Travel Story The six-star "mega yacht" with its own helicopters and submarine

Photo of Niall McIlroy

Also on board Scenic Eclipse when it launches in 2018: no fewer than 10 eateries, a cooking school, butler service and a passenger-to-crew ratio of nearly one to one.

A keel was laid in the Croatian port of Pula recently, the symbolic birth of a ship. 

Coins were placed under the keel block, and a cruise ship will soon take shape — similar to others, with their infinity pools and skydiving, boardwalks, sky walks, and viewing capsules that stretch out over the ocean. 

But Scenic Eclipse isn’t at all like the others. With this mega yacht and its first ocean-going vessel, Scenic — a well-established luxury river cruising and coach touring company — is literally going above and beyond.

Passengers will be thrilled by joy rides over Norway’s fjords and Caribbean cays on the ship’s own helicopters, while a submarine (yes!) will take them into the deep blue beyond for a rare look at an underwater environment that is still the least accessible on the planet. A fleet of 14 Zodiacs, which will be launched from the ship’s marina, suggests more conventional adventures.

But while the chopper and the sub will get tongues wagging, Scenic has left nothing to chance aboard. It’s calling Eclipse “six star” and the on-board accoutrements should see the ship mix it with the best in the luxury-at-sea stakes.

Carrying just 228 guests (200 in polar regions), there’ll be a passenger-to-crew ratio of nearly one to one. Scenic Eclipse will be able to dock at ports off limits to bigger vessels but will still be well endowed with bars and lounges, outdoor terraces, pool areas, an observatory, spa sanctuary, fitness centre and theatre.

The all-suite ship has cabins ranging from 32sqm veranda suites to the 247sqm two-bedroom penthouse. But, no matter where you hang your hat, you’ll have a veranda, king-size bed, pillow menu, lounge and butler service.

Except for helicopter and submarine rides and scuba diving, Scenic Eclipse is all inclusive. There’s a fully stocked fridge in each suite, as well as room service and 10 eateries around the ship.

These range from casual all-day grazing, a poolside grill and a buffet to an Italian, steak and seafood restaurant, an Asian-fusion restaurant and sake bar, a Japanese restaurant, a degustation table, French fine dining and champagne bar, and a cooking school.

Scenic Eclipse will launch in August next year with an exciting first season of itineraries that will take it from the Mediterranean, where it will embark on nine and 15-day cruises of Italy, Croatia, Montenegro, Greece, Turkey, France and Spain, to Cuba, the Caribbean, Panama and Colombia, the Falklands and Argentina.

Again, tours are included and passengers have the services of on-board experts in the history, culture and environment of each region. There are multiple tours available in each port. 

For example, the 14-day Chilean Fjords & Falkland Islands cruise from Valparaiso to Ushuaia calls first at Chiloe Island off Chile’s coast. There’s a choice between a tour of the stilted houses of Castro, a Zodiac and kayak wildlife-spotting adventure and an electric-bike tour of the island.

Then, further south in the inner fjords, there’s the option of seeing the ever-expanding Pio XI glacier by Zodiac or kayak, or paying extra to fly above it all in a helicopter.

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