Yacht-style cruising in the Caribbean and the polar caps is trending up. This uber travel experience meets the needs well for seasoned travelers who expect luxury mixed in with discovery on their sailings, as well as those who have grown tired of big-ship cruises and want to try something new at sea.
Intimate and personal experiences aboard Scenic Eclipse
The biggest draws for yacht cruising are the intimate and personal experiences that travelers encounter onboard. The Scenic Eclipse and Scenic Eclipse II Discovery Yachts, for instance, take to the seas with only up to 228 guests, as opposed to the thousands of people who travel together on large cruise ships. On smaller vessels, personal connections can be made easily with the crew and other guests. People quickly get to know each other, often sharing common passions and making lasting friendships.
The smaller group also benefits from their time ashore. Unlike large vessels that pull into ports and tend to overwhelm destinations with hordes of people, yacht cruises are kinder to the locations visited because of the fewer number of passengers descending upon their shores. This is appreciated by the local communities, which are much more welcoming to the fewer visitors arriving in one day.
It's all about discovery
Another appealing element of yacht cruising is the discovery aspect. Scenic’s ships have been dubbed The World’s First Discovery Yachts™. They are essentially mega-yachts that were designed to look far more like yachts than any traditional cruise ship. As such, they are well equipped for safe navigation through all waters and sensitive marine environments. And they can travel to smaller, unique ports where large cruise ships cannot go. Guests can start exploring from the moment they disembark, while still enjoying the maximum space and comfort.
It is worth noting that calling them small ships is a misnomer, because the space inside the suites and the onboard public areas is anything but small, thus offering guests an elevated, albeit intimate, experience.
The Scenic Eclipse and Scenic Eclipse II Discovery Yachts, launched in 2019 and April 2022 respectively, give guests access to an extraordinary team of naturalists and lecturers onboard. They are experts in their fields, sharing insights into the environment, history, and culture of each region visited.
The vessels also have a fleet of Zodiacs for Zodiac cruises and shoreside landings, plus kayaks and stand-up paddleboards, as well as a large marina for water sports off the yacht, including an inflatable trampoline, Tiwal sailboats, wakeboarding, water skiing, etc. In the Arctic and Antarctic, guests can also participate in the great Polar Plunge.
In addition, Scenic’s two discovery yachts are the only vessels of their kind that feature two state-of-the-art, low-noise Airbus H130-T2 helicopters onboard, plus a 6-passenger electric submersible.
To sum up, the Scenic philosophy is ‘the more discovery options and destination experiences, the better.’ Guests have multiple opportunities to explore the destinations they visit not just ashore and on the water, but also from the air and underwater.
Safety is always a top priority. The six-star expedition vessels have ice-hardened hulls that are equally at home in the Caribbean, the High Arctic/Antarctic, as well as on the tropical Kimberley region in northwest Australia. And with 114 all-balcony or terrace suites, every guest has front-row seats to the spectacular surroundings throughout the cruise itineraries.
Staying true to its ultra-luxury positioning, Scenic Discovery Yachts also feature ten incredible dining experiences, which is unprecedented for vessels of its size and capacity; as well as nine bars and lounges with unlimited complimentary premium beverages; the indulgent Senses Spa and a dedicated Observation Lounge and Terrace, plus sperate yoga and Pilates rooms, and a fitness center. For more pampering, a dedicated butler service is available for every guest, along with a 1:1 staff-to-guest ratio.
Onboard the Emerald Azzurra and brand-new Emerald Sakara
The Emerald Cruises brand also offers discovery-oriented sailings in an intimate small-ship atmosphere aboard its luxury yachts the Emerald Azzurra (launched in 2022) and the Emerald Sakara (to be launched in August 2023). Guests’ every need is met with measured care and first-class attention by its highly trained crew.
Both ships carry only 100 guests and have 50 suites and staterooms (44 balcony or terrace suites and six oceanview staterooms with large picture windows). The ships boast a contemporary design; the cabins and bathrooms are large; and there is an abundance of space in public areas, including two elevators that reach the very popular Sky Bar.
Sailing to tropical regions, the vessels have large aft marina platforms to take advantage of the warm weather deployment, from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea, and the Caribbean. Guests can enjoy multiple watersports toys, like those aboard Scenic’s Eclipse; two Zodiacs for beach landings; and a 29-seat shore excursion boat. Aboard Emerald Azzurra, guests tend to spend the mornings and early afternoons ashore, returning to the luxury yacht for a refreshing dip in the ocean later in the day.
What’s more, rather than relying on small and slow tenders, Emerald deploys a covered, very fast, open-air boat to whisk guests ashore in more comfort and with open views of the surroundings.
Emerald Cruises will commence its inaugural Emerald Caribbean & Panama Canal season with both yachts this coming November. As for memorable discovery experiences, guests will spend a full day and evening in no-other-place-like-it St. Bart’s - where, by the way, no big ships are allowed. They will visit the undiscovered Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico – Culebra and Vieques (with its bioluminescent bay). And, they will experience the always-special transit through the Panama Canal.
Emerald Cruises’ yachts offer six bars and dining areas; complimentary wine, beer, and soft drinks to accompany lunch and dinner; an infinity pool to luxuriate in; and the Elements Spa and separate gym.
As for shipmates, the brand tends to attract guests from primarily three English-speaking regions (Australia, the UK, and North America), creating an international flair onboard.
Selling tips for travel advisors
One of the most important things to know about yacht-style cruising, as Claudius Docekal, Vice President, Ocean Deployment, Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours, says, is that “you never know how amazing it is until you try it, as a couple, a family, or a small group.”
And to travel advisors, he suggests: “You can charter your own route. We have seen a tremendous increase in charters from private families to incentives, golf clubs, etc. I am convinced that any good travel partner has the contacts and capacity to charter a vessel with only 50 suites.”
Also keep in mind that with their unique design and contemporary décor, these vessels also attract a young and affluent audience - something travel advisors should consider when reviewing their client lists for yacht cruising prospects.
And finally, Docekal recommends, “Book soon, as with our limited capacity, our voyages fill up quickly.”
FROM THE SPONSOR:
Scenic Group, which encompasses Emerald Cruises and Scenic Luxury Cruises, includes award-winning, intimate river and ocean cruises that take guests to many of the world’s most fascinating destinations covering all seven continents. With only up to 228 guests, Scenic’s world-class, custom-built ships enable unique access to small ports by river or sea. Guests enjoy an extensive range of truly all-inclusive luxury, while immersive experiences await onshore with handcrafted Scenic Freechoice activities and exclusive Scenic Enrich events. On Scenic Eclipse ultra-luxury voyages, exploration is enhanced by an expert Discovery Team, who lead fascinating discoveries in remote landscapes.
Emerald Cruises launched Emerald Azzurra in March 2022 - a 100-guest luxury yacht that sails the warm waters of the Mediterranean, Adriatic, and Caribbean; followed in 2023 by its sister, Emerald Sakara. On the rivers, Emerald Cruises sails in Europe and on the Mekong. The line offers innovatively designed ships, outstanding service, and a focus on active shore excursions and onboard wellness offerings through their EmeraldACTIVE program.
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