The Survival Guide to 6-Star Cruising: The Scenic Eclipse Way
The world’s first luxury discovery yacht has made its spectacular splashy arrival.
By: Ilona Kauremszky
The Scenic Eclipse, a leader in expedition luxury cruising, entered the cruise repertoire this past summer as Dame Helen Mirren, the Brit actress whose starring role as the Queen performed her latest starring role in a champagne-toting star-studded christening ceremony as the Godmother of the Scenic Eclipse.
For me, the big splash occurred on board the Scenic Eclipse’s debut ‘repositioning cruise’ on an 11-day sail that started in sizzling hot Miami to exotically sumptuous Cartagena, Colombia as she prepares for a wondrous sail to Antarctica.
The world’s first discovery yacht is where luxury meets discovery. Cruise industry insiders say it was bound to happen. Think of those epic James Bond flicks or any other suspense thriller involving ultra slick ships, helicopters and a submarine.
The fully inclusive fares include everything from gratuities to premium liquor and wines to butler service for every cabin. The only additional costs to guests are the excursions in the helicopters or submarine or spa services.
So how do you get through an epic expedition cruise of a lifetime?
Here is the 6 Point Survival Guide to 6-Star Cruising the Scenic Eclipse way:
Sensory delight – food connoisseurs who know their olive oils, balsamic vinegar and can compare semolina flour to other grades will have a gourmet feast. This floating restaurant has 10 dining options to create more sizzle on your dream cruise.
Think of the hottest dining trends on the global stage and know that Scenic Eclipse has these culinary choices. One night, a blast of fire at the hot iron griddle created much excitement at the Japanese Teppanyaki where our chef graced the griddle stage honing the world’s finest cuts of Wagyu kobe beef. Another night, a dollop of posh caviar made its fanciful debut at the French inspired Lumiere. Traditional clad waiters in black and white ushered in plates of healthy French dining choices there– no heavy cream sauces on this menu!!
But still, the secret to this basket of bounty – pace yourself and organize.
Evening dinner reservations are required. Unlike other ships that have two or three dinner hours scheduled, giving cruisers the early, middle or late supper hour choice — this high-end cruise affair requires reservations at its a la carte restaurants. For this step, I used a mix between the fine butler service and contacting the restaurant directly.
For more Scenic Eclipse dining see https://www.scenic.ca/ocean-cruises/dining
I’ll use two methods to describe the out-of-this-world cruise.
First, the onboard experiences. For strategy, go with what your inner-self is telling you that day.
My mornings started with a private yoga class in a serene white interior studio studded with mega-mucho expensive clusters of amethyst quartz clusters. The ocean-views at the Yoga and Pilates Studio channeled a serenity-now atmosphere.
The exclusive Senses Spa personifies indulgence and tranquility. Between the Scandinavian-inspired temperature controlled plunge pools, saunas and steam rooms, it was a relaxation rotation of spa encounters all the way.
Onboard seminars – the small group size for wine tastings and a cooking demonstration doesn’t overwhelm. Guest speakers, experts in their field, use the state-of-the-art amphi-theatre-style theatre for presentations as guests sit in comfortable reclining leather seats beneath a ceiling of constellations-inspired lighting.
Second, the excursions. It’s easy to feel like a pioneer explorer as you take to the sky in one of two H130 helicopters or submerge in a submarine for deep dives. For an additional fee, exciting excursions provide a limitless opportunity to venture to parts rarely visited or unknown. Imagine flying over the volcanic wonders of Italy, the sparkling coral cays of the Caribbean or along the jungle coastline of Panama and Colombia. In the Antarctic and Arctic region, these helicopter and submarine excursions give you a chance to venture further than most others who take an expedition cruise to these remote regions.
As one of the quietest helicopters in the skies, the H130 sets the standard for tourism operations worldwide and will give you the opportunity to explore beyond the horizon, with unparalleled access to some of nature’s most beautiful sites. For the seven-seat submarine called the Scenic Neptune, anticipate an undersea voyage to places previously inaccessible to the ordinary traveller capable of depths of nearly 200 metres.
The all-inclusive shore excursions are led by experts. Meet in the Discovery Center, get your gear, and hop into one of the Zodiacs and tandem kayaks for observing critters and aquatic wonders. Depending on the season or destination expect a pod of whales or kayak through sheltered waterways or jungle walks in Central America. You can also enjoy guided tours to ancient towns in South America and other guided land tours.
3. The Design
On board this 10 decks of Wow, anticipate a rich collection of six-star encounters. The ship has nearly a 1:1 staff to guest ratio and the size provides the feeling of being on board your own personal mega yacht. You won’t see other guests unless you head to the popular places like the lobby bar or other common areas, of which there are several such as the Observation Lounge and Library, the Observation Terrace and the Sun Terrace among others.
If you thought the Drake Passage which has been given the moniker of “The Drake Shake” for its white-capped, topsy-turvy seas was holding you back from exploring the wonders of an Antarctica cruise – this discovery yacht has been designed to ensure high safety all the way. The Scenic Eclipse has a Polar Class 6 rating, the highest of any luxury vessel, and 50 percent larger stabilizers that have been custom-built providing greater stability.
The 114 Luxury all-verandah suites have been furnished in a soothing natural palette of earthy sand tones with smooth black and icy blue accents. My spacious 345 sq.ft Deluxe Verandah suite had everything and more. A customizable king-sized bed has push-button features to help you choose your favourite sleep position. Head up or feet up being the most common when using this exclusive sleep menu.
Unlike other ships like those typically hitting the Caribbean with their array of outdoor pools, you’ll find this discovery yacht has one major pool. It’s a custom-made indoor wave pool which surprisingly is the centrepiece at The Yacht Club. This venue is the anchor restaurant for buffet breakfasts and lunches. You could still head to Deck 7 for your choice of smaller indoor and outdoor plunge pools.
4. The Service
The nearly 1:1 staff ratio means attentiveness to detail in every way. By the end of the cruise the bartender will know your specialty go-to cocktail and the wait staff will anticipate your next cappuccino order while the front desk agents will greet you by your first name.
There’s around the clock room service and your butler is available to help ensure every cruise experience request has been satisfied.
5. The Itineraries
Seize every moment and take a big satisfying bite out of each excursion. The ship has a capacity of 200 guests on the Arctic and Antarctica cruises, giving cruisers a unique, exclusive access to a broad range of landing sites in these regions.
I was on the 11-day Colombia and Panama cruise – this itinerary combines some of the region’s major ports with off-the-beaten-path exploration. My quick snapshot included a fun stop in Key West, we then headed south to Central America. In Belize City the thrills were at seaside parks and Mayan ruins. In Roatan Island, it was big time snorkelling among the coral reefs while in Isla de Providencia in Colombia – the remote factor which once was the ideal location for pirate Henry Morgan gave guests a chance to explore this hidden paradise island without the tourist crowds.
Because each sail day promises new experiences, anticipate loads of pix and selfie bragging shots.
6. The highlight
Sunlight in a champagne glass all-included!
It’s easy to make a toast on board a ship that embodies all-inclusive luxury and discovery. The mantra is luxury where the perks and privileges come included. From your local transfers and tips, your exclusive shore excursions including Zodiacs, kayaks, e-bikes, and even your mini-bar, it’s all included.