‘We’ve done incredibly well with Scenic Eclipse I so adding a second ship to expand on our deployment gives us a greater ability to do Arctic and Antarctica [voyages], including new destinations in between.’
And, together with the new Emerald Sakara joining later this summer, Scenic is doubling its ocean fleet.
Events and festivities to raise awareness
‘Having two ships come out this year, one for Scenic and one for Emerald. is great for our company’s growth in the small-ship luxury segment,’ Muskat said. He added Scenic will be using these new ship launches to maximize awareness. Numerous events and festivities are planned.
These began with the delivery and presentation of Scenic Eclipse II to Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and other dignitaries and will continue in Lisbon where the April 13 maiden cruise embarks, hosted by founder and Chairman Glen Moroney and his wife Karen, director of project design.
Christening in Málaga and Miami showcase
The May 29 Barcelona to Lisbon cruise includes the ship’s May 3 christening in Málaga. Muskat will be hosting a handful of key travel partners and media for part of that 11-day voyage. Then, in October, during a Bahamas-Bermuda cruise, there will be a rare opportunity to showcase Scenic Eclipse II at PortMiami.
Muskat expects to host 60 to 80 travel partners for day tours and 100 to 150 for a sail-away party shoreside.
Since he joined Scenic Group USA in December, Muskat has been getting to know the company’s wide portfolio by visiting ships. At the same time, he’s been interacting with travel advisors and media at events including the ASTA River Cruise Expo in Budapest and Seatrade Cruise Global. Next up is Cruise Lines International Association’s Cruise360 trade event next week.
Eye-opening for travel advisors
‘What we hear a lot is “Wow! I had no idea …’ that Scenic Group offers 23 river vessels and luxury ocean yachts, Muskat said. ‘People didn’t realize the size and scope of the company, the portfolio with the mix of two brands, and river and ultra-luxury megayacht and expedition.’
In Budapest last month, several hundred travel advisors were hosted on Scenic Jasper for tours, cocktails and lunch or dinner.
Muskat heard comments of surprise about how luxurious and elegant the vessel is, the size of the staterooms, the finishings and amenities.
ASTA River Cruise Expo drew 750 advisors who toured the vessels of various lines to see the differences and meet the company executives and sales teams. It also was ‘wonderful exposure’ for Scenic to present at the general session, and Muskat appeared on a panel.
Emerald Azzurra’s private yacht feel
He went from there to Greece for a new nights aboard Emerald Azzurra.
‘A lot of people said it’s like sailing on your own private yacht, but I didn’t know what that meant,’ Muskat said.
Having cruised on Scenic Eclipse in Chile, he was familiar with Scenic’s ocean discovery focus on global destinations and adventure with helicopters and submarines.
He found that Emerald Azzurra revolves around relaxation and ‘doing things things at your own pace,’ with ample water sports and a spa and deployment in the warm-weather yachting destinations of the Mediterranean and Caribbean.
‘With only 100 guests, the size and the amount of space you have make it feel like you’re on your own yacht,’ Muskat said. ‘The ceiling height, stateroom sizes and open spaces make a small ship feel really big and spacious and comfortable.’
There are spots for seclusion and privacy, and places to congregate. A camaraderie develops with fellow travelers. Muskat experienced ‘great food and service’ with ‘relaxation by day and wonderful entertainment and dining by night.’ Emerald Azzurra has its own resident entertainer and brings on local artists.
‘When that ship pulls into ports, everybody says “Wow! What’s that? Is that a cruise ship? How do I get onboard?”‘ he said.
Events to show off the new Emerald Sakara are planned when it arrives in August.
Seatrade Cruise Global exposure
At Seatrade, Muskat was in demand for interviews and spoke on a panel about how hotel brands will bring new people to cruising and elevate the offerings.
‘To be a part of that was super-exciting and opportunistic for us,’ Muskat said, since ‘Scenic Eclipse and Emerald Azzurra have paved the way’ in proving the appeal of small ships to new clientele. He appeared with speakers representing brands like The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, which has just begun sailing, and Aman Resorts and Orient Express, which won’t have vessels for a few years.
‘Bringing these competitors into the segment is going to drive more brand awareness and be exciting for the category overall,’ Muskat said, adding that each offers ‘differences, bits that are unique.
‘… There’s a clear demand and a clear growth opportunity for luxury small-ship cruising, whether it’s expedition, ultra-luxury in the Med, ultra-luxury in the Caribbean; discovery, which we focus on with the helicopters and the submarines; and the culinary experience. There’s something for everyone in this luxury market and it’s great that it’s growing.’
2023 cruises still booking
Typically, river and luxury ocean cruises would be booked 1.5 to two years ahead, however all lines are reporting closer-in sales. Muskat said there is still some space on summer river cruises, Emerald Azzurra and Emerald Sakara for a new full season in the Caribbean this winter and Scenic’s 2023/24 Antarctica program.
Airfares are ‘a bit of a challenge’ but Scenic has staffed up its air department and has good contracted air deals and inclusive offers that Muskat advises travel advisors and consumers to check out.
‘There’s still opportunity in 2023 for people willing to make closer-in decisions even for these more expensive and, in some cases longer, luxury vacations,’ he said. ‘We still see demand for 2023 so that’s good. At the same time, we’re focused on 2024 and 2025.’
With all the new capacity and the ‘huge’ media exposure expected this year, Muskat said the Scenic Group USA team is hard at work to translate that into sales that pave the way for future growth.