Inside the Scenic Eclipse
The perfect way to ʻgo anywhere and see it allʼ
Ten decks of WOW – I’m somewhere in the middle of the Caribbean Sea on the stern of the newest ocean baby’s sun deck and am in a state of utter ah.
Trailblazing the heavens above hovers a special type of aircraft uniquely designed for high-end luxury ocean cruise guests of the new Scenic Eclipse.
As I inch closer to the railing, the sea breezes heat up and the wind intensifies. In a pure James Bond-like moment I’m witnessing the arrival of the new Airbus H130 helicopter – the twin baby in this dynamic duo that has perfectly parked on its intended target, the “H.”
Soon after I’m rubbing shoulders with the ace pilot of the said helicopter. We see the shiny black on black exterior and tuck inside the seven-seater for unobstructed views. “There’s more here than you can imagine,” laughs Scenic Eclipse pilot Clay Horrocks.
You got that right. For any mortal to obtain this luxe status, the math adds up to multi-million dollars. The BOSE A20 aviation headset alone runs over US$1000.
While this swanky super yacht is kitted out in the sleekest toys for adults who are into adventure and luxury, the Scenic Eclipse, as I learned on my cruise last month, combines a “go anywhere to see it all” approach aimed at satisfying bucket-list experiences by sky and by sea aboard the world’s first six-star ultra-luxury mega yacht.
A New Meaning to Mega Yacht
First off – you feel like it’s your own private yacht. The ultimate in luxury, the size rivals billionaire yacht owners like the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s Octopus (a vessel you can now own for $325-million which is like owning five G650 Gulfstream jets). Allen’s mega yacht was reportedly the world’s largest at the time of delivery in 2003.
This stunning super yacht from Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours is the Australian-founded company’s first ocean cruise vessel. According to the company’s chairman and founder Glen Moroney, the luxury yacht has been designed in line with Scenic’s new branding. In 2016, he noted the 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, as they travel in the utmost luxury and safety,” he explained.
Scenic Eclipse: Miami to Cartagena
On board an 11-day once-in-a-lifetime all-inclusive luxury cruise to the heart of Central America, the expedition yacht was on a mission – to reposition herself before the rightful Antarctic bookings ensue this winter. In August, some cruise guests enjoyed the inaugural 13-day voyage from Reykjavik to Quebec, while the champagne really poured on Sept. 10 when Godmother Dame Helen Mirren christened the Eclipse in New York City. “We are extremely proud of this ship and what it brings to the world of cruising. In terms of innovation, technology and design, it is second to none,” relayed Glen Moroney on the pride in seeing the many years of planning and work come to fruition.
It didn’t take long for me to find the luxe side of Eclipse. On my all-inclusive discovery yacht cruise from Miami to Cartagena, clients were able to enjoy daily bespoke shore excursions that began in Key West, Florida, before setting onto the high seas south to charming colonial cities and remote isles in the Caribbean. Think Belize City, Roatan Island in Honduras, then off to Isla de Providencia in Colombia, Puerto Limon in Costa Rica, and onto Panama’s Portobelo and San Blas Islands, until finally the super yacht reached Cartegena, Colombia.
2 Helicopters + 1 Submarine = A Cruise Industry First
For an additional cost, clients can have exclusive guided tours by submarine dives via the Scenic Neptune submarine and in high style in one of two climate-controlled 6-plus-1 helicopters. Don’t worry if you blinked and thought you missed your photo while flying over icebergs. Internal and external cameras are shooting the flight as you head into the remote North Pole or the South Pole. The design of the high performance Airbus H130 helicopter is also one of the quietest helicopters in the sky notes Justin Kallner, Eclipse’s aviation engineer. “The H125, the cousin helicopter landed on Mount Everest, so these helicopters share a lot of the same structural design and same engine,” he says. That’s WOW factor.
For the Scenic Neptune, which is a U-Boat Worx Cruise Submarine 7, the dives can go as low as 300 metres. “The seats are mounted on revolving platforms, so guests can swivel 280 degrees to view all directions,” says ace sub pilot Remy Izendooren, a Dutch engineer who never thought in a million years he’d be piloting a submarine. In this aquatic odyssey, up to six clients plus the submarine pilot can occupy the state-of-the-art submersible that has two large clear acrylic spheres to guarantee full views as you encounter fascinating marine life, marvel at coral reef and see underwater ruins up close. The six-star experience excursion can perform up to eight dives per day as fast as three knots.
“There are not many places in the world where you can go on a submarine ride especially with the locations we go to,” he says of the out-of-this-world experience.
The all-suites yacht spares no expense. Designed as an indulgent haven the spacious 114 suite each comes with butler service with either a private verandah or terrace. Located across five decks, room sizes are available in eight categories: Verandah Suite, Deluxe Verandah Suite, Grand Deluxe Verandah Suite, Spa Suite, Panorama Suite, Grand Panorama Suite, Owner’s Penthouse Suite and the 2-Bedroom Penthouse Suite. In my Verandah Suite soothing grey interiors are offset by an adjustable curtain for instant privacy from the suite’s lounge area. Each room has state-of-the-art Dyson hair dryers, Bushnell binoculars, a pillow menu, including a customizable bed to suit your sleeping preference. On guest satisfaction, Rico Taubert, Scenic Eclipse’s hotel director adds, “We are the only six star product with the layout, the dining concept, the facilities and while we can’t fly to the moon, we try.” Indeed.
On my cruise, the crew to guest ratio was nearly 1.5 crew to each guest. “This is what we call ultra luxury don’t you think?” beamed Captain Erwan Le Rouzic at the captain’s welcome reception.
Compared to other luxury cruises such as the Crystal Cruises Endeavor which will debut next year, Scenic Eclipse has more dining venues, a larger cabin size, double the number of bars, and has nearly double the number of dining venues. In non-Polar region itineraries, the Scenic Eclipse can accommodate 228-PAX, while on Polar expedition cruises the six-star luxury vessel handles only 200 passengers.
On the discovery side, find a fleet of zodiacs, kayaks, as well as a highly experienced Discovery Team of marine biologists, ornithologists, historians and geographers who lead small groups on all-included kayak and shore excursions. Guests have the option in watching briefings televised in the comfort of their suite or in the Theatre, in its amphitheatre design with wide leather seats, some with adjustable foot rests.
It was easy to kickstart the day on board the Eclipse. Mornings began with a yoga class amid priceless amethyst crystal clusters sparkling toward the sunrise in the horizon. The yoga and Pilates studio styled in radiant white has sea views. Other guests hit the state-of-the-art fitness centre, the pool, or the Senses Spa with its his and her dry sauna and steam room, temperature-controlled Scandinavian plunge pools and a colour therapy program that professes a holistic chakra balance.
Finding downtime also was easy. On the fifth floor, the Observation Lounge and Library provides a cozy nook for relaxation including hot and cold drinks. A wall-to-wall shelf brims with a variety of book genres, as well as board games. Swivel seats in fine bone leather are elegantly appointed for reading or watching the scenes unfold outside. I grabbed a hot cup of organic tea and contemplated my next move.
All-Inclusive Food and Drink
The dining scene is unlike any other luxury cruise. All the most exclusive ingredients that are highly sought-after by the finest chefs around the world are magically stored, prepped and cooked on this yacht. It gives luxury “mega” yacht new meaning. Find happy chickens called Jidori from Cali-fornia to Wagyu beef from Australia to caviar from France, and everything in between. Executive Chef Tom Goetter explains, “Scenic Eclipse is very specific, we have 2,500 food items, while an average ship is usually 900.”
Goetter tells me his intentions are not to create a standard ship menu. “We don’t do gold dust, it’s super old-fashioned. We don’t do any carvings. That’s no to ice sculptures, no sugar decorations and no vegetable colours. We focus on the meal and food themselves,” he says.
The atmosphere changes in the 10 dining styles on board, but the acute attentiveness to service is consistent. One night I laughed so hard mesmerized by the quick gyuto knife antics flying from a skilled chef named Strawberry. At the Teppanyaki Koko’s, a special reservations-only Japanese restaurant, a small dinner party erupted as we watched puffs of smoke flambe over a grill and the finest cuts of sizzling Wagyu beef seared to perfection.
“Ready for some more?” grinned the chef who commanded everyone’s attention in this rhapsody of impressive Japanese cooking that saw Strawberry easily become the star of the dinner hour.
Another evening, I channeled a French vibe at the illustrious Lumiere. Here diners enjoy exclusive tres français ingredients paired with fine wines surrounded by whimsical art pieces that are splayed against a floor tile of black and white cubist-inspired patterns. The setting evokes an elevated brasserie where traditionally dressed servers in black and white showcase a seven-course dinner menu in high-style. Big Wow Factor!
By the bar with its illuminated wall of top-shelf spirits from rare whiskeys to the finest bourbons, vodka and gin, and anything else you could think of, find patrons socializing over cocktails and other alcoholic bevvies as they recount the day’s discoveries.
On board the luxury all-included Scenic Eclipse, it doesn’t take long to discover there are more out-of-this-world surprises just ahead.
Additional charges apply for submarine dives (US$250-$700) and helicopter rides (US$395), subject to availability. Bookings occur on board and are restricted to weather conditions, as well as subject to government regulatory approval and limited seating.