COVID-19 Update

2021–22 Antarctic Season

September 25, 2020

ALE has now released our dates for the 2021–2022 season and we are working hard to make it our best season ever. Our rates are unchanged, with 2021-22 Experience prices the same as they were for 2020–21. We are busy working to re-schedule guests who had planned to travel in 2020–21 and who want to carry their deposit forward. And, of course, we welcome new bookings for 2021–22.

We have also updated our Terms & Conditions and our Waiver & Assumption of Risk to include specific reference to COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2). These forms will apply to all guests who wish to book Experiences for the 2021–22 season. They will also apply to all guests whose booking is carried forward from 2020–21.

Please note that the special refund policy we offered to 2020–21 guests will not apply to any 2021–22 bookings. However we will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and will adjust our refund policy if necessary.

The standard refund policy for all 2021–22 bookings is:

  • Deposits are refundable up to the final payment date for your Experience, less a $1000 (USD) processing fee.
  • After the final payment date, the full Experience cost is due and non-refundable.

What does this mean for me?

If you have any questions, please reach out to one of our booking managers and they will be happy to discuss your situation.

Guests with cancelled 2020–21 reservations
We are keeping open for you the option to receive a full refund or to carry your deposit forward to 2021–22. If you choose to carry your deposit forward, our new Terms & Conditions and Waiver & Assumption of Risk, including the standard refund policy above, will apply to your 2021–22 reservation.

Guests with existing reservations for 2021–22
Our new Terms & Conditions, Waiver & Assumption of Risk and standard refund policy above will apply to your reservation.

New reservations
Our new Terms & Conditions, Waiver & Assumption of Risk and standard refund policy above will apply to your reservation.

We look forward to seeing you on the ice!


2020–21 Antarctic Season Cancellation

September 03, 2020

To our guests and colleagues: We regret to announce that after careful deliberation of the issues and uncertainty from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we have taken the difficult decision to cancel our 2020–21 Antarctic season.

We share your disappointment at this news and realize it is a set-back to many of you, who will have been planning the expedition of a lifetime.

At ALE, our number one concern is always your safety and that of our staff. We have spent the past five months preparing for the 2020-21 Antarctic season and refining our procedures to limit the risk of exposure to COVID-19. Unfortunately, Chile’s borders currently are closed to non-essential foreign travel. In addition, our Antarctic gateway city of Punta Arenas is experiencing an increased level of restrictions due to a recent surge in COVID-19 cases in southern Chile. We cannot mobilize for the upcoming season with these restrictions in place and we believe that the state of coronavirus in Chile continues to pose too great a risk to our guests, staff, contractors, and the local communities where we operate.

We feel the correct action now is to cancel our season, limiting the potential spread of the virus, ensuring our most vulnerable populations are kept safe, and ensuring we do not inadvertently bring COVID-19 into Antarctica.

What’s next?

We will hold to our promises in earlier COVID-19 updates about deposits, refunds, and carry-overs, and you will be offered various alternatives. We are looking into our 2021-22 schedule to identify ways to accommodate guests who may wish to carry over as well and those who are already planning to travel with us during the 2021-22 season.

Our revised 2021-22 Dates & Rates will be released on September 18, 2020, and we will contact you shortly after to discuss your choice from the above alternatives. If you’re interested in traveling with us in 2021 or have any additional questions, please reach out to one of our booking managers here if you have any questions.

We will be focusing additional time on further refining our COVID-19 procedures. When we can again welcome guests to Antarctica in 2021, all necessary safeguards will be in place to protect our staff and those who have chosen to travel with us.

We thank you for your kind understanding during this difficult time and hope to be able to share the beauty of Antarctica with you in 2021!

Kind regards,

David Rootes
On behalf of the ALE partners


COVID-19 Update #3

August 18, 2020

We are aware that many of you are anxiously waiting for an update on our plans for the upcoming Antarctic season. We are really disappointed that we cannot be more definite about our plans at this time. This uncertainty is stressful for all of us and we appreciate your understanding.

There is still much that we do not know about the availability of international flights, Chilean border closures, and individual country restrictions. We continue to prepare for the upcoming season and are in constant contact with Chilean authorities, IAATO (the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators), and others as we navigate these challenging circumstances.

We will issue another update at the end of August. In the meantime, please contact your agent, guide company, or the ALE office if you have any urgent or pressing concerns regarding your expedition.


Frequently Asked Questions

Is ALE planning a normal season in 2020-21?
We have advised previously that we plan on a shortened schedule for the 2020 Antarctic season in response to the pandemic. Click here for the new schedule. But COVID-19 continues to create global uncertainty and we are constantly reviewing our plans for 2020. The health and safety of our guests, as well as for our staff and partners, is the guiding principle behind these decisions.

Is my deposit refundable?
Yes, your deposit is refundable up until the final payment and paperwork are due.

What happens if I cannot leave my home country due to travel restrictions?
If travel restrictions due to COVID-19 prevent you from leaving to join your experience, you will be offered a refund or the option to transfer your booking to the 2021 season, pending available space.

What happens if Chile has imposed travel restrictions on international travel?
If Chile closes borders due to COVID-19 and guests are unable to travel to Chile, ALE will cancel the entire 2020 season and guests will be offered a refund or the option to transfer their booking to the 2021 season, pending available space.

Has ALE set a date when you will cancel the season if Chile is still not permitting international travel?
We have not made a firm decision yet because there is still a great deal of uncertainly around international travel and access to South American countries. We will be providing an update at the end of August.

What if Chile or my home country puts travel restrictions into place while I’m in Antarctica?
You will be able to complete your experience and ALE will do all we can to help your passage back into Chile and onward to your home country. Unfortunately, ALE cannot take responsibility for any delays as is described in our Terms & Conditions and Waiver.

What if my home country requires me to isolate for 2 weeks upon returning?
This is a possibility and we have seen last-minute changes occur during the northern summer as COVID-19 plays out. Unfortunately, ALE cannot take responsibility for any delays due to changes in your home country as described in our Terms & Conditions and Waiver.

What if Chile requires all visitors to quarantine for 2 weeks upon arrival?
We are in close contact with the Chilean authorities to receive updates on their plans for guests arriving from other countries, and we will keep you informed as far as possible. Our advice is to purchase insurance coverage to protect yourself from such late changes. We will always review individual cases where unforeseen events occur.

Under what circumstances will I receive a refund?
These are the circumstances under which you will receive a refund:

  • Your home country imposes a travel ban.
  • Chile imposes a travel ban.
  • You test positive for COVID-19 within 14 days of your anticipated Antarctic departure.
  • You feel or display any symptoms of COVID-19 within 14 days of your anticipated Antarctic departure.
  • ALE is forced to cancel the entire season.

Should I be purchasing my flights, booking hotels and insurance coverage?
Our recommendation is not to book your flights or hotel accommodation or take out insurance coverage just yet. These costs will not be covered by ALE in any of the refund situations described above.

If ALE cancels the season, can I transfer my booking to the 2021 season rather than receiving a refund?
Guests can request to transfer their booking to a 2021 departure, pending available space, rather than receive a refund. These requests will be handled on a case-by-case basis by ALE Partners.

What if I choose to cancel my booking after the final payment deadline?
We understand that sometimes last-minute events happen and guests are forced to cancel their booking after the 90-day final payment deadline. Unfortunately, if it is not one of the reasons listed above, our normal Terms and Conditions will apply and the final payment will be non-refundable and non-transferable. We recommend guests purchase trip cancellation to protect them from unforeseen circumstances.

Do I need to sign an updated Terms and Condition and Waiver?
We have updated our Terms and Conditions and Waiver with extra text to do with COVID-19. Your booking manager will ask you to complete a new form prior to travel.

Am I required to inform ALE if I develop COVID-19 symptoms or receive a positive COVID-19 test within 14 days of my Antarctic departure?
Yes, as now given in our updated Terms and Conditions, all guests are required to inform ALE immediately if they feel or display any symptoms related to COVID-19 or test positive for COVID-19 within 14 days prior to the beginning of an ALE experience.

Can ALE guarantee that I won’t be at risk to contract COVID-19 while participating in an Antarctic experience?
We are doing everything we can to protect you from exposure to COVID-19 but we cannot guarantee against the presence of the disease or you from possibly becoming exposed to, contracting, or spreading COVID-19 while participating in an ALE experience.

What happens if I develop COVID-19 symptoms in Antarctica?
We have developed careful procedures that will enable you to be isolated and flown to Punta Arenas as soon as is necessary. We are making arrangements with local hospitals and the health authority for guests who have developed COVID-19 symptoms while in Antarctica. It is likely that you will be required to have a period of isolation in Punta Arenas before you travel home. In the unlikely event that you need to stay in the hospital, ALE will continue to work with you until you are discharged. We strongly advise you to take out comprehensive medical insurance that includes COVID-19.

Will I receive my own clam tent?
Yes, individual guests will receive their own clam tent. Members of the same household may share a clam tent.

Will social distancing be practiced in communal spaces such as the dining tent?
Yes, ALE is working on a comprehensive plan to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 while on an ALE experience. Social distancing in communal spaces and other COVID-19 protection practices will be included in this plan.

Will social distancing be practiced on aircraft and in vehicles?
Yes, similar to the above we are working on a comprehensive plan to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 and social distancing and other COVID-19 protection practices on aircraft and vehicles will be included in this plan.

When can I expect the next update on COVID-19 from ALE?
We will share the next update at the end of August.

Will I still have an enjoyable and fun experience in Antarctica?
Despite the difficulties of COVID-19 and the stress that has been felt worldwide during this pandemic, Antarctica remains a remarkable place full of beauty and pristine wilderness. We are confident that you will thoroughly enjoy your time on the white continent and can’t wait to welcome you to Union Glacier Camp. All of us here at ALE are looking forward to a fun and safe 2020 season!


COVID-19 Update #2

June 30, 2020

This is our second letter to guests and agents and we would like to inform you of changes we have made to our standard Terms and Conditions in light of the continuing coronavirus pandemic. In our first letter, we outlined changes we have made to the length of the season. This letter will give you details of changes to deposit terms, final payment dates, and a new refund policy.

Deposits & Refunds for all Experiences:

We continue to require deposits for all guests booking onto one of our Experiences. We also continue to require guests to provide a completed Medical Information Form (MIF) before a booking can be accepted. But we are making the following changes to our refund policy:

  1. Deposits are fully refundable up to the date of final payment, without any administrative charges.
  2. If the Antarctic season (November 2020 – January 2021) is canceled entirely deposits will be refunded in full without any charges.

Final Payment Date Terms:

  1. All Experiences now have a final payment date of 90 days before scheduled departure.
  2. If the entire season is canceled after the 90-day final payment date, a full refund will be offered or the opportunity given to request a carry over to the 2021-22 season.
  3. If this season goes ahead there will be no refund offered after the 90-day final payment date has been passed. In this case, guests will not be able to claim a refund if they cancel. This is because ALE will have incurred costs in commissioning and operating the season.
  4. Guests requesting to carry over will be dependent on availability on Experiences in the 2021–22 season.

We will continue to review our Terms and Conditions as countries develop their response to the pandemic. By changing our terms, we have made significant steps to give confidence to guests who wish to book an experience for the 2020–21 season.

Thank you for your cooperation and understanding in this. ALE Partners expect to be able to release a further update by mid-July. Please contact us if you have any questions or comments on the above.

All the best to you and your family!

 


COVID-19 Update #1

June 03, 2020

What a strange new world we’re in! This is a hard time for everybody and you may be wondering what are our thoughts for the 2020-21 Antarctic season.

We’ve been monitoring the international situation carefully to learn more about when air travel is likely to resume. We’re pleased to see enquiries and prospective bookings still coming into our office but we’re aware that the overall numbers are likely to be reduced. Considerable planning for the 2020-21 season is needed to address these challenges.

Our current thinking is to shorten the season by moving the start to the third week of November. As a result, we have changed various experience dates and removed others to consolidate the schedule.

These are the experience date changes we are proposing currently:

EMPS1 18–26 Nov 2020 New dates
EMPS2 26 Nov – 4 Dec 2020 New dates
EMPX3 Removed from schedule
EMPX4 4–12 Dec 2020 Unchanged
SPF1 14–20 Dec 2020 Unchanged
SPFO2 2–9 Jan 2021 New dates, now 8 days
SPFO3-3GR 2–9 Jan 2021 Starts 1 day earlier
SPF4 Removed from schedule
VINS1 Removed from schedule
VINS2 7–20 Dec 2020 Now 14 days
VINS3 20 Dec 2020 – 2 Jan 2021 New dates, now 14 days
VINS4 2–14 Jan 2021 New dates, now 13 days
VINS5 Removed from schedule
LDG1 7–20 Dec 2020 Now 14 days
LDG2 20 Dec 2020 – 2 Jan 2021 New dates, now 14 days
LDG3 2–14 Jan 2021 Starts 1 day earlier
SIDLEY 2–14 Jan 2021 New dates, now 13 days
SKYD 26 Nov – 4 Dec 2020 New dates
AOD1 26 Nov – 4 Dec 2020 New dates, now 9 days
AOD2 Removed from schedule
CLIMB1 20 Dec 2020 – 2 Jan 2021 New dates, now 14 days
CLIMB2 Removed from schedule
SKI1 20 Dec 2020 – 2 Jan 2021 New dates, now 14 days

 

Note that the rate for each experience is unchanged even though the date or duration may have changed. Full information on all our experiences can be found on the ALE website or you can request this from our office. The flight schedule has been updated to reflect the above changes.

You may be concerned about the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on international travel, we have, therefore, made this temporary change to our normal Terms & Conditions:

  • Any deposits paid will be fully refundable up to the date of your final payment. There will be no deductions or processing fees.

At ALE we feel a particular responsibility to our guests, guide companies, agents, and suppliers. Thank you for your cooperation and understanding in this. ALE Partners expect to be able to release a further update by the end of June-early July.

The last few months have brought an unprecedented strain on the adventure travel and tourism industry but we have been buoyed up by the positive encouragement we hear from our colleagues and guests alike.

Please contact us if you have any questions about the proposed changes or your existing booking.

Stay well and best wishes from all of us at ALE!

We follow ATTA COVID-19 Health and Safety Guidelines

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