Just when I thought cruise ships couldn’t get any sleeker, more luxurious or offer more adventurous experiences, into Quebec City on August 27, on her maiden voyage from Reykjavik, glided Scenic Eclipse.
Scenic Eclipse is the first ocean cruise ship for the line that earned its reputation with luxury river cruises. This all-suite 228-passenger super yacht sets a new standard for cruisers seeking sumptuous comfort in the midst of thrilling adventure on the high seas.
Quite apart from six-star luxury, Scenic Eclipse comes complete with seriously impressive features such as a fleet of Zodiacs and kayaks, two six-passenger helicopters, a six-person submarine to provide for nature and wildlife exploration.
With safety a foremost consideration, the ship has the highest passenger ship ice-class rating — Polar Class 6 — allowing her to sail deep into the Arctic and Antarctica.
During a ship’s tour, Glen Moroney, Scenic Founder and Chairman, talked about the source of his inspiration. “I saw Octupus, the mega exploratory yacht in Sydney harbour, owned by Paul Allen, Co-founder of Microsoft, and thought, why not a yacht for real people to enjoy a level of luxury and discovery that billionaires do?”
As one might expect of a visionary entrepreneur, he set about building one. “My wife Karen and I took the luxurious bits and pieces from our travel experiences that we loved,” he said, with all humility.
And what alluring bits and pieces of creature comforts they are. Karen Moroney credits some of the world’s leading luxury hotels for her inspiration in designing the ship’s interiors. Elegant, modern and opulent in style, the colour scheme is a range of neutrals, with heaps of glass and chrome. Wide halls and high ceilings give a small ship the illusion of size.
All the 114 cabins are suites featuring private verandahs and separate living rooms. They range in size from a spacious 344 square feet up to the 2,507-square-foot Owners two-bedroom Penthouse Suite. Each comes with butler service and all the choice amenities you would expect on a six-star vessel.
Passengers can choose from 10 dining experiences — including small, intimate restaurants such Asian fusion, with a sake bar, Lumière, a French, fine dining venue and Azure Bar & Café a casual, open-all-day eatery. Up to 16 guests at a time can enjoy hand-on cooking classes with a chef in a purpose-built demo kitchen.
The 5,000-square foot full-service spa has a heated pool, a gym with a separate yoga and pilates studio and indulgent and tranquil spaces that lure guests to relax and revitalize after a day of onshore adventures.
The helicopters travel to previously inaccessible places while the submarine provides below-the-surface sightseeing to a depth of 984 feet. The sub is able to do between eight and 12 dives a day, depending on the length of time.
Helicopter and submarine excursions are an additional expense to the other wise all-inclusive plan.
With its long, sharp bow, black hull and layered white decks, that resemble wedding cake tiers, the 165-metre long, eight-deck vessel cuts a sleek profile. Ships of this size usually carry between four hundred and five hundred passengers.
“This is one very high tech-driven boat,” Captain James Griffith said, explaining the innovative zero speed stabiliser fins that are 50% larger than standard to provide greater stability and adding further to guest comfort. “It has two completely different engine rooms, navigation bridges and electrical systems to deal safely with ice conditions in polar regions. The ‘Dynamic Positioning’ system allows us to maintain an exact position and able to avoid anchoring and reduce damage to the sea bed, while ensuring the safest possible approach for the helicopters and Zodiacs.”
Working in polar areas requires a special skill set and both the captain and his second-in-command hold advanced polar water certification and have hundreds of days of high polar experiences to their credit.
What excites Griffith the most is the way the ship manages to combine two very distinct categories. “I can check all the boxes that excite me in the shipping industry – the luxury, the expeditions,” he says adding, “then there are the toys.”
Scenic Eclipse continues its voyage to New York for its christening by Godmother Dame Helen Mirrenl on September 10th.
- Photos Courtesy Scenic USA
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