Top 10 Highlights
In yachting circles most purist mono-hullers look down on the multi-hullers as essentially butchering the romantic art of sailing. Where the mono-hull yachts elegantly slice through the water and lean with the wind as yachts have done over the centuries, the multi-hulls stay flat and simply don’t look the part.
However non of the mono-hullers deny the great space, light and vision that come with liveaboard catamarans. The large bridge deck between two large hulls provides the platform for an amazing amount of living space at sea.
As you will see below, if you want space and comfort on a blue water voyage, a catamaran is definitely the best liveaboard option. Want a luxury catamaran? These will definitely whet your appetite.
10. Gemini Legacy 35
Cost: around $250,000
At just over 35 feet this is our smallest catamaran and is best known for its use in charter fleets, but it shows just what good design can provide. We are particularly impressed with the wonderful use of windows throughout the interior, creating light and space in the salon and quite amazing light and air in the staterooms.
The salon sits low so even though it’s light the all around visibility is not as good as most other cats. However it does provide for a nice connection to the fore and aft staterooms, eliminating the need for internal stairs and so maximising the use of available space.
The cockpit is very well sized and comes with a hard bimini top, providing a great outdoor living area for most conditions.
For a yacht this size the space and liveability is outstanding.
9. Lagoon 380
We’ve heard the Lagoon 380 referred to as the ‘Toyota’ of the catamaran world. Safe, reliable, well built but somewhat lacking in flair, performance and style. That might be a reasonable analogy but we would add the caveat that it’s a fully spec’d Toyota with plenty of luxury features and more than enough zoom to stay up with the pack off the lights.
For a catamaran at the entry level end of the spectrum this yacht still delivers roomy accommodation for up to four couples, a wonderfully light and airy salon and the trademark double doors out to the rear cockpit that creates a very usable indoor/outdoor living space.
The ‘up’ galley means that meal preparation and socializing are done hand in hand and the cook isn’t trapped down stairs.
Head height in the salon is more than adequate thanks to the vertical windows and flat roof line and terrific hull design means there’s plenty of headroom in the staterooms as well.
The Lagoon 380 will make coastal cruising or blue water crossings a more than enjoyable living experience.
8. Dolphin 460
Cost: $450,000-$750,000 (used)
Like the following entry, the PDQ Antares, Dolphin catamarans sit at the quality end of the yacht spectrum with a focus on providing the things that make liveaboard cruising a pleasure.
Unlike the Antares the Dolphin favors a galley up configuration that works well in the salon that has near vertical windows to maximise ceiling height and sports a surprisingly spacious layout. The cockpit features a hard bimini top and can be enclosed if needed to provide a great additional living area in any conditions.
The staterooms are light and airy although the double beds in the aft cabins lie across the hull meaning one person needs to crawl across the other person to get out of bed. Not our favorite layout however the owners version starboard stateroom does provide a bed that lies along the hull.
All up the Dolphin 460 provides an exceptionally comfortable liveaboard catamaran for long distance cruising.
7. PDQ Antares 44i
Cost: around $1,000,000
PDQ pride themselves on producing a premium quality yacht made specifically for long distance liveaboard cruising. At 44 feet it is a spacious vessel and there are a host of clever design features that both maximise the space and liveability of this classy yacht.
There is a focus on providing plenty of storage throughout the boat, there are well designed hatches to enhance natural ventilation below decks, a spacious cockpit with a hard bimini top and glass windshield that provides excellent protection from the weather and, we like this, no sharp corners or edges that might be a safety hazard in rough conditions.
The standard layout has the galley down in one of the hulls which PDQ believes allows for better storage and food preparation areas. Although we prefer galley up layouts, particularly for the continuity of visibility around the yacht, the galley in the Antares is very open to the salon meaning that the cook is not completely isolated from other crew or guests. A galley up option is available.
The door between the salon and cockpit is a good size, not unlike the Lagoon, so there is a very nice indoor/outdoor living space. The hard bimini top and glass windshield makes the cockpit extremely comfortable in most weather conditions and the cockpit can be completely enclosed if needed.
More expensive than most other comparably sized catamarans but with an eye to quality that puts this yacht firmly in the equation for any liveaboard requirements.
6. Discovery 50 Mk II
Cost: Varies considerably based on individual fit outs but expect to pay in excess of $1,500,000 new.
English company Discovery Yachts produced their first yacht in 1998 and even now they are only producing a few handful of vessels each year. The Discovery 50 is a boutique catamaran that offers a high level of customization to new buyers and a real focus on producing the very best possible living environment for blue water cruising.
The interior has some absolutely beautiful design characteristics, not least being the intelligent use of large windows and lighting to highlight the sumptuous interior design and materials. It really is quite a striking yacht.
At 50’ this catamaran is smaller than our top picks but it’s still absolutely big enough to provide palatial living for up to six people. It lacks the fly deck of the super cats but the cockpit is large, luxurious and well laid out for relaxed al fresco dining and lounging.
The Discovery 50 sits in the medium sized range of catamaran but make no mistake, it’s firmly in the upper echelons for design and luxury onboard living.
5. Catana 59
French yacht maker Catana have been making catamarans since 1984 and have been at the forefront of technical innovations in the cat manufacturing process for many years.
Although the design of Catana’s in general has a fairly masculine and almost austere character, particularly internally, the 59 does have a very open indoor/outdoor living space on the main deck that makes this a great yacht for relaxed living and socializing.
The ‘up’ galley means that the entire main living area becomes a complete entertainment space with every modern convenience the most fastidious host would want.
Downstairs the staterooms have tons of space and are very nicely laid out, however the lack of a fly deck puts this yacht at a distinct disadvantage when compared to the other boats in this category even though it has the size to justify this feature.
4. Leopard 58
Cost: $1,500,000 – $2,000,000
John Robertson and Jerry Caine started designing and building boats in South Africa in 1991 and in 1994 entered the charter fleet business with their own specially designed sailing catamarans. In the year 2000 they launched Leopard Catamarans and the brand is now the biggest selling brand of catamaran in North America.
The 58 is quite a bit smaller than our top 2 choices, but it’s still a big and luxurious yacht that has all the main design elements of the top 2. Check out photos and the generous floor plans.
The ‘fly’ deck (the top level) is a fully fledged lounge in the sky, complete with bbq, sink and fabulous couch seating. The salon and below deck staterooms are also absolutely top of the line.
The rear deck is the main drawback of the 58 footer compared to the Fountaine Pajot 67 and Lagoon 620, being surprisingly small and lacking built in seating. Although the fly deck more than makes up the floor space, the lack of a usable outdoor area connected to the main salon is disappointing.
Making up for this to a small extent is the unconventional front cockpit which is really just a two person deck. For anyone wanting to do extended blue water crossings this cockpit will have potential owners wondering how it will handle wash coming over the front of the boat.
All in all this is a great cruising catamaran. The front cockpit will take some getting used to but simply won’t appeal to some buyers while the lack of a spacious rear deck as a result of the forward cockpit detracts from this yacht.
Otherwise this shows why the Leopard is number one in the USA.
3. Privilege 745
The Privilege range of catamarans were originally built by the solo racer and founder of the Vendee Globe, Philippe Jeantot (Jeantot Marine). In 1996 Alliaura Marine bought the Privilege brand and today almost 3,000 catamarans have been produced wearing this famous badge.
The 745 (74’5”) is the top of the ’standard’ Privilege range and is a fair bit bigger than our top two cats. While there is no denying the living space on this yacht, including a massive rear deck with an internal stairway to the fly deck, it suffers marginally against our top picks for it’s general feeling of spaciousness and light.
This is no doubt due to the design which tends toward art deco and bling. The sloping front windows and ceiling and angular side windows in the salon give it a cocoon-like feel. The curved panels in the staterooms, leather, wood and lots of very shiny surfaces throughout the boat give it a plush ambience which will appeal to many buyers but for us make it an inward looking interior.
Having said all that, the accommodation is truly luxurious. The owners stateroom is more like an upmarket hotel suite and it would be no hardship to live aboard this boat for extended periods.
2. Fountaine Pajot Victoria 67
Cost: around $2,000,000
The Fountaine Pajot Victoria 67 is slightly bigger than the Lagoon 620 (20.32 metres/67 feet) and has a similar level of design excellence, luxurious fittings and fixtures and a simply magnificent living experience.
Every creature comfort is taken care of and the upper “fly” deck gives additional living space with fantastic views of your surroundings that smaller yachts just can’t match – unless you feel like a climb up the mast.
Like most cats you can choose from an ‘owners’ floor plan that provides a private cabin, study and bathroom separated from the rest of the yacht, or a standard cabin layout. And by standard we don’t actually mean standard. Standard for this vessel is utter luxury for any normal cruising boat.
1. Lagoon 620
Cost: around $2,000,000
Lagoon catamarans started out in 1984 and are now part of Groupe Beneteau, the luxury French yacht maker. The uber marine architects Marc Van Peteghem and Vincent Lauriot Prevost (VPLP) are the designers for the Lagoon range and it’s the design elements that really set this boat apart from the rest.
The vertical salon windows and ‘eyebrow’ roof overhang give the whole Lagoon range a very distinctive look (somewhat similar to the Fountaine Pajot windows). If you are not familiar with this look you may initially prefer the raked windows of other cats, but the Lagoon design is all about function, maximizing internal space and keeping the sun out of the salon. Most people end up loving this design although it is a rather ernest and somewhat boxy look.
The 620 is the top of the standard Lagoon range (they also do custom builds) and at 18.90 metres (62 feet) this is one huge yacht.
The list of features is too numerous to mention here, suffice to say there is a huge rear deck (cockpit), massive internal living area (salon) that is more like a luxury apartment than a yacht, a sensational fit out, incredible sleeping cabins and all the marine navigation equipment you could wish for. Check out the 4, 5 or 6 berth layouts and photos.
For the ultimate ocean-going catamaran that will take a big family anywhere in the world in total luxury, it’s impossible to go past the Lagoon 620.