(2:26 p.m. EDT) -- In a milestone moment for Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours, the company's first expedition ship -- Scenic Eclipse -- successfully completed its sea trials, moving one step closer to launching on August 15, 2019. Sea trials are a routine procedure in which a cruise ship sails on open water to test its mechanics and systems before welcoming passengers.
The long-awaited ship launch had been delayed three times, due to a series of strikes and shortage of manpower, according to the line's managing director. Scenic Eclipse was originally supposed to debut in August 2018.
"It was a real pleasure to take Scenic Eclipse out to sea for the first time," said Scenic's Captain James Griffiths. "Sea trials are a critical milestone in the construction process as it is the first time all the ship systems are operated together and is a key opportunity to confirm the theoretical information from the tank tests and computer modelling. The results from these trials surpassed every expectation.
"I have worked extensively with Azipods on other ships like Scenic Eclipse's, and these sea trials confirmed to me how incredibly versatile and powerful they are, particularly when coupled with our oversized Bow Thrusters.
"I was also delighted with how quiet the ship is. She was vibration free and virtually silent during all our trials, exceeding our expectations in terms of stability, maneuverability and performance. Scenic Eclipse really does manage to combine small ship maneuverability with big ship levels of comfort and quietness; it’s quite remarkable to experience it."
Scenic Eclipse will now receive finishing touches to its exterior and interiors, while crewmembers will undergo final training, leading up to the launch.
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The ship will sail a wide variety of itineraries during its maiden season; among them are Antarctica, South and Central America, the Mediterranean, Baltic and Norwegian Fjords, and Arctic.
Standout features of the 228-passenger ship will include all-balcony suites; 10 dining venues ranging from Asian fusion to French; a sweeping spa and fitness center, with a separate yoga and Pilates studio; two helicopters, one submarine and a fleet of Zodiacs (inflatable watercrafts) for more in-depth exploring; and several high-tech features like a zero-speed stabilizer and the eco-friendly capability of stationary positioning without an anchor.