COVID-19 CORONAVIRUS AND WORKSHOP TRAVEL

Antarctica 2023 FAQ

Updated January 31, 2023

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, 2023. On your return, you can depart from Ushuaia (USH) anytime after 11:00 AM on December 11, 2023.
  • Many folks like to get to Ushuaia a day early, which is a fine idea. There are tours and other activities to enjoy.
  • Or, it might be a 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 with Aerolineas Argentinas.
    • There are two airports in Buenos Aires, AEP (domestic) and EZE (international). The transfer between these two airports typically takes an hour but can be longer if there is traffic. If you are flying straight from your home to Ushuaia without staying overnight in Buenos Aires, make sure you allow enough time to clear customs and 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 requirements

Travel Medical Insurance and Medical Evacuation Insurance are required.

You can get both 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

We will update this document with the latest COVID-19 protocols as they become available.

Documents

Where is the Details and Information Document?

We will have an information PDF for you, and when it’s ready, we will post it here. 

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 activated on different machines. Test Lightroom and Photoshop on your laptop with Wi-Fi turned off to ensure it launches and works for you. It’s a good time to make sure you have packed your laptop power supply and card reader!

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). 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 will sometimes occur. For this reason, it’s critical to have your gear in a dry bag to protect against sea water. Some will put their backpack into a dry bag (this is perfectly fine). But a 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 a 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 you could carry one body on a strap and your second body in a small satchel or camera pack with a lens or two, plus small items. Sure, you can carry your backpack, no problem, but be careful about bringing too much, as you will find that you can get the majority of photos with just two zoom lenses. In addition, there are restrictions to prevent the spread of avian diseases that limit where you can and cannot put your pack on the ground.

Do I need my tripod?

While you can certainly use a tripod, it really isn’t necessary. 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 typically very high. We shoot handheld with our 100-400 (or similar) zoom lenses. There are not many opportunities for long exposure, tripod-mounted photography. Also, vibrations from the ship’s engines prevent tripod use when onboard the ship. 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. If you need additional support for your larger lens, consider a monopod as a more portable and flexible option.

Should I worry about condensation inside my camera and lenses?

While Antarctica’s temperatures can be cold, the relative humidity is low, and we have not had issues with condensation inside our cameras and lenses on this expedition.

Are there luggage restrictions on Aerolineas Argentinas?

It depends on the type of ticket you purchased. But like all airlines, you can pay a fee if your luggage is overweight. Read the current luggage policies for Aerolineas Argentinas.

On recent expeditions, tripods were not allowed in the cabin on Aerolineas Argentinas flights, but enforcement of this rule is inconsistent.

Here is a tip for camera gear in your carry-on luggage. If any airline is strict about weight limits for your camera backpack (Aerolineas Argentinas sometimes weighs carry-on luggage), 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 smile and say that you have expensive and fragile camera gear, computer equipment, and lithium batteries that can’t be checked.

Can I bring my drone?

Unfortunately, drones are strictly prohibited in Antarctica by IAATO guidelines. Leave your drone at home.

What is there to do in Buenos Aires?

If you have extra time in Buenos Aires, we 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 recommend these tours.

Hotel and details for November 30, 2023 (and earlier nights if applicable)

I just landed in Ushuaia. How do I get to my hotel?

On arrival to Ushuaia, it is easiest to take a taxi from the airport to your hotel.

When and where do we meet the team on November 30, 2023?

You will stop by and pick up important departure and embarkation information and meet the team at 4:00 PM on November 30, 2023, at the Arakur Hotel in Ushuaia. This is mandatory! Come and meet us and enjoy a drink and snacks.

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

When we see you on November 30, 2023, we will supply you with luggage tags with your name and cabin number on them. Please put these on your big luggage and then bring your luggage to the Arakur Hotel lobby by 9:30 AM on December 1, 2023. 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.

When do we embark on the Sea Spirit?

Embarkation begins at 4:00 PM on December 1, 2023. We will provide a shuttle from the Arakur Hotel to the Ushuaia port before the embarkation time. If you are in town, the port is easy to find (and see from almost anywhere in town). The main entrance is on Lasserre Street, across from Hotel Albatros. For those staying at any other hotel further away from the port, you can grab a taxi. You must have your passport to get through security and check in onboard Sea Spirit. When you check-in, don’t be alarmed that you will give your passport to the ship’s staff, who will 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 on Sea Spirit before 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).

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

Included: Welcome drink on December 1, 2023, at Arakur Hotel (4:00 PM). All meals from dinner on December 1, 2023, through breakfast on December 11, 2023. 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’s satellite phone at +1 786 4058 795. Please note that due to weather conditions and satellite positions, it may be necessary to attempt your call several times before the connection is successful. You will have access to your own email via the ship’s Wi-Fi, but it can be unreliable. In case of emergencies, you should also provide the contact information for Muench Workshops to folks back home: email ([email protected]) or call us at +1 (866) 745-7300.

I heard something about biosecurity protocols in Antarctica. Can you explain?

Yes. Please read this short PDF, so you are well prepared. We strictly follow all biosecurity protocols to protect Antarctica’s pristine environment and wildlife. 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 the ship except your cabin. There is a small souvenir shop as well. Purchases on board are made with a “chit” system, and you can settle your account on the last day with either cash (USD or Euro) or Visa/Mastercard.

There are many opportunities for photography from the ship as well. Some of the best landscape photos are taken from the ship’s deck.

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

Sure! Feel free to bring any special things you like. Food and snacks are plentiful on the ship, and tea, coffee, and water are always available at the bar (complimentary). Soft drinks, beer, wine, and hard drinks can be purchased from the bar. You will also find snacks during afternoon teatime at the bar. As a reminder, you may not bring any food or drinks to shore in Antarctica, other than water.

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. Using the classic layering system is important. You’ll find that you might use one method of top layer when on the ship and another for shore excursions. When it is sunny, sunglasses and sunscreen are critical for your protection.

All of our zodiac excursions require rubber boots. There are boots on board for use on shore excursions. You will also receive an expedition parka that is yours to keep after your journey.

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 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 the ship?

There is internet available, and it is complimentary. But because the internet connection uses satellites, and because we’re at the bottom of the world, it is extremely slow and unreliable, so plan on this. Due to the high latitudes and positioning relative to mountains, there are dead spots where the internet will not work. Your internet use should be constrained to simple messaging and email. Large downloads and video streaming are not possible.

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.

Is laundry service available?

Laundry service is available, for a fee, on the ship.

What about my valuables on board?

Your cabin is equipped with an in-room safe. 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 voyage’s end and divided among the crew. The ship will guide you on dividing tips between the hotel staff and the expedition 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 dollars or euros, and credit cards are accepted. 

What was that anti-seasickness medication again?

If you are prone to seasickness, talk to your doctor about the transdermal 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. The key to preventing seasickness is to take these medications in advance of rough seas.

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

After disembarkation, we’ll have a bus transfer from the port to the Ushuaia Airport on December 11, 2023. Buses will leave from outside the port at a time TBD after disembarkation. We will also offer temporary luggage storage while waiting for your trip to the airport. Otherwise, you can simply grab a taxi, when you like, from anywhere in town.