Over the past few years, Lagoon and Bali have been battling it out for the largest market share in the charter catamaran world. This competition has kept designers for both brands on their toes as they come up with innovative design solutions to satisfy the ever-increasing customer demand.
In recent months, I’ve had the opportunity to put both the new Lagoon 46 and Bali 4.8 through their paces on two separate charters. In Palma, I took to the water on the Bali 4.8 with a 6-cabins layout (4 large doubles and 2 spacious bunk bed cabins) with a total crew of 10, and then in the BVI I chartered a 3-cabin Lagoon 46 with just 4 crew on board.
Designed by Marc van Peteghem and Vincent Lauriot-Prevost, Lagoon Catamarans are built in France. Customers say this team is very responsive to customer feedback, and they continually create better vessels using consumer feedback, making this brand an attractive purchase.
Lagoon have been designing and building seaworthy vessels since 1984, and their longevity in the market has earned consumers’ trust. Using industry feedback as a basis, the designers diversified and began designing and manufacturing catamarans in 1996. Over the years, their designs have become sleeker as consumers demand more style on the water.
In 2014, Olivier Poncin and designer Xavier Fay designed and developed the new and innovative Bali catamarans at Cantana Yard in France. Bali is still dubbed as the “new kid on the block,” but that is precisely why it should be given serious consideration. Bali is the most unconventional of the two catamaran brands reviewed here.
As a result of Bali’s fresh design approach, they have received a lot of positive feedback from both the industry and consumers. Catamarans have traditionally been seen as bulky, but Bali’s sleek design delivers visually without impacting on performance or seaworthiness.
How the two yachts compared…
The Lagoon 46 and the Bali 4.8 are both luxurious and spacious catamarans that are perfect for anyone looking to enjoy the open waters in style. However, there are some key differences between these two boats that may make one a better choice for you depending on your specific needs and preferences.
One of the main differences between the Lagoon 46 and the Bali 4.8 is their outdoor living space. The Lagoon 46 has a large, fully-covered cockpit area that is perfect for dining al fresco, as well as a spacious trampoline at the front of the boat that is ideal for lounging in the sun. The Bali 4.8 also has a covered cockpit area, but it does not have a trampoline. Instead, a door from the saloon opens out on a large, open-air deck at the front of the boat that is perfect for sunbathing or relaxing.
But the Bali has a trick up its sleeve… While the Lagoon has both an indoor and outdoor dining area, separated by some french doors, the Bali has a vast indoor saloon, stretching from the forward windscreen right back to a meter off the stern. However, with a click of a button, a hydraulic motor kicks in and the aft french doors as neatly concealed into the ceiling on the saloon. Push away the aft side windows and you’ve got a massive alfresco dining space. Both yachts benefit from having a full flybridge, which in turn creates a third entertaining space behind the helms for all of the crew to enjoy.
As far as access to the water goes, both yachts were excellent. The Bali was equipped with davits to suspend the tender out of the water when underway, whereas the specific Lagoon I sailed in the BVI benefitted from a hydraulic bathing platform that lifted the sizable tender out of the water. When at anchor, this same platform acted as a great platform to dip in and out of the water from. However, it did mean that crew weren’t able to dive off the flybridge into the azure blue sea!
The cabins on both yachts were impressive. The 6-cabin ensuite layout of the Bali 4.8 was clever, with no crew member feeling comprised by a sub-standard cabin. All of the beds were of generous proportions and there was even more space for a couple more professional crew up forward if we’d have needed to! On the Lagoon, the build quality really shines through. We were treated to an “owner spec” 3-cabin layout, which meant that the whole starboard hull was one long suite. On the port side, two en suite double cabins had en suite facilities and plenty of storage room.
In terms of performance, both the Lagoon 46 and the Bali 4.8 are impressive sailing vessels. Both boats also have state-of-the-art sail plans that are designed to maximize performance and handling. As they are catamarans, upwind performance is compromised by an increased leeway, but they both could achieve good VMG with apparent wind angles in the mid-40s. When it comes to handling under power in a marina, both have full flybridges, so as a helm you do struggle to see the aft quarters. This leaves a strong reliance on feedback from the crew on the deck or pontoon when reversing into a berth. The Lagoon does come with dual reversing cameras as standard, but the juddery image was certainly no replacement for a human eye!
Ultimately, the choice between the Lagoon 46 and the Bali 4.8 comes down to personal preference and your specific needs. If you are looking for a yacht with vast entertaining space and a more apartment-like interior, the Bali 4.8 may be the better choice. However, if you prefer a more traditional layout with sturdy fittings, the Lagoon 4.6 may be the better option.