Six-star cruise ship, Scenic Eclipse, with its helicopters, submarines, and butlers, made her UK debut earlier this month.
The £180 million, ultra-luxury, 550ft-long vessel – which can carry 228 passengers – departed on its inaugural Mediterranean voyage from Lisbon on 18 June, calling at Porto, Vigo, Douarnenez, and Fowey.
CTN’s Kaye Holland was on board – and asked travel agents whether Australian-owned Scenic’s first ocean ship delivers on the hype. Here’s what they had to say.
Fay and Andy Boyd, Classic Travel Collection (part of Holiday Village)
“We had an idea of what to expect because we specialise in selling luxury cruises and have been fortunate to have sailed with a lot of luxury cruise lines, but this has just blown all expectations out of the water.
“The food is on a par with Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises. Scenic is also similar in some respects to Seabourn when it comes to staff and attention to detail.
“We have clients who adore Seabourn and Silversea Cruises and, if they like these lines, then they are guaranteed to love Scenic.
“On a cruise, you usually have a highlight or two but here every day has been a highlight. Something has happened every single day that has made us go: ‘Wow, just wow.’”
Danni Martin, Scotland’s Cruise Centre
“The easiest people to sell Scenic Eclipse, in my opinion, are those who tend to book ultra-luxury cruises – having moved away from ocean cruising because it wasn’t intimate enough, it wasn’t destination-focused enough.
“The ship offers everything that appeals to passengers who have moved over to river cruising: there are very small numbers on board, it’s very destination-orientated, and it can access ports of call that other, bigger cruise ships simply can’t.
“The second big selling point is that Scenic Eclipse offers a six-star experience where almost everything is included.
“The standout though is the ship itself, how sleek it is, how chic it is, and the service, which really has been second to none. Passengers are really well taken care of without being fawned over.”
Laura Strowger, ROL Cruise
“It’s been fantastic to see Scenic Eclipse in the flesh. I’ve been able to actually understand the elements of six-star cruising. I work in marketing and from my perspective, I can now look at different ways to promote Eclipse.
“I will be telling our top spenders that they need to book a Scenic Eclipse expedition. The ship is absolutely phenomenal.
“A particular highlight [for me] is the marina. Being able to dock and go out on a paddleboard and enjoy the views has been brilliant – you can’t do that on a big cruise ship, can you?”
Helena Harmerstein, The Travel Club
“At The Travel Club, we sell luxury holidays and cruise travel is always popular. I have found Scenic Eclipse to be amazing, however, there is a but.
“There have been a few teething problems. For example, I ordered eggs for my breakfast to my room and they arrived but the bread I had also ordered was missing. The bread was delivered eight minutes later so it wasn’t a big problem but, on a six-star ship, I’d expect an order to arrive together.
“That’s a minor complaint, though. Overall, I love the atmosphere on board, and I think the food is fantastic. Passengers also have a lot of freedom, which is very good. The excursions too are extraordinary – the quality is top-notch and the guides are experts.”
James Pettitt, Curated Escapes
“Scenic Eclipse is ideal as an expedition vessel and would suit clients who are looking for a unique experience where personalised service is the order of the day, without being overly formal.
“The ship is for someone who wants to experience a destination that is rich in interest such as Antarctica and the Arctic. I don’t think it would appeal to a mainstream cruiser or someone who wants to cruise around the Caribbean. That’s not Eclipse’s market.
“What it does offer is plenty of space, a benefit of only having 228 guests. I’ve been pleasantly surprised that the restaurants never appear full.”
Karen Thornton, Travel Counsellors
“I really like the discovery side of Scenic Eclipse – I think that’s what makes the ship so different and helps it stand out. Also, the fact that it is a smaller ship and can therefore get into smaller ports and visit some fascinating places.
“What’s more, you can find your way around the ship quite quickly – I have been on other cruises where it literally takes days to get to grips with the ship. The staff are fabulous, too. It’s a thumbs up from me.”