Scenic Eclipse

First Look: Scenic Eclipse

Ever since Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours announced the company would be plunging into ocean cruising following its decades-long history as a premium river cruise line, Scenic Eclipse has been a fascination to the industry. It would be a 228-passenger yacht, promising the action and adventure of an expedition ship to places like the Arctic and Antarctica … while maintaining the luxury and creature comforts of a truly upscale travel journey.

Indeed, this luxury yacht offers an abundance of thrilling excursions and exotic ports. But Scenic Eclipse’s onboard amenities and venues — as well as its carefully curated décor and entertainment programming — fill the senses of highly discriminating travelers.

A day at sea offers a chance to relax, refresh, and indulge. Unlike large cruise ships that feature waterslides, poolside games, or passengers parking themselves at the casinos, Scenic Eclipse immerses cruisers in a world of more refined pursuits.

Scenic’s Gastronomical Delights

The ship’s dining program stands out, with eight separate restaurants and eateries. Avid foodies will love the chance to spend their time on board on a culinary journey. Executive Chef Tom Goetter is a former chef with Seabourn as well as runner-up on Germany’s version of the MasterChef competition. He has an engaging and charismatic personality as well as a clear vision of how to make food fun and accessible for cruisers. No surprise, Scenic gave him full creative control of building the menus and restaurant experiences.

“They told me I can do whatever the hell I want and be creative,” Goetter says of how he was lured to Scenic Eclipse after thinking he had worked on his last cruise ship.

The result of this autonomy is an array of creative food experiences never seen before on an expedition ship. There’s the Elements main dining room with Italian, steak, and seafood specialties. The Yacht Club is the poolside buffet-style grill open for breakfast and lunch. The ship also has the Asian-fusion restaurant Koko’s, and within this space are Sushi @ Koko’s (the fish is flown in from Japan) and Teppanyaki @ Koko’s.

Cruisers can also try lighter meals at Azure Bar & Café, which offers tapas-style specialties for “all-day grazing.” Go here to sample some of the 11 different goat cheeses and other delicious snacks curated by Goetter, who also grows herbs and makes his own spices on the ship by using special dehydrators.

RELATED: Scenic Eclipse– When 5 Stars Just Won’t Do

Continue your food journey with a meal at Lumière, the fine French restaurant serving multi-course wine pairing meals. The Chef’s Table is an 11- to 14-course spectacle of molecular dining, complete with smoke, explosions, and a toolbox that diners use to interact with items like the burrito cigar, cotton candy foie gras lollipop, and barbecue short rib. This ultimate dining experience is offered every other night for up to 10 people, and it’s by invitation only for Scenic cruisers with loyalty status or those staying in the top suites.

Scenic Eclipse also has a venue for cooking classes designed and hosted by some of the 20-plus chefs on board. Epicure features eight cooking stations for up to 16 passengers to learn cooking techniques for dishes like ceviche, spring rolls, or canapes. The team has created at least 24 different classes, and you can sign up for a spot and learn how to master a dish that will make you the envy of your neighbors when you throw a party back home.

When you’ve had your fill ashore on Scenic Eclipse’s toys (which includes two six-passenger helicopters and a six-person submarine), you can spend a good part of any sea day sidled up to the Whiskey Bar in the main Scenic Lounge, which is a natural gathering place for cruisers to relax with a book or chat and play games with friends. Whiskey and bourbon aficionados, however, will eagerly try to work their way through the lineup of 153 whiskeys. The bar offers whiskey tastings so you can learn more about the varieties.

Wine and martini tastings also are regular activities found on the ship’s program during sea days.

Passengers looking to relax in a quieter spot can head up to the Observatory and Library, which features floor-to-ceiling windows, allowing in bright natural light. (Keep alert for any marine creatures that might show up just off the bow.) Here, you can borrow a book or work on a word puzzle while sipping coffee or one of more than a dozen tea varieties.

Beyond The Cuisine

Sure, spoiling yourself with food and drink is a delight, but the cruise program on Scenic Eclipse also offers plenty of opportunities to feed your soul or expand your mind.

Off the ship, passengers can take advantage of the ship’s fleet of kayaks or join the Discovery Team of expedition guides for active excursions, perhaps wandering outside of their comfort zones to discover what expedition leader Jason Flesher calls “challenge by choice.”

A little self-care on board helps with recovery, too. Scenic Eclipse offers a number of wellness and enrichment options designed to rejuvenate your body or build anticipation for the next port stop on your itinerary.

Scenic Eclipse’s Vitality Spa

The ship’s massive Vitality Spa complex is an inviting maze of steam rooms, thermal lounges, saunas, plunge pools, and experience showers. The facility offers separate areas for men and women, access to an outdoor deck area with a hot tub, and three treatment rooms where you can book 11 kinds of massages, as well as facials, manicures, pedicures, and hair styling. Book early because the spa appointments fill up quickly for sea days.

Daily yoga, Pilates, and “relaxation before bed” classes are held in the ship’s dedicated Yoga and Pilates Room, an impressively large space for a boutique yacht. A well-equipped gym with treadmills, bikes, and a rowing machine is in a separate room in the same area of the ship.

Enrichment lectures from the Discovery Team of expedition guides dot the schedule on sailing days. During our cruise, we learned about seabirds of the North Atlantic Ocean, marine mammals of Canada, and the story of colonial America among others as presented in creative and fun ways from the energetic and passionate guides. Scenic Eclipse’s itineraries will take passengers to the polar regions for more than half the year and also offer soft expeditions and classic voyages in places like the Caribbean, Alaska, and the Med. Lectures are specifically created to align with the regions to which the ship is visiting, so you can expect talks on polar wildlife when Scenic Eclipse is in Antarctica, for example.

The talks take place in the main theater, which also is used to show recently released movies. (The theater has some of the most comfortable seats you’ll find at sea — they even recline at that touch of a button — and popcorn is served during movie screenings.) The ship also has an entertainment host overseeing karaoke, scavenger hunts, and trivia events and taking to the stage for Broadway- and classical-themed cabaret shows.

Your perfect day at sea on Scenic Eclipse is capped with post-dinner drinks and dancing to live music from the Eclipse Duo, a pianist and singer who set the mood each evening in the main lounge.

Of course, we’d also recommend thinking about an afternoon nap. The daily port schedule is packed with so much to see and do, these kinds of days offer your best chance to fully refresh so you can attack your next adventure.

By John Roberts

Photo: Scenic Luxury Cruises

Now in its 25th year, Porthole Cruise and Travel Magazine is published bi-monthly and available worldwide through digital subscription. It offers the latest news in cruise and travel, with in-depth features on voyages, new ships, the best destinations, readers' picks, onboard cuisine, entertainment, and more!