Ponant has officially started building its polar exploration vessel Le Commandant Charcot with the steel cutting ceremony.

The ship is being constructed at Vard shipyard in Tulcea, Romania, and is scheduled for delivery in 2021.

It will be powered by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and will sail to the North Pole.

The French-owned cruise line, created in 1988, decided on the vessel’s name as a tribute to French explorer Jean-Baptiste Charcot.

Jean Emmanuel Sauvée, Ponant’s chief executive and co-founder, said: “I am proud to be involved in the inception of a project that marks the culmination of 30 years of effort.

“Our fervent desire is that our passengers, being in daily contact with scientists and experts, and meeting with the local populations, become ambassadors for the protection of these regions.”

The steel-cutting ceremony took place on November 6.