A single trip to the Kimberley could never be enough to take in everything the region has to offer. The north-western corner of Western Australia is a mix of land, sea and air spectacles, many of which are solely accessible by one medium or another.
A journey by camel, for instance, has its virtues, but you’re not likely to come home with snaps of the Kimberley’s renowned coastline. In the same way, a cruise past those dramatic cliffs excludes the possibility of reaching the canyons and freshwater swimming holes located further inland.
On the other side of the great southern land, it’s the same story. The Great Barrier Reef’s treasures are well hidden from those who simply scratch its surface.
– Jason Flesher
Scenic, world-renowned for taking ocean cruising to a new level of ultra-luxury, considered this situation and did what it does best – it raised the bar.
From 2024, the six-star, ultra-luxury Scenic Eclipse II Discovery Yacht will embark from Sydney on its maiden Kimberley and Oceania voyage. It’s big news for travelers seeking an all-inclusive experience.
“For me, one of the great highlights of the Kimberley is experiencing raw lands unreachable except by ship,” Jason Flesher, Scenic’s Director of Discovery Operations, tells The CEO Magazine.
“Its striking beauty, majestic landscape and ancient culture combine to represent a true adventure to be had, and we wanted to capture that for our guests like no other operator can.”
Seeing the Kimberley by air is one of the best ways to get the most out of one’s time there, and Scenic has certainly delivered on that front. Guests on this route will have the option to partake in the most expansive helicopter program in the region.
Aboard Scenic Eclipse II are two state-of-the-art Airbus H130-T2 helicopters, which provide up to 10 incredible excursions designed by Flesher himself.
Up to six guests can explore the King George River, the eye-popping Horizontal Falls and even the remote Buccaneer Archipelago and Lacepede Islands, all in the spacious, air-conditioned comfort of the purpose-built flightseeing craft that live up to Scenic’s incredibly high standards of luxury.
“Not only do large windows provide stellar views from every seat, but Bose noise-canceling headphones make sure you travel in comfort,” Flesher says.
– Jason Flesher
Whether taking Scenic’s standard daily flightseeing excursions to amazing scenery that’s different every day, or Flesher’s custom VIP helicopter tours, guests simply fly from and return to Scenic Eclipse II. Both helicopters have been modified to be quieter so that on-shore guests and wildlife are not disturbed.
“For months I undertook special scouting trips to Australia and partnered with locals to design our VIP helicopter tours,” he explains.
“You can visit Darwin for a VIP tour of the Aviation Museum, take private cultural tours of Aboriginal communities, embark on an exclusive tour of Willie Creek Pearl Farm and even join a helicopter fishing expedition.”
All VIP helicopter tours are several hours long, with meals included and a few surprises along the way. “No matter which you choose, it’s a unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience available only with Scenic.”
Back east, Scenic’s partnership with Triton Submarines, which are part-owned by film director and ocean explorer James Cameron, will pay off for guests aboard Scenic Eclipse II’s Top End voyage from Cairns to Darwin.
As the Discovery Yacht traverses the Great Barrier Reef, guests can be a part of the first-ever submersible experience as part of a commercial cruise in the region. Scenic Eclipse II’s other permanent passenger is the spacious, custom-designed, cutting-edge Scenic Neptune II, which features the latest technology in underwater exploration and, of course, Scenic’s gold standard of ultra-luxury.
Through a crystal-clear acrylic sphere, passengers will enjoy unrestricted views of one of the seven wonders of the natural world. A dynamic GPS keeps Scenic Neptune II in position without the need for a damaging anchor, while an Advance Azipod propulsion system provides maximum maneuverability, low fuel consumption and minimal disturbance to the natural environment.
“There’s a sense of adventure and wonder beneath the waves up there,” Flesher reveals. “There’s no telling what you might see.”
What you’ll hear, however, is an in-depth overview of what you’re seeing and experiencing, from the history to the flora and fauna to the geology of where you are, thanks to Scenic’s onboard team of lecturers and guides.
“They hold PhDs or master’s degrees in their given fields, and they’ll provide an even deeper dive than Scenic Neptune II is capable of,” Flesher says.
“Having the right Discovery Team, be it the helicopter or submersible pilots to the Zodiac drivers to the lecturers and guides, is the perfect bridge between high adventure and ultra-luxury.”
And nowhere else can you experience all this in a single day except on board Scenic Eclipse II.
“No other ship or operator can provide such exhilarating experiences, from flightseeing in our helicopters to diving below the surf in Scenic Neptune II; from kayaking and paddleboarding to on-land tours with our exceptional Discovery Team,” Flesher points out.
– Jason Flesher
It’s this sense of uniqueness that Flesher says drives him in his work with Scenic.
“Creating ultra-luxury excursions is intriguing, challenging and exciting,” he enthuses. “I love that I can create one-of-a-kind experiences not only for our guests, but also for the Discovery Team guides and crew.”
These excursions were introduced with Scenic Eclipse Discovery Yachts. With no prior examples to work from, Flesher had to start from scratch. “Nothing like it existed before, so I really had to get creative. Luckily, I love that part.”
Flesher’s stimulating remit is figuring out how to provide continuity for the ultra-luxury experience on board Scenic Eclipse II once guests leave the ship.
“It all comes together with having the right Discovery Team that can deliver six-star excursions by air, on or under the water and on land like no other,” he says.
“I handpick the guides from all over the world specifically for that purpose.”
Even after immersing himself in the natural wonders of Scenic’s destinations and choosing the very best to offer guests, Flesher says it’s only at the end of a busy day that it all comes together.
“To see the excitement of the guides and guests during and especially after the experiences, when they’re breaking it all down and sharing their stories, that’s the highlight for me,” he reveals.
“I love seeing that excitement through their eyes. So many of our guests come to us because they’ve been so focused on work and life, and they’re looking for adventure. When I see even the most hardened passenger rediscover their sense of wonder, find that inner child and tap into the well of excitement we all knew as kids, it’s such a wonderful thing. Priceless, in fact.”
– Jason Flesher
Flesher is already hard at work designing Scenic Eclipse II’s next journeys, which, despite their proximity, couldn’t be further from the Australian experience.
“Coming up, guests can discover the picturesque beaches of Indonesia’s Spice Islands, where only a small ship can reach,” he teases. “After that, we’ll be heading to the Ross Sea of East Antarctica, where the inland Dry Valleys are only reachable by helicopter.”
For now, though, the Kimberley and Top End voyages are significant for another reason: it’s the Australian-owned Scenic’s return home after many years sailing exclusively overseas. The momentous occasion is not lost on Flesher.
“Bringing Scenic Eclipse II home is so powerful for me,” he says. “Finally, an opportunity for Australians to experience a Scenic ultra-luxury cruise so close to home.”
Find out more at Scenic.com.au, including full details and costs of the submersible and helicopter discovery experiences.