When I first learned about Scenic Eclipse, the 6 Star Discovery Yacht, I was intrigued. This was my 31st cruise – how could this top every other cruise I had been on, many that were spectacular?
Well, it did. Cruising on Scenic Eclipse was unlike any experience I have ever had. Unequivocally, this is the best cruise I have ever been on .. and you are only doing yourself a disservice if you don’t allow yourself the same experience.
As an avid cruiser, I am always on the lookout for new ships, new cruise lines (new to me), new itineraries, or just innovations in the industry.
What I loved so much about my time on the Scenic Eclipse was how they push the boundaries of luxury, adventure, molecular gastronomy, their selections of wines/spirits/champagne and other alcohols on board, and the customer service.
One thing I will always remember about this experience is that every crew member knew my full name, my room number and my likes and dislikes. When you think about the fact that the crew relearn this for every new voyage – you know immediately that you are working with a high level of dedicated staff to making your trip sensational.
The 6 Star Experience
It’s probably hard to imagine a 6 star experience anywhere, even at the height of luxury. But I did in fact find it on board the Scenic Eclipse.
The experience starts with the all-inclusive nature of the ship. With the exception of a few rare and vintage spirits, wines and champagnes – everything is included.
Butler service, gratuities, Scenic free choice excursions (minus the helicopter and the submarine), fine dining, open bar, minibar stocked to your liking, Wi-Fi, return transfers to the airport, yoga and Pilates studio, and the discovery staff at your disposal – all-included.
Having the best staff from around the world localized on this discovery yacht is possibly their biggest asset. Everyone is extremely friendly, knowledgeable and willing to help you if you need it.
Some of the things on board that I thought stood out as exceptional – the pillow menu offering 6 types of pillows to cater to your sleeping needs, the included tours in each port with local guides, the molecular gastronomy, cooking classes with the chef, wine tastings, the Scenic Bar that offers over 130+ whiskies from around the world, the helicopters, the submarine, you could dine with the officers and discovery crew (just invite them to dinner) and so much more.
In addition – the spa has steam rooms and saunas open every day and there is an outdoor pool open when the weather is good.
Every single day on board, even sea days, were extraordinary. In the near two week cruise, I experienced several beautiful sunrises and sunsets that just lit the sky ablaze in colors.
My itinerary on this cruise was one way, San Diego to Costa Rica with amazing stops along the way. I think this cruise was part of the repositioning cruise going from Alaska to Antarctica, and there are a few others available until the ship gets situated in South America for the Antarctica season.
I honesty can’t envision any itinerary on this discovery yacht being less than spectacular – so any itinerary will be out of this world amazing.
Here is what my itinerary looked like:
- Day 1 – Embark in San Diego
- Day 2 – sea day
- Day 3 – sea day
- Day 4 – La Paz, Mexico
- Day 5 – Isla Cerralvo, Mexico
- Day 6 – sea day
- Day 7 – sea day
- Day 8 – Huatulco, Oaxaca, Mexico
- Day 9 – sea day
- Day 10 – Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala
- Day 11 – Acajutla, El Salvador
- Day 12 – Bahia Culebra, Costa Rica
- Day 13 – Playa Flamingo, Costa Rica
- Day 14 – Disembark
The itinerary did change a bit due to a hurricane, Nicaragua was a closed port and some weather we encountered. What I found most impressive in these situations was the quick turnaround for new places, tours, adventures, etc. The staff really work around the clock to bring you this 6 star experience, and it shows.
Full disclosure, there was a category 4 hurricane in the Pacific heading towards where we were and I was terrified. The captain graciously briefed everyone, showed the path the ship would take around the storm and took questions to provide comfort.
I did not know what to expect – I was so scared. Ultimately, it was fine. I think I got in my head about videos I have seen online of ships going through 50 foot waves and 80 MPH winds and thought that would be the expectation. It was not even close. We carried on as normal – I didn’t even take anything for motion sickness.
All that being said – I would trust the captain with my life on the high seas.
One thing I really loved and was excited about for this cruise was the opportunity to visit cities I had never been to. I have traveled quite a bit in some of the countries we stopped in, but every port was new for me.
A lot of the days that we were in destinations, the back of the ship would open open up and create a Marina. Here you could find stand up paddle boards, kayaking and swimming.
In some areas, even when there was tours available, zodiac boats would take you from the back of the ship to a beach day on land. Scenic really has thought of every way to keep guests entertained and living their best lives while on board.
But the best part was the included Scenic Free Choice excursions led by locals. You don’t have to pay extra for excursions – you just let your butler or the front desk know if you would like to take one of the tours offered and they will sign you up!
La Paz, Mexico
While in La Paz, there was a shuttle bus running back and forth downtown half the day. You could easily go explore La Paz on your own or even after taking one of the included tours.
The tours that were offered were:
- Snorkeling and swimming with sea lions or
- Todos Los Santos and Hotel California
I had never been to Todos Los Santos and really wanted to visit for the day – so that is the tour I went on. Immediately after stepping off the ship our tour guide was there to greet us and we got on an air conditioned coach for the drive.
Upon arrival, we did about a 95 minute walking tour with a local guide and then had free time to explore, go shopping and even get cocktails and gelato!
I absolutely loved this stop and would love to go back. It isn’t a very big city but it is bursting with vibrant colors, friendly people and beautiful streets to explore.
Isla Cerralvo, Mexico
Our visit to Isla Cerralvo AKA Jacques Cousteau Island, was a private beach set up day. Zodiacs were running from the ship to the private beach and there was also snorkeling, paddle boarding, kayaking, etc.
The beach was a pretty blue color, clear and nice to cool off in. It had been very warm in Mexico during our visits. Scenic set up beach chairs, towels, drink stations, etc. It was pretty perfect!
This was also one of the available days to book a helicopter flight or submarine excursion below the sea.
We were in port when we got to Huatulco and the city was less than a five minute walk from the ship, as well as a beach!
Two tours were offered in this port:
- Paradise Garden or
- Hiking the Sicaruu trail and bird watching
Ultimately we went with the Paradise Garden tour. Unfortunately when we arrived the recent hurricane had destroyed the bridge to the gardens, so we could not walk across the suspension bridge. However, the owner graciously welcomed us and had coffee, shared some of the fruits he had been growing, like mangosteen, and showed us some of the things we could see.
This was a turning point in the trip for me when I realized that we could have just went back to the boat – but no .. our tour guide took us to La Crucecita, a neighboring city next to the port, and walked us around.
We got to see the beautiful La Crucecita Church murals, sit in for a rug workshop with a family who handmakes rugs and walk around and explore and shop.
I kind of feel like we got two tours even though we did not get the second half of the Gardens.
Once we got back to port, we ended up walking around, shopping and one of the shop owners graciously gave us beers that I had never had. It was called “Victoria” and it is made by Modelo.
The beach here is beautiful and the water is very blue! If you just want to relax for the day – that is an option. We stayed very late.
Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala
Puerto Quetzal is primarily a shipping port. There are a few shops and a Jade Museum in port, but only a few vendors were out. If you stop in this port, I highly recommend taking a tour. I have been here twice, and went to different cities both times that I loved!
The two tours offered in this port:
- Best of Colonial Antigua or
- Visiting a coffee plantation
We ended up going with Colonial Antigua. On my last visit to this port I went to Moterrico and passed on Antigua.
I HIGLY recommend visiting Antigua. This city is bursting with color. Guatemalans just *get it.* Super friendly, tons of shopping, lots of walking (if you want), beautiful art everywhere, delicious food – overall, just a great visit.
We stopped for a bathroom break that happened to be in an area that a Starbucks was at – the murals inside were unbelievable.
Part of our tour included a lunch stop at the famous Casa Santo Domino Hotel. They went all out – it was set up like a wedding reception outdoors in a beautiful space. Very grateful for this experience.
There is also three museums on site and ruins to explore. During our free time that is what I walked around and did.
Acajutla, El Salvador
El Salvador was probably my favorite stop, simply because I had never been before and it exceeded every expectation I had.
I cannot stress enough how excited locals were to see us get off the ship. Tourism has been very slow in recent years and the door is open – they are ready for people to come back and enjoy their country.
My experience here was short lived, but extremely memorable. I cannot wait to return.
The two tours offered in this port:
- Ancestral Cacao
- Mayan Route – visit to the archeological site of San Andres
We went with the visit to San Andres. These ruins have been considered the “Pompeii of America” due to the eruption of the Playon volcano back in 1658. Today is it a UNESCO world Heritage Site.
Bahia Culebra, Costa Rica + Playa Flamingo, Costa Rica
There was incredible excursions offered on both of these days (catamaran and snorkeling, ziplining and boating through the National Park). However, the recent weather impacted those plans.
This is exactly why Scenic is labeled “6 Star.” They didn’t just accept that there was no tours – they created stuff to do off the ship.
First – the discovery team found beaches in both destinations that the ship could set up a private beach day for and in both destinations, the ship tendered guests to shore and had local tour guides taking them to nearby towns to shop and explore on their own.
While the weather was not great either day – Scenic made sure that guests could get off the ship and explore if they wanted to or to go to the beach.
This cruise had a nice balance of sea days to stops on board. I loved that there were two sea days immediately. This gave me time to get acquainted with the ship and make a plan for the things I wanted to do. Also a great time to meet others on board.
Starting with the day of embarkation, we left port and had a sea day the rest of the afternoon and evening. Scenic organized a sail away party with cocktails and music leaving San Diego at sunset. This was a great way to get to meet some of the people on board who would soon become friends!
On the first sea day we learned about the ship through a ship tour, there was an excursion talk to learn about the ports and available tours, mandatory briefings if you wanted to ride in the helicopter or submarine, the captain’s welcome on board, trivia, daily sudoku, Pilates, and more. Everything is optional to attend on the daily schedule, but plenty to do.
Some of my favorite things I did on sea days were:
A wine tasting with the sommelier – on board the sommelier, Tihana, was one of my favorites. This woman is so incredibly knowledgeable about wine and just has this personality that you cannot help but smile and laugh when she is around.
She took us on a journey with four wines around the world and pairings of cheese.
Fun fact – I learned at the end of this tasting that wine tastes different based on the glass you use. Tihana gave us all a much bigger and wider glass at the end and let us sample our favorite red wine again against the the one in the smaller glass – and surprise, the flavor profile was different.
Pro tip: this class was limited to 20 people I believe, so sign up at the front desk the night before when the daily schedule comes out the next day.
Enrichment lectures + classes
Scenic offered a very wide variety of lectures and classes for learning.
For example, each room comes with a pair of binoculars and a “Binoculars 101” class was offered on board to teach you how to best use them or even a “Smartphone photography workshop.”
The enrichment lectures were based around the places we were going. Some of those included:
- Seals of Central America
- The Great Mayan Mystery
- What is a whale?
- The Unexpected Voyage of Pepito and Cristobal
One of the sea days on board, a whisky tasting was offered. Even though this is an all-inclusive cruse (including alcohol) this was a great opportunity to be introduced to maybe whiskies you didn’t know about and just to chat about them.
Cooking demo with head chef Ashish
This was my hands down favorite thing I did on a sea day. Head chef Ashish is SO NICE and an amazing cook.
I lucked out because he made my personal favorite Indian dish, butter chicken and he taught us how to make naan! There is a dedicated room on the ship for classes like these so that everyone can see, experience and eat at the end.
I missed the first class he offered because it had limited seats, but I remember walking by and the smell was so enticing.
This class was amazing and the food was sensational.
Pro tip: these classes will likely book up fast, so make sure and get your name on the list when the itinerary comes out for the next day. The butler always delivered it during dinner so we could make plans and know what was going on the next day.
The discovery team on board was amazing!! We were able to see some of the most majestic sea life on board. I remember one of the sea days the captain slowing down and turning so that we could slowly follow whales and dolphins.
Unbelievable experience for those who were outside.
In addition, we saw tons of sea turtles, a lot of birds, a stingray, and one afternoon I was on my balcony and a whale was hanging out for like 10 minutes!! I don’t have a picture because I was recording with my phone but I have a video!
Relaxing in the spa
The spa on board the Scenic Eclipse was beautiful.
When you walk in, immediately it feels like heaven and that spa scent whiffs you into excitement. The spa offers hair, nails and massages/wraps/scrubs, etc.
Even if you are not having a service done on board, the pool is open, there is also a sauna, steam room, cold plunge pool, and the relaxation room has both heated and not heated chairs to relax on.
Read a book or relax in one of the cabanas on deck 10
This is the first time I have ever seen cabanas on a ship.. and I loved it.
They are first come, no extra charges to use and there are hot tubs around the corner and the Panorama Bar if you want a drink.
The staff even leave out clean towels if you want to use the hot tubs. There is also sun loungers if you just want to enjoy the breeze or get a tan.
Other things offered:
- Pilates with the wellness coach
- Scavenger Hunt
- Critter club – you can learn about the animals spotted during the cruise
Food can often be hit or miss in an all-inclusive package but Scenic SHINES in the culinary department. I often forgot I was even on a ship and thought I was often partaking in a Michelin Star dining experience.
When you think about what I just said and couple that with a cruise and it being included – that is pretty outstanding. When I say “included” – all the meals were included. No upcharges, no add-ons – all included.
Every restaurant was exceptional. I can’t tell you how impressed I am with a smaller cruise line being able to offer this number of dining options and keeping it at a 6 star quality the entire cruise.
We ate almost every meal on board – and Scenic dining was exceptional. If nothing else, the dining will change the way you look at cruising altogether.
On board there are up to nine dining experiences:
Koko’s Asian Fusion – open every night, does not require a reservation, the menu changes every couple of nights
Night Markets – reservation required (get one as soon as you get on board). There are only 8 seats for this experience and there are three options: Indian, Asian and Middle Eastern tasting menus. The chef serves the food right in front of you.
Yacht Club – this venue is open for breakfast and lunch. For breakfast, there is a buffet and a menu that you can order from and lunch is just a buffet.
Azure Café – pretty much open all day (there are two 30 minute breaks when it is closed) you can visit between 6:00am-9:00pm and they order food at the counter and have menus.
Chefs Table – this is the most exclusive restaurant on board and the only way to dine here is by invite only. You can get an invite by booking one of the higher level suites or being a loyal customer.
Lumiere Modern French Cuisine – reservation required, open nightly, menu changes every couple days, and it is a tasting menu.
Elements Italian/International Cuisine – no reservation required, menu changes daily with a variety of options.
Room Service 24/7 – if you do not feel like going out, you can get room service around the clock.
Koko’s Sushi – requires a reservation and is limited seating at the sushi bar.
*Pro tip – when you get on board and as soon as it is available, make reservations for the restaurants that require one. For example, the Night Market can only seat eight guests per night and the menu changes every three days (Indian, Asian, and Middle Eastern) – you will want to make sure and get a reservation here as the experience is incredible. Lumiere and Koko’s Sushi are the other two restaurants that require a reservation to dine.
On a ship this small, you would think there would be one, maybe two bars. To my surprise, there are eight! They are not all open all day, so you will need to look at your daily itinerary for opening times, but eight bars is brilliant.
Scenic Bar – located on deck and possibly the best bar (in my opinion). You will always see people hanging out here and the centerpiece of the bar is a tower of over 130+ whiskeys from all over the world.
Theatre Bar – also located on deck 4 and in the theatre, this bar will be open when shows are happening on the boat.
Elements Bar – located on deck 5 and at the forefront of the restaurant, you can pop in during dinner service and get a wine and cheese selection.
Koko’s Sake Bar – located on deck 4 and best utilized when having sushi dinner.
Lumiere Champagne Bar – located on deck 5, and requires a dinner reservation at the restaurant. You can utilize this bar before your dinner.
Azure Café and Bar – located on deck 5, the café is open most of the day and you can pop in for food or they also offer a selection of various wines and spirits.
The Observation Lounge – this is technically not a bar but you can make your own coffee and tea or bring a drink in.
Panorama Bar – located on deck 10, this is the place to be in good weather. There are two hot tubs, loungers for sunning, and cabanas along the side of the ship.
During my stay I checked into room 705, which was a “Grand Deluxe Verandah.”
One of the best included amenities on board is your butler. This person will make sure your room is always to your liking, minibar will always be stocked with whatever you want, they will deliver you room service, make appointments/reservations for you (if you like), fill your liquor bottles in room if you prefer to make cocktails yourself, and so much more.
The bathroom was arguably one of the biggest bathrooms I have ever had on a cruise. The space was also extremely beautiful.
There was a rain shower option or handle in the shower, the sink was flat and modern, plenty of storage in the vanity mirror for everything we brought, and fresh towels, hand towels, wash cloths, and floor mats were always available.
The best part of the room, in my opinion, was the balcony. Not only was the space big, bit the chairs were very comfortable to sit in for long periods of time and the table was big. We enjoyed several breakfasts out here and hung out during sunrises, sunsets, watching for animals, and more!
- the bed in your stateroom is adjustable at the feet and head to give you the best rest
- there is a Dyson blow dryer in each room
- the minibar stocked with whatever you would like and complete with a coffee machine, still and sparkling water, glassware for whatever you would like, ice, wine opener, and two bottles that you can use to request certain spirits from your butler for in-room consumption.
- you can choose from the pillow menu to give you the best nights rest based on your preferences.
- the TV is built into the wall and it is jam packed with movie selections
- Wi-Fi is available everywhere on board, including your stateroom
- closet space is very generous with lots of room to hang and several drawers
- luggage fits under the bed
- the desk area has various charging ports and drawers
- on each side of the bed there is a plug and USB charging port
- table and loveseat
Overall, this room was perfect for our trip and provided more than enough space for everything.
What’s on board
Even though the ship holds a max capacity of 228 guests, the Scenic Eclipse somehow packs the ship with everything you could want or need.
Starting on deck 10, there are two hot tubs, cabanas lounge chairs, and the Panorama Bar.
On deck 7 you will find the bridge, Yacht Club restaurant, gym, and the yoga and pilates studio.
On deck 6 the spa! Here is where the only pool currently is on board.
On deck 5 you will find Azure Cafe, Lumiere French Restaurant, Epicure (cooking demos and tastings held here), and the observation lounge – which has a library.
Deck 4 is the main lobby (which is stunning), Scenic Bar – which is the main bar with the tower of whiskies, Elements Restaurant, Koko’s Sushi, Night Market, Koko’s Asian Fusion, the theatre, boutique, cruise next desk etc.
Deck 3 is where the laundry is, the doctor, this area is also used for tender boats.
I know there are always questions that come up that maybe I did not cover above, so I want to leave them down here just in case.
Air Conditioning – the ship does have air conditioning! I was on a very warm cruise through Central America and the AC worked amazing. I like to keep my room really cold and kept it at a nice 65 degrees.
Laundry – you can send laundry out if you want, but one of the better perks on board is that there is a guest laundry service on deck 3. You take your laundry down and wash and dry it. This ultimately changed how I packed since this was a 12 day cruise. Knowing I could do laundry, I packed less.
Bridge – the Bridge has an “Open Bridge” policy. You can walk in and see what is happening in there, even at night.
Currency on board – this ship operates on the US dollar and takes Visa, MasterCard and Maestro.
The post is written in partnership with Scenic Eclipse – as always, opinions are entirely my own.