Bali vs. Lagoon: Which Catamaran Is Better?


Look out over any body of water, and you will see people enjoying the great outdoors. From private lakes to the open sea, from sailing for a day to living permanently on a yacht, the water calls us to come and play. This is the easy part, now comes the difficulty of the many decisions that need to be made before you can call yourself captain of a catamaran. So it has come down to two choices Bali or Lagoon, which is better?

A Lagoon catamaran is often a better choice than Bali. Bali cats are sleeker and lean more on innovative materials and design. Lagoon may be bulky, but the brand is one of the most popular and a reason for that is they listen to customer feedback when making design decisions. 

In this article, you will learn more about catamaran brands: Bali and Lagoon. We will also discuss the following:

  • Why choose a Bali or Lagoon catamaran and how to choose between them
  • Consider the pros and cons associated with each model
  • Determine the safety of catamarans in general

Why Choose a Bali or Lagoon Catamaran?

If you are reading this article, you have likely decided it is time to stop dreaming and purchase your yacht. You selected a catamaran as your vessel of choice, either because of its “flat ride” or the incredible amount of living space on board. 

But you may be stuck on the decision of which brand is worth your investment. Should you go for the relatively “New Kid on the Block,” Bali, or the “Tried and True” Lagoon?

Both manufacturers offer safe, sea-worthy vessels, and both brands improve their ship designs frequently. Bali focuses on being innovative in terms of materials and design, whereas Lagoon responds to customer feedback as it works on new vessels. Both have been in the industry long enough to have a solid following and reputation.

Therefore, in the end, it really is a matter of personal preference in terms of desired features, preferred construction, and ultimate appearance as both brands are widely known and have solid reputations for building safe, sea-worthy vessels. The good news is that buyers can feel confident purchasing from either Bali or Lagoon.

Bali Catamarans: A Basic Overview

Bali catamarans are built in France at the Cantana Yard. Olivier Poncin and designer Xavier Fay came up with the new and innovative catamaran design and launched it in 2014. Still dubbed as the “new kid on the block,” Bali is the most unconventional of the two catamaran brands reviewed here, but that is precisely why it should be given serious consideration.

According to the Catamaran Guru, Poncin and Fay’s design changes have been well-received both by the industry and loyal consumers, mainly because no design change impacted performance or seaworthiness, as the catamaran looks so good both at sea and in the marina. Buyers respond well to the sleek design since, typically, catamarans had been bulky.

Building Materials and Foredeck Design

One marked improvement Poncin and Fay brainstormed is that they upgraded the building materials in the Bali catamaran. By doing so, they improved the sailing experience in terms of living space.

One way they accomplished this additional living space was by removing the trampoline and implementing a solid foredeck. Thanks to Bali’s choice of building material for this area, they can create more interior space without adding excessive weight or compromising seaworthiness.

In many ways, this solid foredeck returns to the early days when the Prout family built catamarans in England in the 1950s. Their reasoning for the solid foredeck was that although it increased weight, it provided rigidity, which increases the vessel’s structure. Though they are no longer building catamarans today, Poncin and Fay improved on the Prout family’s idea, making the solid foredeck a newly respected option in the industry.

Many in the catamaran industry question this solid foredeck because they fear the weight that it adds to the ship. However, the Catamaran Guru exposes that this design choice adds buoyancy, and he explains that many brands have been slowly moving in this direction for years.

Still, buyers’ greatest concern is whether a solid foredeck will shed water as effectively as nets do. Nets have been used for so long that accepting this solid foredeck is difficult. However, Bali did not simply change the foredeck. They also changed the catamaran’s drainage system, making the foredeck able to shed water in under 12 seconds. 

Want to understand why catamarans capsize?

Building Materials and the Hull

Bali also sets itself apart because it uses a closed-cell foam for the hull’s core rather than a balsa wood core. This choice makes the boat lighter and faster but does not compromise its sailing comfort or safety. One of the few complaints about catamarans, in general, is that they cannot achieve the upwind speed that monohulls can, but this lighter material increases upwind speed potential, at least marginally.

In the end, however, the catamaran’s ability to provide a smoother ride with little yawing, which occurs when the vessel swings from side to side on its vertical axis or heeling, which is when the boat tips from side to side, appears to silence the speed argument. Most catamaran owners need speed to outrun storms. But other than that, they are typically not racing, so comfort trumps speed for most catamaran cruisers.

Pros of Bali Catamarans

In this section, we’ll analyze the advantages of choosing a Bali catamaran.

One of the primary reasons many purchase a Bali is the sheer beauty of the vessel. The outside is elegant and sleek, which is a design trait Bali is known for. You will undoubtedly make a statement when you dock, but the sleek design is even more stunning on the water. The outward appearance is unquestionably high-end and a high selling point. 

Other features include:

  • Five configurations to choose from – with this many, there’s one for every personality, and these configurations work equally well with Charter and Owner use vessels
  • Comfort – plenty of living space both inside and outside
  • Plenty of storage space – including cabinets
  • Direct access from saloon to forward cockpit
  • Holds up to 315 gallons (1192.4 liters) of freshwater (17 days of water for one person)
  • Holds up to 315 gallons (1192.4 liters) of fuel
  • The helm station is on the flybridge for excellent visibility
  • Many models have six cabins, each with a private bathroom

Cons of Bali Catamarans

  • Many reviewers complain that while the outside of the vessel is high-end, the inside features, such as the stove and refrigerator, look plain, indicating a lower price point.
  • The height of the boom suggests that it will be challenging to reach the mainsail if there is a problem.
  • Though the helm station (flybridge setup) offers excellent visibility, the tradeoff is that you are too far from the lines when you come into the marina, so you will need a crew to assist you.

What is a flybridge and what are the pros and cons?

Lagoon Catamarans: A Basic Overview

Lagoon Catamarans are also constructed in France and are designed by Marc van Peteghem and Vincent Lauriot-Prevost. Many reviewers say this team is highly responsive to customer input, and they continually create better vessels using consumer feedback, which makes buying this brand enticing.

Lagoon has been designing and building sea-worthy vessels since 1984, and while their initial designs were monohulls, their longevity in the market earns confidence with consumers. In 1996, the designers began to focus on comfort based on industry feedback and designed and produced catamarans. Though their first catamaran models were considered “bulky,” they responded to the feedback and created sleeker models to appeal to their base.

Lagoon’s Design Focus

Lagoon’s focus on comfort and design has not caused a decrease in their dedication to the vessel’s safety performance. The designers were considering customer feedback with their new designs. Previously, the Lagoon brand was often described as slow like a floating container and considered behind in terms of style, so they began updating their models and have several elegant designs available these days. 

Resale Value

Another good selling point for Lagoon is that these vessels tend to hold their resale value quite well, probably due to the trusted Lagoon name etched into its design. However, it is worth noting that according to the Catamaran Guru, the three-bedroom models seem to hold value better, but he reiterates that the four-bedroom models resell well too.

Pros of Lagoons

  • A wide variety of models and configurations are available
  • Plenty of living and lounging space
  • Often cost less than other catamarans in the same class
  • Lagoon is a mainstay in the boat-building industry
  • The fuel capacity of the Lagoon Sixty 5 is 1450 gallons (5488.84 liters)
  • Water storage capacity is about 295 gallons (1116.7 liters, 7 days of water for one person)

Cons of Lagoons

  • Though the builders are focusing on a sleeker design, Lagoons are still seen as “bulky.” 
  • Limited storage space for food – some newer models have two refrigerators, though.
  • Many models have only one way to get to the helm.
  • Lagoons are known to be slow on the water

General Safety of Catamarans

Regardless of the brand, many new sailers are concerned that catamarans are prone to capsize in strong winds or rough waters. In severe storms, irrespective of the vessel, the sailor needs to be skilled. Therefore, an unskilled sailor may be safer in a monohull only because a catamaran cannot “self-right” as a monohull can. However, due to the catamaran’s design, the wind has to hit the catamaran at rarely seen speeds to have an effect.

A catamaran is also reefed by a wind chart clearly showing when to put in a reef, follow those instructions and you will be safe.

Even though the catamaran cannot “self-right,” modern catamarans are designed with a “positive buoyancy,” which means that if a storm causes the boat to capsize, it will not sink. In this case, people are safer in the catamaran because they can use it for shelter until help arrives.

Still worried about capsizing? read my article on why catamarans capsize and ill think you’ll change your mind!

The good news is that most catamarans can outrun dangerous weather. Well, that’s as long as the crew is paying attention to weather reports; therefore, capsizing will not be an issue you have to worry about when going for a relaxing voyage.

Engine failure is another safety concern for all sea vessels. Fortunately, catamarans have two diesel engines, unlike monohulls, so an engine failure in a catamaran is not catastrophic, and it’s rarely more than an expensive inconvenience. 

Want to better understand the differences between monohulls (classic sailboats) and catamarans ( two hulled sailboats) I recommend that you read this article!

Award-Winning Catamarans

Bali and Lagoon are more than brands with sound reputations and incredible designs. They both also create award-winning yachts. The industry responded so well to Bali’s sleek design that in 2019, the Bali 5.4 won the Multihull World’s 2019 Multihull of the Year Award. 

Likewise, in 2021 the industry responded to Lagoon’s attention to the design change just as favorably. The response was so great, in fact, that in 2021, the Lagoon Sixty 5, Lagoon’s most recent model, was nominated for Multihull World’s Yacht of the Year Award.

Which One Should You Choose?

The choice comes down to a matter of preference. Some consumers are primarily concerned with the yacht’s resale value, hoping to get some money back when they upgrade to a newer model in the future. Others purchase with no thought of selling the ship in the future. The latter group is often more concerned with comfort, design, and efficiency. The former will be most concerned with how the yacht will retain its value.

Here are a couple of things to consider when choosing between Bali and Lagoon:

If Resale Value Is a Primary Concern

If you like to upgrade every few years or only purchase a catamaran for a short-term excursion, such as a one- to five-year temporary home, resale value may be a deciding factor in the brand you choose. If this is the case, be certain to purchase a yacht designed for owner use rather than charter use. Bali and Lagoon offer each type.

And since Lagoon tend to hold value a little better, i would go with them.

Gabo of CatamaranFreedom.com

Just like any other motorized vehicle, catamarans lose value through use. If you’re purchasing a used yacht, to begin with, chartering yachts will not have the resale value that privately owned vessels will. However, most multihull units maintain a better resale value than monohulls. This is partly because there are fewer multihulls in the resale market while it is saturated with monohulls. 

Resale value should remain the same between brands that are built for the same use and receive the same care and maintenance.

If Visuals Are a Primary Concern

Most people find that the Bali design offers a better visual design than Lagoon, especially the flybridge design with the magnificent outlook over the water. However, if appeal to a non-sailing audience is important, Bali is definitely the way to go. Lagoon is famous within the sailing community, but most landlubbers appear to think a Bali cat is more attractive.

How To Choose Between a Bali and Lagoon

Charter a Cruise Aboard a Bali and Lagoon

The best way to know for sure which is the better catamaran brand for you is to sail on both a Bali and Lagoon. However, spending an average cost of $8,000 per week seems like an unlikely option for most people.

How much does chartering a catamaran cost?

Talk to Bali and Lagoon Owners

The second-best thing to do is talk to the owners of each catamaran brand. Most owners purchased either a Bali or Lagoon for specific reasons and are usually excited to share their knowledge with prospective buyers. They will be better salespeople than anyone on a yacht yard because they will tell you both the positives and what they wish were different on their yacht.

Participate in Forums

In the absence of knowing someone who owns one of these brands, many forums, such as the Cruisers Forum, are available for you to join and participate in. It is always amazing to learn how little we know about a subject before diving into it, and owning a catamaran is no different. It is impossible to see what you do not yet know about catamarans, so knowing what questions to ask by studying the forums makes you a more confident buyer.

Research Through Blogs, Vlogs, and YouTube

Lastly, the internet is fortunately filled with blogs and vlogs of people who make money sharing their experiences with catamarans.

Reading blogs and watching travel videos are fun ways to feel that you are on the boat yourself. And these writers and videographers enjoy giving a first-hand view of the subtle differences, potential problems, and coveted features that you might not otherwise know to ask about when you go to purchase your vessel. They are also skilled at showing their mistakes so that we do not make the same ones. 

Conclusion

Purchasing the yacht is a commitment. While there are customers loyal to each brand, selecting either the Bali or Lagoon models should be done confidently because both brands have excellent reputations. If you want even more help to guide your decision, read catamaran blogs, watch vlogs, and ask questions on forums. 

Sources

Gabo

Owner of CatamaranFreedom.com. A minimalist that has lived in a caravan in Sweden, 35ft Monohull in the Bahamas, and right now in his self-built Van. He just started the next adventure, to circumnavigate the world on a Catamaran!

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