Antarctica 2019 FAQ

Updated November 6, 2018

BOOKING AIR TRAVEL

What's the best way to get to Ushuaia, Argentina?

From your home, you'll be flying to Buenos Aires (EZE Airport code), Argentina. You then have a choice of just two airlines, LATAM or Aerolineas Argentinas, to get from Buenos Aires (EZE) to Ushuaia (USH). Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Arrive in Ushuaia (USH) before 3:00 PM on December 1, 2019. On your return, you can depart from Ushuaia (USH) anytime after 12:00 PM on December 13, 2019.

  • If you choose to arrive in Ushuaia a day early (and many do), no problem, we can arrange a hotel room for you (at your cost).

  • It might be good idea to spend one night (or more) ahead of the trip in Buenos Aires. This helps with jetlag and breaks up the travel. If you do this, you will book your own hotel in Buenos Aires.

  • We recommend using Google Flights to research your flight options, and then purchase directly online from the airlines.

  • While it is possible to book flights all the way to Ushuaia on one ticket, you might find out that the best way to break it down is like this: one round-trip ticket from your home to Buenos Aires and back, and a second round-trip ticket from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia and back. This is for two reasons:

    • your preferred airline might not be partnered up with LATAM or Aerolineas Argentinas

    • there are two airports in Buenos Aires, AEP (the domestic airport) and EZE (the international airport). These airports are one hour by taxi apart (on a good day!). If you are flying straight through from your home to Ushuaia without staying overnight in BA, make sure you allow enough time to change airports if your flights require that. Taxis are readily available to transfer you between the airports.

  • Everyone likes non-stop flights, but don't ignore a one-stop flight from EZE-USH, if that means you don't need to switch airports. Even though that flight time is longer to USH, it's easier than switching airports in Buenos Aires.

  • Tickets can be purchased 335 days out, so that will be in January 2019. We recommend buying your air tickets sooner rather than later, to be sure to get the best routing, pricing, and seat selection.

INSURANCE REQUIREMENTS

Travel Medical Insurance and Medical Evacuation Insurance are required.

You can get both of these from our preferred and trusted provider, Ripcord. And here's a blog post that explains the differences between these types of insurances.

Documents

Where is the Details and Information Document?

Here is the PDF. It's Version 1, dated November 6, 2018. Download it and save it. We will update this document throughout the year, and post new, dated versions here.

Are there other documents I should download before the expedition?

YES! Please download these two very important PDFs to your tablet, phone, or computer.

Antarctica Wildlife Field Guide. We will use this for our presentations on Antarctic wildlife.

Photographing Antarctica – Classroom Notes. We will use this in our classroom time for Wildlife Photography Techniques, The Art of Seeing, and Lightroom.

Gear, packing

Anything special I need to do with my laptop to prepare for this expedition?

Before you leave home for the expedition, launch Lightroom (and Photoshop if you have it) and make sure it connects to Adobe over the internet. It's good to check for updates, as well. Be sure you don't have too many copies of Lightroom and Photoshop installed on different machines. Test Lightroom and Photoshop on your laptop with Wi-Fi turned off, to make sure it launches and works for you. It's a good time to make sure you have your laptop power supply and your card reader packed!

How do we deal with our gear in the zodiacs?

Try to be"light, nimble, and quick." Typically, carrying two cameras for our shore excursions is all you would need. One body with a short zoom (like a 24-70/24-105mm) and another body with your longer zoom (100-400, 80-400, 28-300, 70-200). Sure, maybe you want to put a wider angle lens in a pocket, just "in case”. Memory cards, spare batteries, lens cloth, and that's pretty much all you need. The zodiac rides are typically very calm and very smooth, with little to no splashing, but of course you need to be prepared for anything. For this reason, it's advisable to have your gear in a dry bag. Some will put their backpack into a dry bag (this is perfectly fine). But a really good choice is to have a small dry bag into which you will put your two cameras for the zodiac ride (something like a 20L or 30L dry bag). Here's an example of a small camera holster with body and 100-400 lens, and a second lens, and here's that holster in a dry bag.

How do I carry my gear when on land?

We recommend two camera bodies on sturdy camera straps, for the maximum flexibility. Or one body on a strap and your second body in a small satchel or small camera pack that holds your second body and a lens or two, plus small items. Sure, you can carry your backpack, no problem, but be careful about carrying too much, as you will find that you can get the majority of photos with just two zoom lenses. In addition, you will likely not want to put your camera pack down on the ground in too many places (watch out for penguin guano!).

Do I need my tripod?

While you can certainly use a tripod, it really isn't necessary. In fact, this is one of the places in the world where the tripod might cause you to miss a shot! Shooting handheld will be totally fine and doable, since the light levels are normally very high. We shoot handheld all the time with our 100-400 (or similar) zoom lenses. There are not many opportunities for long exposure, tripod-mounted photography. Again, being "light, nimble, and quick" is the order of the day. All this being said, we don't travel anywhere in the world without our tripods, so we'll have our small travel tripods along for this trip as well, it's just that we're not planning on using them much.

Are there luggage restrictions on LATAM? Aerolineas Argentinas?

It depends on the type of ticket you purchased. But like all airlines around the world, you can just pay a fee if your luggage is overweight. Aerolineas Argentinas. LATAM

NOTE: At this time, we're being told that tripods ARE NOT ALLOWED in the cabin on Aerolineas Argentinas flights. LATAM has said that tripods in the cabin are OK

Tip for your camera gear carryon: If any airline is strict about weight limits for your camera backpack, no worries, use the trick of putting your heaviest camera and lens on a strap around your neck. Put a lens or two in your coat pockets if you have to. Once on the plane, you can reload into your backpack. This is a nuisance, but it works when airlines are weighing carryon. Also it helps immensely if you simply smile, and say that you have really expensive and fragile camera gear, and that it can't be checked. 

Hotels and details for december 1 and 2, 2019

What is my hotel?

We have a block of rooms at two hotels for the group, Las Lengas and Albatros. We will be sending out information on how to book your hotel room in the spring of 2019. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of time. But if you want to go ahead and book rooms now, you are free to book any hotel you like in Ushuaia.

I just landed in Ushuaia, how do I get to my hotel?

On December 1, 2019 there will be shuttle buses from “Rumbo Sur” that will take you to your hotel for a small, flat fee of approximately $10 USD. If you miss the shuttle, or if you arrive earlier than December 1, simply take a taxi for approximately $15 USD from the airport to town.

When and where do we meet the team on December 1?

We are still finalizing plans but you will stop by and pickup important departure and embarkation information and meet the team between 3:00 PM and 6:00 PM at Albatros Hotel in Ushuaia.

How does our big luggage get from the hotel to the ship?

When we see you on December 1st, we will supply you with luggage tags that have your name and cabin number on them. Please put these on your big luggage and then bring your luggage to the Las Lengas Hotel Lobby or Albatros Hotel Lobby by 9:30 AM on December 2, 2019. You will leave it there, and we will handle getting it to the ship. IMPORTANT: You will keep your camera bag and any small hand luggage with you, all the way to embarkation on The Ushuaia. If you are out and about exploring Ushuaia during the day on December 3rd, you can leave your camera bags with the Hotel bell staff.

When do we embark The Ushuaia?

Embarkation begins at 4:00 PM on December 3, 2019. Meet at the Ushuaia Port security at 3:45 PM. The port is easy to find (and see from most anywhere in town). The main entrance is on Lasserre Street, across from Hotel Albatross. If you are at Hotel Albatross, you simply walk (2-3 minutes). For those staying at Las Lengas Hotel, there will be a shuttle bus departing at 3:30 PM which will bring you to the Port. You must have your passport in your hand to get through security, and also for check-in on board The Ushuaia. When you check in, don't be alarmed, you will give your passport to the ship's staff, and they keep it for the duration of the expedition. Muench Workshops Staff will be at the Port security and on board the ship, to assist with the embarkation process. Please do not try to embark The Ushuaia prior to 4:00 PM. once you are on board, you are not able to disembark. 

Something went wrong and I need to contact Muench Workshops in Ushuaia!

You can reach us by email ( info@muenchworkshops.com ) or by using WhatsApp or a text or phone call to +1 917-854-8118 (Andy Williams). Or, you can ask the front desk of Las Lengas or Albatros Hotel to find one of us (Andy Williams, Marc Muench, or David Rosenthal). In the unlikely event that you are unable to reach any of us in Ushuaia, contact Zac Williams at +1 518-366-0571.

Remind me about what's included, and what's not included.

Included: Welcome drink and afternoon snack on December 1, 2019 (between 3:00 PM and 6:00 PM). All meals from Dinner on December 2nd through breakfast on December 13th. Lodging on board ship, shore excursions, photographic instruction and guiding, all lectures and programs aboard ship and on land.

Not included: Passport and visa fees. Items of a personal nature. Alcoholic beverages and soft drinks. Tips for the ship's crew (recommended $15 per passenger per day). Expedition-related clothing and gear. Ship to shore communication (ship's email, satellite phone). Airport Transfers. Hotel and meals in Ushuaia before or after the voyage. Anything not specifically listed as included.

onboard the ushuaia

I heard something about Biosecurity Protocols in Antarctica, can you explain?

Yes, Please read this short PDF so you are well prepared. Here is a short video on responsible tourism in Antarctica.

What's it like on the ship?

You'll want comfy shoes for walking around the ship. Sneakers, boots, slip-ons, that's up to you! Most areas on the ship are open and available to you to explore. There are two large common areas for socializing, image editing, or simply relaxing. Here also you will find the ship's bar. NOTE: While you may bring your own alcohol on board The Ushuaia, you may not consume it anywhere on board ship except your cabin. There is a small souvenir shop as well. Purchases made on board are done with a "chit" system, and you can settle your account on the last day, with either cash (USD or Euro) or Visa/Mastercard (minimum of $100 USD in total charges).

There are so many opportunities for photography from the ship as well. Don't forget the bridge, there's an open bridge policy, and the captain and crew are happy to have visitors, so long as they are not involved in any delicate navigation.

I like (candy bars, peanuts, my special snack)...can I bring it on board? 

Sure! Feel free to bring any special things you like. We have arranged for plenty of salty and sweet snacks to be available in the main lounge every day. And there is always tea, coffee, and water at the bar (complimentary). And soft drinks, beer, wine, hard drinks can be purchased from the bar. You will also find there there are usually special treats at the bar, available after our landings.

What is the weather like?

Our expedition to Antarctica takes place during the Austral summer. Generally, temperatures in the Antarctic range between 20°F and 40°F. Although it can be quite sunny, expect rain, snow, fog, and a high wind-chill factor. Wind and any precipitation can make it feel much colder. As we have mentioned in our details document, having and using the classic layering system is really important. You'll find that you might use one method of top layer when on the ship, and another for the shore excursions. There are boots on board for you to use for our shore excursions.

What about power and recharging batteries?

There are ample power outlets in your cabin for you to plug into, no problem. 110V / 60Hz is available, and the outlets have multi-type sockets for different types of plugs. We do recommend that you bring plug adapters, though, for your hotels in Argentina.

I can't live without the internet, what's that like on board ship?

There is internet available, it costs $10 per 30 minutes, and you buy a code from the barman. There are two public Windows computers with Chrome Browser that you can use to access the internet. Because it is using satellite, and because we're at the bottom of the world, it is extremely slow, and very unreliable. 

Do I need to bring my own hairdryer? What about soap and shampoo?

All cabins are furnished with a hairdryer, and the bathrooms have soap and shampoo like most hotels.

What about my valuables on board?

Your cabin is not equipped with a safety deposit box. However, any valuables such as money, jewelery or documents could be deposited with the hotel manager who will store them safely for you. Muench Workshops and Antarctic Travel company are not responsible for the loss of personal effects and valuables.

What about tips for the ship's crew?

The customary gratuity to the ship’s service personnel is made as a blanket contribution at the end of the voyage and is divided among the crew. Tipping is a very personal matter and the amount you wish to give is at your discretion. As a generally accepted guideline, we suggest US $15 per person per day. Cash US Dollar or Euro, unfortunately credit cards cannot be accepted for tips.

What was that anti-seasickness medication again?

Talk to your doctor about the Transderm Scopalamine patch, and see if that's right for you. In addition, our ship's doctor has seasickness medication that is freely available on board the ship. The medicine our ship's doctor dispenses is called Cinnarizine, and you can read about it here.

How can I be contacted aboard the ship?

Communications with the ship are affected by the ship’s position in regards to the satellite coverage and local weather conditions. It may take several attempts before you are successful in making contact. depending on local circumstances, the ship is likely to be out of reach of the satellite above 70–74 degrees South. Ship's email address: buque.ushuaia@antarpply.com Ship's Satellite Phone: +1 346-209-2532. Please only use this for real emergency contact, and please remember that it may be difficult for anyone to reach the ship. Muench Workshops has a satellite phone for any outbound emergency calls. 

How do we get to the airport on December 13th?

We'll have a bus transfer (included) from the Port, to the Ushuaia Airport on December 13th, after disembarkation. Buses will leave from just outside the port at 10:00 AM, 10:30 AM, and 11:00 AM. Otherwise, you can simply grab a taxi when you like, from anywhere in town.