Pontoon Boat vs. Deck Boat: What’s the Difference?

Boating is a fun recreational activity that lets you and your family spend time on the water. The key to having a great time is making sure that you are investing in the right type of boat for the activities that you want to do on the water. A common question is whether you should invest in a pontoon boat or a deck boat—and the answer will depend on the features that you need for your next adventure on the water.

A pontoon boat tied up on a floating dock.
Pontoon boats are more popular than ever | George Rose/Getty Images

How pontoon boats and deck boats compare

One of the first considerations to make when deciding between a pontoon boat and a deck boat is the capacity that it can hold. On average, a deck boat can hold up to 12 people, while a pontoon boat can hold up to 16 people comfortably, according to Manitou. Obviously this varies based on the size of your boat.

A key difference between the two boats is whether you want your seats facing forward like on a deck boat, or whether you want the choice to have your seats anywhere.

The activities that you can enjoy on either a deck or pontoon boat are also similar, especially if you are looking for a pontoon that has a little more horsepower. Some of the activities that you can enjoy on either type of boat include waterskiing, tubing, or simply relaxing with friends.

These are the main differences between these types of boats

There are a few differences when choosing a deck boat or a pontoon boat. A key difference in your activities is fishing. If you mainly use your boat to reel in your next great catch, a pontoon boat would work much better. This is because the deck is typically more open on a pontoon boat. However, if you are doing watersports and need more speed, a deck boat can give you what you are looking for.

If you are looking for a boat for just entertaining, you may want to consider that a pontoon has a flat hull design that prevents a lot of rocking from waves and wind. The hull of a deck boat, however, is v-shaped, which means any type of movement on or around the boat could be felt by you and your guests.

Maintenance, according to Manitou, it also a different story between the two boats. While pontoons have an aluminum hull that’s easy to clean, deck boats have fiberglass, which can be trickier to maintain.

How do you know which boat is right for you?

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Taking the time to consider what you want to use your boat for is the easiest way to understand which type of boat will work best for you. If you are looking for ways to relax on the water, a pontoon boat can give you a lot of space to entertain. If you are looking for something that lets you speed along the water for sports, a deck boat will do the job every time.

While these boat types are similar, you will see a difference in the amount of maintenance work you want to complete after every day on the water, and you will also have to consider how many people you want to take on the water with you in order to choose the boat type that is right for you.