Bowrider vs Cuddy Cabin: Differences, Explained.

When choosing a recreational boat, the bowrider vs cuddy cabin debate deserves some attention. Both are great options, especially for new boaters, but how do they differ?

Depending on the activities you intend to do at sea, you will likely need a boat best designed to handle it. As you will see, both cuddy cabin and bowrider boats have similarities and differences that can affect your time on the water.

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Differences Between Bowriders and Cuddy Cabins

While bowriders and cuddy cabins have a few similarities, their differences make them unique.

Based on your situation, you will likely choose one or the other if you are looking for very specific details, such as more storage space or room on the bow for guests.

A bowrider is considered an all-purpose open boat that has a helm station and a walk-through section with plenty of room on the bow.

Bowrider vs Cuddy Cabin

On the other hand, cuddy cabins are closed-deck boats similar to bowriders but have a foredeck that is taller, and you can shelter from the weather if things get wet.

Size and Shape

Cuddy cabins are a type of boat that combines the features of both cabin cruisers and bowriders, though they tend to be on the smaller side, typically measuring between 18 and 30 feet in length.

These boats are equipped with a V-shaped berth that runs along the inside edges of the bow, providing a sheltered area for storing extra gear. They can generally accommodate a group of 6 to 8 individuals with ease. 

Bowriders are designed with a pointed bow and a wide back end. They are typically equipped with V-shaped seats in the front and additional seating in the rear. 

The size of a bowrider can vary significantly, with options ranging from 16 to 30 feet. For example, you may opt for a smaller model with standing space for fishing or a larger one with spacious decks for entertaining.

Some bowriders are specifically designed for watersports, while others can hold up to 10 people.

Storage and Shelter

One of the standout features of a cuddy cabin is the ability to catch some shut-eye while still on your vessel. This is particularly useful for overnight excursions or during rainy spells while sailing. 

Just remember that the interior space is somewhat cramped and unsuitable for standing or accommodating more than a couple of people.

On the bright side, you can store gear for camping on land during overnight stays.

If you intend to sleep on board a bowrider, be prepared for a cramped and potentially wet experience. These boats are not designed for overnight stays, as there is not enough space for everyone to sleep comfortably at maximum capacity. 

You will be relegated to sleeping on the back of the boat, which often lacks any form of protection from the elements. Plus, there is not usually enough room to store your camping gear.

For this scenario, you would likely choose a different type of vessel if you want to enjoy a comfortable and well-equipped overnight adventure on the water.

Using the Bathroom

While a cuddy cabin may not seem like the most luxurious of boats, it does come with a handy amenity – a toilet on board. This can be a lifesaver when you are out on the water and cannot easily find a bathroom spot. 

Most cuddy cabins come with a portable toilet, requiring you to manually dispose of the waste tank at the end of the voyage.

However, some newer models offer the option to install a dockside pump, allowing for a more convenient and hygienic waste removal process at marinas or docks.

While many bowriders do not have a built-in toilet, some newer luxury models do offer an enclosed bathroom space for privacy.

However, for those without this feature, using a portable toilet can be inconvenient as there is usually no private area on deck to utilize it. It is worth noting that the inclusion of a toilet area on a bowrider is not a widely available option.


Unlike cuddy cabins, which are more geared towards comfort and amenities, bowriders are constructed with speed in mind.

While cuddy cabins usually max out at around 20 mph, high-end bowrider models can zoom across the water at up to 60 mph. 

If you are looking for even more speed, installing multiple engines on a bowrider is possible to boost its acceleration. So, if speed is your main concern, a bowrider may be your better choice.


Cuddy cabins are known for their ability to navigate tight turns and handle rough conditions in the marina. Many models even feature docking lights on the front of the hull, making them a reliable choice for nighttime boating.

On the other hand, while bowriders are also skilled at turning, it is important to avoid making sharp turns at high speeds. While they may not be designed for rough waters, they can still handle choppy conditions caused by other boats.

However, it is important to note that bowriders are best suited for daytime cruising, as they do not typically have proper lighting for safe navigation at night.


With cuddy cabins, the cost can vary greatly depending on the size of the vessel and the various amenities you choose to include.

On the lower end of the spectrum, you can expect to pay around $50,000, while at the higher end, prices can reach upwards of several hundred thousand dollars.

These more lavish models often come equipped with multiple outboard motors powerful enough to navigate rough coastal waters and provide a comfortable overnight stay.

For bowriders, there is a vast range of styles and prices to choose from. From budget-friendly options starting at around $15,000 to lavish, customized models costing upwards of $120,000, there is a bowrider that can fit into any budget.

Even if you opt for a more affordable option, you can always add on extras and accessories as you go. On average, most bowriders fall in the $15,000 to $55,000 range.

Bowrider vs Cuddy Cabin: Which is Best for You?

Regarding water sports, both cuddy cabins and bowriders have their advantages. As a beginner, either type of boat can be a great choice for your water adventures. 

Cuddy cabins offer powerful motors that can handle the demands of activities like tubing, wakeboarding, and skiing. Plus, they have plenty of storage and deck space for all your fishing gear and a freshwater sink to make cleaning up a breeze.

Remember, these boats are generally considered to be family-friendly and suitable for short overnight trips, making them the perfect choice for a fun-filled day on the water.

With their versatility and ease of operation, bowriders are an excellent choice for first-time boat owners who have just earned their boating license.

These boats are perfect for various daytime activities, including cruising, fishing, and water sports. 

You can even use a bowrider to pull a water skier or tuber behind you. Whether you want to relax on the water or participate in thrilling activities, a bowrider is perfect.

Considering buying one of the two? You should carefully consider the benefits and drawbacks. Ultimately, choosing between the two boils down to your intended boat usage.

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