Breaking Travel News interview: James Griffiths, captain, Scenic Eclipse
Ahead of the vessel’s maiden voyage, Breaking Travel News here catches up with Scenic Eclipse captain, James Griffiths, for a quick chat to find out what he thinks about the first discovery yacht from the brand.
He also tells us what it takes to captain a six-star luxury ocean vessel.
Breaking Travel News: What does it take to become the captain of a luxury ocean vessel like Scenic Eclipse?
James Griffiths: It takes around ten years to get the licences required to command a ship the size of Scenic Eclipse.
Working in polar areas requires a very special set of skills, both my second-in-command and I hold advanced polar water certification and have racked up hundreds of days in high polar latitudes in the north and south.
I have spent nearly 20 years in the industry, worked on 12 different ships, commanded six of them and visited over 105 countries.
Scenic Eclipse will be a truly demanding ship to operate, the complexity of the helicopters, submarine, Zodiacs, and kayaks coupled with her highly advanced technology and the need to offer the ultimate six-star service, means that I and everyone else involved in the project must be passionate about delivering it.
BTN: What sets Scenic Eclipse apart from other ships?
JG: Scenic Eclipse is setting an entirely new standard in the cruise and expedition industry.
We are the first cruise ship to house our own helicopters and submarine and will be the first expedition ship in service to comply with the latest ‘Safe Return to Port’ regulations (that necessitate two independent engine rooms, two independent bridges and multiredundancy in provision areas, galleys and power distribution).
In addition, Scenic Eclipse is Polar Class 6, which puts the ship’s ice strength above 1A Super – the highest of the Swedish Ice Classes before you become an ice breaker.
The ship is also fitted with a dynamic positioning system, this allows us to maintain an exact position and heading automatically by making use of the ship’s oversized bow thrusters and Azipods.
This means that we will be able to avoid anchoring and reduce damage to the seabed, while ensuring the safest possible approach for our helicopters and Zodiac fleet.
To give you an idea of how powerful the Scenic Eclipse bow thrusters are, a normal cruise ship would have around ten-20 per cent of total propulsive power assigned to the bow thrusters, Scenic Eclipse has 50 per cent.
BTN: Where are you most excited to be sailing to with Scenic Eclipse?
JG: Scenic Eclipse is a remarkable ship in every regard.
I’ve worked as captain on the world’s largest four masted sailing ship, the MSY Wind Star, which is an excellent warm water ship and the MV National Geographic Explorer, which is a very good cold-water expedition ship.
But Scenic Eclipse will be a ship that excels in all areas.
She will be just as at home moored alongside the most impressive super yachts in the world in Monaco, as she will be breaking ice less than 900 kilometres from the true North Pole.
I am very excited to take Scenic Eclipse everywhere, she is the first cruise ship to truly combine ‘go anywhere/see everything’ ability coupled with stunning super yacht looks and the most luxurious on board amenities, so I know she will bring an incredible ‘wow’ factor wherever she sails.
BTN: What do you think will be the highlight of a voyage with Scenic Eclipse for your guests and for your crew?
JG: I am genuinely excited to see how guests will react to Scenic Eclipse.
She is designed to exceed expectations.
Everyone will take away something different; perhaps a journey to a shipwreck in our submarine, a flight over a glacier with one of our highly trained pilots in a helicopter, maybe watching the sunrise on the bridge with one of our deck officers, or memories of the excellent dining venues.
For my crew, I have been delighted how quick the very best people in the industry have been to join me on board Scenic Eclipse.
Scenic is not your average multi-national faceless company, it really does feel like a family, so serving our guests on board a ship like Scenic Eclipse will be a career highlight for many.
Find out more about Scenic Eclipse on the official website.