Scenic Eclipse II arrived in Sydney – the first time a discovery yacht built by Australian maritime design pioneer Glen Moroney has docked on his home shores.

She is set to join Ponant, Seabourn, and Silversea in The Kimberley in one of the region’s biggest seasons for luxury cruising.

Scenic, a household name for its luxurious river cruises, is headquartered in Newcastle, NSW. The former steel city is Eclipse II’s next port of call.

The company’s staff, instrumental in crafting unforgettable experiences for countless travellers, will finally get a chance to witness the marvel they helped create.

Discovery yachts were the brainchild of Scenic founder Glen Moroney and his wife, Karen. There have been several copies since, but Moroney continues to lead the pack with innovations.

Eclipse II has helicopters, submarines, and, of course, all the accouterments of ultra-lux vessels. It led the pack in pushing the boundaries of exploration and luxury.

the Kimberley by helicopter
Kimberley by helicopter

Unveiling the Kimberley in Unparalleled Style

The Kimberley is renowned for its rugged beauty, ancient landscapesover a billion years old, and diverse wildlife. Imagine cruising past towering red sandstone cliffs and cascading waterfalls while indulging in butler service on your private balcony. Spacious suites, some exceeding 344 square feet, offer ample room to unwind and soak in the breathtaking scenery.

Exploration Redefined

Scenic Eclipse II isn’t just about sailing from point A to point B. It’s a platform for discovery. Two onboard helicopters unlock hidden coves and pristine coral reefs inaccessible to traditional cruise ships.

The vessels’ submarines won’t be available in the Kimberley. But Scenic will be offering fishing expeditions to remote catch areas using the helicopters and these are already booking well.

A fleet of Zodiacs and kayaks provide opportunities to explore hidden inlets, mangrove forests, and remote beaches. Scenic’s Discovery Teams, a group of experts passionate about the Kimberley, will lead guided excursions, offering insightful commentary on the region’s geology, history, and ecology.

Indeed, they have their own TV program – Maritime Masters.

Renderings of the new Scenic Submersible.

Tailored Itineraries

Scenic Eclipse II offers a variety of Kimberley itineraries, catering to different preferences and durations. Here’s a glimpse into what awaits guests:

  • Kimberley Coast: A 10-day adventure starting from Broome, this itinerary explores the best of the Kimberley, including Montgomery Reef, the Buccaneer Archipelago, and the iconic Horizontal Falls. Guests can witness the awe-inspiring phenomenon of tidal waters rushing through a narrow gorge, creating a horizontal waterfall illusion.
  • In Depth Kimberley: A 14-day exploration delves deeper into the heart of the Kimberley. This extended voyage ventures further north, reaching Mitchell Plateau, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with towering sandstone mesas and breathtaking Aboriginal rock art.
  • Remote Kimberley: A 16-day expedition pushes the boundaries of exploration. This adventure sails into the untouched wilderness of the Kimberley, reaching secluded bays and hidden inlets teeming with marine life. Guests can expect encounters with saltwater crocodiles, humpback whales, and dugongs in their natural habitat.
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All-Inclusive Luxury

Scenic has built its reputation on all-inclusive experiences, and the Scenic Eclipse II takes it a step further. In addition to luxurious accommodation and gourmet dining, the cruise fare includes unlimited premium beverages, a stocked minibar in your suite, butler service, Zodiac and kayak excursions, and a diverse range of Scenic Discovery Excursions led by expert guides.

Dame Helen Mirren at the Scenic Eclipse christening
Dame Helene Mirren, Glen and Karen Moroney and Scenic Eclipse Captain

From Accounting to Anchors: The Glen Moroney Story

Glen Moroney’s journey to becoming a leader in the luxury cruise industry is a fascinating one. He didn’t begin his career with dreams of towering cruise ships and exotic destinations. Instead, Moroney initially pursued a career in accounting.

In 1986, Moroney took a leap of faith and founded Scenic, initially offering coach tours in Australia. He soon expanded Scenic’s offerings to include tours in New Zealand, Canada, and Alaska. But Moroney craved a bigger challenge – a foothold in the competitive European travel market.

Cracking the European Market and the Birth of Scenic Luxury Cruises

Europe, a continent steeped in history and culture, was a natural target for Scenic’s expansion. However, established players dominated the European travel scene. Moroney, however, wasn’t deterred. He began by offering coach tours and chartering ships from existing cruise lines.

A turning point came from a suggestion by a senior Scenic staff member based in Europe. They encouraged Moroney to delve deeper into the world of river cruising. This suggestion resonated with Moroney’s vision for a more immersive and luxurious travel experience.

Traditionally, coach touring involved frequent packing and unpacking as passengers moved from one location to another. Moroney envisioned a more relaxed and luxurious experience, where guests could “unpack once” and enjoy the journey.

Scenic Cruises sails along Rhine River
Scenic Cruises sails along Rhine River

Building a Dream: The Scenic Fleet Takes Shape

In 2007, Moroney made a game-changing decision. He moved away from chartering river ships and embarked on building his own fleet. These custom-designed vessels would embody Scenic’s commitment to luxury and innovation. Moroney incorporated features he deemed essential, such as spacious suites with private balconies, high-end finishes, and a variety of dining options.

Under the banner of Scenic Cruises, Moroney launched his own ships on Europe’s most iconic rivers – the Danube, the Volga, the Loire, the Rhine, and the Elbe. The success of these European river cruises solidified Scenic’s reputation as a leader in luxury travel.

Today, he owns shipyards, and masterminds his cruising empire which includes Emerald Cruises, which also offers smaller luxury yachting, from his home in Switzerland.

But he is on board Eclipse II for its inaugural cruise and will be on deck when staff in Newcastle see their flagship vessel.

“As an Australian-founded company, we are proud to set the global benchmark for ultra-luxury yacht cruising. Scenic Eclipse II represents our commitment to continuous innovation and creating exceptional life-changing experiences,” he said.

“We look forward to welcoming Scenic Eclipse II in Newcastle, many ports along the East Coast and Top End of Australia, then continuing our journey across the Oceania region for this two-year season.”

A Celebration of Australian Innovation

The arrival of the Scenic Eclipse II‘s arrival in Sydney marks a significant milestone for Australian cruising. It’s a testament to the vision and innovation of Scenic, a company with its roots firmly planted in Australia.

The Scenic Eclipse II is, in a way, a symbol of just how far Australian cruising has come.

A previous edit of this story contained a picture of a boat from another line in the Kimberley which could have been interpreted as being a Scenic vessel. We apologise for any confusion caused.