Antarctica

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  • Your timetable looks great…but DFW has testing inside and outside security if you have a problem getting test results!

  • Cathy, focus on the upcoming adventure of a lifetime. All will work out!

  • I know you know this now Cathy, but time is of the essence and not having to go thru a Travel agent would be quicker.
    Tauck opens at 8am on Monday and I guess it will be busier than ever with all the cancelled flights to Africa. You might still want to call them to see if they can help as well as your travel agent doing it for you as well. We have used the ‘call us back’ feature this past week and it worked well, we didn’t have to wait long.

  • I’m not debating travel agents, I’m suggesting you contact Tauck as well, as it might be quicker and ease your mind Cathy.

  • Tauck is never really closed. There should be an emergency number in your green book. If ‘essential’ elements are missing from your docs, I would call that number. Let them figure out if it is an emergency, or something that can wait until Monday.

  • edited November 2021

    I just checked L’Austral’s webcam. A couple tour buses appeared to be departing. It is 4:00 pm in Ushuaia and I think the all aboard is at five for a six departure. It looks ‘promising’. It also looks cold, wet, and windy.

  • cathyandsteve...The issue here is that most of us are going to BA at least one day or two days or even three days before the tour begins on Tuesday. They need to rethink this.

    No worries. you can always retrieve the document from your email on your smartphone and use the business center at the hotel to print the document.
    #namaste B)

  • L’Austral has sailed. I watched them depart Ushuaia.

  • cathyandsteve...We have to have the document to enter Argentina. So if we do not have the proper paperwork...we will be denied entry.

    Cathy--I apologize. I didn't realize those documents were needed to enter the country. I understand your concern.

    My Antartica tour was in 2012, Unfortunately I cannot remember that level of detail about the luggage. I remember I packed light. The heaviest items for most folks were transporting the 40lb boots as we called them. I rented mine and they were waiting for me in my cabin.

  • Thanks for the update, Portolan! Sounds like a fun group you'll be traveling with. Have a wonderful time!

  • I'll offer one piece of urgent advice if you sail on L'Austral (or L'Boreal and perhaps the newer L'Lyrial and L'Soleil): bring multi-adapters for the very few accessible electrical outlets. We are in a Deluxe Suite, so the situation may be different in the standard suites, but that would seem unlikely. There are no bedside electrical or USB sockets. There is a dual socket on the sideboard with a US 3 prong socket which may or may not be 120V (not labeled and my equipment doesn't care) plus a European 2 pin socket which was occupied by a Bluetooth speaker's plug which obstructed the US socket. So the BT has been unplugged in favor of our beloved Monster Power Outlets to Go 3 Laptop (compact, and spreads the 3 prong plug to three 3 prong sockets plus a low output (phone) and a high output (tablet) USB port. Over the makeup table, there is a single European 2 pin socket (where we are using a plug adapter and our nightlight/2 USB port device). That's it except for a baseboard European socket in the hallway and a "razor" only US/European socket in the bathroom.

    If anyone has specific questions about the ship, I'll be happy to answer them or get the answer.

    We had our first landing today on Penguin Island. Extremely rough ride to a very large boulder-strewn beach. We were fortunate to be in the first group ashore because conditions worsened and they had to cancel the second half's landing.

    A few thousand penguins so not a particularly large rookery, plus one fur seal and a dozen or so elephant seals (molting, so very quiescent).

    The landing conditions were the worst of the dozen or so we made on our earlier trip to the Antarctic in 2012. Fully justifies the mantra that it's an expedition and not a cruise (stuff happens) and your motto (not Ponant's) needs to be "Semper Gumby."

  • What great shots. Thanks for sharing..

  • I think the two newer Ponant ships we have sailed on had more outlets.

  • edited December 2021

    We have cruised on Le Boreal, Le Champlain, and Le Bougainville, and we found the 110 outlet availability to be minimal but adequate. We have stayed in a couple of large suites elsewhere that had inadequate 110 power and you needed plugs and or converters. In both cases the management supplied us with the needed apparatus.

    I was looking this morning for L’Austral, and could not find her on their website and the webcam was not working. I used Cruisemapper to find her in the South Orkney Islands with Le Lyrial nearby. I don’t know if that is their original itinerary, but it is not on ours.

    Le Lyrial’s webcam is working and it has a pretty spectacular view. (Go to Ponant’s website and select ships.)

  • So far we've had landings cancelled at:
    Penguin Island on the 1st for all but the first of 4 groups (we made it!)
    Elephant Island: yesterday
    Coronation Island: first landing cancelled today, but second landing location ongoing at the moment

    We head father east after today's landings are complete to get positioned on the track of the solar eclipse which runs from 3:18 to 4:59 AM tomorrow with totality from 4:07:05 to 4:08:07 (1m42s). Sunrise is at 2:35 AM.

    The solar eclipse is actually responsible for our poor track record on landings since we are much farther east than the normal itineraries. Much more exposed waters.

    Hoping for clear skies or at least partly cloudy tomorrow, but we've mostly had over cast to date.

  • The Tauck expeditions don't visit these eastern, exposed islands which we are doing only because they are stepping stones to where we'll be early tomorrow for the eclipse which will certainly happen...we're just hoping for less than full overcast. So your expeditions will almost certainly be smoother.

  • Portolan - Do you think the risk being farther east in hopes of seeing the solar eclipse will be worth missing those landings? I think I’d prefer the safer landings over a chance at a solar eclipse.

  • We've been to Antarctica before so we're not bummed out (too much). A significant percentage of those on-board view this expedition as viewing a solar eclipse plus Antarctica. One couple we met have seen 18 total eclipses. The key word here is total. Partial eclipses don't count.

    We're more in the expedition to Antarctica plus a total solar eclipse viewpoint, but having been here before we can keep our disappointment for the missed landings in check. Since these are already places not usually visited, we've now seen 2 places new to us (of 4), so half full, not half empty.

  • I vote no on that. There will be more solar eclipses, but how many more times will you go to Antarctica?

    That said, I drove 3 1/2 hours (to the absolute middle of nowhere, a bit north of where CO, NE and WY meet) a few years ago to see the solar eclipse

  • Checking webcams. L’Austral is offline, but Le Lyrial is in the same area. They appear to be sailing back from the South Orkney Islands toward the Antarctic Peninsula. Le Lyrial is in rough water taking heavy ‘spray’ over the bow.

  • edited December 2021

    Have a great time In BA. Try the Dulce de Leche ice cream!

  • Yes, best wishes for a fabulous adventure. Stay safe and well.

  • Portolan - What's the latest? You're X days through a 13 day tour and you've been able to do how many landings? I think from your above posts you had done two landings (probably more by now since it's been a while since your last post).

    Days 1-5 were Buenos Aires, flying south, and the Drake Passage. Days 11, 12, and 13 are the Drake Passage and flying home days. So you must be on day 8, 9, or 10 since your above posts seem to describe days 6 and 7.

    Hopefully your landing success count grows significantly before you head back across the Drake Passage.

    Hope you get some better weather. From the Ponant webcams and CruiseMapper website details it sounds like some pretty hairy conditions.

  • cathyandsteve....Negative pcr tests… and Antarctica here we come!

    Cathy---I hope you have a FANTASTIC trip...Safe Travels

  • Update: totally socked in during the eclipse. Certainly saw the lights go out and then back on. Nothing like that in less than total eclipse. But the weather has been bad with winds up to (at least) Beaufort 9, and very heavy swell. The main dining room is on deck 2 with maybe 10-12' freeboard. During rolling at dinner yesterday, the windows dipped below the sea surface. Not talking about waves splashing up...windows dipping below the surface (very briefly). The ship is designed for this. The windows are built like aquarium windows. But it does get your attention. The weather has slowed us down so we won't reach the Weddell Sea until tomorrow morning. So landings still at 2.

    For those who may think we're greatly missing out, let me note again that 1) we knew that weather for the eclipse was a dice roll, and 2) we've been to Antarctica before with (as I recall) about 16 landings between the Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica. We also saw all 7 species of penguins found in the sub-Antarctic which was a first for our expedition team (not hyperbole, they posted this on their web site). Anything new, like the two landings we've made so far are bonuses to our previous experiences. We are also likely to repeat the grand tour (Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica) in a few years. So, disappointed, but not devastated.

    And, total solar eclipses aren't that common. About 1 a year somewhere on Earth. More like one a decade somewhere in the US. Next one in the US is April 2024, again with a nice swath across the US like 2017 so, but thereafter it'll be a while before good opportunities for millions of Americans to see a total solar eclipse. Had we had cooperative weather on the 4th we'd have been among a few thousand to have viewed the eclipse.

  • Also: the ship will be doing COVID viral antigen tests the morning we disembark with results provided before we fly out of Ushuaia at midday which will cover both those, like us, who'll be flying home from Buenos Aires that night and also those leaving the next day. The media widely misstated the requirement as "within 24 hours of departure", but as stated on the CDC web site it is NLT the previous day and so can be up to 40 hours or so in practise.

  • edited December 2021

    Portolan
    3:03PM
    The media widely misstated the requirement as "within 24 hours of departure", but as stated on the CDC web site it is NLT the previous day and so can be up to 40 hours or so in practice.

    No matter how you look at it, 1 day is still a lot shorter than 72 hours.

    What this also illustrates is that the rapidly changing US and international requirements and differences between them can be confusing. As Portolan stated, the CDC requirement is "1 day" , not 24 hours. but there are subtleties and conditions for delays and layovers. For example, all layovers are not equal- a layover for convenience is not the same as a mandatory layover. Also, some requirements apply to the first flight of an itinerary while others apply to the last leg of an itinerary when you enter the destination country. And of course- requirements are all over the place with regard to foreign countries.

    Please check the CDC requirements and all the FAQs for your return flights to the US. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/testing-international-air-travelers.html

    Per CDC:

    "Why doe the CDC Order specify 1 day rather than 24 hours? What is considered 1 day?

    The 1-day period is 1 day before the flight’s departure. The Order uses a 1-day time frame instead of 24 hours to provide more flexibility to the air passenger and aircraft operator. By using a 1-day window, test acceptability does not depend on the time of the flight or the time of day that the test sample was taken.

    For example, if your flight is at 1pm on a Friday, you could board with a negative test that was taken any time on the prior Thursday."

    As it stands now, due to post stays of just one day each, and timing of flights, we can't easily make the 1 day prior testing requirement. In the first situation our flight departs a little past midnight and we will be out touring the day prior. In the next case our flight departs in the morning but we will be departing the boat early on the previous morning, traveling to a different city, then flying home from that city the next day. In both cases we would need a very early morning test and rely on getting the results via email later on.

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