Luxury expedition cruising is fast emerging as the hottest market in the industry. In the last three months three lines have announced major new ships to begin this year and launch in 2018.

But undoubtedy, the sexiest and most exciting are the two new polar vessels: Scenic Eclipse and Crystal Endeavor, with Ponant’s chic new foursome coming up the rear.

When Crystal announced their new offering, Australians gulped. Wasn’t it almost exactly like Aussie ship-builder Glen Moroney’s Eclipse, announced three months before?

The helicopters…the submarines…the special safetly features. Even the superstructure – with the exception that Eclipse is black and Endeavor is white.

Mr Moroney was stoically saying nothing. Crystal maintained the designs were definately Crystal inspired.

So how do they stack up? We went behind the gorgeous renderings to find out.

Scenic Eclipse: 165 metres
Crystal Endeavor: 183 metres
Ponant: 128 metres

Passenger capacity
Scenic Eclipse: 228
Crystal Endeavor: 200
Ponant: 184

Scenic Eclipse: Custom-built stabilisers that are 50% larger than other ships, state of the art fins to adjust to large swells, ice strengthened hulls with Polar Class 6 (Ice Class 1A Super) rating.
Crystal Endeavor: PC6 Polar Class rating, state of the art offshore dynamic positioning technology to maintain position and float over reefs without dropping anchor.
Ponant: Ice Class ranked, equipped with latest environmental preservation technology.

Minimum cabin size
Scenic Eclipse: 32 square metres
Crystal Endeavor: 37 square metres
Ponant: Not yet released. Suites on sister ship Le Lyrial start at 18 square metres

Top cabin
Scenic Eclipse: Two-bedroom Penthouse Suite. 233 square metres with private terrace, Jacuzzi, spa bath, spa day bed for in-suite treatments, dual steam shower with light therapy, two walk in wardrobes, dining table for 10, library, fully stocked wine bar and personalised mini bar replenished daily and butler service.
Crystal Endeavor: Owner’s Suite. 290 square metres with three bedrooms, private conservatory, garden, Jacuzzi, spa and gym with sauna and steam room, and butler service.
Ponant: Not yet released. Sister ship Le Lyrial has 67 square metre Owner’s Suite with private balcony, Jacuzzi bath, two flat screen TVs and 24 hour room service.

Onboard toys
Scenic Eclipse: Two twin-engine six-seater helicopters, a seven-seat submarine, fleet of zodiacs.
Crystal Endeavor: Two helicopters, two seven-seat submarines, eight zodiacs, jet skis, waverunners, recompression chamber for scuba diving, dive support tender, multi-person ATV, SEABOB underwater scooters, Remote Operated Vehicle to see underwater wrecks.
Ponant: Zodiac fleet.

Scenic Eclipse: Six dining options, retractable roof heated pool, plunge pools, gym, yoga and pilates studios, 450 square metre spa, theatre.
Crystal Endeavor: Six dining options, lecture rooms, cinema, infinity pool, Jacuzzis, 930 square metre spa and fitness area.
Ponant: Not yet released.