You can take a submarine ride in a ‘cocoon of titanium’ to the deepest point on Earth

Apr 6, 2020

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Looking for a way to get away? Look down. Deep, deep, deep down — all the way to Challenger Deep.

Come mid-May, EYOS Expeditions will launch submarine expeditions to Challenger Deep, a location in the Mariana Trench that, at 38,583 feet, holds the title of the lowest point on Earth. The trip will take up to 14 hours — over four hours to descend; four on the seafloor where divers can explore and film from the comfort of the submarine; and another four to get back up to the surface.

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The ship, known as the Limiting Factor, has two seats, three view ports and high-definition “surround” cameras. It’s also equipped with 10 sets of LED lighting arrays so you can light up the terrain, Rob McCallum, Expedition Leader at EYOS Expeditions, told The Points Guy.

Limiting Factor has been pressure-tested in a chamber and has already done five practice dives to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. In fact, it’s the only vehicle ever constructed that’s capable of multiple dives to full ocean depth. In the submarine, you’re completely protected by the 3.5-inch titanium sphere. You won’t experience any pressure changes or physiological stresses at all.

“It’s extremely relaxing, in the sense that you’re in this cocoon of titanium. It’s silent and there’s no perception of movement. So it’s very calming and soothing”, McCallum said.

Related: Virgin Galactic inches closer to taking passengers into space

The surrounding environment is pitch black after about 500 feet, but because of the LED lighting arrays, you’ll be able to see what’s around you — including fish, up to around 26,000 feet, and then hadal-zone creatures after that. Hadal creatures, such as flea-like amphipods, have never known daylight and thrive at the bottom of the ocean.

(Image courtesy of EYOS Expeditions and Caladan Oceanic.)
(Image courtesy of EYOS Expeditions and Caladan Oceanic.)

As McCallum explains it, divers “will feel this passion and expertise flying through the ship,” because they’ll be accompanied by a really passionate team of sonar operators, scientists, ship crew and more.

The dives cost $750,000 (£611,247) per diver, and there are only three spots on each voyage. The three spots on the maiden voyage sold out very quickly, and the dive is scheduled to continue in May despite the coronavirus outbreak. In fact, divers will be tested for COVID-19 before embarking on the journey, a spokesperson for EYOS Expeditions confirmed.

Challenger Deep is arguably the most exclusive destination on Earth. Only three manned expeditions have ever been made to the bottom — to put that in perspective, more people have been to the moon than the bottom of the ocean. In fact, 4,000 people have been to Mount Everest, 562 have been to space and only seven have made it to Challenger Deep.

Before even reaching the dive site, travellers will spend a day at sea on a yacht (dubbed the Pressure Drop), which departs from Agat, Guam. So, if you want to pay for at least part of this trip with miles, stock up on United miles.

The fastest way to get there from the continental U.S. will be on United flights departing from Honolulu (HNL), but you can also have an AvGeek experience worthy of this ultra-exclusive trip by booking United’s Island Hopper. This bucket-list itinerary connects the tiny Pacific islands of Majuro (MAJ), Kwajalein (KWA, though not every Island Hopper flight stops here), Kosrae (KSA), Pohnpei (PNI) and Chuuk (TKK) with Honolulu.

Related:12 things to know before flying the United Island Hopper

Subsequent dives are also going on as scheduled and, if you’re interested in joining one, you can email EYOS for more information.

Featured image courtesy of EYOS Expeditions and Caladan Oceanic.

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