Cruising on Scenic Eclipse, the First “Discovery Yacht”: How It’s Different

Scenic Eclipse represents longtime luxury river operator Scenic Cruises’ initial foray into the oceans. 

The vessel is quite the bold ship, too. The line calls Scenic Eclipse the world’s first “discovery yacht,” positioning the vessel as a luxury option for expedition cruise adventures. 

The ship was christened September 10 at Pier 88 at Manhattan Cruise Terminal in NYC, and it will sail more than half the year in the polar regions of the Arctic and Antarctica. Carrying 228-passengers in 114 suites, Scenic Eclipse stands out for several interesting things that it offers cruise passengers both on the ship and off.  

Cruise Addicts sailed on Scenic Eclipse from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to New York and discovered five ways that Scenic Eclipse is a different kind of expedition ship. 

Cruising on Scenic Eclipse, the First “Discovery Yacht”: How It’s Different | 14
The ship features luxurious amenities, such as a large spa.
Cruising on Scenic Eclipse, the First “Discovery Yacht”: How It’s Different | 14
Use of the thermal suite is complimentary on the all-inclusive ship.

The Luxury 

This is the world’s first expedition vessel that aims to cater to deep-pocketed passengers, offering the styles and comforts expected on a luxury cruise voyage. So, while the destinations feature extreme weather conditions and your daily program offers ample opportunities to dive into new adventures, you can do it all while being pampered. 

Scenic Eclipse offers spacious public areas, with the main Discovery Lounge and its Whiskey Bar as the hub. There are more than 150 types of whiskey available. The cruise is all-inclusive, and the only thing you pay for are helicopter rides, submarine excursions, and spa treatments. 

The ship has a large spa on Deck 6 with three treatment rooms. It features separate areas for men and women, each with a steam room, thermal lounge, sauna, plunge pool, and experience showers. The spa also offers an outdoor deck with loungers and a hot tub at the back of the ship. 

Scenic Eclipse’s fitness center is sizable and has a decent complement of cardio and weight-training equipment, certainly enough for 200-plus passengers. There is also a separate large yoga and Pilates studio.  

The fancy amenities don’t stop there. The ship has a high-end boutique offering items like designer handbags and clothing. 

Cruising on Scenic Eclipse, the First “Discovery Yacht”: How It’s Different | 14
Scenic Eclipse carries two helicopters and a submarine to use for one-of-a-kind excursions.

The Toys 

Scenic Eclipse is the first cruise ship with helicopters, and it has two of them stored in hangars on the back of Deck 8. They each carry up to six passengers, and you can choose rides lasting 20 or 40 minutes in these sleek shiny black machines operated by a team of mechanics and pilots.  

There is also a submarine that can fit up to six people. A sub captain takes cruisers up to 300 feet below the surface to explore reefs and wrecks. One group on our sailing found a wreck off the coast of Halifax. The Discovery Team of guides also offers daily activities like kayaking and Zodiac rides. These are launched from the Discovery Centre locker room area down on Deck 3 that leads out to the marina at the back of the ship. 

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The ship features eight restaurants serving gourmet cuisine.

The Food 

A true highlight of a cruise on Scenic Eclipse is the gourmet cuisine. Boasting eight restaurants, Scenic Eclipse is unlike any other expedition ship. Plus, you can order room service any time of day from a large menu of items. I recommend the burgers and fries! 

Epicure is a cooking class offered in a studio. You can learn techniques for about three dozen types of cuisine like spring rolls or ceviche. Executive Chef Tom Goetter was runner-up on Germany’s Top Chef competition, and he leads a restaurant team with 22 staff representing 14 nations. 

Scenic Eclipse features a French restaurant, a buffet in the Yacht Club pool area, the main dining room serving Italian, seafood and steaks, and an Asian-fusion eatery Koko’s, which also is the location of the sushi bar (fish flown in fresh from Japan) and a teppanyaki room. The ship also has a café, Azure, that offers lighter bites in a tapas-style format. 

The Chef’s Table is the best we’ve ever seen on a cruise ship, with 11 to 14 courses of creative fare that tell a story and fill the senses. 

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The opulent ship has a stylish modern design. The Whiskey Bar stands out in the main lounge.


The Design 

It’s definitely got the look of a classic yacht – a very big yacht. Deck 5 extends out to the bow with an expansive open viewing area just ahead of the ship’s Observation Lounge. Scenic Eclipse is a head-turner as it sails into port. 

You have to go outside to get a good view of the wilderness, though. Seats inside the Observation Lounge are comfy, with a library and tea service available as you enjoy the serene space, but views are obstructed by the massive deck. 

The main lounge is gorgeous and the centerpiece of the ship. The Whiskey Bar is an art piece in itself with its tall tower of illuminated bottles. 

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All suites are spacious and feature plenty of storage and large walk-in showers. The TVs are off to the side of the room in front of the couch and integrated into the floor-to-ceiling mirror. Cruisers might be disappointed that the TV is not in front of the bed if they want to unwind at the end of the day with a movie. Décor throughout the ship features blacks, grays, and blues, giving the ship a modern elegance. 

The Yacht Club has a large pool, but its location amid a busy buffet seating area seems destined to lead to awkward situations when swimmers splash around or use the loungers and showers adjacent to diners having their breakfast or lunch. 

Cruising on Scenic Eclipse, the First “Discovery Yacht”: How It’s Different | 14
Scenic Eclipse has a range of hi-tech features such as a dynamic GPS positioning so that it doesn’t have to drop an anchor when putting out the marina at the back of the ship.

The Cruising 

The ship is rated as Polar Class 6 vessel, the highest of any luxury vessel. This allows Scenic Eclipse to safely sail in the icy regions of the world. And it will cruise more smoothly and with a lesser environmental footprint than most vessels.  

The ship features forward bow thrusters, electronic Azipod propulsion, and its custom stabilizers are 50 percent larger than standard for smoother sailing in rough waters. 

The GPS dynamic positioning system means that no anchors are dropped into the water (which could damage sensitive reefs and seabeds). Scenic Eclipse will offer light expedition or classic sailing experiences in non-polar regions and will sail with 200 passengers on its Arctic and Antarctic full expedition cruises.

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John Roberts
John Roberts
John Roberts is a freelance travel writer and operator of His writing aims to help travelers find the best ways to explore destinations in a fun, fit and adventurous way.

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