Scenic Eclipse was launched by Australian-owned travel company Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours in August 2019. The six-star all-suite Discovery Yacht exemplifies luxury, with its spacious public areas, diverse range of restaurants and fine-dining options, and modern-cons to provide guests with a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Among the suite of activities available to guests are submarine dives in a purpose built, seven-person (pilot plus six-passenger) U-Boat Worx Cruise Submarine 7. Senior Submarine Operations Officer Remy Izendooren is behind the controls of the Scenic Neptune, which is deployed throughout Scenic Eclipse‘s itineraries.
Recently, Travel Associates’ National Operations Leader, Marieke Tucker, was one of a handful of travel advisors who took part in a VIP onboard Scenic Eclipse in the Caribbean.
Here, LATTE quizzes Tucker about the underwater experience she encountered, to find out some of the need-to-know information in order to assist other travel advisors answer questions they may have from customers.
Where and when did you take the submarine experience aboard Scenic Eclipse?
Guanaja Bay in Honduras in the Caribbean.
Were there any requirements guests need to be aware of?
We’re asked to wear dark colours. Nothing bright or shiny. The idea is to not cast a reflection in the water, and to blend in with mother nature as much as possible.
Have you been in a submarine before and what was the appeal of doing it?
No. I wanted to experience something new, it’s not everyday you get to go on a submarine for fun!
Can you describe the boarding and de-boarding process? What was involved?
We boarded a Zodiac directly from Eclipse. The Zodiac takes you out to the sub which is a few 100 metres away from the ship. You then leave all your belongings (shoes, anything that can scratch the inside of the submarine) in a special bag that the crew looks after whilst you in the sub.
You climb barefoot into the submarine, with the crew there to guide each person in one by one. There are certain areas where you can and can’t walk in the submarine, and you can only tread were there are black marked areas.
Once we are all seated, the sub pilot gets in, closes the hatch, does all the checks with the crew on the rubber duck to ensure they can hear him, provides his co-ordinates, checks his radars and surroundings to establish the decent to the bottom of the ocean. And it’s all engines go.
We slowly descend down. Our chairs swivel to face the windows and the small air-conditioning unit kicks in to try and keep the inside as cool as possible.
How long were you underwater and what did you see?
We were under for roughly 45 minutes.
How deep did you dive and did your ears pop?
We dived 21 metres and yes, your ears do pop on the way up and down with the pressure.
Did the pilot provide commentary throughout to explain what was happening?
Remy was great. He showed us and explained how he used the radar to pick up on any movement or potential activity for us to view. He informed us about the build and the structure of the sub and how thick the glass really is. He even let one of the guests take a turn to steer the sub!
What was the temperature like onboard? Were you comfortable throughout?
It’s comfortable, but extremely hot. It was roughly 34 degrees inside. You definitely feel like you are sitting in a sauna. It’s definitely not an experience to recommend for someone that suffers from claustrophobia.
Did the experience meet or exceed your expectations?
I loved it! It’s really something unique and different and a must-do. Never in your life do you think you will have a sub experience, unless you join the marines!
If I had the choice, I would have wanted to do a dive where we had better viewing, but for a first-time experience, and taking advantage of where we were cruising, it was awesome.
Would you recommend the submarine to your clients?
Definitely, but I would suggest they book it in advance and ensure they speak to the pilot to get the best advice on when to do it for the best experience.
Any element of the experience stand out in your mind that you thought “I didn’t expect that?”
Receiving a certificate to recognised that I’d dived was an amazing touch – and unexpected. The whole experience is amazing. I think the “WOW factor” would be even greater if you have really good sightings under water. There was a guest on the submarine that has already done 7 or 8 dives on the cruise as he loved it sooooo much!