A near identical vessel to Scenic Eclipse, the idea for these small but mighty expedition ships was conceived when Scenic founder and owner Glen Moroney saw the discovery mega yacht of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen moored in Sydney harbour. Looking at the 228-guest Scenic Eclipse II it's clear that the styling is true to that original vision.
On board there's little to differentiate the two ships. The headline-grabbing toys featured on Eclipse II include two 6-seater airbus helicopters used for scenic flights, especially impressive when operated in the polar regions, that cost a cool $4million (including $500k of options like leather seats and Bose headphones) and not to be ignored is a 6 person submersible.
The accommodation is sleek and spacious. Spa Suites offer a round jacuzzi bath with ocean views while even the entry level Verandah suites offer a modern sanctuary where all expectations of luxury are met, an impressive feat considering the ship is built to a Polar Class 6 rating, allowing operation in medium first-year ice conditions.
Dining options abound including the distinctive Coco's where a sushi bar, restaurant with playful sunken seating options, and 'night market' combine. Luminaire offers French inspired cuisine whilst Azura Bar & Café is available for all day casual dining. Elements remains the main dining choice, featuring the Chef's Table with views of the kitchen and the newly named Chef's Garden @ Epicure offers an immersive dining experience and presentation area.
The Yacht Club is an area where Scenic have learnt from the first build. It's light-filled and contemporary, with space given to an abundance of seating rather than the climb-up indoor pool that was later removed from Scenic Eclipse. A small seating area at the aft here adds to the intimate deck spaces that are dotted around the all-balcony suite ship.
The spa is an impressive size for an expedition vessel of this size, with a yoga studio, gym, salon, his & her saunas and expanded steam rooms to accommodate aromatherapy and an ice fountain, plus a custom salt therapy lounge with heated beds. Outside the heated spa pool at the aft is now complemented by a new oval-shaped resistance Vitality Pool forward on deck 10 served by the Sky Bar.
The focal point in the main lounge is the luminescent bar which stocks an impressive array of whisky, including Johnnie Walker Black Label, all included in the price of course, behind which is the supremely comfortable Theatre able to accommodate all guests.
The fact that the sleek design seems not to have been compromised in any area is testament to the original vision of the ship. The 12 Zodiacs used to whisk guests ashore to explore are hidden away in the ship's interior so nothing other than the ship's helipad interrupts the tapered lines of the decks.
This means she looks as at home in Puerto Banús (the call following the christening ceremony in Malaga) as she does in Antarctica's Ross Sea, a rarely visited region even for expedition ships but part of the 2025 Antarctica programme.
With the attention to detail and refinement clear to see it would be easy to dismiss Scenic's expedition credentials, but a demonstration of their focus on taking guests to the world's most remote areas was aptly embodied in the ship's Godmother, Dr Kathryn Sullivan, a geologist, oceanographer and former NASA Astronaut who completed three shuttle missions, including the first EVA by an American woman, and helped deploy the Hubble Space Telescope.
Having then travelled into the Challenger Deep, the deepest known point of the seabed of Earth, she has also achieved the accolade of being the world's most vertical person. Clear from her words at the event was her connection with Scenic and owner Glen whose ambitions to deliver industry-leading adventure travel seems unlikely to stop here…