By Cassandra Mascarenhas
Globalisation has resulted in the world getting smaller and more accessible every year – visiting places which would have required months of planning years ago can now be arranged in a matter of a couple of minutes.
Every corner of the world has been penetrated except for two unexplored wildernesses – the Arctic and the Antarctic, which have remained for the greater part inaccessible to normal civilians.
Bringing the opportunity of travelling to where no Sri Lankan has been before, Worldlink Travel Group in collaboration with Poseidon Arctic Voyages, a London-based company that specialises in expedition cruises, is set to send the first Sri Lankan to the North Pole.
No stranger to introducing unusual travel packages to the adventurous in the country, the World Link Travel Group was also the first to bring in a travel package to Alaska several years back.
Poseidon is currently the only company that takes civilians to the North Pole, which has received fewer than 2,000 civilian visitors since it was first breached over a century ago. With the capacity to take 128 passengers, the massive icebreaker that takes people of all nationalities on this voyage belongs to the Russian Government and makes two to three trips a year at the peak of the Antarctic summer in July and August.
The absolute exclusivity of this product leads to interested parties receiving a place onboard the ship on a first come, first served basis.
Poseidon works with travel companies all over the world including the UK, USA, Germany, France, Japan, China and the latest, India. It was when it was present in India that Dream Holidays had approached it, encouraging it to offer this one-of-a-kind package in Sri Lanka.
“The interest in these sorts of expeditions is really big. We have already set up appointments with several interested parties in Sri Lanka and things are looking very promising. We hope to send the first Sri Lankan to the North Pole this very year if possible,” expressed the General Manager – Sales of the World Link Travel Group Ramain Niyangoda.
Sales and Marketing Director of Poseidon Maxim Chernyshev explained that although it was a very expensive package, cost was generally not an issue for those willing to set out on this expedition as it tended to be a life-changing experience for everyone.
“It is our pleasure to introduce this new concept of travelling to the Sri Lankan market which seems very promising so far and we look forward to taking the first Sri Lankan to the North Pole via our expedition cruise,” he said.
The expedition begins at Helsinki, Finland where all the passengers assemble after which they are flown to the port of Murmansk, where they embark the one-of-a-kind icebreaker which is fully equipped to sail for three years at a stretch. They then set out to the North Pole, voyaging through icy waters, travelling through ice which at over three metres thick is the thickest and strongest ice in the world.
On this voyage, the passengers are treated to wondrous sights and are able to commune with the wildlife of the extreme North. Once reaching the North Pole, following a decade-old tradition, flags of each nationality onboard the ship are hoisted and anthems of each country are played.
Huge celebrations follow this and passengers bask in the experience – taking a dip in the frigid waters, having barbeques and some truly original, even playing golf at the North Pole.
After spending a day or two at the North Pole, they then travel to the Josef Franz Land, an archipelago made up of 191 ice covered islands located in the far north of Russia. They spend a couple of days there, exploring some of the islands and travelling around the pristine wilderness via helicopter which is also available onboard the ship.
The whole expedition is also a very educational one with some of the world’s best scientists and an experienced expedition team that accompany the passengers taking them through the whole experience step by step.
The expedition is open to anyone of any age and the passengers receive excellent care and are taken to the North in the lap of luxury. Surprisingly 60% of the passengers tend to be women, which led to the President of Poseidon Arctic Voyages Nikolay Saveliev commenting that the first Sri Lankan to make it to the North Pole may even be a woman.
The next icebreaker cruise to the North Pole is slated to commence on 23 July 2011 and will end on 6 August.