A helicopter on a cruise ship? Yes, please! Fresh off the cinematic release of “Top Gun: Maverick,” the rock guitar riff from composer Harold Faltermeyer’s iconic film theme was blasting in my head as our chopper (one of two Airbus H130-T2 models carried onboard) slowly got airborne from the deck of Scenic Eclipse.
Six fellow passengers and our pilot circled Seattle’s famed Space Needle and the sleek ship itself. Having already set sail, our takeoff from the moving “Discovery Yacht” was an exciting, yet smooth, aircraft carrier-like experience (as was the gentle return landing).
What's Included on Scenic Eclipse
Onboard the intimate 228-guest Scenic Eclipse, Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours’ first ocean ship, nearly everything is complimentary. Guests pay nothing for shore excursions, spa facilities, self-service laundry, fine dining and alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages — presenting a unique value proposition for clients.
One of the few things not included in the cruise fare is a 30-minute helicopter flight, which runs $695 per person. (A 40-minute submarine dive, which is another option on the ship, costs $775.) Still, most guests will probably not pass up such unique opportunities, especially in adventurous destinations such as Antarctica.
In fact, the combination of the amazing array of James Bond-style equipment — including Zodiacs, kayaks and paddleboards — paired with large suites sized from 344 to 2,099 square feet, and the all-inclusive nature of the ship, places Scenic Eclipse at the forefront of luxury expedition cruising.
Exceptional Onboard Restaurants
But it’s not just the adventure toys that stand out on Scenic Eclipse. The food is exceptional, as well — even casual cafe and room-service pizzas are fantastic. A trio of pan-Asian dining experiences — Koko’s, Sushi @ Koko’s and Night Market @ Koko’s — featuring fusion dishes, sushi and teppanyaki are surefire hits. In particular, I recommend the Indian tasting menu at the Night Market.
Meanwhile, Elements restaurant showcases Italian and international cuisine. If possible, travel advisors should try to secure a spot for clients at the invite-only Chef’s Table experience, featuring 11 creative courses in all.
Finally, rounding out the dining venues, Lumiere features delicious contemporary French cuisine.
Design Details and the Upcoming Scenic Eclipse II
If there are any shortcomings with the ship, it’s several instances of form over function, such as stylish bathroom sinks that are all basin with little surrounding counter space. And the otherwise inviting Observation Lounge is positioned on a low deck behind the long bow, making it difficult to actually observe anything.
Nonetheless, the ship is undeniably chic. The central Scenic Lounge — with its high ceilings — is reminiscent of a boutique hotel lobby, and glossy, black-and-white finishes punctuate the rest of the ship.
Design improvements are already on the horizon for sister-ship Scenic Eclipse II, scheduled for 2023. That version of the ship will have a main swimming pool in addition to a smaller thalassotherapy area at the spa.
As one might expect from an expedition ship, onboard activities are on the lighter side, as are entertainment offerings. (But the talented cruise director and house pianist do a fine job engaging audiences.) The ship, after all, is focused predominantly on the destination, as well as on Scenic’s excellent tour program.
Ultimately, unrivaled and unforgettable experiences form the basis for what many people consider luxury today. This is just what guests will find — in multiple ways and done to perfection — onboard Scenic Eclipse.