Like its older sibling, Scenic Eclipse, Scenic Eclipse II is one of the most stylish ships afloat today. With curved lines, two helicopters a submarine and a marina for water sports, the sleek 228-passenger ship looks like a large yacht owned by a James Bond villain.
Inside, the ship is just as posh. Think the dark luxe tones that you'd find in a luxury boutique hotel, along with similar amenities. The main lounge is anchored by a tower of 100 whiskey bottles, access to which are included in your fare. That's only the tip of the iceberg (which you'll certainly see on Scenic Eclipse II's annual trips to both polar regions). Scenic Eclipse II is about as inclusive as an expedition ship gets, with all drinks, specialty restaurants, excursions, gratuities, Starlink-powered Wi-Fi and transfers provided.
But don't let the ship's good looks and fancy extras fool you; Scenic Eclipse II is a powerhouse when it comes to expedition cruising. On our Arctic sailing to Iceland and Greenland, on what Scenic calls a "discovery mode" cruise, we had an outstanding expedition, one of the best we've experienced in a decade. The ship has an open bridge policy that isn't merely lip service; there's actually a sofa and table where guests can hang out, talk to the captain and crew, and go outside to view whales, seals and birds.
The Observation Deck on Deck 5 is another popular gathering spot that adjoins the large outside deck at the bow. This was another spot where passengers could race, their included binoculars in tow, to view the wildlife, icebergs and glaciers passing by. The entire expedition team, from the discovery leader down to the naturalists/speakers to the kayak guides to the Zodiac drivers, were personable and eager to interact with passengers. It really made our cruise exciting and enjoyable.
Scenic Eclipse II does have a few additions that separate it from its predecessor, all of which make the ship more appealing when it's sailing in warm weather climates, such as the Mediterranean, the Caribbean or Australia's Kimberley region. Deck 10 now has a large heated plunge pool, as well as an a bunny pad sun lounging area, large cabana-style sun beds and new attractive Sky Bar. We found we didn't use this area all that much on our Arctic Greenland cruise, but it does make Scenic Eclipse II a more viable option when it's not at the poles.
Scenic Eclipse II is arranged around a center staircase, with passengers using seven of the 10 decks. The food venues and restaurants are clustered at the back of the ship on the different floors, while the theater, the spa, the Observation Lounge and the Bridge are at the front.
The spa is larger on Scenic Eclipse II than the first Scenic Eclipse, and it's impressive not just for a ship this size but for any expedition vessel. The thermal complex, open to all passengers, includes a sauna, a steam room, an ice corner to cool down, a salt therapy room with heated loungers and KLAFS infra-red sauna seats. All areas have heated floors. These areas are segregated by gender, which can be annoying if you want to hang out with your opposite sex friend, partner or spouse, but gives Scenic Eclipse II more opportunity to take charters. There's a small outdoor pool in front of the spa.
One knock against the ship's modern décor is that it doesn't evoke adventure travel, at all. There are no maps, no wildlife photos, no nods to explorers past or present. That being said, it's hard to find fault with the ship's theater, which has some of the comfiest swivel loungers we've seen at sea. And the mudroom down on Deck 3 is a well-organized spot to store your boots and wet clothes in heated closets, and to put on dry suits for kayaking.
We will say that the public spaces on Scenic Eclipse II can feel dark and enclosed. The staircase doesn't have windows, for examples, and the lack of an outdoor space in the center of ship means that you're scampering back and forth to the ends of the ship when the call goes out that whales or seals have appeared. We never felt like we were missing out, however, and all restaurants do have nice views.
The rooms on Scenic Eclipse II are huge for an expedition ship, with the entry-level cabins (Scenic calls them all suites) beginning at 344 square feet. All have step-out balconies that are unusually deep, giving you plenty of space to view wildlife from your own room if you wish. Inside, you'll find plenty of luxe amenities: large flat-screen TV; a full mini-bar that's stocked with your choice of drinks; a Nespresso machine; beds with electronic controls; a walk-in closet and perhaps the nicest and largest in-room safe we've seen on ship. While the entry level suites are just one room, there's a curtain that divides the sleeping area from the living area. Blackout curtains mean that you'll sleep soundly, even during Midnight Sun conditions.
The larger suites on Scenic Eclipse II really up the wow factor; you will feel like you're at a luxury hotel instead of a cruise ship. The Spa Suites, for example, have a Philippe Starck-designed bathtub. The Panorama Suites at the front of the ship are the first of the ship's true suites, with the bedroom separate from the living and dining room. And the Owner's Penthouse Suites are truly posh retreats, coming in at 2,098 square feet of space. Here you live large, with your own outdoor Jacuzzi, a dining table that seats eight, a supersized bathroom -- and the best views onboard.
All rooms on Scenic Eclipse II come with butler service. We found that while our butler was eager to take requests and replenished the bar without reminders, the service was more reactive than proactive. This was pretty much the case across the ship. All requests were honored, but there weren't many of the special service touches like you find on the highest end luxury cruises.
While all the rooms on Scenic Eclipse II are sizable, the ones at the front of the ship on Deck 5 are directly above the theater. You'll hear noise from rehearsals and shows in the afternoon and evening coming from the floor in these cabins.
The food on Scenic Eclipse II is outstanding; extremely high-end and ambitious for not just an expedition ship, but any luxury cruise ship. Foodies will be happy here. Casual dining during the day centers around the Yacht Club buffet and the Azure Café, where you can order light bites, hamburgers and pizza. Dinner options include two restaurants where you can walk-in without reservations (one an Italian steakhouse and the other an Asian fusion) and three that require advance planning, These latter are the sushi bar ,where you can order as much as you want; and three tasting menu restaurants -- Night Market, the French-themed Lumiere and the invitation-only Chef's Table. Room service is also available 24-7.
While the casual food onboard Scenic Eclipse II is delicious, it's really these three tasting menu restaurants where the ship's ambition shines. Night Market is a high-end version of teppanyaki that's themed around different street food menus: Asian, Filipino, Indian and Middle Eastern. Lumiere offers a modern take on French cuisine, with wines to match.
We were lucky enough to score an invitation to the Chef's Table, where you experience 14 courses of creative cuisine, complete with wine pairings. For this meal, executive Chef Ashish Dabre pulled out all the stops, using molecular gastronomy techniques that still tasted good. The Chef's Table serves 10 guests at a time and is currently open only to those in the higher suites or loyal Scenic cruisers. Make some friends onboard and perhaps you can snag a spot.
All restaurants and dining
All alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks
Entertainment and lectures
All shore excursions
Landings and Zodiac excursions; use of hiking poles
Polar jacket (to bring home) and boots (leave on the ship) on polar cruises
Binoculars to use onboard
Use of the thermal suite
Most fitness classes
Transfers to the ship
Submarine and helicopter excursions
Visas (if needed)
Scenic Eclipse II attracts an international passenger base, with a high concentration of Australians, since Scenic started in that country; we also sailed with German, Dutch, English and Chinese guests. Our 12-day Arctic trip to Greenland and Iceland drew what's often considered a typical expedition crowd: couples or groups of friends in their 50s, 60s and 70s who have the time for a longer voyage. There was one family with a pre-teen child, and several multi-generational families traveling together. Since the ship has good internet, even in remote regions, there was a group of Indonesian travelers in their 30s who were working while onboard.
Scenic Eclipse II often goes to regions where the only way on or off the ship is by Zodiac. Cruisers should feel comfortable getting in and out of these boats. The expedition staff worked hard to make sure that cruisers who were less mobile were able to have the best experience possible. Walking sticks are available.