(6:30 p.m. EDT) -- Luxury expedition cruise line Ponant's newest ship -- Le Laperouse -- arrived today in Reykjavik, Iceland, where it will depart for its maiden voyage. It's the first call the ship has made since leaving the Vard shipyard in Alesund, Norway, where it was delivered to Ponant on June 15.
The 184-passenger ship, which will be christened on July 10 in Reykjavik, is the first in Ponant's new Explorer class. Features of this class include a reinforced hull for polar exploration, a fleet of Zodiacs for excursions, a water sports marina, an infinity pool and the unique-in-the-industry Blue Eye Lounge -- an underwater space offering ocean views and sounds via specially-developed hydrophones integrated into the ship's keel. All 92 of the ship's cabins, including suites, also will feature either a balcony or private terrace.
"Le Laperouse is a wonderful achievement for the company and the result of intensive teamwork with Vard and Fincantieri," said Ponant's CEO and co-founder, Jean Emmanuel Sauvee, in a statement. "From remarkable nautical performances to technical excellence and offering an extraordinary level of comfort, everything is in place for the PONANT EXPLORERS series to be a huge success."
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 and the first of six Explorer-class ships due to launch between now and late 2020.; the second, Le Champlain, will launch this October.
A seventh ship -- an electric hybrid icebreaker capable of sailing around both Poles -- is slated to debut in 2021.
--By Gina Kramer, Editor