Scenic Eclipse — a first look
THE arrival of the “world’s first discovery yacht” has been highly anticipated, so when travelBulletin was invited to be on board one of the first sailings of Scenic Eclipse last month, it was an opportunity not to be missed! Delayed for over a year, expectations from the industry are high. Will Eclipse deliver all that is claimed?
Certainly Scenic has hit the mark with the ‘luxury’ tag. Six star is a big claim — but the level of finishes on board and the quality of food and beverages are definitely at that level. The decor would probably be best described as ‘luxe’, with lots of smoky glass, shiny black surfaces, mirrors and luxuriant grey furnishings, the moodiness of which might not be to everyone’s taste, and therefore a little polarising.
Accommodating up to 228 guests, there are a wide range of suites available. The entry level Verandah Suite is 32m2 features a separate lounge area with a massive television artfully concealed as a wall mirror. The suite is spacious enough in which to be able to relax, and as with all 114 suites on board Scenic Eclipse it includes butler service. The ultimate accommodation on the ship combines the Owners Penthouse Suite with an adjacent Spa suite to create a huge 247m2 two-bedroom penthouse.
Amenities on board will keep guests as busy as they want to be, with a spa featuring a range of treatments alongside a 24-hour gym, yoga and pilates studio. There is an indoor pool in the Yacht Club restaurant, plus two smaller outdoor pools, not to mention a couple of hot tubs on the top deck. Daily entertainment is complemented by enrichment presentations from the Discovery Team, covering a variety of topics from wildlife to history, all relevant to the sailing itinerary.
As with other Scenic products, expeditions and excursions are included. The toys — two six-guest helicopters and the six-passenger submarine — do incur an additional charge, and their availability is dependent on weather conditions. There is the opportunity to kayak where possible, as well as experience tours on the electric-assisted bikes.
The ship exceeds expectations when it comes to cuisine. Claiming 10 dining options, it should be noted that two of these are The Chefs Table, an invitation only experience, and the Epicure on-board cooking school. Buffet breakfast and lunch are served daily in the Yacht Club, with a wide array of choice. Elements Restaurant is the main dining room for dinner, with a daily changing menu along with a wine and cheese bar. Then there is Azure Caf and Grill, offering lighter cafe style eating all day — including pizza for lunch! Eclipse’s innovation with dining is especially seen with Koko’s, an Asian fusion concept with three different alternatives — a sushi bar, teppanyaki theatre, and a fusion menu which changes every three days. Finally there is Lumiere, a French fine dining degustation with matched wines that will not disappoint. There is no additional cost for any of the specialty restaurants, and if that array doesn’t suffice then 24 hour room service is also available.
Beverages are also included and there are plenty of bars in which to unwind and enjoy the view. The main bar is in the expansive Scenic Lounge, which is the biggest public space where guests can go. There is also the smaller Observation Lounge at the front of the ship, which is more like a library. Unfortunately there are limited indoor spaces that have really good views for watching the world go by and wildlife spotting. The outdoor observation deck may be a bit too chilly in Arctic and Antarctic conditions.
A cruise on Eclipse would be the ultimate experience for many. She is beautifully appointed, and her sleek lines look absolutely stunning. Scenic Eclipse is very much a luxury, discovery yacht rather than a hard core expedition vessel, offering a fabulous selection of itineraries for those who want a bit of adventure in style.