunch. She can accommodate up to seven people with three cabins, two heads, and fully equipped amenities to enjoy long-distance cruises or weekend trips with family and friends. She’s available in a flybridge or sedan style.

The new Beneteau Swift Trawler 41 exudes safety and luxury while preserving performance and comfort. The ST 41 will be featured at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show 2020 — stop by to check her out or contact a Denison yacht broker for a private showing of this seaworthy cruiser.

2. 86’ Outer Reefs Yacht 2017

best family cruising yacht uk

This 86′ Outer Reef Yacht , named Simon Says , was designed for travel. Her systems were built and optimized for sea conditions that would otherwise prevent a similar size yacht to seek shelter in the closest port. This trawler is made to accommodate a family, plus crew with eight cabins in total.

Her 3,500-gallon fuel reserve lets her sail comfortably for an extended period of time at a cruising speed that ranges from 8.5 knots to 14.5 knots. Her standout features include a sky lounge, beautiful teak, and spacious country kitchen that makes her the perfect trawler for accommodating families.

3. 70’ Marlow 2008

best family cruising yacht uk

Pappy’s Toy is an elegant used trawler for sale with Denison Yachting. This family trawler was recently updated with a new bottom paint job, hull compound and wax, and new stabilizer seals. She’s equipped and built for long-range cruising with the help of a crew.

This 70’ Marlow is made for cruising with families because she’s comfortable, spacious, and homey. Her standout features include a wet bar, a large entertainment center, and a VIP guest stateroom. Pappy’s Toy is ready to take you on a luxury family adventure along the coasts.

4. Beneteau Swift Trawler 47

Beneteau Swift Trawler 47 — Boldly Designed

Another new addition to the Swift Trawler range is Beneteau’s Swift Trawler 47 . She offers more room and more power than your typical trawler. The ST 47 provides a true sense of comfort and the ability to take you farther and faster.

The new ST 47 features an open-deck layout, with large walkways and handrails to help passengers move around safely. Her generous cabin space can accommodate up to eight people on board the vessel. She combines those familiar characteristics of a classic long-range cruiser with the speed and convenience of a yacht twice her size.

5. 70’ Marlow 2005

best family cruising yacht uk

Marlow Yachts were built with performance and innovation in mind. Bravo Zulu is the most well-equipped and meticulously maintained used Marlows for sale with Denison Yachting. Her updates were made with a family in mind, including a brand new electronics package, new teak decks on the swim platform, and a flybridge enclosure to protect from the elements.

Her three-stateroom, four-head layout with separate crew quarters makes her a comfortable trawler to live in. The master suite includes a king-size berth, office, and plenty of storage — there’s even a separate washer and dryer. You can easily spend weeks on Bravo Zulu and feel pleasantly at home on the water.

6. 65′ Hampton 2009

best family cruising yacht uk

This 69′ Hampton 2009, named FeuryUs , is for sale in Old Saybrook, Connecticut with Denison Yachting. She’s in excellent condition with over $300,000 in upgrades, including new Garmin electronics, joystick dockmate remote control, and stabilizers with larger fins. FeuryUs is perfect for families or entertaining guests as she’s fully equipped with four cabins, four heads, a cozy salon, and a large aft deck. She’s stable and reliable, with plenty of space for storage and entertaining.

FeuryUs has the capability of a 1,500-mile range at 8 knots (900 rpm), but can be pushed up to 19 knots at full throttle (in case you need to outrun a storm or want to get back in time for happy hour on the dock). She’s is one of those yachts that make you feel unstoppable on the water, and she’s ready to make memories with you and your family.

Trawlers are an excellent choice if you’re in the market for a comfortable and spacious boat. Their large fuel capacity makes them ideal for long-distance cruising and overnight vacations. Contact a Denison yacht broker to find the right trawler for you and your family.

Latest News

best family cruising yacht uk

NEWS | June 28, 2024

52-meter dynamiq new build sold by pierre badin [gtt 170].

52-Meter Dynamiq New Build Sold by Pierre Badin [GTT 170] Denison Yachting is pleased to announce the sale of GTT 170, a 52-meter new construction project to be built at Dynamiq’s shipyard in Antalya, Turkey. This is the 2nd Dynamiq project sold by Pierre Badin from Denison Yachting Monaco, who

best family cruising yacht uk

121′ Numarine 2023 Sold by Alex G. Clarke [ROCKIT]

121′ Numarine 2023 Sold by Alex G. Clarke [ROCKIT] ROCKIT, a 121′ Numarine built in 2023, was sold by Alex G. Clarke, who represented both the Seller and the Buyer. Special thanks to David Palmero of Singleton Marine and Artie Davenport of Galati Yacht Sales. ROCKIT features a six-cabin

best family cruising yacht uk

NEWS | June 27, 2024

125′ rosetti 2021 sold by alex g. clarke [emocean].

125′ Rosetti 2021 Sold by Alex G. Clarke [EMOCEAN] EMOCEAN, a 125′ Rosetti built in 2021, was sold by Alex G. Clarke, who represented the Seller. Scott Wellington-Stones of Yachtsmen introduced the Buyer. A special thank you to Aleksander Zivanovic & Captain Scott Pearce for all of your assistance

A cruise line for every type of traveler: How to choose the right one for you

best family cruising yacht uk

  • Cruise lines have their own identities and areas of focus, and some lend themselves more to certain vacation types than others.
  • Royal Caribbean International, Norwegian Cruise Line and Disney Cruise Line are solid options for families.
  • Aurora Expeditions, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea Cruises offer trips with a spirit of exploration at their core.

No matter what kind of vacation you're planning , there's likely a cruise for you.

Whether you want to spend your trip kayaking and scuba diving or prefer to lounge on a sun deck sipping a cocktail, cruise lines have a wide range of offerings. But not every line or ship is right for every passenger.

Cruise brands have their own identities and areas of focus, and some lend themselves more to certain vacation types than others (amenities can also vary from ship to ship within the same line). Here's what to know:

Best cruise line for families

◾ Royal Caribbean International ships have an array of onboard offerings for kids and adults. For example, the line's most recent addition, Icon of the Seas, has been billed as the ultimate family vacation .

The vessel – the largest cruise ship in the world – has an entire neighborhood designed for young families, a large water park and activities ranging from a FlowRider surf simulator to Crown's Edge, where guests can walk more than 150 feet above the ocean. The line's Bahamas private island, Perfect Day at CocoCay, offers plenty of thrills and places to chill , too.

◾ Norwegian Cruise Line also offers a range of activities like free-fall dry slides, go-kart tracks, and high-caliber stage shows. Disney Cruise Line draws on a huge catalog of stories to bring magic to life on the water, with character appearances, themed dining and special events like Marvel Day at Sea .

◾ Carnival Cruise Line and MSC Cruises also cater to families, and Princess Cruises and Holland America Line are solid options for multigenerational travelers. Mainstream cruise lines generally have kids clubs that are included in the fare, as well.

Best cruise line for adventure and expeditions

Adventure seekers may want to consider expedition ships and lines that offer sailings to less common destinations such as Antarctica .

◾ Aurora Expeditions offers a range of activity-centric itineraries, including Zodiac boat outings, kayaking, snowshoeing and more. Celebrity Cruises, meanwhile, has a vessel designed  especially for the Galapagos Islands .

◾ Operators like HX (formerly Hurtigruten Expeditions) , Lindblad Expeditions and Silversea Cruises also offer trips with a spirit of exploration at their core.

Best cruise line for letting loose

◾ Virgin Voyages offers adults-only sailings and a unique onboard atmosphere with its immersive Scarlet Night celebration and innovative performances . There is also no main dining room or buffet, with a focus on a variety of different food and drinks instead.

▶◾ Guests can also find parties on other lines, such as Carnival . But the length of the sailing and the time of year play a role in a cruise's vibe. Spring break cruises, for instance, may be rowdier than times when school is in session.

◾ Parties can take different forms, too. Cunard Line , for example, hosts formal gala nights .

Best cruise for rest and relaxation

Upscale cruise lines can lend themselves to a more relaxed and pampering experience. Guests are less likely to encounter rock-climbing walls or ice-skating rinks but will find amenities like pools and carefully curated dining. The following operators are all in that category:

◾ Silversea

◾ Regent Seven Seas Cruises

◾ Oceania Cruises

◾ The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection

However, even on mainstream lines, guests can often get away from the bustle of the ship in onboard spas and adults-only areas. Luxe ship-within-a-ship concepts like Norwegian's The Haven or MSC's Yacht Club can also offer a more intimate, laid-back experience.

What should I pack for a cruise?: Here are 5 essential items to bring

Best lines for river cruising

River cruising tends to be small-scale and destination-focused.

▶◾ European river itineraries from lines like AmaWaterways, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises and Viking often stop at a mix of marquee and less-visited ports, so guests aren't fighting crowds the whole time.

▶◾ In the U.S., American Cruise Lines offers a diverse selection of itineraries, from sailings on the Columbia and Snake Rivers to round-trip cruises from Washington, D.C. Viking also has a ship purpose-built for the Mississippi River .

Nathan Diller is a consumer travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Nashville. You can reach him at [email protected].

The Key Points at the top of this article were created with the assistance of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and reviewed by a journalist before publication. No other parts of the article were generated using AI. Learn more .


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    Best cruising yachts for £50,000. ... Overall this is a capable boat that's suitable for spirited family cruising, inshore and offshore racing and long-distance voyaging. ... He currently sails around 5,000 miles per year and in the past couple of seasons has cruised from the UK to the Azores, as well as winning his class in the 2014 two ...

  16. Best 30 foot boats: Seaworthy British cruisers available for under £30k

    Best 30 foot boats: Yacht broker favourites. To get an experienced yacht broker's view, I asked Andy Cunningham of Michael Schmidt and Partner (based at Hamble Point) for his favourite boats selling at under £30,000. He listed the Westerly Konsort, Sadler 29, Vancouver 27, as well as the Hunter Channel 27 and Ranger 245 twin-keelers.

  17. 43 of the best bluewater sailboat designs of all time

    Allures 51.9 price: €766,000. The Ovni 370 is another cunning new aluminum centreboard offering, a true deck saloon cruiser for two. The designers say the biggest challenge was to create a ...

  18. 10 Top Cruising Power Boats « YachtWorld UK

    GRAND BANKS 43 EU: Classic Trawler. If there's an archetypal boat for cruising it's a trawler, and Grand Banks builds some of the finest. Grand Banks is perhaps best known for its Heritage series. The newest addition to the line is the 43 Heritage EU. At 13.2m long and with a 4.8m beam, it's the successor to the 41 EU, only the 43 offers ...

  19. 5 best 30ft family powerboats

    The 300 Fly is another class-leading solution from Galeon. It's not often you see a 30-foot flybridge cruiser that makes genuine sense but the Galeon 300 Fly does exactly that. It's designed to provide a big boat experience on a modest platform and it achieves that partly by means of cheating (it's actually 32 feet even without the swim ...

  20. Best Family Boats

    RIBS has changed over the years. While once, they tended to be heavily built sea boats, designed for serious load carrying duties, rough seas, and the daily grind of commercial labor, today's RIB market offers a whole range of stylish and sophisticated options for the family boater. One of the best is the remarkably versatile Zar 85SL.

  21. Top 6 Trawlers For Cruising With Families

    3. 70' Marlow 2008. Pappy's Toy is an elegant used trawler for sale with Denison Yachting. This family trawler was recently updated with a new bottom paint job, hull compound and wax, and new stabilizer seals. She's equipped and built for long-range cruising with the help of a crew. This 70' Marlow is made for cruising with families ...

  22. 6 great coastal cruising boats

    Elan 295. In many ways this 29-footer is a lovely size for coastal cruising - small enough to slip easily into the tightest of gaps in a marina, yet large enough to make sensible speed on passage, give a feeling of security at sea and provide civilised two-cabin accommodation. The 295 is easy to sail, with light loads in the deck gear, which ...

  23. The best cruise lines for families, expeditions and more

    Aurora Expeditions offers a range of activity-centric itineraries, including Zodiac boat outings, kayaking, snowshoeing and more. Celebrity Cruises, meanwhile, has a vessel designed especially for ...

  24. 25 best beginner sailing dinghies

    1. Twelve of the best training boats Sailing schools, clubs and training centres use a variety of boats with beginners, including singlehanders such as the Pico, Hartley 10 and the RS Quba, the latter having three rigs catering from entry level to more experienced sailors. There's also a range of larger training dinghies from builders such as RS, Topper, Laser and Hartley Boats.