Guests will sail on the opulent Great Majestic Explorer and dine on meals curated by Michelin star Chef Atul Kochhar and Chef Alain Ducasse’s team.
By Suman Tarafdar
A trip to the Antarctica is possibly somewhere at the top of every traveller’s wish list. And the wish becomes more intense when you realise that no more than 100 people can land on the Antarctic Peninsula at any given point of time, making access to it not just geographically and climatically challenging, but also fairly exclusive.
Very few Indians have travelled to the white continent, given the circuitous route involved: there are no direct flights to Argentina, which is the country you start the expedition in, and visas are difficult to come by.
The Q Experiences, an Indian luxury travel company, hopes to change the situation by charting an entire ship that will fly the Indian flag on an 11-day trip scheduled for December 9 to 20, bang in the middle of the Antarctic summer, when there is 24 hours of sunshine. Vasim Shaikh, founder of The Q Experiences, estimates that 200 Indian travellers will sail to the icy southern continent. “With the launch of ‘The White Continent’ (as the journey is called), we aspire to take luxury travel to unsurpassed heights and focus on rare destinations that Indians are yet to explore,” says Shaikh, a travel industry veteran.
Travellers will sail on the opulent Great Majestic Explorer, a 460-foot yacht with 132 staterooms and suites, styled by French interior designer Jean Philippe Nuel, the man who also designed the first Baccarat hotel.
Michelin star chef Atul Kochhar will be on board to curate the culinary experience, which would also include meals by a team from the Catering Centre of Excellence run by Alain Ducasse.
Like most trips to the Antarctica, this one too will commence from Ushuaia, the capital of Tierra del Fuego, an island located equal parts in Argentina and Chile. From Ushuaia, the ship will sail through the Drake Passage. But the first sighting of the mighty glaciers will be possible only on the fourth day, at Neko and Paradise Bays.
The ship will sail to some of the furthermost corners of the Antarctic Peninsula, from Weddell Sea to Palmer Archipelago.
Enroute, the ship will anchor at Port Lockroy, a natural harbour on the north-western shore of Wiencke Island in the Palmer Archipelago, right in front of the Antarctic Peninsula. It will then sail to the largest colony of Chinstrap Penguins at Deception Island, and travel to the quietest place on earth, the Weddell Sea, even as you encounter penguins and sail past centuries old glacial ice.
A blindingly white world, however exclusive, could get monotonous, so the organisers have a number of activities planned out. Over the duration of the trip, several landings on the continent are expected, says Shaikh.
At Deception Island, the largest colony of Chinstrap Penguins in the Antarctic Peninsula, travellers can see over 100,000 pairs of penguins at play, besides the fabled elephant seals, an earless species that has been hunted to the brink of extinction. At Weddell Sea, guests will get an opportunity to sight the Weddell Seal a.k.a. ‘the lord of the Weddell Sea’, which can dive 2000 feet below the chilly waters of the Antarctic and stay under for 45 minutes. At Port Lockroy, a haven for an avid wildlife enthusiast, guests will visit a museum, a little store and a post office from you can send postcards to friends and family.