Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to attend a media event further showcasing Scenic’s forthcoming ocean ship – the Scenic Eclipse – and it looks to be a stunner, a real unique gem in cruise travel, launching in August 2018.Historical ContextThe program began with a bit of history. I knew Scenic was an Australian company that operated river cruises but not much else. It actually started nearly 30 years ago as a land tour operator with 23 motor coaches in Australia before shifting to Canada and Alaska and eventually Europe.From there, river cruising began as an extension of its land program, that was so successful that it prompted the construction of its own ships. Scenic Chairman and Owner Glen Moroney recalled, “on the 5th of January 2007, I landed in Europe, said I want to build some ships, and that’s of course when the fun started.” Now it has a fleet of 20 riverboats with 3 more set to come online next year.It was in 2012 when Scenic first got a taste of ocean cruising when it began chartering with Ponant, including to Antarctica, and now it is branching out on its own with what it dubs the world’s first discovery yacht, so-called for its “combination of luxury, discovery and capability,” according to Moroney.Nuts and Bolts (and Luxury)By specification, it will be more than capable, rated as an Ice Class 1A Super (Polar Class 6) passenger vessel. This will make the ultra-luxury ship ready for Arctic and Antarctic regions and any destination in between. For its classification, it will need to be able to operate with up to 220 tons of ice hanging from its reinforced double hull, and its azipod propellors will serve as icebreaking devices to clear a path in reverse.READ MORE: Crystal Cruises Undergoing Unprecedented Luxury Brand ExpansionParticularly important to guest comfort will be Scenic Eclipse’s stabilizers, which will be 50 percent larger than those typically found on ships of its size, to reduce rolling in swells. Moroney quipped that the notoriously rough Drake Passage on the way to Antarctica won’t be entirely defeated but will certainly be better minimized. Combined with the azipods, the ship will even be able to stay locked in position without anchors nor any uncomfortable movement, facilitating boarding smaller craft like a fleet of custom-built pontoon boats with ease.Three years of development have included an evolution in design from a 125-meter-long, 200-passenger ship to a larger 165.7 meter, 228-guest vessel that was stretched once more to 168 meters after tank tests determined an opportunity for better efficiency.The icing on the cake, and why Scenic considers the ship greater in stars, is the inclusion of some particularly cool toys. Moroney said, “in our terminology, the six star is the helicopter and the sub because it takes the range of that experience beyond anything else that can happen at the moment.” In fact, it will have two six-passenger twin-engine helicopters (either an Airbus EC135 or Bell 429 to be determined) for redundancy and a seven-passenger submarine.
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