Been there, done that? For jaded travellers, the Andaman and Nicobar islands offer a pleasant alternative. Lying about 1,100 nautical miles from Visakhapatnam, they are a group of 572 picturesque islands, big and small, inhabited and uninhabited, some full-blown islands, some islets and some mere rocks in the southeastern part of the Bay of Bengal.
They would compare with the most renowned tropical tour destinations with sandy white beaches, technicolour fishes and dense forests with palm trees, beautiful flowers and fauna.
The best part for intrepid travellers is that a passage to this atoll costs no more than Rs 10,000 from Vizag. Alas, no luxury cruise liners serve travellers from Vizag but five passenger ships that travel from Visakhapatnam to Port Blair. So, if you’re interested, head over to Vizag, which is the closest port city from our city.
Operated by ticketing agent M/s AV Bhanojirow, Garuda Pattabhiramayya and Co, the passage to Andaman and Nicobar Islands is available only once in a month. It takes at least 50 hours for the ship to reach Port Blair where it normally berths for about two or four days.
There are no entertainment facilities on-board, food being available in a canteen on board. But there are have decent facilities for a comfortable and memorable travelling experience. Says N Appa Rao, shipping executive of M/s AV Bhanojirow, Garuda Pattabhiramayya & Co. “The ship serves the purpose of transportation only. Travellers have to make their own arrangements for accommodation and food in the islands. It is advised to avoid sailing between May and July, as there is huge tourist rush during the summer holidays.”
MV Akbar, MV Nancowry, MV Nicobar, MV Swaraj Dweep, and MV Harshavardhana are the five ships available from Visakhapatnam to Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Travellers can choose any of a wide range of accommodation on board based on their budget. A deluxe cabin is the best choice for couples and people seeking privacy, costing about `6,000-8,000 per person, varying from ship to ship.
If it is a group of friends looking for pocket-friendly travel to the enchanted isles, bunk class which is a hall type of air conditioned dormitory is available for less than `2,000 each. Other types of accommodation include A Class (four bedroom cabin), and B Class (six bedroom cabin).
“This is something we can look forward to. But it would have been great if a tailor-made travel package is provided by a travel company or the tourism department to the Andamans,” says P J Sudhir Raja, a management student.
Unfortunately, tourists have to wait for a full month if they want to return to Vizag by ship. So, they can book a ticket on ship from Port Blair to fly back to their respective city.