Remote, outworldly, spellbinding!
The glistening ice-clad peaks and acres upon acres of white have has caused Antartica to be on the bucket list of scores of travellers. I’m sure that Antartica, even in my wildest imagination can’t compare to its actual beauty and the overwhelming power of nature in reality. A landscape dotted with adorable penguins, the sounds of bellowing elephant seals and the ice cracking as the ship sails ahead, the rush of ice-cold wind…
Seems ethereal, doesn’t it?
Antarctica is a land of inspiration and soul-awakening. In fact, ‘trip-of-a-lifetime’ somehow seems like a lame cliché to describe it, but it’s the closest we’ll ever get. Cruises have made it possible, and even comfortable for visitors to experience the sheer size and grandeur of Antarctica, and while there are many of these, the Q seems to stand out.
Through The Q Experiences a luxury cruise, Le Soleal will be transporting 200 Indians to answer the mysterious call of the South. Departing from Ushuaia, the city at the edge of the world, on the 9th of December, this 11-day cruise will take guests through the Drake Passage, named after the first daring voyager to venture into these waters.
Two days into the journey, visitors will feast their eyes on the South Pole in the distance, growing larger as they approach and on Day 4, they will get to experience Neko Bay. On Day 5 and 6, they venture to land again, in the unforgiving cold. Weather permitting, they will visit Pleneau Island, an ice-covered, desolate place that is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. Day 7 takes visitors to Deception Island, which is steeped in history, being a port that has served as a base for seal hunters, but is also a whaling station and a research centre.
They begin sailing away on Day 8 and slowly, traces of Antarctica begin to fade on Day 9 and 10. On day 11, the air feels different as they make their way back to Argentina from where, if guests wish, they can stay back and visit other breath-taking sights on their own – Machu Pichu, the Amazon, the Galapagos Islands and the Andes.
All through the journey, a team of chefs will be hard at work to ensure guests dine on food worthy of a luxury cruise. Chef Atul Kochhar, a 2 star Michelin Chef will oversee Indian food alongside his counterparts catering to other cuisines. I recently got the chance to have a chat with him and his excitement was contagious! He is also thrilled to be going to work alongside Chef Allain Ducasse, the godfather of French cuisine.
“For the French,” Chef Atul says, “Indian food is just curry. I want to showcase how extensive our palate is.” He adds, “every journey teaches me something and I want to see what this one teaches me.”
Chef Atul tells me that preparations are already underway for the mammoth journey and his dry ingredients have been dispatched to South America. The fresh produce will be bought before boarding the ship and will last him 3-4 days. Then, as fresh produce stocks deplete, he will be challenged to satisfy the demands of the passengers with dry ingredients. He laughingly says that as produce depletes, that’s when Indian cravings start kicking in – and people crave some dal and rice, vada pao or butter chicken. And he looks forward to meeting these demands in the most creative way possible.
Some of the dishes I sampled included Soya Kheema Kulcha, Lapeth Thoka, Rajma Chawal Tikki, Coronation Chicken, Carrot Baklava and White Chocolate Brownie.
While sailing to the white continent with Q Experiences seems unlikely at this time, at least my taste buds got to travel to the white continent!
Oh well, maybe someday!
If you’d like to know more, check out the White Continent website