On a three-hour luncheon cruise from Nassau, I was expecting a tour-boat. But imagine my surprise when I walked out on to the marina...

While on a press trip to New Providence in late February, I and several other travel journalists were treated to a luncheon cruise so we could see Nassau Harbour, Paradise Island and a few of the nearby small Bahamian islands.

We were accompanied on our trip by Vaughn Roberts, the managing director of the Downtown Nassau Partnership, who was there to brief us on the planned revitalization of Nassau’s downtown area and was full of information about the city. I think most of us thought we’d be cruising on a little tour boat, maybe like the Circle Line boats which operate tours round Manhattan Island, or perhaps a little glass-bottom boat like one that we saw carrying a party of tourists.


Nassau's Yacht Haven Marina is busy but picturesque

I certainly know I was expecting a tour-boat. But imagine our surprise when we walked out on to the marina dock behind the Poop Deck Yacht Haven restaurant just east of downtown Nassau and found we’d be sailing on the M/Y Equinox, an 81-foot motor yacht!

The Equinox is a charter yacht which is available for day trips for up to 15 passengers or longer cruises for up to six people. Built in 2004 by Cheoy Lee Shipyards in Fort Lauderdale, it has a draft of 6 feet and a beam of 21 feet. Boats in its class cost about $6 million new, though the company which owns the Equinox bought it from a previous owner for around $3 million.

Whatever price the owner paid, the Equinox has a beautiful, comfortable salon and great spaces both fore and aft in which to relax and put your feet up. In my view, it was $3 million well spent. The Equinox has all every modern navigational aid and a 1,400-horsepower Caterpillar marine diesel engine, which can push it through the water at speeds of up to 24 knots (about 28 mph).

This is the bridge of the 'Equinox', an 81-foot motor yacht based at Nassau's Yacht Haven Marina. The boat offeres day cruises for up to 15 people or longer trips for up to six people and can be chartered for $5,000-$6,000 a day. The price includes a lot of extras, including jetskis

Fuel consumption can be up to 100 gallons per hour when the Equinox is running its engine and its generator, so it’s just as well the yacht has a fuel capacity of 2,700 gallons. Its range is 500 miles and the Equinox has its own water-desalination equipment, which can make 1,200 gallons of fresh water a day.

The crew of the M/Y 'Equinox' poses for a post-cruise photo on the boat's stern. From left to right (and bottom to top) are Captain Mark Pertuiset, Chef/Steward Susanne Genzmann and Mate Aztec King

Crewed by Captain Mark Pertuiset, Chef/Steward Susanne Genzmann and Mate Aztec King, the Equinox has loads of amenities and equipment to make a cruise a special occasion. The yacht has a 24-foot Novurania tender, as well as two Yamaha Waverunner jet-skis.

The Equinox also offers its guests water-skis, snorkeling equipment, fishing gear and tackle, beach toys, two remote-controlled model raceboats and two remote-controlled model sailboats! All of these amenities and this recreational equipment are included in the charter cost and – depending on the number of guests and the cruise you take – you can expect to pay $5,000 to $6,000 a day to charter the entire boat. Peanuts, really.

You can find out more about the boat, and book it, at www.equinoxyacht.com.

A glass-bottom tour boat busily sailed past the 'Equinox' as the motor yacht sailed east towards Athol Island

Once underway, we enjoyed some cold drinks from the cooler while reclining on the now or stern loungers and then it was time to tuck into a surf-and-turf luncheon of crayfish, beef tenderloin, salad and rice with sultanas – expertly prepared by Chef Susanne – as we cruised east past Paradise Island and Athol Island directly to the north. Still to follow, we found, were delicious mini-cheesecakes and chocolate éclairs. I don’t usually eat dessert, but I couldn’t resist.

As the 'Equinox' cruised eastwards out of Nassau Harbour with Paradise Island passing to port, this jet-ski passed us. The rider was getting more of an adrenaline rush than we were, but those of us on the 'Equinox' surely had the better of the deal

On the way east, we saw various boats and jet-skis and the beautiful, 163-foot Casino Royale – a $20 million-plus-plus motor yacht built by Christensen Shipyards in partnership with Millennium Super Yachts and owned by noted yachtsman John Staluppi – passed us going the other way.

To see more about the cruise on the Equinox, go to Page 2

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