Posted by: Tom Baker | March 25, 2022

Scenic Eclipse-Wonderful Antarctica February 2022

My Pictures:

I have always had a little fear about cruising to Antarctica hearing so many talks about the potentially rough seas of crossing Drakes Passage from Argentina to the Great White Continent but finally gave in when I felt the right ship and opportunity presented itself.

Scenic Eclipse, part of Australian owned luxury operator, Scenic Cruises, is a 228 passenger, 190 crew ultra-luxury, all-suite yacht introduced in 2018. Scenic Eclipse is a super sleek 551-foot-long vessel, 17,000 ton, and super high-tech, Polar Class designed ship with a hull able to penetrate the Arctic ice. She comes with two helicopters for flightseeing and an amazing 6 passenger submarine (Scenic Neptune) able to dive down nearly 1000 feet! Both carry an additional fee. Scenic presents itself as an all-inclusive line with all meals, tips, beverages, WiFi, and excursions included barring the Helicopter rides and submarine excursions. I will advise you, however, Scenic lives up to its promises! The maximum capacity in Arctic regions is 200. There are 156 passengers on my current 12-day trip to Antarctica. Scenic Eclipse is a green vessel and complies with the highest standard of zero emissions, meets every safety qualification, does not use plastics or pollutants, and recycles everything. She is also one of the smoothest riding ships as her stabilizers are the same size as a 220,000-ton ship keeping in mind this little yacht ship is just 17,000 tons so her large foldable side wings keep her incredibly stable even in the roughest of seas. I can absolutely attest they work like a charm! Scenic Eclipse also assures guest comfort and health with high tech HVAC system with 100% Fresh air pumped into guest suites and all public areas. Th vessel also complies with all Covid safety regulations as set forth by the CDC which on this Covid free sailing includes mask wearing.

This ultra large super yacht is extremely elegant and high tech in its interior design and resembles B&B Italia style throughout. The ships décor is consistent and simple done in tones of black, grey, browns, cremes and a hist of blue here and there. The quality is extremely high, and no corners cut although the décor is not everyone’s cup of tea, I loved it. The extensive and impressive art collection throughout the ship adds a larger color palate and was personally selected by the wife of the owner. While the palate of the ship is similar throughout, each public space does have its own unique feel.

The public spaces are quite large and surprisingly spacious including the Scenic Lounge and Bar, the large Observation Lounge/Library overlooking the ships bow, also open for passengers to walk about to the very forward end of the bow. There is a massive spa with full spa facilities, steam, sauna, infrared sauna, plunge pool, tropical shower, and heated tiled loungers. There is also an aft large, heated spa pool and seating area. A nail and hair salon are also part of the lovely spa which I can attest provides superb services!

If I had one complaint, is the outdoor space is limited to the large open bow, a harder to find far forward-facing deck 10 area with a bar and two large Jacuzzis and a few aft facing decks with open space. This is a small thing though as the large windows and massive balcony doors in each suite provide plenty of viewing opportunities to the scenery one comes to see…

Moreover, with all this luxury and space, the corridors are wide, easy to navigate, there is a well-equipped techno-gym, Yoga center, a high-end gift ship, and many dining venues for guest’s pleasure.

I was impressed at the quality of dining and variety of menu offerings overseen by German Iron Chef Tom Gotter, who has created some 2500 exceptional menu items for scenic Eclipse. The cuisine is of the highest quality and something for everyone. For such a small vessel, I found the array of dining to be equal to that of larger ships carrying thousands of guests. This is most impressive. There is a French (Lumiere), Asian fusion, Sushi, Teppanyaki (Koko’s) , Main dining room (Elements) that includes Steak, seafood, and Italian specialties, a magnificent buffet restaurant (Yacht Club) , and my personal favorite, Azure Café, a coffee bar with lighter breakfast, lunch, and dinner fare, crafted pizzas, and pasties all day from 6am to 9pm. There is also 24-hour room service, and an invitation chefs table… My personal favorites have been the exceptional seafood, Asian fare, Bread, and pasties to die for! There are also culinary cooking classes held in Scenic Epicure!

The Scenic Eclipse boasts its all-suite configuration and does not let down. I am in a Grand Deluxe Suite that measures some 430 square feet. The suite has a very open feeling with a king-sized slumber bed with controls to set your bed to your own comfort, infrared red lighting to help with a good night’s sleep, silky soft sheets, and extensive pillow menu. There are mirrors everywhere including the large 42-inch television with Bose sound system and complete with an array of complimentary films and many satellites television programs built into a large mirror. The lighting is easy to use and controlled air and heating. The living area has a large comfortable sofa with added stool seating and a large marble table. At night, there is push button black out screen to keep one’s suite as dark or as light as you wish depending on the zone you are cruising in. There is ample storage everywhere with drawers, a nice Dyson hairdryer, shelving, a fully stocked bar with one’s libations all stocked by the suites Butler, an Illy coffee machine, bottled water (glass not plastic). I had a walk-in closet with many drawers, sliding shoe racks, more mirrors, and enough space easily for two. The bathroom comes with a large glass enclosed shower with a heavy flow and room to move, separate toilet area and large designer sink which wasn’t too practical but worked. The overhead storage was abundant for toiletries and the fine quality heavy duty W brand (Wonder) towels and soft terry hooded bathrobes were fantastic! The provided body wash and shampoo came in dispensers. I personally prefer bottled toiletries but understand the brand trying to reduce plastics and recycling of such. The Scenic Butler offers a very nice service to help with shoeshine, room service, and refilling of the suite bar.

The ships staff hail from many countries and most experienced staff came from other high end cruise brands like Seabourn, Disney, Cunard, and the like so all are hand-picked for their well-trained skills as well as warm personalities and I am impressed that I am known by name throughout the ship by the first day. The service onboard is as friendly, warm, and professional as I have ever experienced on any ship, and the staff make all guests feel they are welcomed house guests. Scenic gets an A+ on this account alone.

Onboard Scenic Eclipse, on this Antarctica Expedition, there are 19 Destination Specialists that range from helicopter pilots, naturalists, marine biologists, geologists, and the like. They are all highly qualified, experienced and take guests on the varied zodiac, paddle boarding, kayaking, walking tours ashore, bird watching, etc. and like the rest of the crew, all are knowledgeable, friendly, and always on hand helping guests answering questions and take turns holding lectures onboard the vessel in the lovely ships theatre to assist guests procure some added expertise in the expedition experience. Scenic also gets an A+ in this arena.

My cruise was a 12-day program that started with a pre night in Buenos Aires at the Sofitel or Alvear Palace is also one of the host hotels for the required pre night stay, guest check in, and required antigen test taken before boarding the following mornings flight on Aerolinas Argentina to Ushuaia (A 3.5 hour flight).

There were always more than ample ground staff so impossible to get lost and someone to answer your questions. The entire organization was well executed to perfection. Once arrival in Buenos Aires, luggage is sent off to the ship, guests are taken to yet another antigen testing site and once the green light was given, we headed off to a local restaurant and tour on the coach for a local Argentine barbeque lamb luncheon. At around 130, passengers are driven to the ship where check in already took place the day prior and easily board and escorted by one’s butler to your suite and luggage is waiting to be unpacked.

My cruise was different than prior sailings as the Captain and Discovery Team wanted to sail far past the Antarctic Circle into Marguerite Bay at the 66th parallel. This we did by spending two days crossing Drakes Passage in moderate 5-meter seas. Again, this ship due to her heavy Polar designed hull and super-sized stabilizers handled this otherwise uneasy sea like a hot knife through butter. The weather along the way ranged from peaks of blue sky to heavy wind and rain, and even heavy snow at times. It was exciting and varied as Antarctica never ceases to surprise and amaze…

As one might expect, Antarctica weather is unpredictable, this cruise with typically two stops where guests can cruise around on the zodiac’s among glaciers and ice, whale watch, go ashore to see marine wildlife like seals and walk amongst the species of penguins, hike up the side of a glacier or snow-capped hill, take the helicopter tour, kayak, paddle board, or take the sub to see what lurks beneath these frigid waters. All are very exciting and everyday offered something unique whether it was raining, sleeting, snowing, foggy, windy or sunny. This is a voyage of expedition and excitement where one rolls with the activity, weather, and gets out to enjoy mother nature at her finest. This is not a cruise for those wanting loads of entertainment although our cruise director is a fine singer and hosts a variety of activities, some karaoke, games, and although, I am alone on this trip, I have met most interesting people from many backgrounds and ages, but all appreciate nature and that is the key ingredient to this great continent and not leaving a footprint behind.

The dress code is simple and is country club casual onboard. No need for jackets and ties gents or dresses ladies unless you want to. The evenings are nice casual and dress code varied based on the guests desires but most guests dressed appropriately. The excursion outings are different as you need layers. I had three layers for every outing. The under layer was merino wool long underwear that breaths and does not absorb body odor, the second layer was a light fleece top and pants, and the outer layer consists of a waterproof pair of pants with no Velcro (not allowed here as seeds and things harmful to the wildlife can stick to such and be left behind), thermal socks, a gaiter to keep your neck and face warm, and a nice fleece lined parka compliments of Scenic that is the guests gift to take home. In the mud room where preparation for landings or zodiac rides take place, there is a pair of sized rubber boots provided for all guests. Ashore, walking sticks are also provided. It is so highly organized and efficient. I was worried about getting cold and never suffered once even if my cheeks got a little pink on the fast-moving zodiac rides or extended outdoor treks.

Scenic Eclipse is currently the only 6-star luxury ship sailing these waters and she is the finest way to see Antarctica or any destination she may travel to in high style, extreme comfort, and safely…

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