(10 a.m. EST) -- Lindblad Expeditions celebrated the float out of National Geographic Endurance, the line's first-ever cruise ship designed specifically for polar cruising, at the Ulstein Verft shipyard in Norway on Dec. 7.
The float-out milestone marks the first time a ship touches water.
The 126-passenger vessel is built with the highest ice class (PC5 Category A) of any purpose-built passenger ship, which means that the vessel has the capability to operate in polar environments at any time of year.
The ship has six decks with 10,000 square feet of glass to view the scenery, and it will offer off-ship experiences like kayaking or Zodiac cruising through polar waters. Three-quarters of the 69 cabins are equipped with balconies that feature floor-to-ceiling sliding doors, and 12 cabins are designed for solo travelers. Endurance will also have one main dining room; an outdoor barbecue and bistro spot; a spa and fitness area with treatment rooms, a sauna, relaxation area and yoga room; and two infinity hot tubs.
Lindblad says the key to its design is the patented X-BOW, which provides wave-slicing action designed to deliver a smooth ride, even in adverse conditions. It also offers fuel efficiency and fewer emissions. The shipyard is located just south of the Polar Circle on the North Sea.
The vessel is scheduled for delivery in January 2020.