Travel Weekly's Johanna Jainchill was on the new Scenic Eclipse, a luxury expedition ship.
ONBOARD THE SCENIC ECLIPSE -- I haven't been on an expedition ship in over 10 years. And let's just say that back then, at least with the ships I was on, you didn't go for the food.
Times have certainly changed. As more lines are set to debut purpose-built, high-end expedition vessels, they are adding dining options at a level normally found only on the largest or most luxurious vessels.
The Scenic Eclipse, the first of these new breeds of expedition ship, certainly takes expedition dining to the next level. It offers nine dining options, although some aren't available on a daily basis or to all passengers. The count includes the Chef's Table, the most sought-after dining experience onboard because the 10-person, 12-course tasting menu is offered by invitation only, starting with guests in the Owners Suites and down, and is served every other day of a cruise. I did not make the cut.
But I was happy to try and work through as many of the remaining options as I could, and was very impressed by many of them. I ate twice at Koko's sushi bar, where all the fish is flown in from Japan and is "fresh frozen." The menu offers two sides: a more serious, fish-only side and a "Western" menu with options like chicken teriyaki rolls.
Chef Marlon, who spent 12 years working the sushi bar for Norwegian Cruise Line, will go off menu if you ask for his favorite cuts.
Chef Marlon runs the show at Koko's sushi bar. Photo Credit: TW photo by Johanna Jainchill
Passengers raved about Koko's teppanyaki room, described as serious Teppanyaki and not Benihana style. Koko's Asian fusion menu changed daily and was inventive. There is a large selection of vegetarian and vegan options.
I loved Koko's lunchtime Bento Box, which has a different theme every day. One day it was a choice of three kinds of Indian curry accompanied by chutney, dhal and naan. Another day it was Japanese with tempura and udon noodles.
Lumiere, the French reservation-only eatery, also does a tasty and inventive seven-course menu that changes daily.
On my night it included line-caught sea bass with truffled cauliflower and caviar served with smoked candy floss. The meal includes high-end wines. Definitely come early to enjoy a glass of bubbly at the champagne bar and watch the chefs at work in the open galley.
Lumiere, the French reservation-only eatery, does inventive dishes like caviar served with smoked candy floss. Photo Credit: TW photo by Johanna Jainchill
A meal at Elements -- the Italian, steak and seafood eatery -- was the most uneven in my experience, with some forgotten parts of our order and a menu description that didn't quite match what was served. However, I heard from others that the selections were very good.
Overall, restaurant service around the ship was attentive and warm. I was surprised by how quickly servers remembered my cabin number and my coffee order.
The Scenic Lounge's whiskey bar proved to be a popular spot both before and after dinner. It's hard not to try and sample at least some of the 100 whiskeys that are not just on display but included, even 25-year-old malts and several bottles with price tags well into the hundreds of dollars.
A full breakfast menu and buffet is served at the Yacht Club, a space shared with the ship's swimming pool. A smaller breakfast and lunch menu is offered at Azure, and all-day cafe and bar with indoor and outdoor seating that was my go-to spot for espresso -- Illy coffee is served on the ship -- and a warm yet lively place to work.
First Call: Scenic Eclipse