Scenic Eclipse, the highly anticipated, ultra-luxury mega yacht from Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours, is still on track for its Aug. 15 launch date.
Eclipse’s debut had been delayed a number of times because of financial issues at Croatia’s Uljanik shipyard in Pula, including strikes that took place over the last six to eight months. The debut is now on track after a bid from Fincantieri Group to help resolve issues at the yard.
“We’re really excited about the future, we’re extremely excited about the August 15 launch date,” Rob Huffman, the vice president of trade sales for Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours, told Travel Market Report this week during Seatrade Cruise Global.
According to Huffman, Scenic representatives that recently previewed Eclipse at the shipyard “came back and were absolutely wowed” with the yacht, which is currently undergoing its final touches. “The renderings don’t come close to the real deal,” he said.
When it debuts, Eclipse will sail with 228 guests in staterooms ranging from 350 to 2,500 square feet, with luxury accommodations and 10 different dining options; and one of the biggest discovery fleets at sea with Zodiacs, kayaks, e-bikes, two helicopters, and a submarine that can travel down to 1,000 feet below sea level.
Eclipse will sail exploration itineraries, including cruises to the Arctic and Antarctic. Initially, it will start off in the Mediterranean and then work its way over the East Coast in late September and October before traveling to the Caribbean and then Antarctica.
After the Eclipse debuts, a second Eclipse ship is launching. As Huffman said, “Then after that, we have some surprises coming.”
New on the river and advisor courses
Elsewhere in its fleet, Scenic is refitting its Rhine, Main, and Danube river ships, adding two 500-square-foot Owner’s suites, some of the largest on the rivers, along with salt therapy rooms and an expanded salon and spa areas.
Those additions will replace between four to eight staterooms on the ships, increasing the staff-to-guest ratio onboard.
The Scenic team, which Huffman said is “still getting our legs on us in the U.S. market,” is trying to engage with U.S. and Canadian travel partners “anyway we can” to help drive brand awareness (Scenic was recently ranked one of the two top river products in Europe by a consumer group Which?).
Part of that driving of brand awareness will be through the debut of Eclipse, Huffman said. “We’re very hopeful for that, we’re confident that will be the case. We think that will be a fantastic boost for the river, for the Eclipse, for Emerald Waterways. It will give travel agents a really good idea to understand what we offer,” he said. “Brand recognition is the key.”
The plan to engage its partners includes advisor marketing and trainings, including a relaunched specialist course for both Scenic and Emerald Waterways, and new lunch-and-learn events held all over the U.S.
In September 2018, Scenic also launched a new advisor rewards program that lets advisors earn one point for every two dollars booked. The brand also offers fam opportunities for advisors who have completed its specialist courses online, along with a 1:7 conductor-to-guest ratio for group bookings.
In addition, Scenic is offering 20% commission on all 2019 bookings made in April on the company’s river products.
Scenic’s most successful advisors “are taking the specialist offers and are engaged with their BDMs,” Huffman said. Those advisors are also “going through the multiple, fantastic features of river cruising and the inclusive nature of river cruising.”
And if clients are concerned with water level issues that have plagued the industry in the past, Scenic and Emerald Waterways are the only river lines to offer a river cruise guarantee. For every day of a sailing that is disturbed because of high or low water, guests get up to $750 per day for Scenic and up to $475 per day for Emerald.