Buzzing along beneath the surface of the sea, the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, better known as the Jones Act, is hard at work.
Scenic Eclipse II’s Neptune II, the sister submarine to Scenic Eclipse’s Neptune I, is similar to its counterpart. It’s a little bigger, carrying nine passengers rather than seven, each of whom will face the same direction rather than spaced out around domed windows. But the big difference is it was manufactured in the United States, making it Jones Act–compliant. This means the submersible can operate in U.S. waters where Neptune I cannot, said Ken Muskat, managing director of Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours and sister brand Emerald Cruises.
With the U.S.-friendly submarine and the same helicopters and zodiac fleet as on Scenic’s first icebreaking ultra-luxury ship the Eclipse, the Eclipse II can go just about anywhere on, above, or below the sea.
The Eclipse II also has the same extraordinary stabilizers as her sister ship, just 20 percent smaller than Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis of the Seas’ but on a 545-foot, 17,500-ton vessel.
The dynamic positioning allows the Eclipse and Eclipse II to remain in one spot in open water without dropping anchor. It’s ideal for places where coral and other fragile undersea environments might be damaged by an anchor.
“The benefit of this small-ship cruising and the fact that we have only 228 guests on the Scenic ships and the dynamic positioning allows us to get into these small ports that most larger cruise ships can’t – even cruise ships today that are considered smaller, with, you know, 500, 600, 700 people on them can’t get into places we can go. And we can do it in a way, with the dynamic positioning and the way that our ships are built, so absolutely 100 percent we don’t disturb anything in the environment. Everything is about sustainability. Everything is about being environmentally cautious,” Muskat said.
Muskat was nearly giddy about changes to Deck 10. Where the original Eclipse has two hot tubs, dubbed vitality pools, and the outdoor panorama bar, the Eclipse II has a different configuration.
“She has some really unique things that are different from the Eclipse I. The changes that we’re doing on Deck 10 with the new bar and the lounge and the pool – it is unbelievable looking. Unbelievable,” he said. “They kind of reimagined the whole Deck 10 to build this new indoor-outdoor bar and lounge, and they built this large, and I say large given the size of the ship, pool that has those jets, and you can do laps. And it’s right at the back of the ship and it’s just amazing looking. The Scenic Eclipse I doesn’t have that. It’s just an outdoor space. This was reimagined for II and it looks cool.
“It’s not only a grand statement but great for health and wellness as well, and just the size of it is really impressive. The way it sits up there with this outdoor lounge and bar is stunning.”
Muskat said his mission in 2023 is to better advertise what Scenic offers, a product unlike any other.
“Emerald and Scenic are best-kept secrets. I need to figure out how to make them not secret anymore,” he said.
The addition of the Eclipse II and Emerald’s Sakara have created a lot of buzz in the industry, Muskat said, but there needs to be more, and it needs to carry over to a celebration of the entire product offering, not just what’s new today.
“There are a lot of other things we are doing on the marketing and PR front that increases our brand awareness in the U.S.,” he said. “What we’re doing at Scenic and Emerald probably makes this the most exciting year in our history.”
Excerpt from the Cruise Industry News Quarterly Magazine Spring 2023