Home » Cruise line’s ultra-luxury yacht arrives in Australia for the first time

Cruise line’s ultra-luxury yacht arrives in Australia for the first time

Scenic Neptune II can descend up to 100 metres below the surface.

If you fancy yourself as a James or Jane Bond, the ship has four Seabobs, electric-powered diving scooters that zip you along underwater as you imagine yourself pursued by a villain.

Scenic Eclipse II is one of a very select number of expedition cruise ships providing such adventurous ways to explore the world’s remotest destinations.

The ship’s spa and one of its pools.

The ship’s spa and one of its pools.

Crystal Cruises was first to have submersibles on board, but when the troubled company’s small ships were sold to other cruise lines, they were removed. Now only the expedition ships of Scenic, Seabourn and Viking (each currently has two) carry submersibles.

Viking has yellow submersibles named John, Paul, George and Ringo with swivelling seats that give you all-round views. Technically they’re not yellow submarines, which are self-supporting craft that operate independently from support vessels.

Seabourn’s deluxe submersibles come with leather seats, a Bluetooth stereo system and a champagne chiller because who doesn’t need a glass of bubbly while immersed in the deep?

Submersibles on cruise ships, while glamorous and providing guests with unbeatable boasting rights, do have their downsides, not least the cost of a ride, which ranges up to $US999 ($1527).

Scenic Neptune II can descend up to 100 metres below the surface.

Scenic Neptune II can descend up to 100 metres below the surface.

They won’t descend more than 300 metres and often less, and you’ll be submerged for only about 45 minutes. Outlooks in destinations such as Antarctica are often murky, and rather than colourful wonderlands you might see only kelp and starfish.

Still, not many people can say they’ve seen Antarctica from below the water, and when submersibles are deployed in destinations such as the Great Barrier Reef or the Caribbean, the outlook can be fabulous.

If not from below, why not from above? Only Scenic ships offer both submersibles and helicopters, but other expedition companies such as Quark and Oceanwide carry helicopters for flightseeing and heli-skiing. Ponant ship Le Commandant Charcot has one too, but only for use by the expedition and scientific teams.

Scenic Eclipse II also has new sustainability practices, technology and certified green furnishings allow guests the comfort of knowing their cruise holiday comes with high environmental awareness and the lowest possible carbon footprint.

Snorkelling in the Pacific off Scenic Eclipse II.

Snorkelling in the Pacific off Scenic Eclipse II.

But Flesher says it’s the personal and exceptional experiential touches that elevate Scenic’s offering, with the attitude onboard more akin to that of a private yacht.

“She’s a luxury yacht, and we’ve always made sure the atmosphere is that yacht experience, from the open-bridge policy, to being able to go to remote beaches that no-one else can go to because of our dynamic positioning system, where we never drop an anchor.

“We also have the onboard toys, so to speak, floating trampolines, paddleboarding, snorkelling – it’s a wonderful mix, and it’s a first of its kind.”

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Another first: Scenic Eclipse II’s Zodiacs have been fitted with retractable canopies to protect guests from sun during long excursions on the water.

Scenic Eclipse II is running various itineraries that include The Kimberley and the Top End, Indonesia, West Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Fiji and New Zealand, concluding in early November 2024 in Auckland.

She’s also scheduled to head to Antarctica from New Zealand via Tasmania.