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Scenic Eclipse
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Scenic Eclipse

Background

Sailing directly from Gibraltar after she was handed over to her owners a few days before, Scenic Eclipse made her way for a multiday stopover in Rotterdam. She is seen here passing Maassluis in the early morning of the 8th of august in 2019. 

In 2016, the Australian touroperator and rivercruise specialist Scenic ordered their first oceangoing cruiseship for delivery in 2018. They had been a rivercruise operator in several parts of the world since 2008 but this was to be their first step for their ocean branch. The company wanted to tap into the growing luxury expeditionmarket that had seen many orders and newly built ships from the middle of the 2010's onwards. Normally, this small market was used for mainly secondhand former ferries, icebreakers and out of date cruiseliners, but the new wave of expeditionships was going to update this segment in record pace. And Scenic did not come in lightly. Their first ship was going to be built to a very modern and extraordinary design, including the aft topdeck having a helicopterpad next to two hangars where the helicopters could be stored. Their plan was to take their passengers up to the Arctic, Antarctic and Amazon river, among many others in splendid luxury. The ship was dubbed the first discovery yaught in the world and indeed resembles a yaught more then a standard cruiseship. Still during construction, stakes were set even higher when a second ship was also ordered to the same design. Sadly, this new company also wasn't very inventive in naming them, as the first of their ships became Scenic Eclipse and the second will be the Scenic Eclipse II. For a company that has given all of their splendid rivercruiseships different names, this is a little of a bummer in my opinion.

Construction and general statistics

Scenic Eclipse was ordered from the Uljanik Group shipyard at Pula, Croatia and sceduled to be delivered in the end of 2018. Her sistership was planned to be delivered in june of 2019. She measures 165,70 meters in lenght, is 21,50 meters wide and her draft reaches 5,30 meters. Her normal sailingspeed is 17 knots and she has a tonnage-measurement of 16.500. She has ten decks, of which eight will be available to her passengers. The maximum passengercount is 228 and those will be housed in 114 all-veranda suites. For polar regions, the number of passengers is reduced to 200. In contradiction, the normal crewcount will be 172, but during polar voyages this will be extended up to 182, giving an almost equal number of passengers and crew. 

During the construction of the ship, the Uljanik Group experienced severe financial problems and they were unable to meet the planned date. Question was even if the ship could be completed at all. Workers went on strike as their wages could not be paid and the deliverydate for the ship was pushed back towards january 2019 awaiting a take-over of the board. The long workersstrike affected mostly the more specialized teams and they started working again in november of 2018 but the delay could not be reversed. Scenic had contacts with the workers, the government of Croatia and the shipyard to get the work going but again had to delay the delivery of the ship to april of 2019. To get the work done as quickly as possible, Scenic itself had flown in shipworkers from Finland, Italy, the UK and Norway to expand the workforce of the yards but they were also not able to meet this new date. Final delivery of the ship was only at the 26th of july in 2019, more then one year behind scedule.

The shipyard had finally been taken over by a consortium of the Croatian DIV Group and Fincantieri. To keep the workflow going, Scenic also signed a letter of intent with the new consortium to set up a Discovery Yaught Division within the Uljanik Group with they themselves being the first customer for several more discovery yaught cruiseliners.

Design  

First thing you imidiately notice with Scenic Eclipse is the totally rounded-off form of her superstructure, extending aft up to the waterline. This sets her easily apart from any other cruiseship and gives her a slight wedding-cake look. It also makes her less dense looking and playfull, like a true superyaught instead of a cruiseship. She was designed by the Finnish company Foreship and they claim to have created the safest and most technologically advanced discovery superyaught in the world. She is rated as a Polar Class 6 vessel, being able to sail safely through the icefields at the Arctic and Antarctic as that is the highest rating for a passengership possible at this time.

She will have an ice-strenghtened hull and is built with stabilizers that are around 50% bigger then on standard cruiseships, making sure champagne is not spilled too often. These stabilizer fins will be able to keep the ship straight even when she is not moving. She doesn't use an anchor, but instead uses a dynamic positioning system to keep her in place without disturbing the sea floor. Also her engines are optimized to be very efficient in their fuel consumption and the ship has an advanced water-treatment system aboard so she doesn't have to dump her wastewaters in the ocean.

The top deck aft is a helicopterpad, of which the sides can be lowered to give safe access to the ships own two six-seater Airbus H130 helicopters. These helicopters are stored within two hangars just below the ships funnel and to fit here, the rotorblades can be folded inwards. Next to the helicopter, the ship also has her own seven-seater submarine to take passengers really deeper into an excursion for the exploration of underwater artifacts, reefs or wrecks. Of course also kayaks, zodiacs and scubadiving equipment is aboard to enhance the experience for the passengers.

As standard, Scenic Eclipse also has a 240-seat theater aboard where lectures are given about the regions visited and there is a 5000 square foot spa with among others indoor and outdoor jacuzzi's, an indoor heated pools and several treatment rooms. There is also of course a good stuffed library aboard, as has to be with an expedition style luxury vessel.

There are five restaurants aboard, so many options for this limited number of passengers. There is a French dining experience, next to a Pan Asian, an Italian and a steak restaurant. The informal Ocean Café and Lounge seats 40 and gives another dining option. Food will always be locally bought and specific to the regions the ship is sailing in. Thus it will also be really varied and changed every cruise.

The smallest of the suites are the 32-square meter Veranda suites to the Owners Penthouse suites which measure some 125 square meters with their own 60 square meter terrace. When that is just a little too small, they can be extended by combining them with a Spa Suite to create a two-bedroom 233 square meter space. The design of all the suites was based on the worlds most luxurious hotels and created by Karen Moloney, the wife of the companies founder.

Likewise to their rivercruise operations, cruises with Scenic Eclipse will be all-inclusive. This also means it includes shore excursions, the minibar, laundry services and all aboard dining and beverages.

Carreer

The Maiden Voyage of Scenic Eclipse was planned to be departing Istanbul for Venice in august of 2018, before a combination of cruises in the Mediterranean, to the Americas and the Arctic. Sadly, because of the severe financial difficulties the wharf met during the construction, this had to be cancelled and re-sceduled. The ship was finally delivered to Scenic at the 26th of july in 2019, way past the original delivery date of the planned sistership. After delivery, the ship sailed for Gibraltar before she set sail along the European coast to Rotterdam for a multi-day stopover. She departed Rotterdam again at the 10th of august and sailed for Reykjavik in Iceland for her official introduction. From Reykjavik, the ship then settles in for her Maiden Voyage starting the 15th of august.

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