Cruising the Coast of South America on the World’s First Discovery Yacht, the Scenic Eclipse
By Max Hartshorne
The Scenic Eclipse is a discovery yacht built for the world’s worst sea conditions, in Antarctica. It is owned by Scenic Cruises, an Australian company, that also offers river cruises as well as ocean cruises on the Scenic Eclipse.
The vessel is a remarkably beautiful and capable ship, and as the ship’s captain Radomir Novosel told me, it’s like driving a Ferrari on the sea.
More and more cruise lines are beginning to offer these smaller ships at around 500-600 feet, as a luxury alternative to their popular mega-ships that hold many thousands.
Ritz Carlton, Celebrity, and Ponant have embraced the same concept that started with Scenic’s introduction of the Eclipse in 2019.
In October 2022 I joined a small group of just 44 passengers for sailing aboard the Scenic Eclipse, the ship is 545 feet long–about half the size of most of today’s big cruise ships.
Regular Capacity 221
With just 44 passengers on my cruise, the capacity of the eclipse is around 221 for most trips, but in Antarctica, they only take about 200.
On my voyage, this grand ship was moving from North America down to Antarctica, taking us along the coast of South America.
With more than 100 staff, we were very well taken care of.
We all got on in Caillou, the port of Lima, Peru and the destination was in Valparaiso Chile. throughout the voyage which lasted 8 days, we got a good chance to get off the ship and experience some of Peru’s coastal highlights as well as some of the interesting places to visit on the coast of Chile.
As the ship sailed day and night to make the trip of around 1700 miles down the coast. Their destination was Antarctica, the hot spot for cruises in 2022.
Paracas and Mantarani were the stops in Peru, and Arica, Coquimbo, and Iquique were the stops in Chile.
Going to places like this is really inspiring to me because so often cruises are in the Caribbean or in the Mediterranean. but going along the south American coast really was different. scenic eclipse is truly a different experience from anything I’ve ever done on a cruise ship.
Scenic Eclipse is Famous for its Luxury
The level of luxury is high on board…from the pillowy mattresses that you just sink into covered with a soft fluffy duvet, to the butlers who come to the door and refill the minibar with any kind of liquor, wine or beer you can think of..and will even help you unpack and stow your clothes in your cabin.
And with these ships, and on all Scenic cruises, there are no extra charges to surprise you—even the tips and every excursion is included.
About that Bed
The Scenic Slumber Bed: The famous Scenic Slumber Bed combines quality and innovation. You hit this thing and it envelopes you with comfort. Really!
The mattress boasts high adjustment strength, ergonomic shoulder zones, lumbar inlays, and a 7-zone core, ensuring excellent support.
I went to bed every night with that feeling of just sinking into this coon of a bed, with the gentle rocking from the waves coming to shore on the Pacific ocean adding an additional comforting sensation.
They Know Your Name
The Scenic Eclipse crew takes pride in remembering your name and I must say it was fun to have someone say ‘good morning mister Hartshorne’ as I entered the Yacht Club dining room, the biggest of eight restaurants aboard the ship for breakfast.
And I can’t say enough about the food….every night I had something memorable, from the sushi at Koko’s to the amazing ending, the chef’s table, where 10 guests dine in a small room with views of the kitchen, and the chefs get very creative with each dish.
I can see why it takes three hours, it’s really that memorable. one course was served on an old-fashioned glass ashtray that had cigar ashes made of edible vegetables and a fake cigar that was actually an amazing roll of beef.
The Scenic Eclipse’s Many Intimate Spaces
like so many times on a cruise it was fun getting to know my fellow passengers in the many intimate spaces the ship has, like up front in the observation area which is a library with desks you can work at and copious amounts of just about every kind of tea you could think of plus and espresso maker. my friend Tim Leffel a fellow travel writer who was on the ship on a working vacation spend a lot of his time writing here in this observation deck which is open 24 hours.
The ship also has a very nice fitness area not as compressed and smaller than some I have seen, with views out the windows of the passing ocean. I actually got some workouts in for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic i hate to admit it’s been so long.
But I was pretty inspired to take a short daily workout when I was on my cruise and I’m hoping to continue this trend now that I’m back on land. but back to the ship.
An Open Bridge to See the Captain
One of the things about the eclipse is that they have an open bridge, so anyone can go up to the seventh-floor deck where the navigators the quartermaster, and the captain control the state-of-the-art ship.
Built in 2019, the Scenic Eclipse really is the most modern of ships. it has side thrusters called azipods, that let the ship go sideways with ease. no need for those tugboats that weighed at every port to help navigate this ship can get right into the dock without any assistance it seems.
The Eclipse also has huge side stabilizers that enable it to navigate the fierce drakes passage in Antarctica. everything on this ship is green or as green as it can be–but it’s still a cruise ship. most cruise ships and other large vessels run on bunker fuel which is the thick tar at the bottom of an oil tank.
Low Sulfur Diesel
But this ship instead uses ultra-low sulfur diesel which is more expensive but produces fewer emissions, eventually, I think that many ships will be powered by liquefied natural gas in this case though green diesel is a much better choice.,
There were a few things that I noticed which were interesting green innovations. like a little 3-inch by-2-inch screen that was placed in my room which had messages about things that were coming up. Instead of printing it out on paper they just use this paper sort of like a little mini kindle.
Advanced Water Treatment on Board
There are so many other green innovations on board, including advanced water treatment of all black and gray water, so what they put back into the ocean is clean as fresh water. and to keep invasive marine species from hitching a ride from sea to sea in ballast, special water treatment uses UV and filtration so this doesn’t happen.
The Eclipse Heat Recovery System
Another innovation of the eclipse is heat recovery…the use of waste heat generated by the engines to heat the ship’s fresh water, warm the air on board, and even boil seawater to create fresh drinking water. no solid waste is ever dumped at sea.
Educating the Guests
But one of the main things that the Scenic Eclipse offers is an extensive program of environmental education. we learned about the Humboldt current, the life of giant squid, and the habitats of seals… along the way, of course, we learned about things that threaten habitats and what travelers can do to have less impact on nature.
Scenic is a solid cruise line that’s earned its reputation. the scenic eclipse ultra-luxury yacht is the world’s first discovery yacht and other lines are catching on to the appeal of a truly small ship, that takes world-class journeys all over the world.
Scenic Eclipse 2 is already launched so now there are two Eclipses.