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2021/2022 Antarctic Cruise Season Go or No Go??


PaulMCO
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I started this thread so that we can compare messages from everyone's cruise lines as to the state of the 2021/22 season.

Of course COVID is rampant in both Argentina and Chile.  Restrictions in the Falklands possibly same in South Georgia.

 

We all have flights to plan for and hotels.  Some of these flights may not be refundable.  Also final payments for many begin this month.

 

We are on Quark late November.   Their letter this month stated pretty much nothing other than their teams are evaluating and a decision will be made in August/September time frame.

 

Anyone else care to comment???

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The expedition companies are hopeful and I’ve seen crew for some have been vaccinated and started to be called back, but none of the expedition staff seem to have clear contracts.

 

The big risk is the situation in Argentina. There has been talk of operating out of Punta Arenas instead, but they can’t handle the same number of ships as Ushuaia.

 

The sentiment I’ve heard throughout the industry is that fingers are still crossed for late season, but no one seems to expect the season to start on time (if at all).

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We are scheduled to go with Albatros Expeditions November 23.  I emailed my travel agent yesterday asking if he had any indication from Albatros  of what they are thinking. I told him I had seen the Quark email (and thought it was overly optimistic).  He replied that Albatros is 

also optimistic about the season proceeding and they are committed to Ushuaia but are exploring other options.  He said to hold off on pre and post cruise arrangements. 

 

He also moved our final payment to August 15th (it was previously mid July).

 

We have already made flight arrangements.  I feel confident that we can change the Delta flight to BA to a flight to Chile if we need to.  I'm thinking we'll have to eat those BA to Ushuaia tickets--unless travel insurance covers that.

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21 hours ago, aimee0715 said:

We are scheduled to go with Albatros Expeditions November 23.  I emailed my travel agent yesterday asking if he had any indication from Albatros  of what they are thinking. I told him I had seen the Quark email (and thought it was overly optimistic).  He replied that Albatros is 

also optimistic about the season proceeding and they are committed to Ushuaia but are exploring other options.  He said to hold off on pre and post cruise arrangements. 

 

He also moved our final payment to August 15th (it was previously mid July).

 

We have already made flight arrangements.  I feel confident that we can change the Delta flight to BA to a flight to Chile if we need to.  I'm thinking we'll have to eat those BA to Ushuaia tickets--unless travel insurance covers that.

Similar thing going through my mind.  The issue is how will the cruise line handle this.  There are only two ports that can handle cruise ships heading to Antarctica.  Puerto Williams and Puerto Arenas.  Neither has the infrastructure that Ushuaia has.  They have no hotels and Puerto Arenas has one flight per day from Santiago.  Yes the cruise lines could charter something but for me that is a big question, as I do not want to be on the hook to get to either place.

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Posted (edited)

We have just booked a 3 week trip to Antarctica and the sub Antarctic islands leaving from Dunedin in NZ in January 2022, I’m thinking it has a 30% chance of going at this stage. Unfortunately it’s different issues we are dealing with, not so much escalating Covid numbers but state borders and those of NZ closing on a whim.  Although at this stage NZ is not allowing cruise ships at all, I hope things turn around with fully vaccinated crew and passengers being approved.

fingers crossed 🤞 

Edited by gogo65
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On 7/1/2021 at 8:26 PM, PaulMCO said:

Similar thing going through my mind.  The issue is how will the cruise line handle this.  There are only two ports that can handle cruise ships heading to Antarctica.  Puerto Williams and Puerto Arenas.  Neither has the infrastructure that Ushuaia has.  They have no hotels and Puerto Arenas has one flight per day from Santiago.  Yes the cruise lines could charter something but for me that is a big question, as I do not want to be on the hook to get to either place.

 

I saw mention of ships leaving from Puerto Arenas instead of Ushuaia so I investigated Puerto Arenas flights and hotel a bit. I noticed right away the lack of hotels.  I went ahead and booked a room that I can cancel for fee up until October 21.   I went on Delta and saw that flight to PA was anywhere from 36-45 hours from North Carolina.  I thought that was odd but then realized that the issue was the one daily flight on Latam--which leaves one hour before the Delta flight arrives.  What a mess!  I didn't even realize Puerto Williams was a possibility. 

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Posted (edited)
24 minutes ago, aimee0715 said:

 

I saw mention of ships leaving from Puerto Arenas instead of Ushuaia so I investigated Puerto Arenas flights and hotel a bit. I noticed right away the lack of hotels.  I went ahead and booked a room that I can cancel for fee up until October 21.   I went on Delta and saw that flight to PA was anywhere from 36-45 hours from North Carolina.  I thought that was odd but then realized that the issue was the one daily flight on Latam--which leaves one hour before the Delta flight arrives.  What a mess!  I didn't even realize Puerto Williams was a possibility. 

There a Chilean Navy base at Puerto Williams and the airport built there is to service that facility.  Silversea has a couple of Silver Explorer cruises leaving from both places.

 

Yes one LATM direct flight to Puerto Arenas plus there is also a flight via Puerto Montt.

 

My guess the cruise lines if they do move to Chile will base everything from Santiago and use a Charters to reach the ship -- so no hotel needed except for a pre-arrival in Santiago.

 

There is a possible alternative is that Ushuaia is put into a bubble and passengers are flown in from Santiago and then board.  Cruise lines need Ushuaia for resupply, something the Chilean ports cannot do on a multi-ship basis.

 

I have an email to Quark pointing all of this out and what are their alternative plans -- since I want to make contingency plans as you have for hotels in Santiago and also flights using refundable FF points.

 

 

Edited by PaulMCO
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22 hours ago, ethan1171 said:

It seems that 2021/22 season out of Ushuaia / Argentina is a GO!! (....happy dance!...) There is still a lot to be figured out - but the latest news is a great sign:

 

 

https://www.facebook.com/tierradelfuegogob/posts/4246765542072450

 

I just saw your post on Trip Advisor about this and came here to share the link and here you are 😀

 

This is very exciting news!

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Yes - the news are promising. And I agree with some of the responses I got on TripAdvisor that there are still a lot of unknowns, but at least now the door is open ... I am getting a lot more optimistic for my Feb '22 expedition trip.

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Keep in mind that Ushuaia is a cruise port on its own, serving cruises that embark from the surrounding countries. And Tierra del Fuego has its own health and environment restrictions when arriving from elsewhere in Argentina (Ushuaia closed for ship arrivals a week before Buenos Aires at the start of the pandemic).

 

It’s a promising first step, but we still need to watch Argentinian border rules and flight logistics.

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Kaisatsu -- agree 100%.  The question is getting to Ushuaia even if they make a bubble out of the region.  Currently they are limiting even Argentinian citizens from coming home at 600 per day to prevent the Delta variant from abroad.  That is not encouraging.

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Specially with the Delta variant and high number of cases in fully vaccinated travelers. And there is a new variant in Peru currently - so even if cruising is an option around the US and Europe personal I think that Antartica is an step up

 

in case of an outbreak the next port will be in easy reach everywhere else - in Antartica it’s at least a 2 day journey (longer on a SG trip) and then there is the question how well the local hospitals are set up and what’s happening with the passengers on that ship? I still remember the docu about the Aurora cruise ship and to be fair I wouldn‘t think of cruising to Antartica as long as cases are high in Argentina & Chile

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  • 5 weeks later...

We received word today from Albatros Expeditions that the cruise we booked,  November 21-December 12 on their ship, Ocean Atlantic, is not going to sail.  The email states that they are anticipating that Argentina will open it's borders in early October.  They are going forward with the 15 day cruise on Ocean Victory from November 26 to December 10 leaving out of Ushuaia.  They have given us 5 options with one of them being to move over to Ocean Victory.  That is what we have opted for.   We are keeping our flights so we will have more time to explore Ushuaia both before and after our cruise.  They also released their Covid protocols.  Not surprising that they are requiring all passengers to be vaccinated and will require everyone to be tested.  

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  • 3 weeks later...

 

SOME GOOD NEWS!!!!

 

It's official, Argentina announced the opening of the 2021/2022 bi-oceanic and Antarctic cruise season next 20 October. The administrative resolution 834/2021 was published in the Official Gazette, triggering immediate satisfaction from Tierra del Fuego province whose governor contacted the Tourism and Sports minister Matías Lammens.

 

Tierra del Fuego governor Gustavo Melella and the head of the provincial Tourism Institute Dante Querciali held a zoon conference with minister Lammens to thank him for his efforts in having the sanitary protocols approved for the progressive opening of cruise activities in Ushuaia. The minister admitted it was not an easy job, but underlined the work and time from all those who helped in the task and even when “the sanitary situation was the priority, we also understood how important it is for the Tierra del Fuego people and their economy, the cruise industry”.

 

He added “thanks for your patience, confidence and support, and remember you will always have an ally in me to continue working in promoting tourism and hopefully we can reap the benefits of a successful 2021/22 cruise season”.

 

Governor Melella also pointed out the work deployed by the Ministry of Health Care and the Strategic Vaccination program in Tierra del Fuego with over 50% of the local population immunized and its significance “in creating a positive sanitary situation”.

 

“We are ready to receive cruise visitors, we will ensure compliance with the strict protocols, both from our officials and from the private sector, extensive to those landing as well as confirming that we can keep our city's sanitary condition, well protected from the virus”.

 

“Our people can be certain that arriving cruise visitors will comply with the protocols and all the necessary sanitary precautions will be in place and effective”, explained deputy governor Monica Urquiza. The return of the cruise vessels with the Antarctica option is great news for our tourism industry, and strategically and geopolitically for Argentina”.

 

Last July Ushuaia port authorities revealed they had requests for over 400 calls involving 68 cruise vessels, between October and May 2022

 

 

https://en.mercopress.com/2021/08/26/celebration-in-ushuaia-cruise-season-authorized-to-begin-on-20-october

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I've been following this thread with interest because I was booked for Jan 2022 with Scenic.  I was going Jan 2021, but bumped to 2022 thinking that was so far away it would be fine. DOH!  As final payment of $40k came into view next week, I opted to cancel for a FTC because I do not think it will happen or want to deal with testing and masks if it does.  Not for nearly $75k (trip +airfare).  I am disgusted that I can not get back the $11k deposit, but that is another story.  Please keep posting on your experiences and thoughts.  It is all so surreal.  

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13 hours ago, HappyTvlr said:

I've been following this thread with interest because I was booked for Jan 2022 with Scenic.  I was going Jan 2021, but bumped to 2022 thinking that was so far away it would be fine. DOH!  As final payment of $40k came into view next week, I opted to cancel for a FTC because I do not think it will happen or want to deal with testing and masks if it does.  Not for nearly $75k (trip +airfare).  I am disgusted that I can not get back the $11k deposit, but that is another story.  Please keep posting on your experiences and thoughts.  It is all so surreal.  

Agree.   We had the same issue.  We have a special eclipse cruise and this one is once in a century.  Otherwise we would have done as you did.   We have already done a cruise with the testing twice before and once during.  It was not bad other than the wait to know if negative.  If it comes to cancelling we will have to deal wit Quark to get a refund (as we paid with Amex we will have a little more leverage).

 

For those interested in the news from Chile see the link...

 

https://polarjournal.ch/en/2021/09/01/chile-allows-entry-for-antarctic-cruise-tourists/

Edited by PaulMCO
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On 9/4/2021 at 10:41 AM, HappyTvlr said:

I've been following this thread with interest because I was booked for Jan 2022 with Scenic.  I was going Jan 2021, but bumped to 2022 thinking that was so far away it would be fine. DOH!  As final payment of $40k came into view next week, I opted to cancel for a FTC because I do not think it will happen or want to deal with testing and masks if it does.  Not for nearly $75k (trip +airfare).  I am disgusted that I can not get back the $11k deposit, but that is another story.  Please keep posting on your experiences and thoughts.  It is all so surreal.  

We currently have a Ponant trip to Antarctica from NZ booked for January 2022, we also dont believe it will go ahead. Weve been looking at options and my first choice was the north west passage, scenic have a great trip, however I refuse to drop so much money with their current refund policies, even if they cancel they will not give you back a dime, only credit. Like you with a cost of $60k +I cant leave that money with them for who knows how long. Weve decided to transfer to the North East passage with Ponant, at least we know their refund and cancellation policies are fair. I really don’t think Scenic are doing themselves any favours with the current policies.

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We are booked on the Quark Expeditions on the Ocean Diamond with the cruise commencing on 02/22/2022.  No flights have been booked yet as we will wait until the final payment is due.  I will post if I hear anything from Quark.

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I posted a similar comment on the Quark roll call...

 

Quark has made the decision. They will only have one ship for the 2021/22 season. That is the Ultramarine. Diamond and Adventurer cruise have been canceled. Some  have been merged and some guests offer cabins on other sailings.

 

They have doubled down on Argentina and did not go the Chilean route. All passengers are to meet in BA with Charter to USH. So no on your own to USH. Providing a one nights stay in BA.

 

All of these changes remain predicated on Argentina opening to cruisers on 20 October. (iffy IMHO)

Edited by PaulMCO
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3 hours ago, PaulMCO said:

I posted a similar comment on the Quark roll call...

 

Quark has made the decision. They will only have one ship for the 2021/22 season. That is the Ultramarine. Diamond and Adventurer cruise have been canceled. Some  have been merged and some guests offer cabins on other sailings.

 

They have doubled down on Argentina and did not go the Chilean route. All passengers are to meet in BA with Charter to USH. So no on your own to USH. Providing a one nights stay in BA.

 

All of these changes remain predicated on Argentina opening to cruisers on 20 October. (iffy IMHO)

This is basically what our expedition company did at the beginning of August.  They went from two ships to one ship.  We were moved from a 20 day itinerary on the old ship to a 15 day itinerary on the brand new ship.  They are also not wavering on sailing out of Ushuaia.  I have heard nothing about a charter flight though.  Is the charter flight a new thing for Quark?  I hope that we will be able to take the flight we booked because we have kept the original flights we booked for the 20 day itinerary.  We were just planning to spend more time in Ushuaia before and after the cruise. 

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18 minutes ago, aimee0715 said:

This is basically what our expedition company did at the beginning of August.  They went from two ships to one ship.  We were moved from a 20 day itinerary on the old ship to a 15 day itinerary on the brand new ship.  They are also not wavering on sailing out of Ushuaia.  I have heard nothing about a charter flight though.  Is the charter flight a new thing for Quark?  I hope that we will be able to take the flight we booked because we have kept the original flights we booked for the 20 day itinerary.  We were just planning to spend more time in Ushuaia before and after the cruise. 

Yes the charter is a new thing.  We were originally set to meet a their provided hotel in Ushuaia,  Now it is to meet in BA get tested and head to Ushuaia together in the so-called bubble and go to the ship.

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