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12 Scenic South America Cruise Reviews

I chose this cruise 2 years ago as I thought if I was going to the Antarctic I would do it in style and comfort. I chose what was supposed to be the second season so issues could be ironed out but because of delays it became the first ... Read More
I chose this cruise 2 years ago as I thought if I was going to the Antarctic I would do it in style and comfort. I chose what was supposed to be the second season so issues could be ironed out but because of delays it became the first season. Firstly we only became aware of our early transfer from Buenos Airies to Ushuaia less than 2 weeks prior to departure no time to arrange alternate despite my travel agent trying to find out sooner. On arrival at Airport in BA from Melbourne for our 2 night extension found we where not on the transfer list was supposed to have a private car. This was not the only lack of communication to occur. Embarkation once we arrived at the ship was fast but there was a lot of waiting on buses prior to leaving the airport and then at the wharf. The food was okay but I wouldn’t say six star unless you went to the Chefs Table. Service on the first night was appalling but picked up when we mentioned it. Wines were hit and miss in quality and can’t comment on the whiskey bar as I don’t drink it. Our butler was fantastic and organised drinks and food for a special celebration in our suite and our room steward was also great always happy to help. The discovery team was extremely knowledgeable and tried their hardest to find exiting places to visit despite the weather at times. The Helicopter was the highlight but only able to go up once due to weather. The parkas they supply I didn’t feel warm in even with 3 layers underneath would bring my own Canada Goose next time in Antartica. The last thing I would like to say is this ship felt like it was rushed in the end to be finished and because of that has not reached 6 stars. I would not like to travel on it in the future without major upgrades as it will become rather shabby soon continuing as it is. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
My agent asked me for feedback on Scenic Eclipse. This is what I wrote. Our thoughts on Scenic Eclipse. Overall it’s a four star hotel in a six star ship where Silversea is a six star hotel in a four star ship! The huge 6 metre ... Read More
My agent asked me for feedback on Scenic Eclipse. This is what I wrote. Our thoughts on Scenic Eclipse. Overall it’s a four star hotel in a six star ship where Silversea is a six star hotel in a four star ship! The huge 6 metre stabilisers and a long sharp bow make for the best ride by far we’ve experienced. We were in a Force 11 gale and Force 12 for an hour or so leaving South Georgia and no one we knew felt seasick. The azipod propulsion system means the ship can stop and manoeuvre extraordinarily quickly - a benefit we discovered when we came amongst a pod of Type D orcas while in a four metre swell. They have been seen very few times but we were able to slow rapidly, turn and stay with them for about twenty minutes, something no older expedition ship could have done. On the downside the only open deck to view forwards is the bow deck and there is no observation lounge or forward facing viewing area available. This is a major fault in an expedition ship, relieved only by the fact the Captain kept an open bridge nearly all the time. However that could get crowded and it’s not easy to cross from side to side. Our Grand de Luxe Suite was very spacious and comfortable. Needed hooks to hang wet gear after a landing and a bedside clock and clothes line but otherwise very good. Friends who have travelled very extensively had a Spa Suite which they described as the worst designed suite they had ever had. Poor storage, a TV taking up useable space and a glass topped wall between the bathroom and the bedroom with consequent light issues. Other friends had the basic Verandah Suite which was very small. I think there is an acknowledgment that it is not the 32 sq m advertised though they have not changed the website. Fittings throughout are ultra modern surprisingly with sharp edges and the bathroom sink a joke of form over function. Excellent shower however. Scenic were, I believe, very fortunate that One Ocean ceased trading late last year as they were then able to get an exceptionally experienced expedition team where they would certainly have struggled otherwise after Kara Weller left them during the long delay. A great help on some of our landings was that the zodiacs are kept in a ‘garage’ on deck 3 so could be launched in winds which would have precluded the other ships winching them down from the top deck. My only observation was that they should limit the numbers to 8 passengers when zodiac cruising. Where the ship lets itself down is on the hotel side. I’m not sure whether that's a management and training issue or whether they are deliberately aiming down market. The latter seems unlikely when you see the amazing collection of whiskies in the lounge bar! To say they had a butler service was a real joke on both sides of our deck. Tea bags and coffee pods were not replaced, no attempt made to keep the coffee machine full of water. The room boy responsible for cleaning was excellent but the butler had no idea about anticipating requirements. Either he was poorly trained or could not cope with the number of cabins he had to look after. Either way this was not butler service Silversea style. They make an element of their promotion the number of restaurants but this is more of a negative than a positive. A good buffet lunch is served in the Yacht Club - that’s the one with the hilariously stupid pool placed in the middle - but if everybody was on board at the same time there were not enough seats. The Maitre’d’s were good but struggled at times with what they had available. We were a party of eight from the out set and really only Elements - the basic restaurant - can cope with a party that size. And inevitably as people meet up during the cruise there are more and more larger parties for dinner. The Sushi Bar was consistently good but with ten seats did not take reservations, meaning the queue outside started earlier and earlier as the cruise went on. We had one really good meal in Kokos, the Asian fusion restaurant, but the rest were underwhelming. We also had one good and one very poor experience in the Teppanyaki so I think the best you can say is that dining is patchy, even in the top of the range Lumiere. Service also varied from the almost nonexistent to the superb. And some of the very best dishes - lobster, mussels - were so salty they were almost inedible. We were the last of four coaches to board at 1200 on departure. Amazingly there was no form of welcome - we were just told to go to deck 7 for lunch. Needless to say there were no tables available. What a shambolic welcome. And Scenic ground handling showed no sign of responding to customers. They insisted on an 0500 departure for the 45 minute drive to EZE fo an 0900 flight. The hotel said 0630 would be fine. Scenic would not change so I cancelled their transfer and booked my own hotel car for 0615. One more thing - do not sell the cruise on the fact there is a submarine. What a white elephant. It was unserviceable for the whole of the previous cruise and only did a few dives on this one before they damaged it while docking. And feedback says you won’t see fish or whales - maybe krill - won't go under the ice and in Antarctica there is no colour on the sea bed. So if for any of your clients that is the drawcard - dissuade them. The helicopter flights are really pot luck. We had an OK flight with incompatible passengers as did one other of our group. The other two couples flew on a perfect day and had an amazing experience. This may all sound a bit negative but the fact is we had a wonderful experience and did and saw things on our third trip on this route we hadn’t done or seen before. That they ever got the ship built at all is a massive tribute to the captain and a small Scenic team who took over part of the shipyard and managed the final process of fit out all by themselves. It is early days - the ship is still less than six months into operation. We have made feedback to Scenic as constructive criticism as to how they can improve their product and particularly the design of future ships. The ship is massively over-capitalised and their fares are still incredibly low compared to Silversea. I hope the river cruises are profitable enough to sustain their operation. Sell Scenic to people who are scared of the reputation of the Drake Passage and like modern design. And whisky!!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
This is a difficult review to write, as some parts of the cruise were excellent and others extremely disappointing. My bottom line is that Scenic ultimately failed to deliver the “6-star” experience they promoted. I am limiting the ... Read More
This is a difficult review to write, as some parts of the cruise were excellent and others extremely disappointing. My bottom line is that Scenic ultimately failed to deliver the “6-star” experience they promoted. I am limiting the review to those aspects of the trip specific to Scenic and the Scenic Eclipse. The destinations themselves, the Falklands, South Georgia, and the Antarctic Peninsula, will be enjoyed by anyone who likes wildlife or unique scenery, but there are many ships that offer this itinerary. On the positive side, the ship’s staff was excellent. Everyone in housekeeping, food and beverage, customer relations, and the expedition team (called the Discovery team by Scenic) was friendly and went out of their way to be helpful. This was consistent with our previous river cruise on Scenic and one of the reasons we chose Scenic for this voyage. On our cruise, there were actually more staff members than passengers. The expedition team deserves special commendation. Its members were knowledgeable in oceanography, marine biology, glaciology, geology, and ornithology. They were careful to protect passenger safety and the safety of the environment. Another positive feature was the open bridge, where the ship’s officers were willing to talk about the ship or simply let you stay there to observe the surroundings. The cabins were a mixture of good and bad. Shortly before our voyage we received word through our travel agent that the cabin we had booked (along with a number of others) was not as big as advertised. While Scenic offered to reimburse the premium paid for a larger cabin, we had deliberately chosen a large cabin for a cruise of this length and were quite disappointed. A better solution would have been to move us to a cabin of the size we had booked, but they did not offer this. It is also disturbing that we were told of this only shortly before the cruise, after final payment had been made. They claimed that they had only learned of the size discrepancy recently and, in fact, the next season catalog we had just received showed the cabin as larger than it is. But the failure to meet the cabin specifications should have been noted during quality inspections when the ship was built and probably reflects on all of the construction issues faced by the Scenic Eclipse. Our cabin was very noisy with loud creaking whenever the ship moved. Maintenance tried to fix this but couldn’t, and we were led to understand that the problem related to the various ceiling and wall panels not being properly joined or separated, when necessary, by gaskets, again reflecting on ship construction. On the good side, the bed was very comfortable. Negatives, many mentioned in other reviews, were minimal storage space for clothing, absence of shelf space in the bathroom with a sink that looked great but was not very functional, and a TV behind a reflective surface so it was difficult to see. Food service ranged from just okay to very good. Lumiere was most consistently good, but we also had some enjoyable meals at Elements and at the sushi bar. There was lack of coordination between the expedition team and food service, so if you had an early zodiac departure the main restaurants were not open early enough and you were limited to a continental breakfast, where there was limited seating and often a line for service. The wines offered at meals were generally good but not exceptional, with limited choices so good pairing was not always possible. The most unique features of the Scenic Eclipse are undoubtedly the onboard helicopters and submarine, and these were the main reasons we waited an extra year for the Eclipse after our initial voyage was cancelled because the ship was not ready. It turned out that the submarine was not functional and not used during our trip, allegedly because of a software incompatibility with some of the parts. I find it disturbing that, knowing they were operating in isolated areas without ready service facilities, they did not carry spare parts that had already been tested. The helicopters worked well and, due to good weather, everyone had a chance to get a helicopter trip and more than one if they wanted. It is important to know that helicopter and submarine rides are not guaranteed, so you should know this in advance if this is your reason for choosing the Eclipse. Although it was never explicitly stated, it appeared that your best chance of getting these excursions was to book one of the most expensive suites or have top standing in the Scenic loyalty program. Entertainment was minimal. A very good singer-piano duo entertained during the pre-dinner cocktail hour, where hors d’oeuvres and cocktails were provided. The theater was not designed with good sight lines, due to not all rows being tiered. Seating was quite comfortable, however. The theater was not big enough to hold all passengers at once. The ship itself appeared quite seaworthy. We were fortunate in that we never had extreme weather. There was a slight roll in moderate waves, but it was never necessary to curtail activities. The ship’s ice hull and maneuverability allowed us to get well into fjords and bays. The interior design was striking but failed to follow the principle of “form follows function.” The lobby bench seating had overly deep couches, so you were unable to lean back or, if you were not tall, sit with your feet on the floor. Restaurant seating was also on the uncomfortable side. Finally, Scenic did not seem to have their logistics under control. The polar parkas that were promised had not arrived when we departed, and they eventually had to make do by getting a variety of jackets resembling ski parkas We like to arrive a day early just in case of travel issues and so booked the “optional” extra night in the beginning, which turned out not to be so optional as we were asked to depart the Buenos Aires hotel at 4:00 AM so there was really no way to make this if you arrived on the day of departure. On the way home we were told not to book flights before 8:00 PM, but they had us back to the Buenos Aires airport around noon, well before you could check in for flights. By way of apology for this they did offer a local city tour, but most of us had already seen Buenos Aires so this was just a time filler. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We had sailed on the Scenic Pearl river cruise and it was wonderful so we were anxious to try the Scenic Eclipse. We were scheduled for the cruise in 2018 but the ship did not get built in time. We then rebooked for the 2019 cruise. As on ... Read More
We had sailed on the Scenic Pearl river cruise and it was wonderful so we were anxious to try the Scenic Eclipse. We were scheduled for the cruise in 2018 but the ship did not get built in time. We then rebooked for the 2019 cruise. As on the river cruise the staff was professional and friendly. The discovery team (expedition team) did a great job of educating us about the areas we were visiting and the animals and birds we saw. . But the ship lacked certain basics any expedition ship should have: there was no bow camera so that you could see where the ship was headed from your cabin. The lectures were not taped so if you had a conflict you could not watch the lectures at another time from your cabin. Lastly you could not see out of the observation lounge unless you were standing at the window. Knowing about this cruise for 2 years Scenic did not have our parkas when we arrived on the ship. We never did get the official parkas but instead when we reached the Falklands they managed to have gathered a selection of ski parkas in various sizes and colors. They were further disorganize on the timeline. We chose to arrive in Buenos Aries a day early to get adjusted to the time change. As it turned out we needed to leave at 5am to catch the flight for the ship.If we didn’t book a day ahead we would not have made the flight. We weren’t aware of this until we got to Argentina. Our departure too was disorganized. We were told to book our return flight after 8:30 at night. Yet they had us back at the airport at noon. Too make up for this we got an abbreviated city tour and then dropped off back at the airport at 5. We couldn’t even check into our flight until 7pm. We also had a noise issue in our cabin which they could not fix because the carpenter told us it was built wrong. The bed was extremely comfortable and the space was adequate but not what we had booked. Three weeks before the cruise we were told that Scenic just realized that some of the cabins were smaller than they realized. Scenic refunded the difference in the cost for the smaller cabin but again no apology. The most disappointing thing was the submarine was not operational . Most of us had booked this trip for the experience of seeing Antarctica from the submarine and the helicopter. We were not told of this problem until half way into our trip. There was never an apology from the company or an offer to compensate us . Other reviewers have discussed the entertainment and dining experiences. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Due to the delays this trip was a long time coming. We are to disembark in 4 days at the end of what will have been a fantastic 3 week trip to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Antarctica and wanted to share our experience as ... Read More
Due to the delays this trip was a long time coming. We are to disembark in 4 days at the end of what will have been a fantastic 3 week trip to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Antarctica and wanted to share our experience as there were very few reviews available for us, GREAT THINGS ABOUT THE SHIP AND TRIP The expedition staff could not have been more helpful or knowledgeable, the landings carefully chosen and executed extremely professionally. Lectures very good. The food everywhere was superb and often imaginative. Only buffet at lunch and sensible portions otherwise, The wine and drinks offerings excellent Lots of space onboard the ship. The staff in every area without exception were superb, friendly, courteous without being obsequious, and professional at all times. Cabin well equipped with every type of socket (adapters not required) Quality of furnishings, however......... NOT SUCH GREAT THINGS ABOUT THE SHIP AND TRIP No Parkas when we loaded - apparently stuck in customs! Many people did not have a warm jacket (myself included) we were issued with macs, no warmth then after a few days an assortment of different ski jackets arrived, - to be fair the staff had ‘bust a gut’ to get these but there were so many complaints and compromises on sizes etc. No Sub, not told until half way through voyage that a part or software was not working and sub grounded despite best efforts. This was a HUGE disappointment to a lot of people. Design, there are some aspects of the ship not easily rectifiable that do detract from the voyage enjoyment. These design aspects defy logic and have been mentioned in previous reviews. The observation lounge - kitted out with very comfortable furniture and coffee machine where you can observe nothing but the bow outside decking area! Despite being a library and quiet reading area there is dreadful piped music 24/7 that apparently cannot be switched off, this is true of music throughout the ship, hey guys expedition yacht with people, exploring nature please not jingly music everywhere. Also mentioned in previous posts but unless you have been onboard hard to Believe the swimming pool really is in the middle of the restaurant with 2 showers next to dining tables. It is the joke among all staff and guest and apparently nobody very uses is, as one guest said why would you walk between the tables in your sluggos. It isn’t however a joke as a guest as a swim and relax would have been very nice and cannot imagine if you were on a warm weather cruise, the pool and hot tub was emptied shortly after sailing for most of the voyage as apparently the water slops out too much! As the steam and saunas are segregated there is nowhere you could have a dip and then relax as a couple. The main lounge is vast and as such never has an intimate feel. All of the seating along the sides is fixed faces in and incredibly uncomfortable. Extremely deep seats so you either perch or sit back with legs off floor but whichever you cannot look out (of an expedition yacht) the tables are huge and fixed so no conversation across tables or flexibility, Sharp edges everywhere, glass edges at the head of every stairs, square chrome handrails, doors from loos open into corridors? No floor numbers as you walk up the stairs and despite the ‘millions’ spent on art no colour anywhere. The ship is grey and brown, all very high quality fittings but why not put some nice artwork up as you walk up and down the stairs or in the lounge instead of black and dark glass and chrome everywhere, or splashes of colour with some soft furnishings, it appears the ship is waiting to be dressed. OVERALL A great ship and staff (that in our experience that could not be improved upon) but a couple of the design decisions greatly detract from the experience- observation deck and (lack of) pool Easily rectified would be to ditch the music in certain areas and to select some more appropriate music when applicable, Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We chose this cruise because it was going to all the places that we wanted to go and we were fascinated by the description of the ship …. everything live up to our expectations. The ship: This ship is different to every other ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it was going to all the places that we wanted to go and we were fascinated by the description of the ship …. everything live up to our expectations. The ship: This ship is different to every other cruise ship we have travelled on. It was silent, so silent that you had to look out of the widow to see if you were underway. There was no 'rocking and rolling' no matter what the sea was like, (perfect for generally sea sick husband!!) The facilities on board were first class from the restaurants to the auditorium to the shower in the suite which was enormous!! The ship was so different and so good, too many tremendous and unique differences, it is difficult to describe them all …. all I can say is that you should book a trip and find out for yourself!!! Expedition crew: The crew were so knowledgeable .… we learned so much both on shore and in the lecture auditorium. I fell and broke my ribs the day before we set sail: no problem, the crew helped me whenever it was necessary, the medical team supplied me with great medication and I was able to participate in all the events and shore transfers with no problem at all. WOW. The dining rooms were small and intimate with great variety available. The only difficulty we had was trying to decide where to dine at each meal!! Our cabins were very comfortable with, for me, the special feature being the beds where either side was independently controlled to raise or lower the angle of the bed … great for comfort for broken ribs. All in all we had the best cruise we have ever had and in prior cruises we have always travelled on the 'six star' ships … Scenic Eclipse is seven star!!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We are just about to disembark Scenic Eclipse at Ushuaia and are very sad to be leaving this stunning, well thought out ship with cutting edge interior design and technology and it’s magnificent crew. We did the 12 day Antarctic in Depth ... Read More
We are just about to disembark Scenic Eclipse at Ushuaia and are very sad to be leaving this stunning, well thought out ship with cutting edge interior design and technology and it’s magnificent crew. We did the 12 day Antarctic in Depth and found it perfect with zodiac landings usually twice a day. Discovery team was knowledgeable and excellent. Our flight over the Antarctic was a ‘pinch me’ moment. Prices for the chopper and sub have nearly doubled compared to what they promoted them as. The helicopter is now UD$695pp for 30min. I think the sub had gone over US$800 for 40min only, no 20min as it takes a long time to get to about 190m.We didn’t get to do the sub. It is very limited by weather conditions and we were in group Sierra we were way down the list. In general everything on the ship is in order of the price you paid for a cabin. Those on deck 8 & 9 had preferential treatment for everything and missed nothing. The restaurant and spa booking system is a joke. They need to start again with that. The hairdresser couldn’t even tell you what time your booking was for the next day. We found the food to be below par and not even close to that on Seaborne or Celebrity. In general it was bland but our biggest disappointment was no Christmas fare on Christmas Day. Who made that decision for passengers that were mostly Aussies, Kiwis, Americans and English. Not a turkey, ham or pork in sight but oddly some of that appeared for Boxing Day. So strange. The main bar area is superb and we’ve made some lovely new friends. We enjoyed the Trivia games down there. We didn’t get to many lectures and it’s a pity that you can’t watch their recordings on demand later. They only show them live. All in all, we have enjoyed our best cruise ever and will definitely book on Scenic Eclipse again. Might wait for Eclipse 2,3 or 4 that have now officially been commissioned. Thanks Scenic and your fantastic crew Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
This cruise was 3 years in the making for us, and at a not inconsiderable cost, I am thrilled to say it was worth every cent. If there was a 6 star option I would choose it. Firstly, sorry for the lengthy descriptions below. Before we ... Read More
This cruise was 3 years in the making for us, and at a not inconsiderable cost, I am thrilled to say it was worth every cent. If there was a 6 star option I would choose it. Firstly, sorry for the lengthy descriptions below. Before we booked this cruise there was little to no information available, so I’ve gone a bit over the top with the detail in case you’re like me and prefer to know what to expect, to be able to plan appropriately. We did the 12 day Antarctica in Depth from Ushuaia departing on 7 Dec 2019. Return internal flights from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia were included in the Scenic quote, but we wanted to have a few days in Ushuaia before the cruise, so Scenic happily refunded our inbound flight portion, and we booked our own one-way flight with Aerolineas Argentinus. I urge you to do this – we did a half day Tierra Del Fuego National Park tour from Ushuaia with Canal Fun and Nature, and really it’s not to be missed. I was also slightly nervous that AA would cancel the inbound flight on the cruise departure day, so wanted to give us a few days buffer. (And ps, the Scenic flight is VERY early in the morning, 7am or so. Ugh, not for me). Ushuaia is a small and walkable town with an interesting history. The “Blue Bus” 1 hr city tour was fun (in a Fawlty Towers kind of way), with steamed up windows and cramped seats, but we had a bit of a laugh, and enjoyed touring through the suburbs and local beauty spots. Embarkation - walking along the Ushuaia pier to Scenic Eclipse was a little bit emotional – we were amongst those impacted by the building delays, so to finally board the ship 12 months on from the original departure date was quite surreal. Boarding was quick (even for us who forgot to attach our luggage tags to the luggage, duh), and we were in our cabin within 15 minutes of arriving – the luggage arrived just a minute later. Cabin - #627 was a Deluxe Verandah (almost the “middle of the middle” of the ship – booked to minimize sea sickness) on the starboard side, and was plenty big enough for the 2 of us. It had a king size bed (like sleeping on a cloud), a little seating area, heaps of storage, usb charging points next to the bed (yes!), dyson hairdryer (whoa!), unlimited free wifi (sometimes with drop outs, but well … Antarctica !), excellent block out blinds, and an adequate verandah with table and two chairs. Everything was fresh and new. This particular cabin had the bed facing “backwards” ie. When lying in bed you’re looking towards the back of the ship, not forwards to what’s coming up in front. I found this a little disconcerting, but not a major drama. Don’t worry about whether port or starboard is better – there will be 360 degrees of stunning scenery, and the ship often turns to cater for the sub, so either side will afford mind-blowing views. The shower-room was well-lit with a storage mirror above the vanity, drawer space, and open shelving to the side. Others have commented on the lack of towel hanging space with only two hooks, but ours also had a large towel rail next to the vanity; perhaps this has since been incorporated. Large pump-packs of Espa toiletries – shampoo, conditioner, bodywash, handwash and moisturiser were provided. I found the shampoo very drying, but perhaps this was due to the overall very dry air in Antarctica. I found the all-in-one vanity unit slightly annoying because I like to put my makeup bag on the vanity itself, but there was no dry space to do this. Just a slight niggle. There is one MAJOR pain in both Verandah and Deluxe Verandah cabin styles – the large “opening outwards” wardrobe doors. We often crashed into each other if the wardrobe door and bathroom door were open at the same time. This was compounded by the swaying of the ship, which often meant being wacked on the head or back trying to get clothes out of the wardrobe (remember you’ll be accessing the wardrobes several times a day going to and from excursions). Successfully making a coffee with the amenities door and fridge door open, crashing into you while holding boiling hot water, was at times a super-human effort! We would most definitely upgrade to a Grand Deluxe cabin with the walk in wardrobe if cruising again on this ship. Yes we would cruise on this ship again. Sliding doors with strong magnets on Scenic Eclipse 2 please. OK that’s the not so good out of the way. In every other aspect, this cruise was SPECTACULAR ! Common areas – luxurious, comfortable, immaculate, spacious. The Discovery Lounge was the go to place at the end of each day to swap photos and have a nightly cocktail (or 4) with other cruisers. The Theatre was very comfortable – a handful of seats though faced a structural column, so get there 10 minutes before the lectures to nab a good seat. Fellow Passengers - There were 199 Passengers on-board – 50% Aussies, 20% each US/UK, with the remainder being a small mix of Canadians, Germans and Asians. There were a handful of very well behaved teenagers on this cruise; it's not a cruise for young children, and there were none on-board. Butler, Cabin Steward and Restaurant Staff – always a smile and nothing too much trouble. When I tried on my Scenic supplied jacket on day one I found it a little snug … a quick call to Steve our Butler, and within one minute (yes one minute !), he was at the door with a larger size. Was he sitting in the coat storage cupboard ? I have no idea, but his response time to any issue was really quite incredible. Restaurant bookings were organised without a hitch, and Richard kept our cabin immaculately clean and complimentary items always stocked. Again, always with a friendly greeting when we met in the hallway. Expedition Team and Excursions – this is where we learnt that a Zodiac Driver is not just a Zodiac Driver! While being transported onshore, more often than not Chris the Marine Biologist, or Sarah the Geomorphologist, or Pepe the Ornithologist would be sharing their knowledge of the local environment or fauna. Simply incredible knowledge and experience has been brought together on this cruise. There were daily enrichment lectures in the theatre (or simulcast on the cabin tv) by the Team. Danny the Expedition Leader was inspirational and seemed to be everywhere at once, keeping an eye on proceedings and making sure Passengers and Crew were safe. Danny honestly deserves an 11/10 (and perhaps cloning?). Kayaking was our favourite excursion – silently gliding amongst icebergs while penguins are porpoising next to (and under) you while the snow drifts gently down … OMG this was the epitome of the million pinch me moments of this cruise. Sub and Helicopter – Having a lower category cabin may have affected our ability to get onto “the list” for these activities. My husband desperately wanted to go on the sub - each day he dutifully checked the list at reception. It wasn’t until the last day that he was offered a ride. We put our names down for the helicopter but never made it on. I didn’t really care either way, but this was our only negative activity feedback to Scenic - the lack of communication around these extra activities and having to keep checking if you were one of ‘the chosen ones’. It got a bit tedious. I expect those booking the higher cabin categories were given preference, though we found out later that other people in the same cabin category were offered 2 helicopter rides, so go figure. A few weeks before we cruised, Scenic emailed an ‘expression of interest’ for these activities - my husband put down the sub, but we didn’t put down the helicopter, and we didn’t attend the helicopter briefing session on the ship - maybe that affected our chances, even though we filled out the helicopter form on the ship twice. So express interest, attend briefing sessions, and fill out the form on the ship - this should give you a better chance. My husband’s sub was around 30 minutes all up and cost USD$295 pp (worth every cent he said). The Helicopter was around USD$795 pp for 20 minutes, Yikes. Others we spoke to raved about it, so probably worth it in the grand scheme of things. Dining – Wow ! Beautifully presented and always fresh – incredible given there are no provisioning stops during the cruise. The Lumiere degustation is something not to be missed – ask your Butler to book it when you arrive. The menu changes every four days, so going back a second or third time is recommended. The Teppanyaki also needs to be booked in advance if you’re interested. You can simply turn up at any of the other restaurants. Our favourites were Kokos Asian Fusion and Azure Café (healthy options always available). Tips (Antarctica Specific) - • If arriving from Australia, stay at least 5 days in Buenos Aires (beautiful city) to settle into the new time zone and to get over the long flights (I suffered jet-lag for the first 4 days). Also 2 days in Ushuaia before the cruise. • The Scenic chartered flights have a 23kg baggage limit. Be careful of Aerolineas Argentinus which has 15kgs. We paid an extra $15 to have 2 x 15kg bags instead. And no, they won’t let you put it all in one 23kg bag, very inflexible. If you receive the opportunity to upgrade to Business Class … DO IT ! We received an email a couple of days before the flight, paid $50USD pp, and were blown away by the spacious comfortable leather seat, plus a 23kg bag limit, score. It was the best $50 I’ve ever spent - Economy was certainly cramped on the way back to Buenos Aires. • During the cruise you’ll cop a bit of spray in the zodiacs, and if the wind is up it’s bitterly cold, so you most definitely need waterproof pants and gloves (both glove liners with smartphone touchpads, plus waterproof ski type gloves). Scenic will supply the double layered waterproof jacket and knee-high rubber boots to keep you snug and stable on the snow. A neck gaiter/warm scarf and beanie/furry hat are also mandatory. The Scenic website now has a comprehensive “Polar Packing List” – check it out. • You can get away with just two sets of thermals – the ship has 3 large (i.e can do two loads of washing at once) commercial self- service washers and dryers, so it is very easy to throw washing in at the end of the day. We washed 3 times during the 12 days and never had an issue with availability in the laundry. • An good SLR camera with a 300mm zoom and sports mode will get you incredible wildlife photos. See penguin shot taken from our cabin verandah. • You don’t need super-dressy clothes, most Passengers were quite casual. My husband brought a nice dress jacket that he never used, and it took up considerable space (and weight!) in his bag. At night it was more smart casual, I wore black trousers and a nice top. The ship stays warm (perhaps a tad too warm at times), so we wore t-shirts and chinos/slacks/jeans during the day. • Pack Kwells or other sea-sickness tablets - the Drake Passage can be rocky (duh). Waves were only 3-4 meters during our 36 hour journeys to/from the Peninsula, but probably 20% of the Passengers were unwell and stayed in their cabins. I took a Kwell as soon as we rounded Cape Horn (about midnight day one) and had no issues from then on. Same for the return trip. It’s smooth sailing for the 9 days in Antarctica. • Take a few moments to sit down with the penguins. There’s a 5 meter exclusion zone for the penguins – but they don’t have to abide by it ! Have your camera ready because the Adelies are very curious and will come right up to you for a good look. The penguins were nesting on their eggs during our visit, which started hatching around 20 December. Would I cruise again on Scenic Eclipse ? Unreservedly YES. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
The moment we stepped on board we were in awe. Lovely welcome champagne and greeting by staff. When we first arrived on board we had lunch in the lovely Azure Cafe. For us first impression is a lasting impression. The service was ... Read More
The moment we stepped on board we were in awe. Lovely welcome champagne and greeting by staff. When we first arrived on board we had lunch in the lovely Azure Cafe. For us first impression is a lasting impression. The service was amazing. Our cabin was amazing, and the veranda bigger than we’d experienced before. The ambience was beautiful with beautiful lighting. Our bathroom as well appointed with amazing lighting and large shower with the best shower we’ve ever had cruising and beautiful tapware. The walk in robe was amazing with plenty of storage. The cabins are so well equipped with binoculars, quietvox for excursions and umbrellas. Our cabin steward and butler were extraordinary and very helpful. Every crew member from Reception to Restaurants to expedition team to bar were excellent. The yacht is a discovery yacht and that’s exactly what we got. Being a small ship allows us to go to places the big ships can’t go and having zodiacs on board, submarine, helicopters and kayaks makes the adventure exciting. The Captain (Captain Ewan) and his officers were the best ever. Their care for passengers were second to none. My husband and I have cruised twice a year on all inclusive ships since 2012 and believe Scenic Eclipse have the best of everything. We were very impressed by the Chef’s Table with a gastronomical theatre of food. In fact every restaurant was 5 star. We loved the experience so much we booked two back to back cruises in 2021. Thanks Scenic Eclipse for a wonderful trip! Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
The itinerary was fabulous. I had underestimated how beautiful the Chilean fjords were. The ship is beautiful, and luxurious with great cabins. Excellent service and style. Fabulous food for an adventure cruise. Helicopter and ... Read More
The itinerary was fabulous. I had underestimated how beautiful the Chilean fjords were. The ship is beautiful, and luxurious with great cabins. Excellent service and style. Fabulous food for an adventure cruise. Helicopter and submarine rides were great. Didn't see much on the sub ride. The main swimming pool is in the middle of the lunch restaurant.....WEIRD! Crew and Discovery team great. Very educational talks on geology and nature. Scenic always overdelivers on what was in the itinerary. They are always looking for ways to give a little more than expected. Made an unexpected stop at a tiny village called Tortel in the Chilean fjords. Fabulous extra. The town was unique and the town put on a little show of their culture. We got beautiful North Face Parkas and use of serious waterproof Antarctic boots for the Zodiac trips, which were almost daily. I am sorry, I didn't have the time to carry on to Antarctic. If you want exercise, adventure, getting up close to nature, glaciers, waterfalls, etc. in a luxury setting, Scenic Eclipse is your choice. Expensive up front, but didn't spend a dime on board, except for submarine and helicopter excursions. EVERYTHING else is included. Did I mention the 100 whiskeys they have at the lounge bar, all inclusive. Great malt whiskeys. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
My wife and I sailed on the Scenic Ecplipse from Cartegena, Colombia to Lima Peru in Oct- November 2019. We have had a total of 18 cruises before this one including multiple trips on Seabourne, Crystal, Azamara and Oceania. Inevitably, one ... Read More
My wife and I sailed on the Scenic Ecplipse from Cartegena, Colombia to Lima Peru in Oct- November 2019. We have had a total of 18 cruises before this one including multiple trips on Seabourne, Crystal, Azamara and Oceania. Inevitably, one compares the Scenic experience to its price point competition. Our review is mixed. We have found ourselves gravitating to smaller ships over the years and we had a pleasant time on a Scenic river cruise in France so we thought the Eclipse was worth a try despite concerns about shakedown issues with a new vessel. Like many others, our initial booking was postponed due to construction delays and we rebooked a similar South American itinerary a year later than originally planned. We booked the Sofitel Santa Clara hotel in Cartegena on our own three days before departure and because it was Scenic’s chosen embarkation hotel, they met us promptly at the airport and delivered us comfortably to the hotel. Transfer to the ship was not as well done as we had to wait two and a half hours in the lobby to load the busses. Once at the pier, embarkation was as nice as any we have experienced, and our bags beat us to the room. I was surprised there was no ship security screening of our carry-on luggage, especially given Colombia’s reputation for smuggling. Surprisingly we had to disembark after one hour on board to go through a perfunctory passport check at Colombia customs. No luggage screen there either. Not complaining, but unusual these days. Our room (Grand Deluxe Veranda Suite # 504) was beautiful and spacious: Big screen tv, spacious bathroom, plenty of storage, stocked bar fridge, coffee maker, a Dyson hair dryer my wife loved, binoculars, umbrellas, plenty of outlets after we discovered the Brit format outlet would take N American plugs, a nice sized balcony, comfy bed with a pillow menu! Very much comparable to a business class hotel room! Our butler, Jeffrey, was great and made every effort to keep us stocked with ice, tonic and gin. Not all was perfection. The bathroom sink had a “high style“ sloping basin that looked nicer than it functioned. The bath itself had a persistent aroma of adhesive outgassing or some other chemical bouquet. We found it annoying but eventually went nose blind to it. The television blinked off repeatedly and worse, came on by itself repeatedly in the middle of the night. They did get this fixed pretty quickly after many complaints. We also had problems with a tapping noise from the sliding glass balcony door. Our butler dispatched the maintenance people who arrived quickly, sprayed some lube and declared it fixed. It wasn’t. After a second visit they fixed the noise with a wedge of wood in the door frame. This eliminated the noise but made balcony use problematic because we couldn’t get the wedge back in properly. The ship itself was beautiful but it had some design issues. One could not see anything seated in the “observation” lounge except the front deck. Better to think of it as a small library with an observation deck. The was only a single stairway and elevator bank, situated toward the back of the ship and of course our cabin was in the far front. The main “immersion” pool was located indoors in the middle of the air conditioned Yacht Club buffet restaurant. The water seemed cold and I never saw anyone in it the entire trip. The normal spot for an outdoor pool was taken up by the helicopter pad. Water sloshed from the small outdoor pool onto the diners seated below on the Azure outdoor dining deck. We found the food at all the venues to be excellent. We did have an annoying half hour wait for our 8 pm reservation at Teppanyaki but a martini with similarly disposed table mates helped ease the pain. Once there, the food was interesting and delicious. The other specialty restaurant, Luminere was also first rate with no wait. The waiter in Elements forgot to offer my wife dessert on one occasion but otherwise the food and service there was exemplary. “JB” (James Bond, he alleged) was particularly good. On our last night on the ship we went to the “invitation only” “Chef’s Table” experience, which was one of the very best meals we have had in our entire lives. Ten delicious and beautifully presented courses that were as much art as food. Matching wine pairings with each course and a leather boxed tool kit to help us participate in the presentation. The venue was a glass enclosed room with a views of the kitchens. They almost had to wheel me out of there on a dolly after the experience! Easily one of the top highlights of the trip! They told us they only do this every other night for 10 people, so less than half the passengers on our short cruise could be accommodated. None of the five couples ay our seating could figure out why we were so blessed since none of us were in top suites or frequent Scenic customers. Very highly recommended, so try to wrangle an invitation!! We were disappointed we were not selected to participate in the extra cost submarine experience despite signing up for it the moment we boarded the ship. There was only one scheduled submarine excursion day and I must admit to a bit of schadenfreude when even that one day got cancelled. I understand the opportunities for submarine deployment are very limited. Not much of a ship feature when you can’t use it. We did get on the helicopter at the Darrien National Park which was a nice 20 minute ride. Unfortunately, they rescheduled the flight so as to prevent us from going ashore that day. We were not prepared for the number of wet landings from the zodiacs and did not have proper footwear. Better advance warning would have helped. The zodiacs were numerous and the crews did a good job loading and unloading during sometimes rough conditions. The entertainment on such a small ship was expectedly limited compared to larger ships, featuring a single singer on two nights. The lecturers were better, with Peter Damisch being exceptional. One nice feature was the opportunity to have dinner with Peter! Other ships videotape these talks for later viewing but not here. They might also have broadcast the Panama Canal transit commentary through the television rather than through the public address system so you could listen or not. Niko, the ship videographer put together a beautifully done video of the trip with timelapse and drone footage which he promised to send to everyone! Would we book again? Maybe in a year or two if the itinerary is right and they can get more of the kinks worked out. Six stars? Not yet, but maybe soon. Better than Crystal of Seabourne? No, but close, and with much potential for a unique experience only a smaller ship like this can provide. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
DISCLAIMER: This review will be VERY LENGTHY as there is a significant amount of information to convey. I have utilized topic headers so you can pick and choose which topics are of interest to you and skip the others. The Eclipse ... Read More
DISCLAIMER: This review will be VERY LENGTHY as there is a significant amount of information to convey. I have utilized topic headers so you can pick and choose which topics are of interest to you and skip the others. The Eclipse is a unique ship and not inexpensive to book, so it is important to understand what to expect. Furthermore, my wife and I are in no way connected to Scenic. However, we have had two amazing Scenic river cruise cruises (Rhine and Danube.) As you are well aware Cruise Critic reviews are like art and opinions can differ greatly depending on the eye of the beholder. There have been times in the past I have read reviews from other passengers who were a part of the same exact cruise segment my wife and I were on and found it hard to believe we had traveled on the same ship. MY OVERALL CURRENT RATING WOULD BE 4 ½ STARS. I feel in a very short time period, as a few lingering issues are addressed, the Eclipse will deserve the FULL FIVE STARS. BACKGROUND: My wife and I cruised several times early in our marriage and were even engaged on a cruise to Bermuda. However, we went twenty years without cruising as we became avid snow skiers and bought a condo in the mountains. About six years ago we decided it was time to see the world and cruising seemed to be the perfect way to do it. We now try to do two 7-14 day cruises per calendar. Year. One limiting factor is that we both are still working fulltime so vacation time is limited. Furthermore, we need to return home after each cruise to earn the money to pay for the next cruise. Typically, we have cruised on ships in the 2,000 to 4,300 passenger range. However, on Norwegian, we like The Haven suite area as it is what I refer to as an enclave and “a small ship within a large ship.” Celebrity also has a suite class we enjoy with a separate restaurant so we can further ensure my wife’s food allergies can be appropriately handled versus being in a dining room with thousands of other guests. My wife has Celiac Disease, which is a food allergy to ANYTHING with wheat, oat & barley. We like the safety of having almost all our meals on ships where the chefs can handle her need to eat Gluten Free and understand the term “cross-contamination.” In other words, we typically are booking suites out of necessity to avoid my wife needing medical care or even hospitalization. A LONG WAIT FOR THE ECLIPSE: Three and a half years ago back in March 2016, I put up two deposits for future Eclipse cruises. Like many other Cruise Critic members, I have followed the construction shipyard issues and endured two cancellations. Scenic treated us well with full refunds and the offer of discounts for the two replacement cruises. I obviously had VERY high expectations of the Scenic Eclipse since prior to this cruise I had made three non-refundable deposits for Eclipse cruises (Panama Canal, Norwegian Fjords and Antarctica.) Obviously, I did this based on the initial Eclipse marketing booklet and animation videos on their website along with a certain amount of faith. ITINERARY: This cruise segment was titled “Columbia to Panama Discovery” – Emabarkation in Cartagena (Columbia) with stops in San Blas Islands, Panama Canal transit, Darien National Park (Panama), Utria National Park (Columbia), Equator Crossing, Salaverry (Panama), Isla Guanape (Peru), disembarkation in Lime, (Peru.) EMBARKATION: We flew to Cartagena, Columbia and booked our own pre-cruise room at a wonderful small hotel (Sophia) inside the Walled City. Therefore, we had the hotel arrange for a taxi to take us to the ship. Boarding went smoothly around 1 p.m. Some passengers were disappointed all of us had to leave the ship around 4 pm to be bussed back to building at the front of the port to clear customs. This was certainly not the fault of Scenic as the customs office in that port set their hours of operation. I felt Scenic handled this situation well and provided a shuttle service. Plus, the time between boarding and going through customs allowed us time to explore the ship. SHIP: This might the lightning rod since I alluded to all of us having our own opinions when it comes to art and ship design. I will get straight to the point and tell you I love what owners Glen and Karen Mahoney have done in designing this ship. I had very high expectations and they were exceeded. As has been pointed out there are a few kinks that need to be worked out. Obviously, much more work had been done since the ship was crossing the Atlantic and a few more issues were being actively being addressed during our cruise. EXTERIOR: The black hull and white upper structure are visually striking. INTERIOR: This is where there is a real diversity of opinion. I am not sure how much middle ground there is regarding this ship. My wife and I absolutely love it. Karen has done an amazing job in our opinion. Lots of grays, black, white, chrome, stainless steel and glass. This is a very modern contemporary style we enjoy. In fact, when we visited the yoga/pilates area and found similar flooring to that we installed this year during a complete remodel of our beach reach condo. When we entered the bathroom in our cabin we just laughed as it was the exact style tile we installed in our condo master bathroom. Karen and I would get along well as we share similar tastes in contemporary design. If you are a fan of warmer earth tones with greens and browns, then there are other ships that might be more to your liking. As I often tell my friends….. “Different strokes for different folks.” For me, the Eclipse design is in my wheelhouse. In my opinion, the gray/black palette also allows the ability to make statements with color from art which is also easy to change out over time. Furthermore, it is my understanding that all the art has not arrived on board the ship at this point in time. As has been pointed out in a prior Eclipse review some areas of the ship have black carpeting in some public areas that require constant attention as it does show up many forms of dust and dirt. However, the crew was regularly utilizing Dyson cordless vacuums to maintain the carpet. We were pleased with the spaciousness of the ship and the public areas. As many of you know the Eclipse carries a maximum of 228 passengers. On our sailing, there were 178 crew/staff/discovery team members and only 148 passengers. This is obviously a very high ratio of staff to passengers. There were times of the day where we wondered where all the passengers had gone. Obviously, the main lounge on Deck Four is the primary passenger gathering location with the Whiskey Bar that has over a hundred types of whiskey. However, it is also a full bar so you have your choice of beer, wine, other alcoholic and non-alcoholic libations at most any hour. There are also bars in Azure, Koko’s, Elements, Yacht Club and Lumiere. This might be a good point to mention something I thought about and researched since my wife and I have traveled on the Norwegian Epic which carries over 4,000 passengers. Norwegian Epic – 4,228 passengers. Cost to build - approximately 1.4 billion USD (I adjusted the number for inflation since it was built in 2010) Scenic Eclipse – 228 passengers. Cost to build – approximately a quarter of billion USD Therefore, the cost for the Epic was about $284,000 per berth while the cost for the Eclipse is a staggering $1,096,000 per berth. As you can see the Glen and Karen have made a substantial investment for luxury and state of the art technology. DINING: For the small number of passengers, the Eclipse has what I consider to be a large number of dining venues. Elements is the primary dining facility. It has a menu that changes regularly as do the menus in the other restaurants. I want to address something that another reviewer mentioned regarding the slow delivery of food. I did find it took a little longer than I expected on our embarkation day. Since we were on vacation we were not in a hurry and it did not bother us. I suspect the staff walks the line of not having passengers feel rushed. As I continually mention different passengers have different expectations. On a night when we did have other plans, we simply told our waiter and the various courses were delivered at a brisker pace. Sometimes we were looking for something basic. We simply went “off-menu” and asked for some basic items (hamburger, chicken breast, etc.) we knew were on the room service menu that is serviced from the Elements kitchen. Koko’s (JP and his team handle Sushi @Koko’s, Teppanyaki @Koko’s and Koko’s Asian Fusion). We skipped the Sushi since some years ago I ended up in an emergency room with food poisoning from a bad raw oyster. Figuring I may be more sensitive to bacteria from raw seafood I have had to give it up. That being said, I did hear good reviews from other passengers. The Teppanyaki Grill (Reservations Required) – It is located in a separate area at the back of Koko’s. Our evening was a fun experience with great food and fellowship in a relaxed atmosphere. Chef Strawberry took the time to explain each course as she was preparing it which added to the experience. On another evening we tried the Asian Fusion section and thoroughly enjoyed our meals. Lumiere (Reservation required) - A French restaurant with a menu that changes every four days. The manager (also named JP) runs this facility along with Azure. As expected, the seven-course meal and service were top-notch. Azure Bar and Grill - This is a nice casual bar and grill with seating areas inside and outside that was rarely busy. It was easy to get a small meal or snack quickly. Epicure – A cooking school in a dedicated space with very limited availability. To my knowledge, it was offered twice during our cruise and unfortunately, we did not make the cut. With only 12 openings and up to 228 passengers your chances of being able to attend are limited depending on demand. (Only one in nine, if all 228 passengers had an interest.) Chef’s Table – This is an “invitation-only” experience that typically occurs every other night for up to ten guests. If you are on a shorter cruise segment like mine of only 8 nights, there are limited opportunities and availability. For those who would like to partake in this experience, I suggest expressing your interest to your butler. Fortunately, on the last night, we received an invitation to join four other couples for an epicurean experience and I do mean experience!!! 3 HOURS + 10 FLIGHTS of CHAMPAGNE and WINE + 10 COURSES (appetizers, entrees & dessert) + a LEATHER ENCASED TOOLKIT = CHEF’s TABLE Executive Chef Bert completely exceeded my expectations by providing a three-hour interactive meal where each of us participated in the finishing steps of a couple of the courses. Our main courses included all of the following: Wagyu beef, Dover sole, lamb and smoked pork. Executive Chef Bert said the general food prep for this event takes over 16 hours and the pork is smoked for 40 hours. CONTRAST THE ABOVE WITH THE LAST MEAL MY WIFE AND I ATE FOR OUR NEXT DINNER. The following night we stayed in Lima, Peru and decided on a much simpler menu we had packed in our suitcases before leaving Tuscaloosa since we didn’t want to risk food poisoning. Who doesn’t love pretzels, peanut butter, and bottled water??? Actually, I eat this for lunch a couple of days each week back home. Yacht Club – (buffet for breakfast and lunch overseen by Robert the Restaurant Manager for the Eclipse) In addition, to the extensive buffet offerings there is the ability to order additional breakfast items from a small menu. I intentionally saved the Yacht Club for later in my food/restaurant review for several reasons. For one, it turned out to be a very popular buffet dining venue for breakfast and especially lunch. (NOTE: it is not currently open for dinner.) Understandably, it could become “standing room only”, particularly when everyone returned from a shore excursion around the same time. However, seats typically tuned over quickly. Plus, if you don’t want to wait you can go to Elements and Azure or order room service and eat on your balcony. I need to mention the large stainless-steel pool that is situated in the Yacht Club. It is was a topic of a great deal of discussion and a fair amount of outright derision. The general consensus was that no one would go into this pool while other passengers were eating and this space could be better utilized for additional tables. I asked one of the servers how many passengers she had seen in the pool since the ship launched and she said only three. I told her by the end of this cruise it would be at least four as I intended to give it try. I ended up trying it on an afternoon when I walked around and noticed the only two people in the Yacht Club were the two bartenders who were on duty. I decided to go back to my room and change to my swimsuit so I could give the pool a test drive. When I checked the water earlier it seemed cool so I figured I would only be in the pool about sixty seconds. To my surprise, I found the water comfortable and actually ended up swimming in the pool for over fifteen minutes. I could actually swim as I was obviously the only one in the pool. It does have a sensational view out the back of the ship. (photo enclosed). I believe when this ship spends almost half the year in the colder Arctic circle and Antarctica more passengers will decide to give this pool a try and use the sun loungers as it is doubtful the outdoor pools will be utilized. Unfortunately, it was not until the last morning that I found out from Robert (the Restaurant manager for the ship) that there were strategically located buttons around the inside of the Yacht Club pool that allowed you to turn on specific water jets. If I had known this information previously, I would have stayed in the pool much longer. In-Room Dining (aka Room Service) – Did not try this service and cannot offer an opinion. However as mentioned previously, we did order items from the room service menu while eating in Elements. ENTERTAINMENT: Frankly, on a ship with such a low number of passengers that is billed as a Discovery Yacht I did not expect much in the way of entertainment. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised to find we had an entertainment director and singer name Grace Caudle on board. During our eight-night cruise Grace did two different seventy-five-minute singing performances. One was An Evening of Broadway songs and the other An Evening of Classics (a mixture of classics and opera.) Grace is not only beautiful she has a voice to match. NOTE: My wife and I constantly ran into Grace around the ship as she also helps support the Discovery team. Grace mentioned she is training to become certified to operate one of the elven Zodiacs on board. I told her to be sure to put that on her resume and as it will be a sure-fire attention getter for a singer/performer. We also had the pleasure of dining with Grace one evening for our incredible meal in Lumiere. Grace was raised in Dallas, currently resides in NYC and has traveled the world performing. Grace is charming and has a down to earth personality. Grace also hosted a Liar’s Club in the theater which I found highly entertaining. Be forewarned that some of your crew members are very good liars. (LOL) On another evening passengers had the opportunity to view a movie in the theater. Grace also held a couple of trivia contests in the main Lounge. On one of the sea days, I participated in a Martini class that was conducted by the bar manager. During our stop in Utria National Park, Columbia Scenic had arranged for a group of about a dozen local performers to come on board to give a singing and dancing performance representative of their culture. It was highly entertaining, and you could tell the performers were excited and happy to be on board. FYI: I was impressed that Captain Erwan LeRouzic made sure all the performers were allowed to take a tour of our ship. I considered this to be a “cultural exchange.” It was the first time many of the performers had ever been in an elevator. They even had a group photo taken on the bow of the ship. Our Captain felt it was important for he and Scenic to also share a special experience with the performers. In the lounge, there was a duo of a piano player and singer that performed low key music early in the evenings and after dinner. THEATER: The theater is beautiful and seats about 240 people. As in any theater, some seats have better sightlines than others. The main three front-facing projectors were perfectly synched, and the sound system was great. There are even several “short throw” projectors on the sidewalls of the theater for displaying various background type images. It is apparent much time and thought went into the design of this theater. The majority of the seating is in large lounger chairs. A few of the chairs in the theater are power recliners and a few on the sides even swivel. There is also bar service. Therefore, you can relax and listen to the lectures while sipping on a martini or other libations. I definitely needed this during lectures during my college years. This could have changed my entire experience of attending class. SPA: With almost 6,000 square feet the Spa Sanctuary was a beautiful and relaxing area we visited several times during our cruise in order to utilize the steam room, sauna, Vitality Room as well as the outdoor lounge area and pool. In the vitality room with both cushioned and heated stone loungers, BOSE noise-canceling headphones are available. I even went online and figured how to download the BOSE Connect app to allow me to use the headphone to play music from my cell phone. While the men’s sauna has a traditional heating system, the women’s sauna utilizes some type of special infrared system which we were told in a tour was to accommodate women going through menopause. My wife said the infrared system barely provided any heat. She remarked she has much better heat from a small space heater in her office at work. Hopefully, Scenic will address this deficiency in the future. Frankly, I suspect women going through heat flashes related to menopause will seek out a sauna. NOTE: One major disappointment for my wife and me is that there are almost no coed facilities in the spa (the saunas, steam rooms, and even the vitality rooms are segregated. We enjoy spending time together and other ships provide the ability to do so in their areas the lounges. It is not like passengers would choose to use the sauna or loungers in the nude since both areas have windows to the outside deck where anyone walking by could look inside. In reality, it is a type of “unintended” reverse discrimination as several gay couples on board had the ability to share these spa experiences with their spouses/significant others while we were denied that opportunity. I am hopeful Scenic will consider implementing some coed days and/or times. I will admit one afternoon I joined my wife on an adjoining stone lounger on her side as there was absolutely no one in the vitality areas which for some reason was typically the case during our cruise. (Naturally, if another guest had shown-up I would have immediately returned to the men’s side.) OUTDOOR HOT TUBS: Naturally, we tried these out. Unfortunately, we only lasted a few minutes as the temperature was only luke-warm and far from hot. We tried the other hot tub and found it also did not have hot water. The tepid temperature ruined what might have been an enjoyable experience. It would have been ok if the ship were anchored but it was moving and since the hot tubs are forward the wind made it too cool to enjoy in tepid water. My suggestion would be to have at least one, if not both, of the tubs set to the appropriate temperatures. GYM: We utilized it several times and found it to be well-equipped with a nice view of the ocean while you are exercising. YOGA/PILATES STUDIO: Having never done Yoga I decided this was the perfect opportunity to give it try with the classes held every morning at 7 am. Unfortunately, I had to miss a few days as a couple of shore excursions were early and there would not be enough time to clean up after the yoga class and grab a quick breakfast. The instructor, Vlad, was very patient and helped me learn the appropriate poses. Although I work out regularly, I will say yoga is more physically demanding than I realized. It is even more difficult when the ship was rolling with the waves, but Vlad would adjust the pose to take that into account. SERVICE: In a word …. “EXCEPTIONAL!” As mentioned previously, due to my wife’s unique dietary needs we have typically spent the money to stay in mid-range suites on ships with a concierge and/or butler, therefore I feel we have a fairly good baseline as what to expect. There are many aspects to a cruise, including the design of the ship, the itinerary, the excursions and naturally the food; however, one of the biggest factors for me regarding overall satisfaction is controlled by the crew/staff/team members. I always make it a point to meet as many as possible in such a short time onboard. The staff on the Eclipse were all top-notch. Of course, the crew and ship operations are handled by the captain. In our case, it was Captain Erwan LeRouzic. He is friendly and could typically be found roaming the ship checking on things. In the evenings he made himself available for conversations as he walked through the lounge greeting and interacting with passengers. Over the course of the cruise, I cumulatively spent 4-5 hours talking with him. I had done some prior research and found out he was the first person to captain a completely solar-powered boat around the world. He is actually in the Guinness Book of World Records for this feat. Obviously, Captain Erwan set the standard you would expect on this type of adventure. As most of you know the person who is responsible for the highest number of staff on the ship is the Hotel Director. In this case, it is Rico Tubert. As I always say, leadership starts at the top and it is apparent Rico sets a high bar. Once again, I will point out you could find Rico constantly walking the ship checking on his mangers and staff as well as interacting with passengers. He was always friendly and accommodating. When I asked him one evening if the steam rooms had not yet been finished he pulled me aside to explain the steam rooms were finished but they were attempting to track down a water leak that occurs when they are running. Rico said If I, or any passengers, wanted to use them on a particular day to let him know and he would have them turned on. I mentioned it would be nice to have them for our upcoming sea days and as promised the steam rooms were on and provided a great experience. (As mentioned earlier I wish my wife and I could have had the opportunity to enjoy them together. Hopefully, some accommodations will be made for coed couples during our future cruises.) I did have to good-naturedly tell Rico not to let the audio-video sub-contractors off the ship until they eliminated the gremlins that caused the TV’s to come on in the middle of the night for no reason several. It was startling when it occurred at night. I certainly did not fault Scenic as their AV contractors let them down. Fortunately, Scenic had them on board fine-tuning the system. As mentioned previously, my wife has to eat Gluten Free so I always seek out the Restaurant Manager early in the cruise to ensure there will not be any issues Our Restaurant Manager was Robert who is top-notch. When I mentioned a concern on the first evening of the cruise Robert immediately called Executive Chef Bert to have him meet with us to ensure my wife’s dietary restrictions where appropriately handled. On the night we dined at the Chef’s Table, Executive Chef Bert even went to the extra time and effort to make sure specific Gluten Free substitutions were made so that my wife could enjoy this unique culinary experience. It is hard to express how much this meant to my wife. A special thanks to Robert and Executive Chef Bert and all their team members (including the pastry chef and baker among many others) for making this cruise special for my wife. Another time I mentioned to Robert that my wife would enjoy something different other than the fruit and gelato that were often the main desserts listed on the menus as being Gluten Free. From that night forward my wife was provided a different Gluten Free dessert every evening. No matter which of the many restaurants we dined in during the remainder of our cruise the staff would find the special Gluten Free dessert created by the Scenic pastry chef and bring it to our table. One night I recall we were full from the main course and did not have room for dessert. I asked our waiter (JB) if we could get a to-go box to take it back to our cabin. Instead, JB insisted we allow him to arrange for it to be delivered to our cabin while we were enjoying a show in the theater. It made a great late-night snack when we returned to our cabin. Speaking of JB, he was out primary waiter in Elements and did an outstanding job. He always had a smile on his face throughout the cruise as did the entire crew and staff. I specifically recall looking through the glass windows into the kitchen while dining at the Chef’s Table to see how the staff acted when they were “backstage.” They were always smiling and interacting with each other in a friendly manner although as you can imagine it is a frantic pace in such a small space. At another point in our Chef’s Table meal, several of us noticed a worker surrounded by a couple of other workers who were spraying him with whipped cream and water. Executive Chef Bert also noticed and explained this was an instance where a crew member was returning home after completing their contract and other staff members were helping him celebrate. Frankly, I am always interested in how the staff is treated-on ship by management and ownership. JB told me how on other high-end ships he would struggle to stay in touch with his family. In some ports, he and other crew members would scramble off the ship when in a port to find free internet or to buy a phone card so they could contact their families back home. In his case, it twelve-hour time difference to the Philippines. JB went on to tell me how on Scenic they provide FREE video messaging to the entire crew so they can remain in contact with their families. JB literally teared up as he told me that thanks to Karen and Glen Moroney he was able to watch his children grow up daily. JB video conferences with them every night around midnight (noon in the Philippines.) He said when Karen was on board he thanked her and actually wanted to hug her for providing this ability to communicate with his family on a daily basis. I also learned from the Captain that Scenic has a late movie night once a month for the crew in the main theater, so they get to enjoy those comfortable seats like the passengers. It is no wonder that Scenic staff members are happy. They have owners and management that care about their well-being. As the saying goes…. “Take care of your staff and they will take care of you and your customers.” We also interacted frequently with a waiter named Don as he seemed to be everywhere. Don waited on us at various times in Elements, the Yacht Club and was also walking on the deck taking drinks orders another time. Don also appreciates Scenic providing the ability to remain in touch regularly with his family. One evening he showed us a tattoo he had of his daughter on one of his arms. I took a picture of it as it is one of the most realistic portrait tattoos I have ever seen. Don always had a smile and a friendly greeting for us. As we are all aware there are no unimportant jobs on a ship from the engine room to the bridge. I am appreciative of each of the multitude of staff members on board who worked hard to ensure we had a memorable cruise. DISCOVERY TEAM This is certainly one of the main reasons for cruising on the Scenic Eclipse. Since this could be an incredibly lengthy section, I will try to hit a few highlights. During the course of the nine days, I met almost the entire staff and can say they are dedicated, knowledgeable and passionate about their fields of expertise. Many of them were as excited as some of the passengers to be working on a variety of excursions and activities. There were approximately twenty persons on the Discovery Team during our cruise on the Eclipse. The personnel changes depending on the area where the ship is cruising and how long they have been on board without a break. Scenic also allows passengers to express interest each evening if they would like to dine with a member of the Discovery Team. This is a terrific program and I recommend taking advantage of it. In addition to handling the actual excursions, many members of the Discovery Team also provide incredibly interesting lectures. Some are to prepare you for an area you are going to visit, and other lectures review an excursion you have experienced. One day we went snorkeling with the Discovery Team, did a helicopter flight with Josh as our pilot over the San Blas Archipelago and then snorkeled with Kevin and Sarah to one of the remote islands of San Blas. The next day we experienced the eleven-hour transit through the Panama Canal with great commentary. On day three Lou and Peter led our group to visit the Embera tribe members in the Darien National Park. The following day Jorge helped lead a small group of truly adventurous passengers on a strenuous hike through thick jungle vegetation and considerable time walking in streams in a rain forest at Utria National Park. It rained almost the entire hike. Obviously, this is why they call it a “RAIN” forest. However, the tree canopy actually mitigated some of the heavy rains. On our second sea day, the Scenic staff arranged for a fun ceremony commemorating our crossing of the Equator. In Salaverry, we chose the excursion to Chan Can and Huenchco with Peter and Susan. The following day we were on a Zodiac excursion with Kevin and Pepe. One of the highlights of the cruise was the Scenic Enrichment event with a private exhibition of Peruvian Paso Horses along with some local dancers. After the show, they allowed plenty of time for passengers to spend time with the horses, riders, and dancers. Having traveled on two Scenic river cruises we knew this would be a special event in which Scenic pulls out all the stops to provide a memorable interactive experience. It was held on the grounds on a five-star Wyndham hotel in Salaverry, Peru and the hotel staff was outstanding as were the performers. Once again Scenic exceeded our expectations. There were multiple rounds of drinks and hors d'oeuvres served by an attentive staff. Since my wife has a gluten allergy, she had to decline the hors d'oeuvres since it was obvious, they all contain wheat. This was certainly not an issue as it is what we would expect at an event arranged through a third party, so we know to bring Gluten Free snacks with us on our travels. Imagine my wife’s surprise when a waiter approached with a large plate filled with a variety of Gluten-Free hors d'oeuvres they had prepared especially for her. We have no idea who thought to make this arrangement but we both want to say a big a “THANK YOU.” ENRICHMENT LECTURES: The discovery team includes a historian, naturalist, geologist, ornithologist, etc. who made a wide variety of presentations in the theater. I will admit I was surprised there was not better attendance as all of the presentations were educational and interesting. FYI: I do want to point out you will more than likely only have one opportunity to view these presentations in the theater or live on your TV so plan accordingly. Due to copyright issues, Scenic is not allowed to record and play them back later on your in-room TV. HELICOPTER and SUBMERSIBLE: Much marketing by Scenic has gone into highlighting and heavily promoting the helicopter and submersible. Sadly, it was probably the source of the highest level of unhappiness from those passengers who never had the opportunity to partake in these experiences. First of all, it is apparent that the ability to get to experience one of these is based on a combination of “RHIP” and “luck.” RHIP - As my dad told me as a kid when I was unable to do something that other people were experiencing, he would remind me that “Rank Has Its Privileges.” The reality is that those passengers in the more expensive suites on Decks Eight and Nine on the Eclipse are given top priority as were those who have traveled extensively with Scenic in the past and are in the upper levels of the scenic loyalty program. My understanding is that “THE LIST” for the submersible comes from the home office in Australia. As much as I loved the Eclipse and the overall experience; not getting on “THE LIST” to experience the submersible (if it had operated) was a major disappointment. It is particularly disappointing as my wife and I have two more expensive cruises of 9-11 days booked to the Norwegian Fjords and Antarctica where we intentionally booked mid-ship on the lowest level (deck five) to help with seasickness in the Drake Strait. Therefore, I will probably never be allowed by ownership/management to get on the submersible since RHIP will come into play and I will be the proverbial low person on the totem pole. I probably would not have spent the considerable money on three cruises in eighteen months if I had realized I would probably never have an opportunity to go on the submersible. Obviously, there is a better opportunity to get on the helicopter as it has more capacity due to the faster turnaround. On our cruise, Scenic was only utilizing one of their two helicopters. This was partly due to demand and also they are still getting familiar with the process of bringing a helicopter out of the hanger, installing the blades, going through the pre-flight checklist, etc. Our pilot Josh mentioned it currently takes about one hour for this process. In the future, they plan to get this time down to about thirty minutes which will allow them to use both helicopters since there is only one landing area and they will have to precisely alternate their takeoffs and landings. NOTE: I do want to mention that there are also two factors out of the control of Scenic that further diminish your chances to have an opportunity to take part in the highly promoted helicopter and submersible experiences. Those two factors are WEATHER and PERMITTING. WEATHER - Naturally safety must come first, and the helicopters cannot fly in situations that could potentially endanger the safety of pilots and passengers. High winds and rough seas are two of the primary factors. In one case we were docked in Slaverry and high winds were coming from the wrong direction for the helicopters to take off into the wind to obtain proper lift. When the Eclipse is anchored the captain can often change the ship’s position to allow the helicopters to have proper wind direction. However, understand that can also impact the comfort of the passengers who are onboard the ship so it is a balancing act. Furthermore, in that in the case where the wind was a factor, the Eclipse was unfortunately docked next to a freighter that was actively loading coal with cranes that were constantly moving. Having a crane hit you helicopter while taking off or landing is naturally a “no go.” On another day the waves were moving up to four feet in a matter of seconds. This would definitely have had a negative impact on safe landings. PERMITTING - Receiving the appropriate written authorizations in various countries is definitely an issue when it comes to operating the submersible. Due to the Jones Act, the United States would not allow the Scenic submersible to be used in US waters. In other countries, Scenic has literally been working on authorizations for up to two and a half years. Sometimes these approvals are granted at the last moment. In other cases, highs seas can naturally cause cancellations. MY OPINION: Based on feedback from many passengers this cruise segment, Scenic needs to do a MUCH better job of explaining RHIP (aka “THE LIST”), weather, and permitting before they take non-refundable deposits from customers. This would not completely cut down on disappointment and outright unhappiness but it could help mitigate it. At his point, Scenic is promoting experiences (especially relating to the submersible) in its advertising, marketing, and new releases that it simply can’t live up to given the reasons I have enumerated. ACTIVITIES: I had several passengers tell me that they felt there were not enough activities: especially on seas days. This is one of the circumstances where your reality is based on your own personal expectations. Below is my personal schedule from our first full day on the cruise: 7 – 8 a.m. - Yoga 8 - 9 a.m. - Breakfast 9 – 10 a.m. - Snorkeling and kayak briefing 10:30 a.m. Zodiac to a small San Blas Islands at 10:30 am. 11 a.m. - Snorkeling 11:30 a.m. - Zodiac back to the ship 12:10 p.m. - Helicopter safety briefing in Discovery Room 12:30 p.m. - Helicopter excursion over the reefs of San Blas Isles 1 p.m. - Zodiacs to San Blas islands for a two-hour kayaking adventure 3 p.m. – Zodiac back to ship 3:15 p.m. - Briefing on Panama Canal history by Discovery Team 4:30 p.m. - The geological history of the Panama Canal at 4:30 pm. 5:30 p.m. - Recap of today’s events and a preview of tomorrow’s schedule 6:45 p.m. - Captain’s cocktail reception 7:30 – 9:30 p.m. - Dinner 9:30 – 10:30 p.m. - Halloween dance Yes, we missed lunch. Sacrifices had to be made as we felt there was too much to see and do. However, it is possible we slightly over-scheduled ourselves. (LOL) WE REALIZED WE MIGHT NEED A VACATION TO RECOVER FROM THIS ADVENTURE DISCOVERY CRUISE IF WE CONTINUED AT THIS PACE!!! We told ourselves we could rest during our two back to back sea days. _________________________________________________________________ MY ACTUAL PERSONAL SCHEDULE FOR MY FIRST SEA DAY: 45 minutes for Yoga 45 minutes on a treadmill 60 minutes enrichment lecture on volcanoes 45 minutes for a champagne brunch buffet 60 minutes enrichment lecture on sugarcane & slavery 30 minutes mixology class on World of Martinis (Yes there was sampling) 30 minutes for a trivia contest 45 minutes for indoor pool and lounger 60 minutes enrichment lecture on Marooned Mariners 20 minutes live music 45 minutes recap with the following: Biologist, geologist, naturalist, ornithologist, historian, etc. Plus, updates from our expedition team 60 minutes for dinner 10 minutes for after-dinner drinks 45 minutes to enjoy an evening of classical songs by Grace FINALLY BEDTIME! I included the two schedules to further reinforce that your experience on a cruise is often based on your own desire to participate. Conversely, some passengers understandably prefer to relax and maintain a slower more low key schedule. This is part of the beauty of cruising. A UNIQUE GIFT FROM SCENIC: On the last night of the cruise, Scenic held an event titled: Final Recap and your Voyage Video. During the entire cruise, Scenic had arranged for a videographer named Niko to capture the highlights of our cruise and various excursions. Niko is an amazing videographer and a talented editor. Niko was literally working on this video until minutes prior to the presentation in order to include scenes from the excursions earlier in the day. The best part was being told that every passenger would be sent a link in the coming weeks to view, share, and download this video. I want to thank Scenic for this unexpected gift. My wife and I rarely purchase souvenirs and as we have lost two houses and most of our possessions due to fire and tornado in the past. On this trip, we only bought a Panama hat for my wife to wear on a couple of shore excursions and a box of Gluten Free corn flakes that are not available in the United States. Therefore, we concentrate on collecting memories. We want to thank Scenic for this unexpected gift that will allow us to preserve memories of this amazing cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
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