Andaman and Nicobar Islands Getting There and Away!
Travelling to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands is nothing short of an adventure, especially if you are a foreign national. Entry to the Islands is restricted because of its huge cultural significance and ecological sensitivity. You can travel either by sea or by air from Chennai or Kolkata.
This is by far the easier of the two ways. Indian Airlines and Jet Airways run flights from Chennai and Kolkata almost on a daily basis to Port Blair- the Island’s capital city. Air Deccan too operates flights from Chennai; while Air Sahara and Go Air fly from Delhi (Go Air operates from Kolkata as well). Peak season bookings may be difficult and so would the costs. Direct flights from Chennai and Kolkata take around 2 hours, whereas flights from Delhi fly via Chennai or Kolkata take around 5 hours.
This is the least preferred route thanks to the long and arduous journey. It takes almost 50 to 60 hours to reach Port Blair from Chennai or Kolkata. Ships from both these destinations sail towards Port Blair at least four to five times in a month. But the schedule is erratic and cancellations are common. During peak season, sailings could be once in a week, while they dwindle down to once in a fortnight during off season. Ships from Vishakhapatnam sail once in a month. Foreigners can book their tickets through the tourist quota, provided they book their return tickets.
The ships are anything but cruise-class. They merely ferry passengers; entertainment facilities are nil and sanitary facilities can be less than satisfactory. Common ships assigned for Port Blair include MV Nancowry, MV Swarajdeep, MV Nicobar and MV Akbar.
Entry Formalities to Indian and Foreign Nationals:
Entry to the Andaman & Nicobar Islands is guided under the Foreigners (Restricted Areas) Order 1968. Thus, they need a permit to visit the Islands. This is provided for 30 days and is easily available on arrival at Port Blair. Permission can be sought from the Indian High Commission office in your county or from the Foreigners Registration Office at metro cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata.