A deck boat and a pontoon boat

Deck Boat vs Bowrider [Ultimate Break-Down]

So, you’re interested to know how deck boats and bowriders compare against each other.

Often when people consider a deck boat, they often compare it to a pontoon boat. Though, some would argue that a deck boat is closer in terms of looks and capabilities to a bowrider.

Well they have their similarities, but they also have their differences which make them unique.

Personally, I’ve owned a deck boat and though I haven’t owned a bowrider, I’ve rented a few and had the opportunity to drive one more than a handful of times. Therefore, I’ve experienced both and had my ups and downs with both.

I’ll say straight away they’re both very good boats for general use. They both make for great family boats and function exceptionally well for day boating.

Before purchasing a boat, it’s important that you do your research and make sure you’re purchasing exactly what you need. Boats can be expensive investments, so you don’t want to regret your purchase a few months later.

Let’s compare the deck boat and the bowrider.

We’ll analyze their strengths and weaknesses, putting them head to head to see which suits yourself and your family’s needs better.

Let’s get into the comparison!

Style and Aesthetics

Deck boats and bowriders do look somewhat similar compared to other boats however they still have their differences that make them unique. Even a boating novice should be able to tell the difference between the boats easily.

The main difference between the two boats is the shape of the front of the boats. The bowriders front end tapers into a point. As the name suggests, it forms an arch like a bow. Whereas the deck boat stays more consistent in width.

The only other big difference between the boats is the hull shape. A deck boat has a flatter hull whereas the bowrider has a V-shaped hull. They both have their advantages and disadvantages when it comes to handling and performance, I’ll explain those later in this article.

Space and Capacity

Me and my family enjoy having friends over for fishing trips. This requires us to have enough room to accommodate for all the people onboard as well as enough storage room for our equipment.

Both the deck boat and the bowrider are spacious boats. They have a lot of room on deck.  This means that your passengers aren’t cramped, and you have enough room for storage. Because of this, both boats are attractive.

The main difference is the fact that bowriders are designed like a bow with a narrow front-end. This results in a loss of a lot of space. The front of the boat is somewhat cut off from the rest of the boat and may still be used for storage or seating. Despite this, it’s severely limited in comparison to the deck boat.

Whereas, the deck boat has a load of room throughout its shape. Because of this, the deck boat has a lot more storage space compared to the bowrider purely due to their designs.

If you decide to go with a bowrider, you’ll want to get one where the space in the front of the vessel can be utilized otherwise you lose a lot of space which could come in handy. You’ll find that as you gain boating experience, you tend to appreciate things like storage more.


Both boats feature different shaped hulls, and because of this they handle differently. Bowriders have a V-shaped hull whilst deck boats have a flatter hull in comparison. Because of their V-shaped hull, bowriders perform better at higher speeds and can provide sharper turns.

Bowriders perform better on rough waters in comparison to the deck boat. The V-shaped hull allows the boat to hop over waves whereas a flatter hull will dive into the waves more. Because of this, deck boats perform better on calmer water.

Deck boats are a good option for those who intend on boating on calmer waters and participate in activities such as fishing, whereas a bowrider would better suit someone who wants some speed and participate in watersports.


Watersport is always an important topic when it comes to purchasing a boat.

Me and my family love having fun with out boats, and I find the most fun activities are towable tubing, water skiing and other forms of watersport.

Most deck boats and bowriders will have a tow-eye installed at their rear. This allows you to secure a towrope which will allow you to take part in watersport activities.

Many deck boats and bowriders will have come with additional options such as a tower for an elevated attachment point. This may be something you want to investigate if you take your watersports serious and want to maximize your fun with your boat.

So which boat is better for watersports?

As mentioned previously, bowriders handle rough waters better and are more suited for speed. Also, bowriders have an additional platform, the swim platform. This is great for those who want to take a dip in the water.


Let’s discuss the maintenance of both boats. With boat ownership comes responsibility, and one of your top priorities will be the maintenance of your boat. Without proper maintenance you will find your boat slowly falling apart and degrading. To ensure your boat stays in working order, you need to keep it in good health.

Some boats are more difficult to maintain than others. Some are also more expensive than others. Therefore, it’s important to understand the effort that goes into maintaining different boat types before you make a purchase.

The deck boat and bowrider are very similar in terms of maintenance.

The same maintenance tasks that you’d need to carry out with a deck boat, also apply to a bowrider.

You should keep your boats as clean as possible. This includes keep your boats interior clean, as well as cleaning your boats exterior.

You’ll want to ensure you winterize them properly for the winter. In fact, I have a guide in which I discuss the how much winterizing a boat will cost you. Click Here if you’d be interested, you’d be surprised how much it can cost you!

Generally, there isn’t any significant difference in their maintenance so don’t expect one to be harder or more costly than the other to maintain. It will really come down to which specific boat model you purchase as opposed to the type of boat.

Most Popular Deck Boat and Bowrider Models

Now let’s have a closer look into both boat types. Let’s see what some of the most popular models have to offer. This will give you a good idea of what you can expect from a boat of each type. Also, these could possibly be models that you had already thought of purchasing.

Stingray 192SC (Deck Boat)

stringray deck boat
Image by Stingray

Stingray is one is a very reputable boat brand, founded in 1979 by Al Fink. They’re one of the leading independent boat builders in the U.S, they boast one of the most technologically advanced facilities in the country.

The 192SC is for sure one of the hottest deck boats on the market.

This boat has been thoughtfully engineered for fun. It features an abundance of storage compartments and interior space, allowing you to accommodate for up to 10 people! With the 192SC allows you to enjoy a day out on the water with all your favorite people.

The 192SC has a boatload of amazing features. Featuring a single-console deck, with walk-through’s into swim platforms and the bow. A port-side sink and boarding steps. It even has a built-in cooler to keep your boat snacks and drinks cool during a throughout trip.

Overall, this is a fantastic boat perfect for large families who want to have fun.

I’ve got an article in which I review the best deck boats on the market. If you really want to see what deck boats have to offer and what sort of value you can expect for your money, check it out.

Bayliner VR6 (Bowrider)

bayliner bowrider
Image by BayLiner

Bayliner is another monster of a brand, they’re the world’s largest manufacturer of recreational boats. Founded in 1957 by Orin Edson, they have over 400 dealers in over 60 countries. You can’t go to a lake and not find a Bayliner, this says a lot.

The VR6, the larger version of the VR5, is all about space. By adding the swim platform at the end of the running surface, the self-draining cockpit’s seating area is maximized. This means you’re provided with the more room than ever before.

The VR6 has a range of different cool features such as a lockable enclosed changing room, loads of storage compartments in the seating, built-in cooler, self-draining cockpit, aft-facing companion/observer seat and much more.

Overall, this must be one of the best, affordable bowriders on the market.


Overall, both the deck boat and bowrider make for great family boats. You can do just about everything you can do in a deck boat, in a bowrider and visa versa. They’re very similar though they do have their differences which I’ve pointed out in this guide.

In terms of style, they look somewhat similar, though the bowriders front tapers into a bow shape whereas the deck boat stays more consistent in width.

In terms of space and room, the deck boat typically has more capacity of passengers and space for equipment due to its shape. Bowriders have a narrower front which is sometimes sectioned-off and not suitable for storage. Some do, but some don’t, regardless the deck boat typically has more space.

In terms of handling and watersport capabilities, the bowrider handles better on rougher waters, whereas the deck boat will perform better on calmer waters. This means that a bowrider may be better for watersports and for those who want some speed.

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