Walking up the gangway and stepping onto the new 6-star expedition vessel the Scenic Eclipse, I had to pinch myself right from the very beginning. The ship’s sophisticated lines and shiny silver name plate turns heads at every port and I couldn’t believe I was fortunate enough to be one of its first passengers.
Image: Scenic Eclipse viewed from Zodiac water craft. Credit: Kirsty Johansen
‘Welcome Ms Johansen’ said several crew members with gleaming smiles as I was privately shown the way through the reception lounge. Beautiful white orchids in planter boxes catch your eye as you walk in, surrounded by stylish couches and armchairs in a charcoal, grey and silver palette. But as I move to the end of this space my jaw drops, a towering marble bar glows in front of me with more than 100 whiskies. I could already imagine having a nip after a long day of excursions in Nova Scotia.
Image: The Lounge on Scenic Eclipse. Credit: Kirsty Johansen
The all-inclusive Scenic Eclipse holds 228-passengers and looks more like a luxurious mega yacht than an expedition ship. I have joined the ship in Halifax for nine nights, visiting Nova Scotia and Newfoundland in Canada before cruising down the US East Coast to Boston, Martha’s Vineyard and finishing in New York City. Australian company Scenic has dubbed it ‘the world’s first discovery yacht’ and there are plenty of features well suited to adventure.
The ship has a Polar Class 6 rating, the highest that can be obtained by a passenger vessel, plus forward bow thrusters and an electronic Azipod propulsion system, designed to make it highly manoeuvrable, with a cruising speed of 17 knots. A GPS dynamic positioning system allows for stationary positioning without an anchor, reducing environmental effects in sensitive regions. Custom-built stabilisers aim to make it glide through the water even in rough seas. While most vessels take 48 hours to cross the Drake Passage on Antarctic itineraries, the Eclipse will be able to do it in 36 hours.
Image: The Lounge Bar on the Eclipse. Credit: Kirsty Johansen
Image: Helicopter on board the Scenic Eclipse. Credit: Kirsty Johansen
The vessel has a fleet of 12 zodiacs and multiple kayaks but probably the most memorable of all the experiences is taking a ride in one of the two shiny black Airbus H-130-T2 helicopters or the U-Boat Worx Cruise Submarine 7, Scenic Neptune. The submarine is capable of diving to a depth of 300 metres with seating for up to six guests.
Scenic’s Founder Glen Moroney says he wants guests “to have the experience of a billionaire” and that is certainly on point. My luxury ensuite, awash with marble, is roomy and beautiful, with a rain shower, Scenic Slumber Beds with pillow menu, fabulous Dyson hairdryer, Egyptian cotton linen and of course the all-important private verandah, I am definitely comfortable. My private butler helps me unpack and is available at the touch of a button to ensure I have absolutely everything I need 24/7. My mini bar is always stocked with my favourite snacks and beverages.
Image: Penthouse Suite Terrace with lounge area, sun lounges and private jacuzzi. Credit: Kirsty Johansen
Adventure and features aside, the service on the Eclipse is second to none with a 1:1 guest-to-staff ratio. Trying to ensure I stay in a little bit of routine while away, each day I participate in a yoga or pilates class with instructor Andrea Giusto. He welcomes people of all ages and levels to his beautiful studio, decorated with amethyst and quartz and you leave relaxed and ready to take on the day. On the opposite side of the studio on Deck 7 is the Power gym with an amazing view out to the ocean. On the next level down is the Senses Spa which is a mix of indulgence and tranquillity, with treatment salons, an infra-red sauna, steam room, thermal lounges and an experience shower. I booked in for a 90-minute massage and a 60-minute facial on one of our sea days. Spa Manager Nteboheng Phooko treats me to an unforgettable experience using 6-star products. I definitely feel like a princess walking out of there. On Deck 10, is the Sun Terrace with twin Jacuzzis and sun lounges but with cooler weather the Observation Lounge is a nice relaxing spot to have a cup of tea, read up about different animals and watch the world go by.
Image: Yoga and pilates studio on Scenic Eclipse. Credit: Kirsty Johansen
Dining is definitely a highlight of the Scenic Eclipse, with nine options, if you include room service and the Epicure cooking school. The main Elements restaurant is an Italian grill serving steak, seafood and pasta, Koko’s specialises in Asian fusion and at Koko’s private Teppanyaki grill, eight diners can enjoy award-winning Wagyu beef and caviar. Lumiere, is quintessentially French and is definitely my favourite. A nine-course experience each night, with everything from steak tartare, to frog legs and delicious Wagyu Wellington. The elegant champagne bar in the restaurant is backdropped by rose crystal and really highlights the intimate setting. Azure Cafe and the Yacht Club, with terrace pool have a more casual feel. Then there is Chef’s Table an invitation-only degustation experience for 10 passengers held in a room off Elements. Eclipse Executive Chef Tom Goetter just missed out on winning Germany’s version of Top Chef last year. You can tell he has put his passion and imagination into each and every menu to leave guests in awe and wondering how they will ever be able to cruise on another vessel, if not the Scenic Eclipse ever again.
Image: French Restaurant, Lumiere, on Scenic Eclipse. Credit: Kirsty Johansen
The Scenic Eclipse is a truly all-inclusive luxury without exception. It’s where luxury meets discovery and intimacy abounds at every turn. You won’t want for anything, but rest assured, if you do the Scenic crew will be on hand to assist day or night. Welcome to the next generation of ocean cruising where you experience the extraordinary in every way.