FAQ

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What's the difference between an agent and an expedition company?

Expedition companies operate their ships directly. Agents, on the other hand, work independently on behalf of the expedition companies to sell available berths on different ships. We look into every option to find the best trip and price for your needs.


What kind of company is Antarctica Travels? Do you own any ships?

We are an independent booking agent which means, we represent expedition companies that own ships; our role is to match the right expedition and ship with each traveler’s preferences. Therefore, we don’t own any ships.


What's the benefit of booking with an agent instead of an expedition company directly?

We represent all of the major expedition companies that take passengers to Antarctica.  We’ve personally been on all of the ships we represent, multiple times, and we are committed to matching each traveler with the ship suited for their needs.  We don’t favour any one trip over the next – our only objective is to have the happiest clients around! An added benefit you get from us agents is personalized attention.  We can help you rent winter clothing, book outdoor activities during your stay in Tierra del Fuego, securing insurance coverage, local Hotels or any other requirements you could have.


Are there extra costs for booking through you?

There are no extra costs – you get the same rate (sometimes better) as advertised by the expedition company. Moreover, you get the benefit of our expertise and attentiveness from the beginning of the booking process to us personally taking you to your ship on the day of departure.


What's the best time to visit Antarctica?

The Antarctic season falls in the austral summer – between November and March – and things change a lot during these months.  It’s best to plan the timing of your trip around your particular interests.

In November, Antarctica is at its most pristine as it hasn’t yet been traversed by shiploads of other adventurers.  November to early December is penguin mating season, which can be quite entertaining as they are busy building nests and stealing rocks from one another to do so.

In December/January, days become longer, creating amazing conditions for photographic opportunities; this is also the warmest time of year in Antarctica.  January is a great month to see penguins with their chicks together in their nest while different species of whales start their appearance.

February to March is time for incredible sunrises & sunsets as well as increasing whale & leopard seal sightings.  This period is also when penguins’ chicks have grown into hungry juveniles and can sometimes be seen being hunted down by leopard seals as they enter the underwater world for the first time.

By March, days are colder and shorter, but still every month is special in Antarctica for its great  wildlife, icebergs and weather constantly changing, revealing Nature’s full splendor.


What kind of insurance do I need?

Every traveler is required to show proof of medical and emergency evacuation insurance. We highly recommend securing cancellation insurance as well.


Can I reserve my spot on a ship and pay later?

In the case of regular bookings, you’ll be given the option to place a non-refundable deposit to hold your spot and the balance is due to 60/120 days prior to your departure date (depending on the expedition company). For last minute bookings you will be required to pay in full in order to save your berth at that rate.


Can I pay for my trip by credit card?

Once we’ve found you the right trip, you’ll pay the expedition company at front with our assistance. Many companies accept credit but we remark that some companies could charge an extra percentage to process credit card payments while some others accept payments via wire transfer. We will let you know the payment methods  for the trip you’ve chosen. As agents, we have no say over the charging methods of every expedition company but will do our best to help you with the process.


How can I get a last minute deal?

Last minute deals are literally – last minute!
These are not always discounted. They are the very last places available on board and availability changes every season.
Discounts usually become available within 20 -10 days of ship’s departure and you need to be ready to make a quick decision before places are sold out. From season to season we can see that we have more people willing to travel to Antarctica, but sometimes vessels are fully booked. We suggest following us on Facebook where we post deals as soon as they come up so that you stay abreast of last minute; or just sign up our Mailing List by sending your traveling dates. It’s important to be aware that last minute deals are required to pay for the trip in full at the time of booking to secure your place, and many companies do not accept wire transfer for these transactions.


When do you recommend I fly in to Ushuaia? Can I arrive the same day my ship leaves?

We strongly recommend that you fly in at least one day prior to ship departure. Although ships set sail from Ushuaia in the afternoon, it’s likely for flights from Buenos Aires to be delayed and we’ve got cases of travelers missing their ship departures because of it. We prefer travelers on the side of caution and get in town early. Some expedition companies include one night’s stay in a hotel prior to departure day because of this.


What kind of weather should I expect?

During the Antarctic summer, daytime temperatures tend to hover around 0 degrees and on a sunny day it’s not uncommon for the air to warm up to t-shirt temperature. However, due to the volatility of the geography, sudden squalls and white-outs may occur in which case you’ll be safe and warm inside your expedition ship.


Do I have to bring/buy winter clothes?

You will need some standard winter outerwear but due to the nature of the weather in Antarctica, layering is the best clothing strategy. More info here If you need assistance with these, we can help you arrange outerwear rentals upon your arrival in Ushuaia.

For footwear, it is mandatory that you wear sterilized rubber boots (Wellingtons) during land excursions on Antarctica to avoid any contamination of the Great White Continent. All ships provide these boots free of charge, and in the event that your ship does not have your size, we can help you arrange rentals in Ushuaia.  Therefore you only need appropriate footwear to be on board.


Are kids allowed on the expedition ships?

*Some* expedition companies allow children but with restrictions such as only 12 year-olds and older.  If you are looking to travel with your kids, please contact us so we can investigate and find out which company and ship would be able to accommodate your specific needs.


What about Sea Sickness? Should I be concerned?

See Sickness is very relative and depends very much on the individual.
It is true the Drake Passage can be very rough and if you are normally sea sick or concerned about it you should talk to your doctor and he will recommend the best medicine for you. Bring enough sea sickness tablets for the duration of the trip.
Passengers frequently get used to the ship motion on the second day. Remember that once in Antarctica the ship will not move anymore because it will be sheltered.


Do I need cash on board?

We recommend that you take US dollars on board to pay for extra services such as drinks, souvenirs from the gift shop and tipping. You can also put that on your credit card but the crew will strongly appreciate the cash.
It is also very helpful if you disembark in Port Lockroy and you want to buy some souvenirs or mail a postcard.


Tipping

Tipping is a very personal matter, we recommend USD 13 a day on board per passenger. It is better for the crew if we can give them US dollars cash.


How much film should I bring?

This is very personal but think how much you normally use on holidays and multiply it by two or even three.


I am a single traveler, is that a problem?

Not at all! Most of the people you are going to meet on board are. You have two options. You can book a single cabin by paying the single supplement (this amount will depend on the operator and the type of cabin). Some ships have already Single Cabins with no supplements.
Another option is to share your cabin with other single travelers of the same gender. Those cabins can be quadruples, triples or twins depending on the ship.


What’s the meaning of being a member of IAATO?

Being a member of IAATO (International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators) is an important designation as IAATO has set forth stringent guidelines and operational protocols to ensure safe passage for visitors as well as to protect wildlife and the environment. Membership with IAATO is essentially a “seal of approval” of an outstanding company.


**Please note that the above answers are general guidelines for most expeditions.  Some of the details may vary depending on which departure you book and it’s our job to let you know of the specifics of your trip at the time of booking.**
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