The line between river cruising and ocean cruising continues to blur. First, Viking River Cruises made the jump to ocean cruising with the spectacular Viking Star last year. Then, long-standing luxury operator Crystal Cruises announced its intentions to take on the river cruising world this year with an acquired ship, heavily refitted, and a fleet of newbuilds scheduled to hit the waterways next year.
Now, respected Australian tour and river cruise operator Scenic has announced that it, too, intends to cross borders, branching out into ocean cruising, unveiling what the company is calling “the world’s first Discovery Yacht.”
Three-plus years in the making, Scenic is heading in an adventurous new direction with the Scenic Eclipse, a 228-guest luxury mega-yacht designed specifically for expedition cruises around the world. When she enters service on August 31, 2018, she will embark on a series of Mediterranean cruises throughout Europe before launching discovery sailings to the Americas and Antarctica. Voyages to the Norwegian fjords and the Far Arctic are also on-tap.
Not only is this Scenic’s first foray into ocean cruising, it’s also the company’s first full-blown expedition cruise ship. To blend those two distinctive worlds (oceangoing cruise ships must be luxurious, while expedition ships need to be rugged and well-built), Scenic is pulling out all the stops for the brand-new Scenic Eclipse.
To start with, she will feature the same level of all-inclusiveness currently found aboard Scenic’s European river cruise fleet. Scenic Eclipse fares will include all meals, regardless of which of the six onboard dining options you chose to indulge in. All beverages – including beer, wine and premium spirits – are provided on a complimentary basis, along with all gratuities, excursions ashore, Wi-Fi, and even onboard butler service that pampers guests with a favorable guest-to-staff ratio.
To ratchet up the cool factor, Scenic Eclipse will carry two onboard helicopters and a seven-seat submarine, all of which are designed to take guests to places that would be normally out of reach on similar expedition voyages aboard competing lines.
Both features are rare, but not unheard of: Crystal Cruises features a small submarine aboard the new Crystal Espirt, while Quark Expeditions offers helicopter tours on a handful of its true Icebreaker expedition voyages. It is the combination of both, however, that is unique to Scenic.
After a long day ashore, you can even come back and indulge in the onboard spa, which clocks in at nearly 5,000 square feet.
On the accommodations front, Scenic Eclipse will feature a streamlined array of staterooms, including 114 all-veranda suites that range from 344 square feet to the massive, 2,500-square-foot Owner’s Penthouse Suite that comes complete with two bedrooms and all the luxuries that accommodations at this level command.
Scenic Chairman and founder Glen Moroney said: “Our goal with Scenic Eclipse was to open up the private Discovery Yacht experience so that our guests could discover regions previously only visited by a fortunate few. In many cases, only the supremely wealthy or explorers and adventurers could’ve travelled to the Antarctic hinterland or have ventured below the surface to witness polar wildlife in their natural habitat, but now we are making these experiences accessible to our guests while traveling in the utmost luxury and safety.”
On the technical front, Scenic is equipping Scenic Eclipse with an innovative new stabilisation system to minimize rolling, and outfitting her to strict “Ice Class 1A Super” regulations that will ensure safe operations in the Arctic and Antarctica. Furthermore, all Polar voyages will be limited to just 200 guests to comply with local regulations and ensure a more personalized experience ashore.
The company will release a dedicated Scenic Eclipse brochure in February. An as-yet-unnamed sister ship is already on the drawing board, with completion option available for 2019.