Rendering of Crystal Endeavor

(4:17 p.m. EDT) -- Discerning travelers now have the opportunity to be one of the first to sail on Crystal Endeavor -- a new expedition yacht focused on luxury adventure cruising -- as the line today opened bookings to the public for its maiden season.

The 200-passenger ship operated by Crystal's new expedition arm, Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises, is slated to launch in summer 2020 and spend its first six months sailing through exotic destinations like Japan, Russia, Indonesia, Borneo, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania and Antarctica via the Ross Sea.

Construction of the ship officially began this week, marked by a keel-laying ceremony in Germany attended by Chancellor Angela Merkel. Read Cruise Critic's live report from the event.

Groundbreaking features of the ship include two helicopters for shore excursions, a submarine, a watersports marina at the back of the ship and multiple fine dining venues. It also will have a Polar Class 6 designation, allowing it to maneuver through icy pole conditions in warmer seasons.

Fares for Crystal Endeavor's first season start at $12,749 and are almost all-inclusive, covering all meals, most alcoholic beverages and gratuities, among other perks. Crystal notes the prices will likely increase after September 30, 2018, when the "Book Now Savings" promotion ends.

Cruises can be reserved on Crystal's website, or through a travel agent. (Compare booking online versus with a travel agent.)

Here are 10 things you need to know about sailing on a brand-new cruise ship.

--By Gina Kramer, Editor