COVID-19 CORONAVIRUS AND WORKSHOP TRAVEL

Antarctica 2022 FAQ

Updated September 6, 2022

Booking air travel

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

Flights can typically be bought 335 days in advance. From your home, you’ll be flying to Buenos Aires (EZE Airport code), Argentina. You then will fly Aerolineas Argentinas from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia (USH). Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Arrive in Ushuaia (USH) before 1:00 PM on November 30, 2022. On your return, you can depart from Ushuaia (USH) anytime after 11:00 AM on December 11, 2022.
  • Many folks like to get to Ushuaia a day early, and this is a fine idea, there are tours and other activities to enjoy.
  • Or, 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 can recommend these hotels
  • 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 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. You can also pre-arrange a reliable and safe transfer with Go Airport Taxi.

Insurance requirments

Travel Medical Insurance and Medical Evacuation Insurance are required.

You can get both of these from our preferred and trusted provider, Ripcord. You may also use another provider if you wish. And here’s a blog post that explains the differences between these types of insurance.

COVID-19 protocols

Rest assured that as health organizations and the cruise industry continue to fine-tune best practices and procedures for expedition vessels in the Arctic environment, Muench Workshops and the ship’s operator Poseidon Expeditions, will incorporate these into its standard protocols.

Pre-Boarding Requirements

  • In the 14-day period prior to travel, guests will be asked to self-monitor their health, conduct symptom checks and practice precautionary good hygiene.
  • Have a completed vaccination schedule. If allowed by ship’s owners, those without a completed vaccination schedule must bring a negative PCR Test done within 72 hours of departure from your home country, and undergo a diagnostic test (antigen), with negative results, before boarding. 
  • Vaccination certificates (indicating final shot no later than 14 days before departure) must be forwarded to Poseidon Expeditions prior to departure – uploaded along with required personal medical forms – and available for inspection before boarding (printed copy). Minors under the age of 12 are not required to be vaccinated. You will get instructions on this via email.
  • Poseidon accepts all types of vaccines, but passengers are obliged to confirm that their type is acceptable in the countries of arrival or departure.
  • At this time, no obligatory, preventative testing will take place aboard the Sea Spirit, but this could change depending on circumstances. Upon request, antigen or PCR tests are available and can be purchased onboard the ship.
  • A preliminary health declaration will be required before embarkation; this may include a temperature check. Pre-boarding screening of passengers with any COVID-like symptoms will be conducted by qualified health care personnel.
  • Travelers will not be able to embark if – within the past 14 days – they have:
    • Been in quarantine,
    • Had close contact with a suspected or known case of COVID-19, or
    • Tested positive for COVID.
  • Guests who were previously diagnosed with COVID-19 must present:
    • A certificate of recovery from a competent authority or medical professional, at least 14 days after the first PCR test confirming COVID, or
    • Negative test results from a PCR test at least 14 days before boarding.
  • For the 2022-23 Antarctic season, face masks are not required of guests while in the restaurant, bar or library when consuming food or beverage, and throughout the ship and on open decks when minimum social distancing can be maintained. The exception is when guests are in an enclosed area – e.g. the lecture theater and social gatherings where physical distancing is not feasible. These guidelines may change, depending on circumstances.
  • Should a guest and close contact test positive during the cruise, they will be asked to self-isolate in their cabin until they test negative.

Crew and Staff Readiness – Mandatory

  • 100% vaccinated crew and staff
  • Periodic antigen testing
  • Self-monitoring and reporting for 14 days prior to embarkation
  • Effective, results-oriented COVID-19 testing and reporting prior to embarkation, and during the season on a regular basis.
  • Advanced pre-boarding health checks and screenings
  • Required completion of official WHO COVID-19 course for hygiene procedures and infection management

Medical Readiness

  • Well-equipped hospital suite with COVID-19 detection and testing capabilities
  • Onboard physician with field medical operations and emergency experience
  • Infrared temperature detection equipment

Clean-Ship Assurances

  • Regular and systematic checking of HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system
  • Accelerated, higher-frequency schedule of sanitation, deep-cleaning and disinfection of all hard surfaces in cabins, lounges, restaurant & galleys, hallways, hand-railings – all high-touch points – with daily checklists maintained and recorded
  • Use of UV lamps for disinfection of public areas
  • Hand-sanitizing stations placed and accessible throughout the ship
  • Limited third-party, port agent and supplier visits onboard – only authorized, essential may board the ship in compliance with boarding requirements
  • Minimal crew and staff rotation during the season
  • All public areas on board will undergo periodic sanitization and disinfecting process with. thorough cleaning, fogging and wiping, as required
  • Passenger luggage may be disinfected upon boarding, if deemed necessary

Onboard Prevention and Hygiene

  • Over-crowding prevention: controlled/limited embarkation and disembarkation and queuing protocols
  • Social distancing guidelines will be encouraged onboard: 2-meter distancing from non-family cabin mates; controlled-capacity in library, lounge, presentation lounge; queuing protocols
  • Depending on current COVID situation at time of cruise, mask-wearing in public areas and Zodiac landing crafts may be required of passengers, crew, staff and expedition team
  • Frequent handwashing or sanitizing while onboard is strongly recommended
  • Restaurant seating will follow social distancing recommendations
  • The bridge will not be open for passenger visitation, due to COVID
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) will be available at all times for guests and crew, if needed. PPE includes face shields, gloves, and face masks. Depending on current COVID situation at time of cruise, PPE may be required during certain events

Landings and Expedition Operations

Unlike tourism in established, populated destinations, expedition cruising in the fresh air of Antarctica by its very nature is unshackled from public transport, hard-surfaced infrastructure and masses of local residents and other tourists. Hence, there is virtually no chance of contamination while exploring ashore with a minimal number of other guests. Another benefit of small-ship cruising!

Reasonable and precautionary social distancing protocols will be established while in Zodiac landing craft – which are used for both shuttling guests ashore and for more extended sightseeing of bays, inlets and coves – and while ashore with trained guides and expedition staff.

Exploration and landings in the Arctic will be conducted very much like they’ve always been done with Poseidon – albeit with more attention to crowding, queuing and the number of passengers per Zodiac boat.

We continue to develop best practices and procedures or expedition vessels in the Arctic environment, Poseidon Expeditions will incorporate these into its standard protocols.

Documents

Where is the Details and Information Document?

Here is the PDF. Download it and save it. We will update this document throughout the year, and post new, dated versions here. The current version is V2 Dated November 16, 2022. 

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. Then log out of Adobe Creative Cloud and log back in. 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 calm and very smooth, but you should be prepared for anything because splashing can occur. 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 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. Also, when on board the ship, vibrations from the ship’s engines prevent tripod use. 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––we’re not planning on using them much.

Are there luggage restrictions on 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.

NOTE: At this time, we’re being told that tripods ARE NOT ALLOWED in the cabin on Aerolineas Argentinas flights.

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 carry-on. 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. 

What is there to do in Buenos Aires?

If you have extra time in Buenos Aires

We can recommend this photo guide, he’s very experienced, and you will have a great time: Bernardo Galmarini.

I’m in Ushuaia early, what is there to do?

If you have extra time in Ushuaia

We can recommend these tours.

Hotel and details for November 30, 2022 (and earlier nights if applicable)

What is my hotel?

Unless you have been told by us via email that you are staying at Las Lengas Hotel, we have a block of rooms reserved at the Hotel Albatros in Ushuaia. The rooms are at your expense, and are $184 per room, or $92 per person. If you want to use our rooms, just let us know by emailing us. We can also book early rooms for November 29, 28, and 27 as needed. IMPORTANT: We must hear from you about your hotel room needs, if you don’t email us there won’t be a room waiting for you. If you want to go ahead and book your own rooms, you are free to book any hotel you like in Ushuaia.

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

On arrival to Ushuaia, take a shared shuttle bus to town and your hotel, or take a taxi.

When and where do we meet the team on November 30, 2022?

You will stop by and pick up important departure and embarkation information and meet the team at 4:00 PM on November 30, 2022, at the Albatros Hotel in Ushuaia. This is mandatory! Come and meet us, and while there, you’ll enjoy a drink and some snacks on us.

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

When we see you on November 30, 2022, 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 Albatros Hotel lobby by 9:30 AM on December 1, 2022. If you are staying at Las Lengas Hotel, bring your luggage to the Las Lengas lobby by 9:30 AM on December 1, 2022. 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 onto our ship. If you are out and about exploring Ushuaia during the day on December 1st, you can leave your camera bags with the hotel bell staff.

***IF YOU ARE STAYING AT ANY OTHER HOTEL BESIDES ALBATROS OR LAS LENGAS*** you must bring your big luggage to the lobby of Albatros Hotel and put it with our group’s luggage. Do this by 9:30 AM on December 1, 2022.

When do we embark the Sea Spirit?

Embarkation begins at 4:00 PM on December 1, 2022. Meet at the Ushuaia Port security at 3:45 PM. The port is easy to find (and see from almost anywhere in town). The main entrance is on Lasserre Street, across from Hotel Albatros. If you are at Hotel Albatros, you simply walk (2–3 minutes). For those staying at any other hotel further away from the port, you can grab a taxi. You must have your passport in your hand to get through security, and also for check-in onboard Sea Spirit. When you check-in, don’t be alarmed that 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 onboard the ship, to assist with the embarkation process. Please do not try to embark Sea Spirit 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 ( [email protected] ) or call us at +1 (866) 745-7300 (yes, this will work from Ushuaia) or by using WhatsApp or a text to +1 917 854 8118 (Andy Williams).

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

Included: Welcome drink on November 30, 2022, at Albatros Hotel (4:00 PM). All meals from Dinner on December 1, 2022, through breakfast on December 11, 2022. 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 $23 per passenger per day). 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 Sea Spirit

 

Emergency Contact # for the Sea Spirit

FOR TRUE EMERGENCY USE ONLY, the ship can be reached by satellite phone at +1 786 405 8795. Be aware that this may not always work due to weather and satellite conditions. You will have access to your own email via ship’s Wi-Fi. Reminder, the internet is slow and unreliable due to the satellite connection and our remoteness. Text-based emails only. 

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 large common areas for socializing, image editing, or simply relaxing. You will find a ship’s bar. NOTE: While you may bring your own alcohol onboard Sea Spirit, you may not consume it anywhere onboard 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). If you use the ship’s bar, the bartenders are tipped separately from the rest of the ship’s crew.

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 as 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). Soft drinks, beer, wine, hard drinks can be purchased from the bar. You will also find 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, but because it is using satellite, and because we’re at the bottom of the world, it is extremely slow and very unreliable, so plan on this. 

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, jewelry, or documents could be deposited with the hotel manager who will store them safely for you. Muench Workshops and our ship 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 $23 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 Scopolamine patch, and see if that’s right for you. In addition, our ship’s doctor has seasickness medication that is freely available onboard the ship.

How do we get to the airport on December 11th?

We’ll have a bus transfer from the Port to the Ushuaia Airport on December 11, 2022, after disembarkation. Buses will leave from just outside the port at a time TBD after disembarkation. Otherwise, you can simply grab a taxi when you like, from anywhere in town.