We know people around the world are eager to get traveling again, and we are here to help you book the trip of a lifetime. While we are ready to get back to Antarctica, there are still questions about how polar travel will operate in our new reality of COVID-19 and what restrictions and mandates will be put in place from governments, airlines, etc.
It is still many months until trips begin operating in November 2021, so we are confident that many questions will be answered long before the season arrives. Ship operators are preparing their vessels in order to carry out safe and amazing voyages.
All the ship operators of IAATO are innovating a series of new safety protocols to assure the health and wellbeing of its guests continue to take top priority during voyages.
Some of these upgrades are already underway and can therefore be specified, but others are by necessity still adapting to the ongoing stream of information regarding effective Covid-19 preparedness. New safety measures apply both before and during voyages, addressing such issues as embarkation and disembarkation, social distancing guidelines, and new standards for vessel restaurants, galleys, and expedition outings.
Not all new protocols are finalized yet. Nevertheless, many safety measures have been put into place to help keep travelers healthy as they explore the Polar regions. And since the safety of guests and staff is paramound, protocols will continue to be updated with the arrival of new information about Covid-19, and subsequently communicated to clients.
Below are some of the most common Q&A with honest and the most up-to-date information we have.
Will I be required to have a COVID vaccine?
We don’t know yet, as it will depend on countries as well as ship owners. We strongly recommend that you receive two doses prior to travel if the vaccine is available in your country.
Will I need to be tested for COVID?
Probably. We don’t yet know if Argentina will require a negative test to enter the country, or whether some countries or airlines will require negative tests to travel. We do expect all staff and passengers to be tested for COVID-19 before embarkation. We also assume there will be testing involved during the trip to ensure the safety and peace of mind of everyone traveling. It’s important that you check regulations in your home country and make sure you comply with all protocols.
What happens if I can’t travel due to COVID restrictions?
At FreeStyle we work with more than 10 different ship operators who have different COVID policies. While the fine print varies, all have the same option: If you are unable to travel due to government restrictions, COVID-related medical reasons, or restrictions on the ship itself, the company will re-book you on a future Antarctic voyage within the next two years.
There are a limited number of companies offering refunds of deposit, but the majority are offering peace of mind to rebook and travel at a later date.
Wondering more about booking policies? Contact us!
What about Argentina? Will I have to quarantine or be tested?
We are closely following the government guidelines in Argentina and do not anticipate a quarantine requirement by October 2020. There may be the requirement to show a negative test within 72 hours of traveling or a vaccine when coming from specific countries. We will keep travelers updated about how things evolve here.
How is the COVID situation in Ushuaia?
In Ushuaia we enjoyed being COVID-free for most of 2020, but eventually the virus came to the island of Tierra del Fuego. Cases are under control and the local government has built a small clinic for tourists in the case they need medical attention. We have been receiving national tourists since December 2020 with clear protocols and have not had a spike in cases.
Are masks required in Ushuaia?
Yes. In Ushuaia and in all of Argentina, masks are required in all shops, restaurants and any other public spaces in Ushuaia.
Will masks and social distancing be required on trips?
This will depend on each ship and operating company, however we assume there will be limits to the number of people in certain spaces onboard to reduce crowding. There may also be one-way paths for guests and social distancing markers in walkways and hallways. Travelers may have to wear masks inside the ship during briefings or zodiac loading where there will be close contact with others.
Will vaccinated travelers need to wear masks?
For now, yes. Science tells us this is still important, but we will be following guidelines over the coming months to decide if this will be necessary or not.
Will Staff & Crew be vaccinated?
We hope all staff and crew will be vaccinated onboard Antarctic vessels, but it will depend on vaccine rollout in different countries.
How will meals work on ships? Can everyone eat together?
Dining will look different during the upcoming season, as the usual buffets at breakfast and lunch will no longer be used. All meals will be table service and servers will wear masks. There may be more than one time for meals, so you eat with your group or ‘bubble’ onboard instead of eating with the whole vessel. There will also be strict cleaning in the dining area and QR or laminated menus to lower contact.
What happens if someone tests positive for COVID-19 during the trip?
All precautions are being taken to prevent this from happening, but ships are also preparing for the very unlikely event it does occur. Anyone exhibiting symptoms will be tested and separated from the rest of the group as needed. There will be dedicated isolation cabins and the medical clinic will be stocked with protective equipment, testing and treatment materials. Ships are also working to have oxygen supplies and a simple ventilator onboard. All situations will be handled by the medical personnel onboard and the utmost care will be taken to ensure the health and safety of everyone onboard.
If you have any another question , send us a message! We will work to get you a response as best we can!
Remember that the public health situation is changing week to week, so these answers will likely change before you travel. We will update you as we know more.