Scenic Further Details New Scenic Eclipse Ocean Yacht
Rendering courtesy of Scenic. Photos by Jason Leppert.
Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to attend a media event further showcasing Scenic’s forthcoming ocean ship – the Scenic Eclipse – and it looks to be a stunner, a real unique gem in cruise travel, launching in August 2018.
The program began with a bit of history. I knew Scenic was an Australian company that operated river cruises but not much else. It actually started nearly 30 years ago as a land tour operator with 23 motor coaches in Australia before shifting to Canada and Alaska and eventually Europe.
From there, river cruising began as an extension of its land program, that was so successful that it prompted the construction of its own ships. Scenic Chairman and Owner Glen Moroney recalled, “on the 5th of January 2007, I landed in Europe, said I want to build some ships, and that’s of course when the fun started.” Now it has a fleet of 20 riverboats with 3 more set to come online next year.
It was in 2012 when Scenic first got a taste of ocean cruising when it began chartering with Ponant, including to Antarctica, and now it is branching out on its own with what it dubs the world’s first discovery yacht, so-called for its “combination of luxury, discovery and capability,” according to Moroney.
Nuts and Bolts (and Luxury)
By specification, it will be more than capable, rated as an Ice Class 1A Super (Polar Class 6) passenger vessel. This will make the ultra-luxury ship ready for Arctic and Antarctic regions and any destination in between. For its classification, it will need to be able to operate with up to 220 tons of ice hanging from its reinforced double hull, and its azipod propellors will serve as icebreaking devices to clear a path in reverse.
Particularly important to guest comfort will be Scenic Eclipse’s stabilizers, which will be 50 percent larger than those typically found on ships of its size, to reduce rolling in swells. Moroney quipped that the notoriously rough Drake Passage on the way to Antarctica won’t be entirely defeated but will certainly be better minimized. Combined with the azipods, the ship will even be able to stay locked in position without anchors nor any uncomfortable movement, facilitating boarding smaller craft like a fleet of custom-built pontoon boats with ease.
Three years of development have included an evolution in design from a 125-meter-long, 200-passenger ship to a larger 165.7 meter, 228-guest vessel that was stretched once more to 168 meters after tank tests determined an opportunity for better efficiency.
The icing on the cake, and why Scenic considers the ship greater in stars, is the inclusion of some particularly cool toys. Moroney said, “in our terminology, the six star is the helicopter and the sub because it takes the range of that experience beyond anything else that can happen at the moment.” In fact, it will have two six-passenger twin-engine helicopters (either an Airbus EC135 or Bell 429 to be determined) for redundancy and a seven-passenger submarine.
Just what is that experience that the helicopters and submarine add to? Lots of luxuries – already previewed here – include world-class lounges (like a welcome observation variety), bars and restaurants, a theater, retractable-roof pool and spa. For example, I learned from Moroney that the spa is being modeled after that at The Dolder Grand hotel in Zurich, Switzerland, and the exquisite interiors are actually designed by his wife.
All private accommodations will come with verandas, and the public spaces will stretch across 20,000 total square feet. The main deck will even feature lofty 10-foot high ceilings, and the theater will be configured in-the-round with a center stage for enrichment and reconfigured for a side stage for evening entertainment. There has also been an outpouring of applications for participants in its highly-anticipated culinary program, and all galleys onboard will be uniquely transparent with glass to see the creation of meals.
Who’s it For?
Already, the Scenic Eclipse has sold well, and Moroney says its market rests at the cross section of its prior guests and ultra-luxury cruisers. Scenic expects 65 percent of the Eclipse’s passengers to be existing clients and 35 percent to be new.
He also doesn’t like discussing the competition saying he didn’t look to others to avoid creating a “me too” product, but rather he designed something that appealed specifically to him and his guests.
There is current and future competition though. Silversea Expeditions offers luxury voyages in remote regions, albeit on older ships, and Crystal Cruises offers its Crystal Esprit yacht with its own submarine and has a trio of polar ice class vessels, however larger, with subs and helicopters on the way.
Besides, Moroney indicates that, although the helicopter and sub programming will be extra from its otherwise inclusive excursions, the company will not make money on the choppers, and the sub will be priced at an expected cost below half of what Crystal charges. Also comparatively, Scenic emphasizes Eclipse’s small size and nearly one-to-one guest-to-crew ratio as superior.
The bottom line is that the Scenic Eclipse is poised to offer an all-encompassing product that combines ultra-luxury sailings in popular destinations with the means to access the most exotic ones as well. Moroney said, ”we’ll chase the sun in a big loop,” on more than 20 itineraries, starting in the Arctic and moving to Iceland, Greenland, Canada and the U.S., Cuba even, Central America, through the Panama Canal and down to South America and Antartica, before crossing the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, British Isles and Norwegian Fjords.
Next, the main Scenic Eclipse brochure will be available in February 2017, with hopes to include in it more final details pertaining to the initial helicopter expeditions (priced according to duration) come the Scenic Eclipse’s launch in August 2018. There’s even an option for a second ship for 2019 that might be ordered.
More by Jason Leppert
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