Gemma Pallister, Commercial Manager at ROL Cruise, was lucky enough to spend time aboard Scenic Eclipse recently. Here’s her experience:
What were your first impressions when you stepped on board?
Upon stepping on board I was overcome with excitement, I knew sailing on the World’s First Discovery Yacht was going to be a very special experience. Firstly, I was shown to the lounge and was taken aback by how big the area was considering there would only ever be a maximum of 228 guests on board.
The design was so elegant and in keeping with the sleek lines of the ships exterior design. You could tell every detail had been meticulously thought after, from the fabrics to lighting, colours to the art. Scenic Eclipse is the vision of co-owners Glen and Karen Moroney with Glen being responsible for the exterior design and general layout of the ship, and Karen fully in control of the interior finishing.
Everything from the bow to the stern had been finished to the highest standards; comfortable theatre seats with electric recliners; authentic seating design in the Asian restaurant Koko’s; artwork commissioned specifically for Scenic Eclipse; Bose headphones in the spa relaxation area. Scenic has spared no expense.
Scenic has extended their 5-star classic river cruise inclusions into 6-star ocean cruising including their Freechoice and Enrich excursion programme, butler service for all guests, complimentary premium branded beverages, included gratuities and more. It’s clear from the start you are going to be part of something special and experiencing a true expedition voyage in complete luxury.
Scenic Eclipse is ‘The World’s First Discovery YachtTM’, what are your experiences of this on board?
Our first stop after setting sail from New York was Martha’s Vineyard, which was a tender port and as I got on shore it was a very breezy day on this charming sunny island. I had a great day on a vintage school bus tour to see the highlights of the island and later that day the Captain, James Griffiths introduced his crew in the theatre.
During this time, he mentioned how Scenic has invested in state-of-the-art technology and environmentally sustainable systems such as GPS dynamic positioning allowing the ship to maintain its position without dropping anchor onto sensitive sea beds. The Captain advised it was this technology which had allowed us to get on shore today despite the high winds which could have prevented other cruise ships from operating tenders. However, Scenic Eclipse could be positioned in a way which sheltered the tenders.
As I was going ashore, it wasn’t apparent that the conditions weren’t ideal for standard cruise ships, as it was a bright sunny day so it’s reassuring that all guests on Scenic Eclipse won’t have these concerns and can just focus on enjoying their adventure.
Once onshore, I wanted to get some pictures of the ship so I stood by the dock taking photos. A local resident noticed my interest in the ship (unaware I was a guest) and commented on how she must be for the rich and famous. During the naming ceremony of Scenic Eclipse, Scenic Founder Glen explained the driving force behind the ship’s concept was to create a Discovery Yacht that you don't have to be a billionaire to sail on... his goal has been accomplished based on comments from the locals!
Scenic Eclipse looks like a yacht but when you’re on board there are so many spacious public areas that you feel like you are on board a full-sized cruise ship; no amenities have been compromised. With 10 dining experiences to choose from, a lavish spa, indoor and outdoor pools, spacious suites and much more, she really does offer the whole package.
I did have a moment on board where it dawned on me this is the World’s First Discovery Yacht. As I was getting ready in my suite, I heard what sounded like a helicopter and rushed to the top deck just in time to see one of the Scenic helicopters taking off to fly customers over the beautiful scenery of Lunenburg, Canada. Then I noticed the zodiac cruising offshore with the on board Discovery Team and at the back of the ship was the submarine heading into the deep. It was during this time I thought the ship came to life as a discovery yacht. Can you imagine being in Antarctica with all these unique options allowing you to explore where few have been able to go before.
As part of this, Scenic has introduced a Discovery Team, what are your experiences of this on board?
During one of the first nights on board, all the expedition team were introduced at a welcome meeting in the theatre. I was amazed at the range of specialists Scenic had on board from all over the world including experts in marine biology, history, environment, wildlife and more.
Jason Flesher is the Expedition Team Leader from the USA and has been committed to all aspects of experiential and wilderness education along with search and rescue for over 35 years. Jason’s professional experience evolved to the role of Lead Antarctic Expedition Guide for 2041 Expeditions that focus on climate change, and as a wilderness guide educating in over twenty countries, on all seven continents.
Travis Wadeley is the Assistant Expedition Leader from South Africa who was born and raised in the beautiful city of Cape Town where his passion for the ocean started at a young age. Amazed by the natural wonders of the world, a desire to discover and to visit more remote locations took Travis to Expedition cruising where for the last six years he has worked in remarkable parts of the world such as Antarctica and the Arctic, bringing with him a wealth of knowledge as an experienced expedition team member.
Alice Forrest is a Marine Biologist and wildlife guide where her work has taken her to remote islands throughout the Pacific & Indian Oceans – finding plastic inside fish in French Polynesia, discovering the most plastic-polluted beach in the world on Henderson Island (Pitcairn), studying seabirds on Australia’s Lord Howe Island, and blue whales off Sri Lanka. She believes science is useless unless communicated and has worked in wildlife conservation and plastic pollution education for many years. They have such a passion for their specialist field and are keen to meet with guests and discuss discovery options. The discovery team also offer lectures in the theatre which are listed in the daily program and during my time on board included photography workshops and wildlife briefings including whale and seabird spotting, preparing us to identify the wildlife on our journey.
In your opinion, what are the main on board highlights and why?
You notice the difference with only 228 guests on board, you feel like you are on board an exclusive luxury yacht. If you want to find a quiet place to sit and enjoy a drink there are plenty of choices including the main lounge, Azure Café, Observation Lounge and the Yacht Club.
The small guest numbers make it easy getting on and off board too with no large queues which means more time ashore allowing you to make the most of your chosen excursions. There were even more lifts than my hotel in New York, so you can get around the ship with ease.
Scenic Eclipse has an open bridge policy, so whenever the bridge door is open guests are free to look around and talk to the Captain and crew which was a real highlight for me as this is a unique opportunity in cruising and it’s wonderful to get a glimpse behind the scenes!
All previous Scenic guests will have come to know and love their included excursions and Scenic Eclipse is no different. There is a wide range of tours to choose from in addition to the expedition opportunities of zodiac cruising, kayaking, helicopter and submarine tours in select destinations. You can find tours to suit all tastes ranging from walking tours to bike tours, culinary experiences, must-see sights and unique experiences with options to suit all abilities. The only problem is choosing which to do with multiple options each day! In Boston, you could choose between the Freedom Trail walking tour, an inside look at Harvard, a Boston Dock Tour, the tastes of Boston or a bike tour. I opted for the Duck Tour which was fascinating and getting to see the city by land and water was a unique experience, I even got to drive it!
My favourite place on board has to be the Observation Lounge. With large windows facing out from the front of the ship you could drift away watching the scenery unfold while enjoying a hot drink or reading one of the many books from the extensive library. For a close-up view, you can head outside to the Observation Terrace which allows you to get right to the bow of the ship for the prime viewing spot as you sail.
Scenic Eclipse is home to a fantastic 10 dining options. Can you tell us a bit about the cuisine you sampled on board?
The food on board Scenic Eclipse is world-class and the chefs are so passionate about what they make. Tom Goetter is the Executive Chef and oversees the menu development across all on board dining experiences.
Elements is the main restaurant which has open seating and no reservation is required so you can dine anytime that suits you. Featuring Italian, steak and seafood there’s a dish to suit all tastes. I chose meatballs for my starter which came with the most heavenly tomato sauce. The steak for my main course was the size of my plate and was accompanied by truffle-infused chips. Unfortunately, I had no room left for dessert but I wish I’d have attempted some of the Italian ice cream as I heard it was delicious.
For breakfast, you could choose between dining at the Azure Café, Yacht Club or complimentary in-suite dining. I chose the Yacht Club where there was a wide range of buffet options including hot dishes, continental and made to order options such as waffles, pancakes, eggs benedict and more. I sat in a lovely area outside which was sheltered with a clear screen, so you could enjoy the scenery whilst being protected from the breeze.
My go-to spot during the day for a light bite or a cheeky slice of cake was the Azure café. I loved sitting down with a hot drink and a snack as we sailed, there’s also an outdoor terrace which is great for keeping an eye out for wildlife.
During lunch, you can head to Koko’s Asian restaurant for a Bento Box which is a great way to experience a taste of Japanese cuisine. I’d also recommend heading here for dinner where dishes include local fresh fish, Korean spicy octopus, Pakistani beef stew all with an Asian flair that would rival a luxury restaurant on land.
At Koko’s, you can also savour a Teppanyaki speciality dining experience which is complimentary, but booking is essential as it’s very popular. Seating just 8 guests, this private experience is unmissable. The chef from South Africa explained each dish he was preparing and where the ingredients came from. My favourite course was the flame-grilled Wagyu steak which I enjoyed watching him cook with a culinary blow torch almost as much as I did eating it. The papaya and mango fritters with chocolate dipping sauce were the ideal sweet finale.
Lumiére is another speciality dining venue where booking is recommended and is of course complimentary. Lumiére offers 5 courses of contemporary French fine dining and a champagne bar. Dishes include a caviar selection with smoked candy floss; duck grilled breast & pomme maccair, oranges and duck jus; seabass with truffled cauliflower crème and more. I, of course, had to sample the in-suite dining and could easily have hidden away in my haven for all meals. The quality is the same standard as the restaurants with the added benefit of being able to dine in your dressing gown while sitting on your veranda enjoying the sea views or relaxing in your cosy seating area. Simply bliss!
The most sought-after reservation is the Chef’s Table, a private dining room offering a 12-course menu for just 10 guests. Hosted every other evening because it takes chefs two full days to prepare the meal, you have front row seats to the chef’s culinary workspace with large windows revealing where all the magic happens.
For a nightcap, I highly recommend the Scenic Lounge where you’ll find a wide range of wines, beers, spirits and soft drinks with premium brands such as Johnnie Walker Blue Label included at no extra cost. The lounge chairs are plush and comfortable, so you can relax and unwind while being serenaded by the sounds of the Eclipse Duo – a superb vocalist and pianist duo.
You stayed in a Spa Suite on board, how do you think this adds to the expedition cruise experience?
The Spa Suites range from 538-560 sq. ft and it was my not so little slice of heaven on board. The four-poster king-size Scenic ‘Slumber beds’ are adjustable so at the press of a button, you can raise your head/feet and are the most comfortable bed I’ve ever had. It was just like sleeping on a cloud as you sink into a deep slumber.
The Philippe Stark designed spa bath is exclusive to the spa suites and was simply divine. It was the perfect end to the day unwinding in a nice hot bath with jacuzzi bubbles while staring out to the vistas over my private verandah. At the time, I was thinking about how it felt just like I was in a luxury hotel, you couldn’t even tell you were at sea. With Scenic Eclipse’s advanced technology, the sailing was very smooth. The bathroom is divided from the rest of your suite by a glass partition which at the touch of a button will frost over to provide complete privacy, so you can drift away and enjoy a glass of champagne in this most tranquil setting.
The steam shower offers even more pampering with light therapy to create a blissful experience. Every inch of the spa suite has been designed to focus on your wellbeing and with a one-hour complimentary spa treatment per suite, your journey on board Scenic Eclipse is enriching for your mind, body and soul.
There are also charming small touches that make your haven even more special including a complimentary mini-bar replenished daily by your butler with your favourite beverages, a Dyson hairdryer, a pillow menu, plenty of wardrobe space and an entertainment system with a wide range of movies.
What do you think are the benefits of booking a higher grade for your Scenic Eclipse voyage?
All suites on board are spacious from the 344 square ft Verandah Suites to the 2,659 square ft two-bedroom Penthouse Suite all complete with elegant furnishings, a separate sleep zone and lounge area, private verandah or terrace, complimentary mini bar, butler service and more. No matter which suite you choose, you will delight in your 6-star retreat.
Grandeur and style are taken to a whole new level with the Panorama & Grand Panorama Suites that are located at the front of the yacht with magnificent views overlooking the bow. These spectacular suites boast an array of special features, including a spacious terrace with sun lounges. From the comfort of your bedroom and at the gentle press of a button, you can access the outside world through a drop-down balcony window, so you’ll never miss a photo opportunity or a breaching whale as you sail the shores of Greenland. My personal favourite features are the freestanding oval-shaped bathtub and the large terrace. You’ll also enjoy priority dining in the speciality restaurants, as well as priority choice of excursions and discovery experiences and priority booking for the unique helicopter and submarine experiences.
For that extra special experience, the Owner’s Penthouse Suite offers the ultimate indulgence. The two 195 square metre Owner’s Penthouse Suites are located at the bow of the ship offering superior views on board. The terrace alone is 60 square metres, complete with a private jacuzzi. Imagine enjoying a champagne sundowner whilst relaxing in your jacuzzi with glistening icebergs gliding past in Antarctica.
Invite friends over to dine with seating for up to eight guests. Plus, enjoy a range of opulent features including a supersized bathroom with dual steam shower, therapeutic bath, spa day bed – transforming for in-suite private spa experience, an extensive library with Kindle e-books, personalised wine bar & minibar and much more. The VIP treatment continues with a one-hour complimentary spa treatment per guest, laundry service, plus guaranteed dining in speciality restaurants, VIP choice of shore excursions & VIP booking for helicopter and submarine experiences.
The service on board Scenic Eclipse is second-to-none, do you have any highlights from the service on board?
The staff on board play a pivotal part in making the experience what it is. They quickly get to know you by name and are eager to help and impress. One evening I dined in the Asian restaurant Koko’s where my server was Marianne, one of the most cheerful and attentive waitresses I’ve ever had. Following this, whenever I saw her, she greeted me the same as an old friend which always put a big smile on my face. In the lounge bar, you can find Maggie, who will make her version of a Bloody Mary – a Bloody Maggie - which I highly recommend.
My personal butler Milan was one of the first faces I got to know on board. Within minutes of arriving at my suite, he introduced himself and his passion for offering impeccable service shines through immediately. Little things made the biggest impact; for instance, my mini bar was always stocked and ordering room service was so simple, he made me feel like I was being waited on hand and foot.
During the welcome meeting, the Captain joked that if you get up in the night for the toilet then housekeeping will have made your bed by the time you get back. He wasn’t wrong, I never saw our housekeeper but by the time I got back from breakfast each day the room was already made and spotless.
You’ll often see the Captain in the restaurants, the expedition team chatting to guests in the lounge and the helicopter and submarine pilots walking around the ship, all of whom are eager to answer any questions and regale tales of their thrilling experiences. The crew ensure that you feel more than just a guest and offer a personal experience tailored specifically to you.
Health and wellness play an important role in the Scenic Eclipse experience. Did this elevate your time on board?
Wellness is something we should all be taking more time for in our lives and on board Scenic Eclipse it’s at the forefront of everyday life. There is an impressive range of wellness areas, from indoor and outdoor pools to a fully equipped gym and a separate yoga and Pilates studio, all of which are complimentary to use. Each morning, enjoy a Yoga class with Andrea – a personal highlight of mine. The yoga studio is such a calming space and the morning class is the perfect way to start the day. Andrea tailors the yoga for all abilities, so it’s suitable for all. Every evening he also offers relaxation before bed with sound healing therapy, partnered with yoga, which is a great way to unwind after a busy day exploring.
The Senses Spa is 5,920 square feet of pure indulgence featuring indoor and outdoor spaces, Scandinavian inspired plunge pools, women’s and men’s saunas & steam rooms and relaxation zones with thermal lounges. This was one of my favourite places on board as each lounger features Bose headphones, so you can lie back and drift away to relaxing sounds to soothe your mind while your body is gently heated and purified. The outdoor terrace features a pool with sunbeds located at the back of the ship providing a tranquil space to watch the passing vistas. I have been to many spas on land and never found one to be as luxurious - Scenic Eclipse is truly the new benchmark in ultra-luxury cruising.
Staying in a Spa Suite meant I was able to enjoy a complimentary spa treatment so I made sure that I booked in for a Swedish massage and the experience was truly heavenly. My masseuse was thorough in finding out about my health and wellbeing before my massage and tailored the oils and treatment to my requirements. I felt so relaxed for the rest of the day that I had to ask Milan my butler to bring me room service for lunch, so I could lounge in my suite and continue the pampering in my spa bath.
Scenic Eclipse enhances the cruise experience by offering tours on Zodiacs, kayaks, e-bikes, a helicopter and a submarine. What were your impressions of these on board innovations?
From my experience, I thought the cruise alone sets a new benchmark in ultra-luxury cruising and when you add these unique innovations, Scenic Eclipse offers the ultimate discovery experience. The unique discovery programme allows guests to explore further than ever before offering numerous opportunities to discover Mother Nature at her finest. It’s clear that Scenic has spared no expense to offer the latest, highest quality equipment, so you can travel in safety and style.
In Lunenburg one of the excursion options for that day was kayaking through the Blue Rocks, the best paddling area in Nova Scotia. During the cruise there was a briefing in the Theatre, so guests could find out everything they needed to know about the Kayak and zodiac tours. Scenic Eclipse also features a marina to allow for easy boarding.
The Discovery Team are experts in their field and keep a close eye for wildlife spotting opportunities. In the Canadian Maritimes, observe majestic whales from the zodiac/kayak or hike across Bonaventure Island in search of gannets or explore the underwater world on a Caribbean snorkelling adventure.
The e-bikes are the perfect way to explore your destination in-depth and allow you to see much more, with plenty of stops to take in the sights. During a two-hour bike tour in Boston, you can visit the historic North End, past the Boston Common, Public Park and take in the sights of Fenway Park! The tour continues along the Charles River to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. Many guests commented how immersive this tour was and I wish I had been able to try it too, but with so many excursion options guests are spoilt for choice.
The jewel in the crown of the discovery experience is most certainly the helicopters and submarine. The state-of-the-art Airbus H130 helicopters are one of the quietest helicopters in the skies and can seat up to 6 guests. They feature a spacious cabin with plenty of legroom, outstanding visibility for all passengers, exclusive interior design with leather seats, air conditioning, climate control, noise-cancelling Bose headsets plus internal and external cameras providing footage of your flight. You feel like a pioneer as you soar above places previously inaccessible on a cruise for a unique bird’s eye view.
During my cruise, there were flightseeing options in Martha’s Vineyard, Lunenburg & Louisburg ranging from 20-40 minutes. I enjoyed a behind the scenes peek at the sleek helicopters in their hangers and had the opportunity to meet the crew. One of the pilots, Bradley Brummett, is a former US military pilot with a wealth of experience, so you know that you are in safe hands.
Scenic Neptune – the state-of-the-art submarine - adds a completely new dimension to expedition cruising, offering you a chance to witness marine life in its natural habitat. The U-Boat Worx Cruise Submarine 7 is capable of diving up to a depth of 984 feet, with spacious seating for 6 guests and is custom-built for optimal sightseeing. An excursion under the ocean is a truly unforgettable experience, with everyone enjoying the same uninterrupted views as there is no ‘back seat’. The seats are also mounted on revolving platforms to view all directions through two ultra-clear acrylic spheres ensuring that you never miss a moment on your voyage under the sea. In Lunenburg, you can dive to witness the sunken Royal Canadian Navy ship HMSC Saguenay which now offers an underwater haven to lobster and an abundance of sea life. The possibilities for underwater exploration are endless from gasping at whales and seals in polar regions, to diving into crystal clear Caribbean waters.
When you join the ship you’ll receive details about the helicopter and submarine options that are available during your cruise and I’d recommend booking early as they are very popular.
What do you think sets Scenic apart from other 6★ cruise lines?
Helen Mirren is Godmother to Scenic Eclipse and during the Naming Ceremony in New York she commented: “I agreed because of the ship’s environmental credentials – she’s one of the greenest out there and that was crucial to me.” It looks like Scenic Eclipse has the royal seal of approval from ‘the Queen’ herself!
Scenic Eclipse offers the whole package though – expedition cruising in truly all-inclusive luxury. Where else can you spend the morning diving below the ocean’s surface in a submarine watching whales followed by an afternoon of pampering in the most tranquil spa. Then end the day savouring French cuisine that would rival many Michelin star restaurants, followed by a spa bath in your indulgent suite as you look out to sea?
Scenic Eclipse is redefining the standard of ocean cruising with every suite featuring a private verandah or terrace and features all the top amenities you would expect from a luxury hotel. Almost everything on board is included, from speciality dining to premium branded drinks, excursions to butler service for all guests. The only additional extras are the spa treatments and helicopter and submarine excursions, which is a small price to pay for the experience of a lifetime.
The helicopters and submarine are without a doubt the most impressive and unique feature on board, adding a level of excitement to each Scenic Eclipse cruise that would be hard to surpass.
In 2012, Scenic Founder Glen Moroney set out to offer guests a luxury yacht experience that you don’t have to be a billionaire to enjoy and in 2019 the world’s first discovery yacht – Scenic Eclipse – was born.