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Scenic Eclipse II | Image: Supplied

Inside the $318 Million Ultra-Luxury Scenic Eclipse II

When you think of a cruise, I bet you’re probably thinking of a monstrous, oversized party boat loaded with spiralling waterslides, silent discos, and large groups wearing matching t-shirts. If that’s your vibe, by all means, pop off. But if luxury travel is more your beat, you’ll find none of that on board the ultra-luxury ‘6-star’ discovery yacht, the Scenic Eclipse II.

The $318 million ‘giga-yacht’ is the second of its kind from Scenic Cruises. It is currently sailing its inaugural trip around Australia, embarking on a two-year series of voyages in the Oceania region. What sets the Scenic Eclipse II apart is not only its elevated sense of luxury at every touch point, but its ability to offer guests unique expedition experiences in some of the earth’s untapped regions.

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The Scenic Eclipse II on an expedition to Antarctica | Image: Supplied

After leaving Sydney Harbour in a Scenic Eclipse II hosting a series of discovery voyages exploring the stunning Kimberley, Top End, Eastern, and Western coastlines of Australia. Guests on board will be able to enjoy unrivalled exploration with the yacht housing two on-board helicopters, a suite of coastline Zodiacs, and an electric submersible, Scenic Neptune II – which can transport up to eight guests and dives up to 200 metres below the surface, providing 270-degree panoramic views. 

Scenic Eclipse II caters to only up to 228 guests with an impressive 1:1 crew-to-guest ratio, allowing for a true personalised, all-inclusive service. I was fortunate enough to spend a night on board the ship as it sailed out of Sydney Harbour for the first time and made its way up to Newcastle. Here is an inside look at everything you’ll find onboard the ultra-luxury discovery yacht.

Bye, Mum! | Image: John Guanzon, Man of Many

All-inclusive Premium Whiskey Bar

With over 135 premium bottles in its elegant lounge, Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours’ Eclipse II is the first Australian expedition to cater to whisky enthusiasts. The bar features a diverse selection from major whiskey-producing regions worldwide with a stunning bar-display fully stocked with top-shelf bottles.

Highlights include Hakushu Japanese single malt, age-statement scotches from Mortlach, Dalmore, and Springbank, prized Irish labels like Redbreast and Green Spot, and exclusive American offerings such as WhistlePig rye and Eagle Rare bourbon. Even unique whiskies from Sweden, India, and Taiwan are available. The best part is that they’re all-inclusive. So, no one is stopping you from sitting at the bar and working your way through the top-shelf bottles (responsibly, of course). 

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All-inclusive premium whisky bar | Image: Supplied

World Class Fine Dining

You wouldn’t be able to call this an ‘ultra-luxury yacht’ without world-class dining to match. On board, there are up to 10 unique dining experiences with a range of flavours and cuisines with menus curated to reflect the region they are sailing in. From a Sushi & Sake Bar to a more casual Yacht Club and an all-inclusive In-Suite dining – one thing’s for sure: guests will never be hungry with this all-inclusive service.

During my time on board, I was lucky enough to dine at the invitation-only Night Market @ Koko’s, which is an intimate and interactive Teppanyaki-style experience inspired by the lively night markets of Asia. Set around a bar-style table, the chef prepares dishes right in front of you, all while telling unique stories behind the cuisine. My dining experience was led by the charismatic and talented chef Strawberry Gutierrez, who prepared a delectable Filipino degustation, highlighting key Filipino flavours in a way I’ve never experienced before.

Chef Strawberry Gutierrez cooking up a Filipino storm | Image: John Guanzon, Man of Many

Luxury Rooms

The rooms and suites on the Scenic Eclipse II are surprisingly spacious and designed to be an indulgent haven for guests. For anyone who’s been on a commercial cruise before, the rooms are often quite tight and designed to mainly just rest after a big day availing of all the ship’s activities. However, the rooms on board the Scenic Eclipse II are designed to be a truly luxurious retreat and are generously spacious, and furnished with the finest amenities.

Inside, you’ll find a fully stocked mini-bar with your choice of drinks, a Nespresso machine, premium bedding and electronic controls, a spacious walk-in closet, and an exceptionally large in-room safe. All 114 suites from entry-level to top-tier are balcony suites with floor areas ranging from 32 to 240 square metres. Even in the entry-level suites, a curtain separates the sleeping area from the living space, ensuring privacy. Blackout curtains ensure a peaceful night’s sleep, even during Midnight Sun conditions.

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Exceptionally large suites for all guests | Image: Supplied

The larger suites aboard the Scenic Eclipse II elevate luxury to new heights, resembling upscale hotels rather than typical cruise ship accommodations. For instance, the Spa Suites feature a Philippe Starck-designed bathtub, while the Panorama Suites boast separate bedrooms, living areas, and dining spaces.

As for the pinnacle of indulgence, the Owner’s Penthouse Suites offer a lavish retreat spanning 2,098 square feet. Here, you’ll enjoy exclusive amenities such as your own outdoor Jacuzzi, a dining table accommodating eight, an expansive bathroom, and unrivalled views. Keep an eye out on our social feeds for a Suite Spot episode, where we take you inside the Owner’s Penthouse Suite. 

One of the resident Airbus H130 helicopters | Image: John Guanzon, Man of Many

Unique Expeditions & Discover Tours

What sets Scenic Cruises apart from your average holiday cruise ship is that it offers guests a range of unique discovery experiences. Whether it’s submarine diving to observe underwater wonders, scenic helicopter flights over the Kimberly, or intimate Zodiac excursions through Antarctic ice caps. The ship’s expert Discovery Team guides guests through each adventure, ensuring insightful and enriching experiences. The Scenic Eclipse II is equipped with two resident Airbus H130 helicopters, a fleet of Mark V Zodiac boats, and a one-of-a-kind submersible that is capable dive to depths of up to 300 metres (984 feet) and accommodating up to six guests plus a pilot.

Unlike your average tour guide on a cruise, what sets Scenic Discovery Cruises apart is their highly experienced and knowledgeable ‘Discovery Team’ made of up to 15 experts and specialists, along with local guides, to provide guests with deep insights and safely guide you throughout the journey.  The expertise of members of the Discovery Teams spans fields like history, biology, archaeology, naturalism, geology, and photography, so guests can be confident they’re in good hands while out on an expedition. 

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NGL, I desperately want to try this | Image: Supplied

State-of-the-art Submersible

This cutting-edge vessel, aptly named the ‘Scenic Neptune II’, plunges guests into the depths of the ocean, offering an intimate and immersive underwater experience. With its advanced capabilities, the Scenic Neptune II can dive to depths of up to 300 metres, offering guests panoramic views of vibrant coral reefs, marine life, and underwater landscapes. Guided by experienced pilots, these submersible excursions offer a rare opportunity to explore the ocean’s depths. 

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Speaking to one of the Neptune II pilots, he says “It’s brand new but we have been diving it in French Polynesia on the way over here. We had sharks, sting rays, and all kinds of fish, we had a reef wall that was down 100m. It was just teaming full of life.”   

Rest assured, the vessel undergoes rigorous testing and certification to ensure compliance with industry standards and regulations. Upon taking a close look myself on a ship tour, I can confirm there were no Logitech controllers in sight. 

Looks legit to me | Image: John Guanzon, Man of Many

A Trip of a Lifetime Around Australia

The Scenic Eclipse II sailed out of Sydney Harbour spectacularly on 21 April 2024, with cruise director, Natalie Sexton treating guests to a vocal medley of beautiful musical numbers as the vessel passed under the Harbour Bridge and beside the Sydney Opera House during sunset. Out of the Harbour, the luxury yacht begins its inaugural expedition of the remarkable coastline of Australia. The journey begins with a series of discovery voyages along the East Coast, featuring highlights such as the Great Barrier Reef, Fraser Island, and iconic destinations like Gladstone and Magnetic Island. 

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Cruise Director AND entertainment | Image: Supplied

From there, the ship will continue to the Northern Territory, exploring the rugged beauty of the Kimberley region, including the Hunter River, Montgomery Reef, and Talbot Bay. 

In 2025, the Scenic Eclipse II will navigate the Western Australian coast before venturing further to destinations in the South Pacific, Southeast Asia, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, and the remote East Antarctica and Ross Sea regions. 

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Flying over the Kimberly region | Image: Supplied

Is the Scenic Eclipse II for You?

Scenic Eclipse expeditions tend to attract a discerning and adventurous clientele. This unique crowd appreciates the finest luxuries while seeking extraordinary experiences that go beyond the offerings of a typical cruise. Many of the guests are well-off retirees who are eager to explore the farthest reaches of the earth, combining their passion for travel with a taste for sophisticated elegance. Speaking to director of Discovery Operations, Jason Flesher, about who the Scenic Eclipse II is for, he says “Probably 40 per cent retired guests, but then a good 60 per cent are still very active. Age, anywhere from 30s on up, average age, around 50, 55 or so.”

“So it’s really for the guests that prefer to have a place to come back to, that luxurious ship, and then at the same time be able to have that luxury, ultra-luxury excursions off the ship as well. So we’ve figured out how to manage both on and off the ship.”

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Guests relaxing in one of the many lounges | Image: Supplied

How Much Does it Cost?

The cost of a cruise on the Scenic Eclipse II varies widely depending on the itinerary, duration, and suite selection. Prices for shorter, regional voyages can start at approximately AUD$15,000 per person, while longer, more exotic expeditions, such as trips to Antarctica or the South Pacific, can range upwards of AUD 50,000 per person. These fares typically include all meals, drinks, excursions, and even gratuities, providing a truly all-inclusive luxury experience.

Disclaimer: The author of this article, John Guanzon, was invited to stay overnight as a guest of the Scenic Eclipse II for the purposes of this review.

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Just wow! | Image: Supplied
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