Antarctica

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  • I know some of this sounds daunting. And we are among the few that have done major international travel since the pandemic began. You will be like kids on your first trip to Disneyland … I don’t care where you go. We are actually right behind you in January 2022. All of our trips are ‘jammed up’ do to the cancelations. We will start packing for Marseille soon. Le Bougainville should be awaiting in Nice, and we will sail to Malta. Our recent trip to the Caribbean was the best in spite of the slightly annoying restrictions. You can’t turn back the clock. You deal with the cards you are dealt. Covid might disappear, or it might never go away. Should we stop our lives and wait?

  • Do whatever mask routine makes you feel comfortable. But most of the officials making the ‘dictates’ right now flunked fifth grad math. California has the most deaths from covid, but it is 1.6% of those who tested positive, and most of them were old farts like us who were already dying of something else. The vaccines are 99% effective at preventing serious illness or death, if you get it after being vaccinated. You should wear a mask when crossing the street in front of your house cuz you might get hit by a car that has covid on it. (;-). If you are vaccinated, your chances of dying from covid are ‘very’ small. Our biggest risk is a positive, or false positive that makes us spend a couple weeks in quarantine. Once again, a small risk.

  • Enjoy and cherish all your upcoming trips, cathyandsteve. Please post your experiences. I love your positive attitude!

  • Cathy: I agree with your 100%. We need to be nicer, less critical and less dogmatic. As you say, we all need to do what we are comfortable with.
    Sealord: you seem to be mocking those who are more comfortable wearing a mask and taking other precautions. You seem to think that since the risk of death is so unlikely for vaccinated people, we should all toss away masks, social distancing and other measures to protect ourselves and others (both vaccinated and unvaccinated). You view the vaccination as invincibility against death - but what about those under 15 who aren’t eligible for vaccines? What about breakthrough cases which can become problematic health wise? Sealord, you certainly have passion for travel and living a ‘normal’ life. Perhaps we would all be better served if you channeled your passions into encouraging global vaccinations. Ultimately we all want the same thing - a return to pre-Covid life.

  • I’m so happy Cathy gets to Antarctica at last. I look forward to a full report on return.
    We were sent a fantastic itinerary for Antarctica recently that eliminates a boat to get there, private jet instead. That would make it back to something we would consider….once we check out if we are up to the hiking.

  • My spelling is better than my typing. (;-). Children are at very little risk from covid. I’m not mocking anyone for anything. I wear a mask where required. My sister never leaves her retirement compound without a mask and gloves. A couple weeks ago even the President said masks were unnecessary for vaccinated people. In this case I happen to believe he was correct.

  • Thanks for the latest update. Just a little confused, how can there be travel to Argentina, which is the only way to get to Antarctica, if it is still a level 4 Covid hotspot by the CDC? That is the highest level (very high) they issue.

  • edited August 6

    Level 4 does not mean you ‘can’t’ go there. But Argentina currently is not open to tourist travel. Eight airlines are currently flying into Argentina, but they are not carrying tourists. The hope is that they will get their act together in the coming months. Also, the trip could be run out of Punta Arenas, Chile, but it would involve more sailing time.

  • edited August 7

    Yes. Chile has gone down hill. They were in better shape a few months ago. Buenos Aires, and Santiago were my regular stomping grounds when I did ‘the deep South’ for American Airlines. I also spent a lot of time in Rio and Sao Paulo. I flew exclusively to South America for several years.

  • My daughter and family just returned from a State Dept. posting to Buenos Aires. Things have gotten bad down there again and they were lucky to get out, even with diplomatic clearance.

  • BREAKING NEWS - SILVERSEA CONFIRMS 2021-2022 ANTARCTICA SEASON WITH  THREE SHIPS DEPARTING FROM CHILEAN PORTS   

    (Miami, FL -- September 8, 2021) Silversea Cruises, the leading ultra-luxury cruise line, has reached an agreement with the Chilean authorities to depart from Punta Arenas for its 2021-2022 Antarctica season, leading the return of Antarctica travel. Silver Cloud and Silver Wind will set sail from Punta Arenas, while the line's third Antarctica-bound ship, Silver Explorer, will continue with its scheduled plan to depart from Chile's Puerto Williams from November 2021.   
    "Leading the return of cruising in Antarctica, as facilitated by our agreement with the Chilean government, represents our commitment to delivering unforgettable travel experiences for our guests,” says Roberto Martinoli, Silversea’s President and CEO. “I commend the Chilean government for its unwavering dedication to restarting cruising to the White Continent in a safe and enriching manner.”   
       
    "Thanks to our unique destination expertise, we are able to lead the return to cruising in Antarctica with the precious addition of Punta Arenas as a departure port, says Conrad Combrink, Silversea's Senior Vice President of Expeditions, Turnaround Operations and Destination Management. “We commend the Chilean authorities for their collaborative approach and we look forward to building a long-term partnership for an enhanced guest experience. Chile is a fantastic gateway with a stable infrastructure and excellent services. From here, our guests can discover the unique allure of the Final Continent in luxurious comfort. With four ships already sailing in other regions of the world, we have demonstrated our commitment to delivering unforgettable travel experiences for our guests in the safest possible manner.”  

  • Cathy - I hope all goes as planned. If Tauck changes something, based on my experience, I wouldn't expect to hear about it until about October 7th, and that might be only if you call. That's just how it's been for me. I know others (British for one) seem to hear this type of information much farther in advance. Good luck.

  • rogfam
    8:13AM
    BREAKING NEWS - SILVERSEA CONFIRMS 2021-2022 ANTARCTICA SEASON WITH THREE SHIPS DEPARTING FROM CHILEAN PORTS

    I thought Tauck uses Ponant ships (Le Boreal, Le Lyrial, and Le Soleal) not SilverSea for this tour?

    It would be a bit more difficult to fly to and sail from Chilean ports like Punta Arenas or Port Harris. Puerto Williams, Chile is on (the south, Chilean, side of) the Beagle Channel, has an airport, and is only about 30 mi. east of Ushuaia, Argentina. Both Ponant and Silversea normally use Ushuaia but that might not be hard for either to make the change, depending on the air service to/from Guardiamarina Zañartu Airport in Port Williams.

  • Steve, sorry for the confusion. You are correct, Silversea is not used by Tauck. They do their own trips to Antaractica. This was sent to me by my TA. Wanted to show me the current status of travel there.
    Also, check with Argentina is allowing non Argentineans to enter their country .

  • edited September 10

    Due to the covid situation in Argentina, I suggested to Tauck that they take a look at Punta Arenas several months ago. There is air service from Santiago which is no more difficult a trip than Buenos Aires. I flew to both places when I was flying the ‘deep South’ for American Airlines. It is a longer boat ride from Punta Arenas. Tauck did say they were looking at it. Ponant has been selling this trip on our January date, but they only have one room left … the owner’s suite … which is twenty-four thousand per guest.

  • Ouch...$24K/pp. I'm not averse to spending money on travel but....during my Antartica tour, I was only in my cabin to sleep and we didn't sleep much. The Captain told the passengers during his opening remarks--"I will sound the alarm often for you to go on deck to see spectacular sights. This can happen at any time. You have spent a lot of money to take this cruise. You will have a lot of time to sleep once you get home" . We were often awake in the lounge having a grand time until 3am (the near 24 hours of daylight helped).

  • edited September 22

    cathyandsteve: Have you made final payment yet? Our trip is 2022 so final payment was due today, set up for autopay, and they have not done it. It is almost nine pm back East, so I am getting a bit suspicious. I just started working on the medical questionnaire … again. I’ve talked with Tauck twice today, and no indication of anything wrong … except they haven’t taken the payment. They said they normally don’t take the payment until the end of the work day? Ponant is still selling the trip, so I guess everything is OK.

  • Sealord. Are you sure you haven’t had your payment date changed and forgotten, or Tauck forgot to tell you.

  • I was curious and looked under the current payment terms when booking a new tour to Antarctica and it states:

    "Final Payment for River Cruises and Small Ship Cruises is due at Tauck’s Wilton Woods, CT office 120 days before departure. Any bookings without full payment at this time may be subject to cancellation without notice."

    Yet, when you look under the latest Travel Policy Updates For Our Guests Section as of September 17, it states as follows:
    "Final payment for all scheduled September 1, 2021 - December 31, 2021 Tauck land tours and cruises is now due 60 days prior to departure, instead of our standard final payment terms. We have extended this date to enable you to make the best personal decision with regard to your planned trip as close to your scheduled departure date as possible."

    This would probably explain the difference in final payments as Cathy's Tour is booked for December 2021 and Sealord's tour is booked for 2022.

  • edited September 22

    I guess they work late. The final payment was made last night. Final payment dates were changed for 2021 trips but not 2022 trips.

  • How bizarre, that you are paying in advance of December Sealord. So of the tour gets cancelled, you are going to have a big windfall!

  • edited September 22

    Most likely we would just roll the money forward to the next trip if this one cancels. Ponant is still selling the trip, so they seem to think it is going. We did have a Caribbean trip cancel with three days notice. Windstar made up for that inconvenience in spades.

  • edited September 23

    Yes, Cathy, I received an email to that effect (not from Tauck). The borders will open to those who are fully vaccinated & show a negative test within 72 hours in advance. It also said another (2nd) test would be necessary after 3-5 days of being in Argentina. But further down, they said that that 2nd test requirement would be discontinued once the Argentine population is more than 50% vaccinated. Fortunately, they are already rapidly approaching that goal! YIPEE is right!

  • Just heard from my TA a few minutes ago. Had my booster yesterday. Starting to pack !

  • Fantastic Reuters report! We're getting to B.A. on the 4th. We were just there a few years ago for a week, but wanted to revisit a few places, and just laze around being pampered for a few days 'pre-tour' (Plus we're just plain tired of being cooped up in this damned house for the past year & a half! LOL) Today, I ordered some wool socks, and 'bandit' masks to pull over our noses on those zodiacs! Now the adrenaline is kicking in!

  • My trip is not until Jan 19. Been to BsAs a number of times, really enjoy the city. So much to see and do!

  • rogfam: I’ve forgotten if we talked about this, but we are on the same trip. I did BA a lot when I worked for AA, but that was a long time ago.

  • Sealord, happy you will be on our ship. Can’t wait till our adventure

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