Difference Between Boat and Ship

Main Difference – Boat and Ship

Although boats and ships are water crafts, there are many differences between them based on size, shape, crew, passengers, and cargo. The main difference between boat and ship can be termed as their size; the other differences between them usually stem from the difference in size. A ship is larger in size than a boat; in fact, a ship can carry one or more boats inside it.

What is a Boat

Boats can be of various sizes, shapes, and may be built in various construction methods depending on their intended purpose, available materials as well as local customs and traditions. A boat is generally considered to be smaller in size than a ship. However, there can be large boats that are similar to the size of ships.

Boats can be navigated by wind power, human power or motor power. Row boats, canoes, rafts, gondolas are some examples of the types of boats that are human-powered. Sailboats operate through wind power whereas motor boats are propelled by mechanical processes. Boats also serve various purposes. Boats can be used for fishing, transporting cargo from and to ships, and for pleasure. Since a boat is smaller in size than a ship, a ship can carry boats. Many ships carry lifeboats which are used for emergency situations. Another difference between boat and ship is that boat can be lifted out of the water, whereas a ship cannot.

Main Difference - Boat vs Ship

What is a Ship

Ship is a large watercraft. Ships differ from boats due to size, shape, cargo, crew, and passenger capacity. Ships have been used throughout the history for various purposes; transport of goods and people, travel and exploration, fishing, warfare, and entertainment are some of these purposes.

As explained above, a ship is larger than a boat and can carry a boat inside. Since it is larger in size, it needs a large crew. It requires a captain to navigate and guide the crew. Since ships travel across oceans, for longer duration, they have complicated equipment and operational systems. The construction of a ship itself is a complicated process which includes various mechanical systems. Ships have always been used to transport cargo or people, and since it is larger in size, it can carry more cargo and passengers for a longer distance.

Difference Between Boat and Ship

Difference Between Boat and Ship


Boat is generally smaller than a ship.

Ship is generally larger than a boat.


Boat cannot carry a ship.

Ship can carry boats.


Boats have simple structures compared to ships.

Ships have complicated designs and structures.


Boat can be operated by one person.

Ship cannot be operated by one person.


Boats have a small crew.

Ships have a large crew.

Out of Water

Boats can be taken out of the water.

Ships cannot be taken out of the water.


Boats generally travel shorter distances.

Ships generally travel longer distances.

Cargo and Passengers

Boats cannot carry a lot of cargo or passengers.

Ships can carry a lot of cargo and passengers.Difference Between Boat and Ship - infographic

Image Courtesy:

“Ship” by  Matt H. Wade. Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia

“Boat” by By Mills Tamara, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Hasa

Hasanthi is a seasoned content writer and editor with over 8 years of experience. Armed with a BA degree in English and a knack for digital marketing, she explores her passions for literature, history, culture, and food through her engaging and informative writing.