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Party on a Paddle Steamer

And eight other unusual urban watercraft.

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Jet Ski
(capacity: 1–2)
Jetty Jumpers, Sheepshead Bay Q stop; 917-734-9919.
What it’s like: Think fast, wet, and scenic. Reaching nearly 20 mph, owner Anthony Stallone and his veteran guides pilot shiny new Yamahas from Sheepshead Bay to the Statue of Liberty and up the East River. After wrapping up the Harbor tour, you can take a turn in the driver’s seat near port.
Cost: $275 first person, $150 second person, group rates available


Sunset Ketch
(capacity: 2–6)
The Prelude, a Bacon Yacht Charter, 79th Street Boat Basin; 212-873-7558.
What it’s like: This mom-and-pop-owned love boat specializes in romantic sunset cruises. Crewed by Captain Ed Bacon and his wife, Regina, the 54-foot ketch has been wooing romantics for 26 years and offers anniversary extras like Champagne, shrimp cocktail, and roses.
Cost: Two hours ($795), three hours ($1,045), anniversary package ($895), and other dinner-drink packages available.


Tugboat
(capacity: 6–12)
W.O. Decker, South Street Seaport Museum; 212-748-8786.
What it’s like: The old creek tug once moved barges along Newtown Creek and the Gowanus Canal during Brooklyn’s longshoreman days. Now it gives the least glamorous but most revealing tour of New York’s backwaters, cruising alongside sewage-treatment plants, car shredders, and the city’s last standing grain silo.
Cost: $1,000 for two hours (daytime), $1,450 for an hour and a half (sunset).


Speedboat
(capacity: 2–12)
Millennium 75, Prestige Yacht Charters, 212-717-0300.
What’s It’s Like: In a sea of utilitarian New York watercraft, this unapologetically showy Miami Vice–style speedboat makes you feel like a Little Havana high-roller. When the thrill of outrunning everyone else on the water fades (the boat frequently hits 42 mph), retreat inside for a gin and tonic in the plush lounge.
Cost: $1,000 an hour.


Schooner
(capacity: 30–49)
Adirondack, Classic Harbor Line; 646-336-5270.
What it’s like: All fine-grained wood, this two-mast schooner has the vibe of a late-nineteenth-century leisure yacht. Because the crew prefers to use just its four massive sails for power, you’ll tack up and down the Hudson with lapping waves as your only soundtrack.
Cost: $750 an hour (weekdays), $950 an hour (evenings and weekend daytimes), $1,100 an hour (Saturday evening).


Ferry
(capacity: 25–75)
Manhattan, Classic Harbor Line; 646-336-5270.
What it’s like: The twenties commuter ferry replica is, surprisingly, quite the speedster: Topping out at 22 knots, the Manhattan can circumnavigate the island in three hours. The boat, which comes with a chef serving up Thai chicken skewers and bite-size grilled cheeses, also makes day trips up the Hudson to places like West Point and Bear Mountain.
Cost: $1,100 an hour (two-hour cruise), $950 an hour (three-hour cruise), $850 an hour (four hours or more).


Tall Ship
(capacity: 60–144)
The Clipper City, Manhattan by Sail; 212-619-0907.
What it’s like: A faithful re-creation of an 1854-built lumber-hauling schooner, the 158-foot Clipper City is by far the longest charter sailboat in the city, making it the perfect cruiser for wedding receptions, birthday blowouts, and company outings.
Cost: $1,950 an hour (after 2 p.m.), $1,020 (before 2 p.m.), plus 20 percent service fee, two-hour minimum.


Mega-Speedboat
(capacity: 145)
The Beast, Circle-Line Sightseeing; 212-630-8885.
What it’s like: If you don’t fancy being sprayed by water guns by the crew, stay on shore. The Beast is essentially the terror of the New York waterways, treating passengers to speeds of up to 45 mph and a thorough soaking on its 30-minute tours. It is no place for a cocktail party (or even a dry sandwich), but it’s a thrilling birthday party for a group of 9-year-olds.
Cost: $2,900 for 30 minutes.


Paddle Steamer
(Capacity: 150–540)
The Queen of Hearts, Affairs Afloat; 212-987-9200.
What it’s like: Don your seersucker suit and straw hat for a languid cruise on the Old Mississippi–style riverboat, equipped with a decorative paddle wheel constructed in an Alabama cornfield. With three levels and a 200-person dance floor, the Queen is ideal for extra-large shindigs, although the interiors may look more Ramada convention hall than antebellum revival.
Cost: $4,500-$7,200 (four-hour charter).


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