New adventure ships take luxury to the wild

Two of the world’s best known cruise lines are battling to bring even more luxury to expedition cruising.

The Scenic Eclipse, which lays claim to being “the world’s first discovery yacht”, has sparked a flurry of interest among the adventurous cruising community.

But over at Crystal Cruises, the Endeavour luxury expedition yacht is set to get a sister. CEO Edie Rodriguez confirmed at a Sydney conference this week a second yacht for the fleet.

Scenic lays claim to announcing the first expedition yacht. And now, it has revealed a set of Preview Release booklets, each of which looks more like on-trend travel magazines than glossy brochures, with destinational information and National Geographic-type pictures introducing each itinerary.

“The destination focus helps guests find the right itinerary for them,” says Aleisha Fittler, General Manager of Journey Design for Scenic. “We are currently designing the escorted touring programs to accompany the other three regions and look forward to sharing these in the full release brochure next year.”

Another spokesperson for Scenic says that bookings have already been going well since launching in January. “We have had strong interest from past guests, and new-to-Scenic guests, in all cruise regions,” she says, “plus we have had overwhelming interest for the inaugural cruise which travels over 15 days from Istanbul to Venice.”

This maiden voyage takes place in just under two years’ time, on August 31, 2018, but the buzz surrounding the ship mean that bookings are likely to fill up way before then. However the mini brochures reveal the full suite of sailings on the cards after that voyage, covering a number of regions.

Each booklet is dedicated to a region to be visited by the “six-star” Eclipse: the Americas, the Mediterranean, the Arctic and the Fjords, and Antarctica, with the latter including South American and Galapagos side tours. To encourage potential passengers to book early, the prices enclosed are special preview prices; when the full brochure is released in 2017, prices will go up accordingly. Earlybirds are promised any itinerary upgrades or additions that might be announced between now and then as well.

As Scenic’s first foray into ocean cruising, it is clear that Eclipse is designed to be a game-changer. The all-suite mega yacht will take 228 passengers (or 200 in polar regions) in its 114 verandah suites. Stealing the show onboard are two twin-engine helicopters and a custom-built submarine, as well as a separate remotely operated underwater vehicle. Continuing the adventure, 12 zodiacs, snorkelling and scuba equipment are available for guests alongside kayaks and an Expert Discovery Team.

Onboard accommodations range from a 32-square-metre verandah suite to the two-bedroom Owner’s Suite at 233 square metres, including a 65-square-metre terrace. The styling in all suites is set to be more in line with luxury apartments or elite hotels on land rather than most accommodations afloat, with plantation shutters, stone finishes and ample use of floor-to-ceiling glass throughout.

Passengers will have six dining options, with larger eateries including a pan-Asian restaurant, an Italian and steak restaurant and an alfresco indoor/outdoor restaurant, while there will also be a smaller contemporary French fine-dining establishment and a café and lounge.

In terms of leisure, an indoor/outdoor pool, Jacuzzi, 240-seat theatre and onboard library, as well as gym, yoga and pilates facilities, complete the picture.

The existing precedents set by the Scenic fleet of river-cruising vessels to continue aboard the Eclipse,include an all-inclusive approach to everything from dining and top-shelf drinks to shore excursions, entertainment and Wi-Fi.

The vessel is rated as Polar Class 6, meaning it can operate in summer and autumn in medium-level ice, hence its itineraries into both Arctic and Antarctic regions. Scenic literature contends that the vessel’s marriage of luxury, discovery and safety “gives guests the opportunity to explore above and beyond what was previously imaginable.”

Read more about Scenic here.


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