Taking Indian Travellers to Antarctica
It is safe to say that the Indian luxury traveller has conquered every part of the globe – well, almost. Europe, Asia, Australia, North America – it’s all been done to death. But there’s that one white continent that continues to mesmerise, fascinate and attract the most seasoned travellers – Antarctica. Due to its inaccessibility, both geographical and financial, Antarctica remains a distant dream for most Indian travellers.
Things are, however, changing thanks to one man. Vasim Shaikh, a luxury travel entrepreneur, is now making Antarctica more accessible to Indians through his luxury travel company, The Q Experiences. From the look of it, he’s off to a pretty good start. This year, The Q Experiences is all set to take its first “Indian” group on board a luxury cruiseliner on its Antarctica expedition, on 9th December 2017.
To give you a bit of perspective, there are is an annual upper limit of 40,000 tourists to Antarctica, of which there are about 100 Indian travellers, on an average, every year. This obviously means that The Q Experience is addressing the country’s High Net Worth Individuals, and a very discerning niche of travellers.
I got chatting with Vasim Shaikh, of The Q Experiences and here’s everything you need to know if you’re planning on booking yourself on the first Indian luxury cruise to Antarctica.
– The 950 km itinerary lasts for 11 days and starts from Ushuaia in Argentina. You land into Buenos Aires and take a chartered flight to Ushuaia.
– It goes through the Drake Passage and passes by some of the world’s most breathtaking glaciers of Neko Bay and Paradise Bay.
– You will sail to the largest colony of Chinstrap penguins at Deception Island, covering one of the most remote and undiscovered parts of the South Pole.
– Each day there are two landings where you can do diverse things ranging from penguin colonies to research centres where you can interact with researchers.
– There is a daily schedule to be followed and there is a team of experts on board who will arrange and slot out different activities.
You can expect to be on one of the world’s most modern cruiseliners, belonging to the French luxury cruise group “Ponant”. The ship comes with tons of amenities like a spa, swimming pools, multiple dining outlets and plush rooms. The ship can take no more than 200 guests so it is an exclusive and highly personalised experience. You can expect Ponant’s signature “a la francaise” service with finesse with a crew-passenger ration of almost 1:1. Another interesting piece of trivia is that ships with more than 200 guests cannot make landings, according to Antarctica environment regulations. Since this ship has 200 or less guests, these landings are possible.
The standout perks include your very own Michelin-star chef on board – Yes, Chef Atul Kochhar is going to be on board for the duration of the trip serving up his signature brand of fine Indian cuisine.
The Big Question – Price
Now for the biggest question, how much does it cost? You’re looking at about INR 10 lakh, per person, for the 11-day itinerary and this includes return economy class flights to Argentina, visas, base category rooms, meals and open bar. Taxes and gratuities are included in this price too. Which makes it a pretty attractive package for what’s on offer! If you are interested in seeing more of South America, the Q Experiences offers certain add-on packages where you can make the most of the long journey there.
While bookings for the 2017 sailing of The White Continent itinerary are almost full up (or perhaps full up by the time this gets published), you can enrol for the 2018 trip which is, also, fast filling. Find out more here