Several dozen Canadian travel advisors and select media were the first North Americans to experience the Scenic Eclipse, which has been billed as the world’s first discovery yacht. The ship was in port in Quebec City at the end of her inaugural voyage from Europe.
The Eclipse's black hull, exaggerated bullet silhouette, and chrome lettering will look right at home alongside billionaires' mega yachts in ports like Monte Carlo. Against the hilled skyline of Quebec City's iconic 17th-century turreted architecture and stone fortifications, the ultra-modern Eclipse was a showstopper. Pedestrians flocked to the port's boardwalk throughout the day for photo ops.
It was a hero's welcome for the ship after months of widely publicized delivery delays. The launch of the Eclipse marks the latest entry in a growing field of small, luxury and particularly, expedition ships. With the highest ice class rating for passenger ships, the Eclipse is able to sail guests to all of the world's continents, including polar regions where Scenic sees high demand.
From November-March this year and next, the Eclipse is sailing itineraries in Antarctica. It will spend North American summers in the high Arctic, where, according to Lisa McCaskill, Canadian vice president of sales & marketing, the Northwest Passage sailing from Denmark to Alaska across the top of Canada in the summer of 2020 has already sold out.
The big reveal
Touring the Eclipse, there were gasps of awe when we climbed a few steps at the end of a hallway, opening a door onto an aft deck, where one of two onboard helicopters was positioned on the helipad. Painted Scenic's brand black, the 6-passenger helicopter sparkled under the bright sun in the Port of Quebec City and generated a flurry of excitement. Its twin was stowed indoors on the same deck.
The touring helicopters and a 6-passenger submarine are the two wow features of Scenic's approach to expedition luxury cruising.
During the call in Quebec City, Scenic released pricing of those excursion options: A 20-minute helicopter tour is US$475 per guest, with 40 minutes at US$925, and 20- or 40-minute submarine tours are priced at US$250 or US$475 respectively.
One of the Eclipse's Discovery Team leaders added that kayaks, hiking, e-bikes and “as many zodiac landings as possible” are soft adventure expedition experiences included in the fare. Touches like a boot warmer in the expedition staging area were among the luxuries designed to enhance guest comfort during the exploration of cold climates.
The same black/white/chrome aesthetic that makes the ship such a standout in a busy port is mirrored onboard. Travelers with a taste for the type of sophisticated, urban atmosphere found in minimalist, contemporary design hotels will favor the Eclipse's emphasis on chrome, smoked and black glass, mirrors and other reflective surfaces found throughout the public and private spaces on the ship on tabletops, as well as walls, and room dividers, and even stainless steel pools.
Reflective surfaces are coupled with supremely luxe materials in monochrome and earth tones. Almost all of the artwork we saw installed to date is abstract; the stunning (also reflective) art in the guest suites evoke colorful cross-sections of minerals in turquoise, sapphire and other jewel tones.
The boutique hotel feel of the Scenic Eclipse is enhanced by the emphasis on smaller public spaces, with no single public space (even the lobby lounge or the theater) designed to accommodate all 228 guests onboard.
Instead, guests choose from quite a large selection of more intimate venues, including nine restaurants – several with even smaller, private dining areas; and a Chef's Table for groups as small as eight guests. In-suite service is a tenth onboard dining option.
Finishing touches to the interior of the ship are still being applied to the Eclipse during her inaugural sailing. This created an opportunity for a piece of Canadian artistry to be a part of the Scenic Eclipse. Karen Moroney, wife of Scenic Chairman and Founder Glen Moroney, is project director – design of the ship. She and her team had been working throughout the process with brands and artists around the world to source works and materials for the Eclipse.
But it was during the port of call in Quebec City that she discovered local artist Francois Bertrand, and the perfect featured sculpture for the French restaurant and Champagne bar called Lumiere.
During our tour of the ship, the artist was in the process of installing his sculpture of a woman's evening gown on a dressmaker's form. Made from more than 5,000 silver spoons, on every level it is perfectly in keeping with the luxurious lifestyle and design themes of the Eclipse.
More travel advisor ship tours
The Scenic Eclipse departed Quebec City to sail East Coast itineraries.
More Canadian travel advisors will have the opportunity to tour the ship as she calls in Halifax (twice) before arriving in New York, where she will be christened by her godmother, British actor Dame Helen Mirren, on Sept. 10.