You’re a pontoon boat owner, and a dedicated one at that, but sometimes you can’t help but wonder if there’s something better out there. For instance, what about deck boats? Would you be happier in one of these? Let get to it, the ultimate showdown, deck boats vs. pontoon boats!

While a preference for a deck boat or a pontoon boat comes down to personal taste, when choosing your boat, you should take the following factors into account:

  • Pricing
  • Accessories/amenities
  • Speed
  • Overall performance
  • Passenger count
  • Interior comfort
  • Size and shape

In this article, we’ll go over the above points and others to outline the pros and cons of both deck boats and pontoon boats. By the time you’re done reading, you should be able to pick a winner between the two boats for yourself.

What Is a Deck Boat?

First, we thought it’s important to differentiate between deck boats and pontoon boats. They’re by no means identical, but they look similarly enough that they’re often pitted against each other.

In fact, deck boats tend to feature layouts that will look very familiar to pontoon boat owners. These layouts afford you plenty of space for sitting, lounging, fishing, or enjoying company with fellow passengers. That said, unlike pontoons, deck boats have a hull that’s made for speed.

If you want to pull along water skiers, tubers, wakeboarders, or other watersports enthusiasts, you have that freedom. When you combine that with the spacious deck room, it’s no wonder many people love deck boats so much. They’re like having the best of speedboats and pontoons combined into one formidable vessel.

What Is a Pontoon Boat?

You already know what a pontoon boat is, especially if you read this blog. Still, for the sake of comparing it against a deck boat, we thought we’d briefly cover pontoon boat features.

These boats also have a large deck, as that’s one of their biggest selling points. Unlike deck boats and speedboats, there’s no V-shaped hull. It’s flat instead, which contributes to the slower, lumbering speed most pontoons can achieve.

Also, unlike deck boats, pontoon boats have two tubes on either side of the vessel. Some boats have three tubes, making them tritoons. They can reach higher speeds than pontoons, making them more comparable to deck boats.

While pontoon boats can accommodate fishermen, they’re not as great for high-octane watersports thrills as deck boats.

The Pros and Cons of Deck Boats

Now it’s time to put both boats to the test. First, we’ll begin with the pros and cons of deck boats.


Perfect for Speedy Watersports

As you might recall from a post on this blog, if you’re into watersports, then you shouldn’t use a pontoon boat. Unless you seriously modify your boat, then you’re not going to achieve the requisite speeds to make watersports exciting. When you factor in that modifications can void your warranty, sometimes it’s better to leave well enough alone.

If you or a family member enjoy water skiing, tubing, wakeboarding, or other watersports, you’ll want a deck boat instead. While we’ll discuss speed shortly, do know these boats can easily achieve the speed needed to pull even several riders. You’ll never have a boring day on the water with a deck boat.

An Impressive Hull

One of the factors that contributes to the speed potential of deck boats is the shape of the hull. While it’s not true of all deck boats, most include a V-shaped hull. When it comes to hull shapes, it doesn’t get better than this. Most speedboats have hulls of the same shape, and those can zip through the water with ease.

Deck boats can as well. The hull makes its own wake that the deck boat then rides on. As if that wasn’t cool enough, you also get great fuel efficiency with a deck boat thanks to its hull, at least if you’re going fast. The design of the hull itself needs a central axis and relies on speed. Slower speeds suck up more fuel.

Chic Shape

As we mentioned, deck boats and pontoons are like cousins. They share some resemblance, but they’re not identical. There’s some standout features you’ll only find in deck boats, such as their aerodynamic, chic body lines.

These lines look great, but they do more than just drive up the appeal of your boat. They also contribute to the deck boat’s ability to glide effortlessly through the water.

Awesome Maneuverability

When you take into account the aerodynamic shape and V hull of a deck boat, is it really any surprise these vessels can maneuver like nobody’s business? From tight turns to sudden stops and other sharp angles, a deck boat can do it all. You won’t find that with a pontoon boat, that’s for sure.

Jaw-Dropping Speeds

Okay, it’s time to get into the good stuff. Just how fast can a deck boat go? These boats can often achieve speeds of 50 miles per hour (MPH) as the baseline. At their fastest, they can go 70 MPH and up.

It’s common for manufacturers to outfit deck boats with mighty 300-horsepower engines. These lend deck boats their ability to speed up. Almost no pontoon boat comes with a 300-horsepower engine originally.


Only a Decent Fishing Vessel

When you want to go fishing, you can always use a deck boat, but it’s not as good as a pontoon for the job. Why? The fantastic speeds of a deck boat kind of come back to bite it in this instance. Moving that quickly can scare away all the fish. While you can drag down the speed of a deck boat, as mentioned, fuel efficiency suffers.

That doesn’t mean you can’t have nice fishing experiences in a deck boat, because you certainly can. You’ll just likely enjoy yourself more in a pontoon boat.

Quite Costly to Own

Deck boats don’t come cheap. If you want one of these beauties, prepare to shell out the big bucks. Starting prices begin at $30,000. Some bigger, fancier deck boats may cost $80,000 or more. That’s typically before you add amenities.

While we’ll talk about pontoon boat pricing in the next section, these don’t cost nearly as much.

Less Party-Ready

Deck boats boast a lot of deck space. That’s why they’re called deck boats, after all. They can’t beat pontoon boats for space, though. All that extra room means you can add fun features to your pontoon like attachable grills, fire pits, lighting, awnings and Bimini tops, and more. They’re better for parties and large gatherings than deck boats.

Room for Fewer Passengers

Another reason we think pontoon boats are more party-friendly than deck boats? They have room for more passengers. With a deck boat, you can squeeze in maybe 12 people max. Overdoing it can disturb the balance of your boat. Sometimes deck boats have balance issues, which lends itself well to the next point on stability…

Not as Stable

While pontoon boats have a downright enviable stability (which we’ll talk about in just a moment), that doesn’t mean deck boats will tip at the drop of a hat. This again comes back to their V-shaped hull. You’ll want one that’s wider, since it provides greater stability.

You’re only at risk of seriously rocking if you’re riding in very choppy waves or strong winds. Even then, as we said, your boat would rock, not necessarily tip over. It would take some great force for that to happen.

The Pros and Cons of Pontoon Boats

With the pros and cons out of the way for deck boats, we’ll focus on pontoon boats in this section.


Less Likely to Tip

Pontoon boats have large decks and a spacious, rectangular shape. As we’ve discussed in other blog posts, that makes it quite difficult for one of these boats to capsize. Difficult, yes, but not impossible.

If you take your pontoon boat out in the ocean at high tide or ride in extremely windy conditions, you can tip over. Compared to deck boats, even on a bad day, pontoons have greater stability.

A Fisherman’s Best Friend

In the last section, we mentioned how the speed of deck boats doesn’t lend itself well to fishing. If you want to go ultra-slow and not spook any fish, you’ll need a pontoon boat.

Another perk of pontoons for fishing? You can ride on shallow drafts better in a pontoon boat, giving you more fishing freedom than you’d have in a deck boat.

More Inexpensive Than Deck Boats

Before, we talked about how deck boats can cost between $30,000 and $80,000. That’s quite a pretty penny to part with. You’ll probably like the price of a pontoon boat better. On the lower end, you might pay $13,000 for a decent boat. Higher-end, bigger models cost somewhere in the ballpark of $25,000. The largest and mightiest pontoons have price tags to match, as these cost $60,000 and up.

Still, even if you bought the most expensive pontoon boat on the market, you’d pay about $20,000 less for it than the costliest deck boat. Those are pretty significant savings, we’d say.

Lots of Room for Passengers

Deck boats have onboard space for about eight or 12 people, as we said before. That’s okay, but pontoon boats can do so much better. Smaller pontoons can fit about 10 passengers. The bigger ones have space for up to 20 people. Some huge pontoons can even house 23 or 24 passengers at the same time!

Perfect for Parties

Pontoon boats are party central. With their huge amount of deck space, large shape, plenty of seating options, and room for tons of passengers, you can have a memorable shindig on the seas.

Also, the metal fencing of pontoon boats keeps the interior enclosed. That means if you want to play music, sip wine, cook food on your grill, or partake in some onboard games, you can do so safely and privately.


Poor Hull Shape

Arguably the biggest downside of a pontoon boat’s design is its hull shape. While deck boats and other speedboats have a V-shaped hull for ultimate speed, pontoons do not. They have a flat hull that doesn’t lend itself to going very fast.

That said, this hull shape is not all bad. You can go slower and still get good fuel efficiency in a pontoon boat. You don’t get that same benefit in a deck boat. Also, the hull shape contributes to the stability of your pontoon.

Too Much Drag

The flat hull leads to another problem: plenty of drag. With a V-shaped hull, a deck boat or speedboat makes it own wake, as we said. This allows the boat to ride atop the water. There’s no chopping into it. That’s another reason deck boats can go so fast. They glide rather than cut through the water.

It’s pretty much exactly the opposite for pontoon boats. Their flat hull shape does not create any wakes as the boat rides along. Instead, the pontoon kind of drags through the water, which slows it down. You also end up using more fuel just to get to speeds typical for deck boats.

No Fast Watersports Here

If the above info didn’t already tell you enough, it’s a waste of time to engage in speedy watersports with a pontoon boat. Sure, you can pull several riders on tubes, skis, or boards no problem. However, you can’t take them very fast, which defeats the purpose.

If you have young children or beginner watersports riders, then going slower is actually ideal. For everyone else, they’ll find watersports with a pontoon boat too boring.

Slow in General

With an average speed of about 25 MPH, pontoon boats won’t ever compete in any races and win. The good news? You don’t have to settle for the max speed capabilities of your pontoon boat.

As we mentioned, you can modify your boat for faster speeds. By underskinning it and adding lifting strakes, you should see some speed differences. You can also upgrade to a tritoon. With that third pontoon tube down the center, tritoons are faster than pontoons by a good margin.

You could buy a higher-end pontoon boat as well. If yours comes with an engine capable of reaching 115 to 120 horsepower, you can go a lot faster. For instance, it’s not unheard of for these boats to speed up to 40 or even 60 MPH. Yes, in a pontoon boat.

Clunky at Maneuvering

We mentioned in the last section how deck boats can move in circles, cut tight corners, and do other sudden maneuvers. Pontoon boats have a rather awkward rectangular shape. When it comes to maneuverability, they won’t act nearly as fast as deck boats.

Most of that comes down to the fact that you’re not driving at high enough speeds for sudden moves. Even if you could pull off a quick maneuver, your boat would take some time to move with you. Overall, that produces a clunky feel that takes some getting used to.


No boat is perfect, and both deck boats and pontoon boats have their faults. There are also many benefits with either of these vessels. If you care more about looks and speed, then you’ll probably want a deck boat. If you don’t mind going slower and would rather have a lot of friends on board for fishing and parties, then you should choose a pontoon boat.

Honestly, either way, you can’t go wrong. Hopefully, reading this article has helped you make a decision. Good luck!