Le Laperouse

(10:40 a.m. EDT) -- Le Laperouse, the first cruise ship in Ponant's new Explorer class of ships, completed its first sea trials at the Vard shipyard in Alesund, Norway in late May. The ship is scheduled for delivery later this month.

"These sea trials are a real success for the company," said Jean Emmanuel Sauvee, CEO of Ponant. "Remarkable nautical performances, technical excellence, a high standard of comfort, everything is in place for the Ponant Explorers series to be a real triumph."

Ships in the Explorer Class will feature a reinforced hull for polar exploration, a fleet of Zodiacs for excursions, an aft marine for water sports, a 118-person theater, infinity pool, two restaurants and the unique-in-the-industry Blue Eye Lounge. Located within the hull, the Blue Eye Lounge features two large windows that look out to the underwater scenery outside, while the sounds from outside are piped in via specially-developed hydrophones integrated into the ship's keel. 

Ponant is a French-owned luxury cruise line that sails to expedition destinations, as well as to Europe. Le Laperouse is the company's first new ship in several years. It is the first of six Explorer-class ships. The second of the class, Le Champlain, will launch this October. A seventh ship, an icebreaker is due out in 2021.

Le Laperouse will begin sailing in and around Iceland later this month after which it will head for the Mediterranean, then to the Indian Ocean, Asia and Oceania.

--By Dori Saltzman, Senior Editor