AURORA VIEWING TOUR#23: TO ALASKA
ANOTHER SMALL GROUP TOUR FROM RING OF FIRE EXPEDITIONS
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SEPTEMBER 24-28, 2022
TOUR CLOSES JULY 22, 2022
If you are lucky, you may be able to see sights like this! From our October 2018 trip. Paul D. Maley photo.
Join Paul D. Maley of the NASA Johnson Space Center Astronomical Society for his next aurora viewing tour, this time to one of our favorite spots near Fairbanks, Alaska where we will spend four nights at the aurora viewing lodge with all meals included. We will also include a trip into Fairbanks to visit the World Ice Art Championships where an international team of cold weather artists construct amazing shapes out of blocks of ice (details to be provided later).
This trip is a continuation of public outreach expeditions on land (13 to Alaska, 2 to Svalbard), sea (2 to Norway), and air (2 trips) to watch the Northern Lights. So far, every time we have ventured to Alaska we have seen aurora on at least one of the four nights! This adventure will be another small group tour limited to a maximum of 12 to 16 participants. We have attempted to make the basic tour as affordable as possible by inserting optional cost tours that you might wish to book separately. Everyone has thoroughly enjoyed staying at the lodge in the past and we trust you will find this a great spot for sky viewing. March 21 is First Quarter Moon and is also the spring equinox. March is also the month with statistically more auroras than any other; in addition, during weeks around equinoxes, the interplanetary magnetic field connects to the Earth’s magnetic field prying open cracks where the solar wind can penetrate and thus create auroras. The First Quarter Moon should offer minimal impact to viewing.
How amazing is it? From this recent description, here is why we stay at a fixed location.
LEARN HOW TO TAKE AURORA PHOTOS! We will work with you to help you plan and capture good Northern Lights images. Contact me for assistance prior to the trip and also consult our AURORA INFORMATION page which has extensive information that I have accumulated over the last years.
Why Alaska? Weather systems generally blow in and out fairly quickly. Even though temperatures are cold and generally with remarkably low winds, the area offers a great deal of visual beauty. Properly dressed in winter garb you will find yourself well protected and able to walk about, photograph or just sit and view. A yurt is now on the property and serves as a refuge from the cold with chairs that can be used outside as well and access to a/c power. We have always had great response from people on our winter Alaska trips indicating that they enjoy it very much!
An example of aurora seen on our October 2017 Alaska land expedition. It is a huge Northern Lights band stretching 180 degrees across the sky from east to west. Constellations such as Orion, Gemini, Cassiopeia and Taurus are captured here. A brilliant Iridium satellite flare is also seen as the linear streak. Paul D. Maley photo.
Seeing the Northern Lights up close and personal is a bucket list objective of many people who are interested in the world’s most mind-blowing experiences. Over the past few years we have ventured northward to attempt to capture these phenomena from air, sea and land as they light up the night sky. It has been relatively easy to capture aurora if you are patient, are willing to brave cold temperatures and have the proper equipment. As an alternative, the easiest way to enjoy the experience is to simply sit and watch! Unlike a solar eclipse which only lasts on average a minute or two, auroras come and go and can last for hours depending on the level of solar activity and influx of high energy particles into the Earth’s magnetic field.
Aurora activity prediction model snapshot enables us to get a good idea of the likelihood and timing of aurora on a particular night and region. Credit: NOAA
One can also watch the aurora cam shown online from your room on your smart phone operated by the University of Alaska Geophysical Institute that gives you a near real-time view of what is happening in the sky. The minute you start to see the green glow on the north horizon as seen from Poker Flats, Alaska you can likely expect to see aurora at our lodge.
Aurora from a planned airborne viewing trip as seen out the window of a Boeing 787 from Shanghai to Chicago after a trip to North Korea in 2015. The constellation of Ophiuchus is visible in this image. Paul D. Maley photo.
Aurora viewing at sea from the deck of a ship off the coast of Norway in 2015. During the middle of the night with a full Moon, nobody else was on deck I was able to see a great deal of action all the way up until sunrise. The constellations of Cassiopeia and Perseus are recognizable. Paul D. Maley photo.
ITINERARY AS OF DECEMBER 5, 2020
Times of meals will be arranged as necessary and optional tour dates may be moved around as required. Photographers are advised to read the aurora information web page provided in advance of the trip. Photos below may contain snow; the first snow in Fairbanks does not usually begin until late October.
SEPTEMBER 24 (Saturday): DAY 1 – Arrive Fairbanks
A private transfer will be provided from the airport to our group lodge (one transfer for the group), about a 40 minute drive from the Fairbanks airport. The van transfer departs generally in the late afternoon from the baggage claim area but the time will be announced within a few months of the trip. You will need to coordinate your flight to arrive prior to the group transfer unless you wish to take your own independent taxi (optional cost) to the lodge from the airport. Once at the lodge, dinner will be at the provided. The lodge has excellent reviews; there is a guest refrigerator and freezer in the main area and linens are changed daily except on Sunday. Sometimes you can sight a moose from the dining room windows wandering the grounds. From each of the 6 ground floor rooms you can step out and check the sky for aurora. Rooms feature floor heating, adequate lighting, a/c outlets, carpet, phone, adequate drawer space and bathroom amenities. There is no safe in the room. Some cold weather gear can be rented there. The two suites are located on the main floor and you can walk out the front door and then down to the aurora viewing area.
After dinner this will be your first opportunity (weather permitting) to look for aurora from the lodge grounds. It will be cold at night during most winter trips and you should be prepared for temperatures ranging from +15 to -10 deg F (but higher and much lower temperatures can occur!) with little wind. In winter snow up to 2 feet is likely so prepare clothing accordingly. Bring a tripod, camera and shutter release or just sit in one of the lodge chairs and watch with the unaided eye. If you have night vision binoculars, you will be amazed at what they can reveal.
Meals are really good here! They are taken in a common dining area. NOTE THE BLINDS. THESE ARE ROLLED DOWN EACH NIGHT TO PREVENT LIGHT FROM SPILLING OUT AND RUINING AURORA PHOTOS.
Shrimp scampi is just one of the dinner choices. Lynn Palmer photo.
Overnight Fairbanks: (D)
Brilliant aurora curtains seen during our March 2017 Alaska trip. The Big Dipper is visible behind the aurora as is the North Star upper left. Jeff Pohlman photo.
A moose calf seen at the lodge in February 2020. Peggy Bechtell photo.
SEPTEMBER 25 (Sunday): DAY 2– Fairbanks
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner will be included for you at the lodge today unless you book the optional Arctic Circle tour below. You will have the day free to participate in optional activities at the lodge (not included).
This morning you will have a briefing by Paul D. Maley on aurora viewing and photography. We will go over some representative photos taken as well as do’s and don’ts of both group aurora watching and taking of aurora images. This will be your chance to ask questions and figure out workarounds for any problems you might encounter. We request that each of you who want to take decent photos look at our online aurora photography information which summarizes lessons learned over past expeditions. In particular this will apply to those going on the Arctic Circle Aurora Drive departing later this morning. On this tour you generally have the best chance to see aurora over a wide variety of terrain away from the Fairbanks vicinity.
Lynn Palmer mushing her own dog team. Paul D. Maley photo.
Dog mushing lessons can be obtained from a location within easy walking distance of the lodge in winter at extra cost.
One of the quirky lodge rooms with door access to the outside for night viewing. There are 6 standard rooms and 2 suites. All standard rooms have walk-out access. If you are in a suite you need to walk out the main front door and down the side of the main building. NOTE THE DRAPES. ALL GUESTS MUST CLOSE BOTH THE DRAPES AND SHADES WHEN IT GETS DARK IN ORDER NOT TO RUIN AURORA PHOTOS! Lynn Palmer photo.
FAIRBANKS CITY TOUR
Today you will enjoy a tour of the city of Fairbanks which will include a visit to the Morris Thompson Cultural Visitor Center as well as the University of Alaska Museum of the North.
Entrance to Morris-Thompson Cultural and Visitor Center.
University of Alaska Fairbanks Museum of the North and an ‘almost’ traffic accident on snowy roads. Paul D. Maley photo.
The Morris-Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center contains a 9,000-square-foot exhibit hall which features outstanding displays and dioramas showcasing interior Alaska’s people, wildlife, landscapes and seasons. Enjoy free films and programs on Alaska’s natural and cultural history.
Tonight after dinner will be our second attempt to view aurora. Note that viewing typically takes place beginning after 1030pm and it pays to stay up most of the night or to set your alarm for a specific time that would work for you. If you want to sleep and be called if aurora are spotted, we can do that also. However, we normally assign times throughout the night for each person to wake up, check the sky, and then alert the group if aurora are sighted to make it easier. The key to capturing an aurora if you don’t know when it is going to appear is to remain outside all night and/or programming your camera to automatically take exposures with an intervalometer over a long period of time.
Overnight Fairbanks: (B, L, D)
Group stop near the Arctic Circle for awesome aurora viewing during our November 2013 Alaska aurora trip. The optional cost Arctic Circle tour can often give the darkest sky views of the Northern Lights since they drive far from a big city. Paul D. Maley photo.
AURORA VIEWING LOCATIONS AT THE LODGE
In 2019 a new system was initiated to minimize having to stay out in the cold all night. Wireless devices were installed with a trigger in the yurt that allows anyone to send a signal to all the lodge rooms. The photo below shows the plugged in alarm that will go off when someone outside sees Northern Lights activity
The aurora alarm in each lodge room. Paul D. Maley photo.
WINTER: The aurora viewing area behind the lodge also looks into the valley toward both Fairbanks and the town of North Pole. You need snow boots to navigate down and around this area. Paul D. Maley photos.
FALL: Though this and the photo that follows were taken in the fall, all the standard rooms at the lodge allow you to walk out your door onto the driveway. If you have mobility issues you can watch from here with easy access to your room even when there is snow on the ground. There it is possible to see aurora, though the area with less blockage (from trees and the main building) requires you to walk down the slope in the following image.
FALL: This is a view of the slope leading to the aurora viewing area with chairs and a yurt about 50 yards down from the main building.
WINTER: After you walk down the slope, the yurt is on the right (chairs left) and you can see the main building on the right side. There is a relatively unobstructed 360 degree view of the sky from this area. Note the snow in winter.
SEPTEMBER 26 (Monday): DAY 3 – Fairbanks
OPTIONAL 18 hour longArctic Circle Aurora Drive Adventure
Today, you will drive up the Dalton Highway into the Alaskan Arctic. As you depart Fairbanks, you will pass gold mines and drive alongside the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. Walking on the arctic tundra will give you a sense of the vast scale of Alaska’s arctic regions. Drive all the way north to the Arctic Circle, where you will receive an official Arctic Circle certificate. On the way back south to Fairbanks, stop and marvel at the majestic beauty of the northland’s most famous waterway, the Yukon River. The Aurora Driving Tour returns at night (between 3:00am and 4:00am). At least half of the tour will be in the dark to look for the Northern Lights. In the past this has generally proven to be the best opportunity to see aurora due to the large geographic distance covered. Tour includes round trip private transportation from A Taste of Alaska Lodge to tour departure point. This is an approximately 18 hour long tour. It departs the lodge at 10:00am today, returns between 3-4am the following day.
The Alaska pipeline up close as seen on the Arctic Circle drive. Gordon Lamb photo.
Hoarfrost as seen on the Arctic Circle trip. Diane Birnbaumer photo.
You can also walk on the frozen Yukon river. Ken Biba photo.
COST of this optional tour DEPENDS ON THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE GOING ON THE TOUR: PRICE TO BE ANNOUNCED LATER
• Round trip private transfers from hotel to tour departure point
• Arctic Circle bus tour with guide
• Boxed lunch
• Boxed dinner (though if a restaurant is open that night it may be possible to get other food there)
Does not include:
• Excursion Guide gratuities (recommend: $10 – $20 per person/activity)
• Driver gratuities for round trip private transfers (recommend: $3 – $5 per person/transfer)
Note: those going on the Arctic Circle tour will take lunch and dinner on the road and not at the lodge. After dinner at the lodge, those staying will have your 3rd night to view the aurora and any other astronomical phenomena on our calendar.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner will be included for you at the lodge today. OPTIONAL COST LOCAL ACTIVITIES: You can choose to walk do to a nearby dog mushing outfit where, for a fee, you can learn to drive your own dog team. Paws for Adventure is a great place to get familiar with sled dogs up close and get a real thrill out of being in control of a team of amazing canines. Reservations should be made ahead of time but sometimes it is possible to book the same day. You can also take a short ride, one hour tour or the mushing school option (all extra cost activities). Last year’s ride costs were between $70 (30 minutes) and $100 (1 hour).
Tonight after dinner will be our third aurora viewing attempt.
Overnight Fairbanks: (B, L, D)
Aurora during our February 2014 Alaska tour. Paul Lobert photo.
Aurora seen in February 2020. Peggy Bechtell photo.
One of the hiking trails on the lodge property as seen in winter. Paul D. Maley photo.
SEPTEMBER 27 (Tuesday) DAY 4– Fairbanks
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner will be included for you at the lodge today. You will have the day free to participate in optional activities at the lodge (not included).
Also an optional cost tour to consider that has had great reviews is the Reindeer walk at Running Reindeer Ranch. This one-of-a-kind tour will be the highlight of your trip to Alaska. The reindeer (and Candy, their dog) take you through a guided nature walk in the boreal forest. There you will learn about the natural history of the forest as well as the reindeer themselves. Enjoy the frolicking and leaping reindeer as they run free through the woods. Each walk is a unique experience depending on season, trail conditions and the mood of the reindeer. After the walk, depending upon the season, you can tour their organically grown perennial and vegetable gardens and enjoy light refreshments and carry on the conversation. This nature walk has uneven terrain so good walking shoes and weather appropriate clothing are required. The reindeer are tame but not trained so sometimes they decide to take a route not planned for. Bring your cameras and expect the unexpected! In November 2019 the Reindeer Walk cost was $100. and van transport is extra split among participants. Otherwise the day is free at your disposal.
OPTIONAL Fairbanks city tour and Half-day trip to Chena Hot Springs
This morning, you will embark on a private sightseeing tour of Alaska’s second largest city, Fairbanks. During this narrated tour, you will visit the Morris Thompson Cultural Center where you will great exhibits about Interior Alaska. You will also spend some time at the University of Alaska Museum of the North with its dramatic architecture and new exhibit galleries. You will stop for lunch in Fairbanks at the Cookie Jar restaurant before continuing north to Chena Hot Springs. Spend the afternoon at Chena soaking in the natural mineral water or visit the indoor swimming pool. You will tour the Aurora Ice Museum, which features amazing ice sculptures created by 16 time world champion ice carver Steve Brice, and his wife Heather. Within the museum, there is a two-story observation tower with a circular staircase, and various ice sculptures made by Alaska Diamond and Alaska Marble ice. You may relax at the Aurora Ice Bar and enjoy an appletini served in an ice carved martini glass (not included), or warm your hands by the ice fireplace. Return to A Taste of Alaska Lodge this evening. Pick up from the lodge at 10am, return at 7pm.
Aurora Ice Museum at Chena Lodge
COST of this optional tour DEPENDS ON THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE GOING ON THE TOUR: PRICE TO BE ANNOUNCED LATER.
• Private transportation in a Sprinter Vehicle, including driver gratuities
• 2 hour Fairbanks City Tour
• Lunch at the Cookie Jar Restaurant
• Chena Hot Springs pool pass and towel rental
• Chena Hot Springs Ice Museum Tour
Does not include:
• Excursion Guide gratuities (recommend: $10 – $20 per person/activity)
• Activities not mentioned in the “Includes” section
Tonight after dinner you will have your 4th and final opportunity to view the aurora.
This evening will be our fourth and final opportunity for aurora viewing and photography. Overnight Fairbanks: (B, L, D)
Aurora during our November 2014 Alaska tour. Lynn Palmer photo.
SEPTEMBER 28 (Wednesday)DAY 5–Fairbanks Departure
Breakfast will be served early at the lodge. In late morning our van will then transport you and your luggage to the airport where you can catch your return flight home (one group transfer only). Van transfer usually occurs after 10am. If your flight departs earlier than this, you will need to make your own transfer arrangements at extra cost.
Aurora viewing during our January 2015 Alaska tour can allow times for portraits. Paul D. Maley photo.
Aurora on our February 2017 expedition. Jeff Pohlman photo.
COST OF THE TOUR
TO JOIN THE TOUR, SUBMIT 1) REGISTRATION FORM AND 2) DEPOSIT AT THE SAME TIME for each person.
STANDARD ROOMS (6)
$2416. (CASH DISCOUNT $2301.) PER PERSON DOUBLE OCCUPANCY (STANDARD ROOM). $3053. (cash discount $2908. for single occupancy if available).
$2649. (CASH DISCOUNT $2523.) PER PERSON FOR A SUITE (2 PERSONS MINIMUM). 2 ROOMS MAX. No singles permitted.
• 4 Nights’ Accommodations as listed or similar
• Private roundtrip transportation from Fairbanks airport to our lodge as specified above with an English-speaking driver. All participants must travel together. If you arrive/depart before or after the majority of the group arrives you will need an independent transfer at extra cost.
• Meals: Daily breakfast, 3 lunches, 4 dinners
• round trip viewing excursion from the lodge to Fairbanks for the city tour
• All applicable taxes and fees
Package does not include:
• Driver gratuities (recommend: $3 – $5 per person/transfer)
• Meals, unless specified above
• Drinks (alcoholic, non-alcoholic such as soda); however, meals do include table water; breakfast also includes tea, coffee, juice
• Excursions and admissions
• Airfare of any kind
• Trip cancellation/interruption insurance
• Anything else of a personal nature not mentioned in the “Package includes” section
• Optional tours listed above
• Transfer between airport and lodge or lodge and airport ONLY if you are unable to make the single group transfer
HOW TO PAY
Future Travel no longer accepts actual checks due to the time to process and risk of loss through the postal system.
PAY BY CREDIT CARD: Future Travel does accept VISA, Master Card, American Express, and Discover. We will need you to view, complete the Credit Card Authorization form:
PAY BY ELECTRONIC CHECK (cash discount of 5%): Use our secure electronic payment form. It is faster/safer than going through the regular mail. The web link is:
Once you open the link all items marked with an asterisk (*) need to be filled in. Where it asks for a check number just put in any number. No need to attach passport.
IF YOU LIVE OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES you may pay by one of these methods: 1) credit cards, 2) electronic check transfer from a bank in the United States, or 3) wire transfer. A USD$50 fee is charged if a wire transfer is used. No checks or money orders can be accepted! Please contact email@example.com to make arrangements.
- BEFORE April 1, 2022…………………………..USD$525. DEPOSIT (cash discount price $500.) per person double
- April 1, 2022…………………………………………..Balance due
CANCELLATION FEES (per person)
- BEFORE April 1, 2021…………………………..USD$250. + any service fees (if applicable) up to that point
- April 1, 2021………………………………………100% OF THE TOTAL TOUR COST
OTHER KEY DATES
The last day to make a name change to avoid change fees is 46-days prior to arrival.
The last day to sign up for optional tours is 61-days.
The last day to join this tour is typically 61-days before departure but may be cut off earlier.
Clients should be aware that we cannot guarantee the weather for this astronomical event or any other.
ALASKA AURORA VIEWING tour ONLINE REGISTRATION
To sign up for the trip, follow these steps.
1. Read and understand the deposit schedule and significant cancellation penalties.
2. Click on the Terms & Conditions tab. Review prior to starting your registration.
3. CLICK HERE to open and then complete the registration form. If you have trouble seeing the form, refresh your page or use a different internet browser. Some versions may not support this form!
4. Submit deposit at the same time.
Alaska Aurora Viewing Tour Participant’s Agreement
FUTURE TRAVEL TERMS AND CONDITIONS
ANY TOUR MEMBER WHO ENGAGES IN EXTREMELY RUDE/OFFENSIVE/REPETITIVE/ILLEGAL BEHAVIOR OR INTERFERES WITH TOUR REPRESENTATIVES ABILITY TO FUNCTION WILL BE EJECTED FROM THE TOUR ON THE SPOT AND WILL BE BANNED FROM PARTICIPATING IN FUTURE TOURS. SUCH BEHAVIOR IS NOT PERMITTED AT ANY TIME.
Participant signature on the registration form will signify your agreement with the following terms and conditions.
In consideration for providing tour operating and planning services for 2020 Total Eclipse Tour Argentina (“Program”), Future Travel, Inc. d/b/a Direct Travel and tour participant, on behalf of himself or herself and all other persons traveling under this Program Participant Agreement (including any accompanying persons for whom the Program was purchased), (“Participant”) agree to the following terms and conditions outlined below for this Program Participant Agreement (the “Agreement”). As used below, the term “Tour Operator” refers to Future Travel, Inc. d/b/a Direct Travel and any companies that control, are controlled by or are under common control with Future Travel, Inc. d/b/a Direct Travel, and the term “Ground Operator” refers to the individual(s) or service provider(s) contracted to deliver elements of the Program based on experience and expertise at destination.PROGRAM ITINERARY: The itinerary on the Program webpage and any other materials are hereby included in this agreement. However, Tour Operator, reserves the right to make changes to the itinerary as explained further in this Agreement. For more information, please call (281) 480-1988 or (800) 929-9004 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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- OTHER CHANGES TO TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS:There will be a change fee of $75.00 per Participant charged for any change in travel arrangements made after ticketing and at least thirty (30) days prior to the date of departure in addition to charges incurred by third-party suppliers. No changes will be allowed within thirty (30) days of the departure date.
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- PROGRAM AIRFARES: Programs are generally based on land or sea only, and do not include airfare. Airline arrangements are usually optional and not included in the Program price unless specifically stated. In the event airline arrangements are included, specific terms and conditions applicable to the ticketing carrier (airline) will apply. Terms and conditions are subject to the specific airlines’ terms and policies in place which are governed solely by the airlines. Airlines and airfares included in the Program are subject to change without notice.
- ECLIPSE (or other astronomical event) VIEWING: Tour Operator has no control over any astronomical events. While the Tour Operator will use best reasonable efforts to arrange for the viewing, there is no guarantee that there will not be cloud cover, or that there will not be another reason beyond Tour Operator’s control or influence over other factors that affect the Participant’s ability to view an astronomical event. Therefore, Tour Operator will not be liable or responsible for any loss, damage, cost, or expense of any kind in the event that such viewing is not possible for any reason including but not limited to any act of God, war, fire, collision, directions of underwriters, arrest, order or restraint by any government agency or official acting under color of authority, acts of terrorism, labor disturbances or disputes, civil commotion, weather conditions and considerations of the safety of the ground transportation being used, (for which the Ground Operator shall be the sole judge), breakdowns of or damage to the transport vehicle, requisition of the vehicle by governmental authority, illness, death of a family member or other cause or circumstance beyond the control of Tour Operator.
- PROGRAM CHANGES OR CANCELLATION BY THIRD-PARTY SUPPLIER, PROGRAM, OR GROUND OPERATOR: The Ground Operator in its sole discretion may cancel, advance, or postpone any part of the Program, change the itinerary, and may (but is not obligated to) substitute another transport vehicle, and Tour Operator will not be liable for any loss whatsoever to passengers by reason of such cancellation, advancement, postponement, or substitution. If the Program is fully or partially canceled by the Ground Operator, the Tour Operator will provide a proportional refund in the event the Tour Operator receives a refund from the Ground Operator. Under such circumstances, Tour Operator shall have no further liability for damages or compensation of any kind, and Participant understands that any refund is contingent on Tour Operator receiving a refund from Ground Operator. Participant agrees that the availability of any refund from the travel protection plan and/or other travel products (airfare, lodging, transfers), even if purchased in conjunction with the Program, will be determined in accordance with the applicable third-party supplier cancellation policies for such other products or services.
- MINIMUM PARTICIPATION. Tour Operator reserves the right to cancel the Program for inadequate participation, in which case the Tour Operator will provide a full refund minus any non-refundable portion, or a full travel credit of the Program price, at the Tour Operator’s sole discretion, and shall have no further liability for damages or compensation of any kind. Notification regarding cancellation due to minimum participation will be provided as soon as reasonably possible, but typically at least one hundred (120) days prior to departure date. Sightseeing is subject to change due to weather conditions, accessibility, border crossing limitations, and hours of operation.
- GROUND OPERATOR’S PASSAGE CONTRACT: The Ground Operator’s Passage Contract shall govern the terms and conditions of such services. You may request a copy of the Ground Operator’s Passage Contract, which constitutes the agreement between the Ground Operator and Participant. The Passage Contract provides that the Ground Operator may exercise its rights in a variety of matters. The Tour Operator shall have no liability for a full or partial refund of the tour fare, or for any lodging or transportation expenses, as a result of the Ground Operator’s exercise of its contractual rights.
- PASSPORTS AND VISAS: International travel requires a passport valid six (6) months beyond the intended return travel date. In many cases, Participant will also need to have multiple consecutive blank visa pages within his or her passport, depending on the countries involved in the itinerary. Many countries also require that visas be obtained prior to travel. Please speak with Tour Operator if unsure about the visa requirements for the travel destination, but Participant is solely responsible for complying with all passport and visa requirements. Citizens of other countries must make their nationalities known to Tour Operator at registration and are responsible for obtaining proper documentation to enter the United States and any other countries involved in the Program.
- MEDICAL CERTIFICATION/UNAVAILABILITY AND PASSENGERS REQUIRING SPECIAL ASSISTANCE: By booking the Program, Participant certifies and represents that: (a) Participant is in good general health and physically capable of performing all activities in the Program; (b) Participant is capable of caring for himself/herself during any expedition and will not impede the progress of the trip or enjoyment of other Program participants; (c) Participant understands that any expedition may take him or her far from the nearest viable medical facility and the availability of medical care may be limited, delayed or unavailable; and (d) all expedition members must be self-sufficient; and (e) Participant has not been recently treated for, or is aware of, any physical, mental or other condition or disability, including but not limited to COVID-19 that would create a hazard to himself/herself or other Program Transport may be refused to any Participant whose state of health or physical conditions renders the Participant, in the opinion of the Tour or Ground Operator, unfit. Participant must notify Tour Operator in writing at the time of booking of any disability or other medical or physical condition that may require special assistance or treatment during the Program. Participant’s failure to do so will release Tour Operator from any liability for loss, damages or other compensation arising from or related in any way to such disability or condition. Tour Operator and Ground Operator(s) reserve the right to require that any Participant who is not self-sufficient must travel with a companion who takes responsibility for any assistance needed during the Program and in case of emergency. Participant understands that if he or she fraudulently represents himself/herself as fit for the Program, Participant may be removed prior to or during the Program at his or her own expense. Participant agrees to indemnify and reimburse Tour Operator and its Ground Operator(s) in the event that these entities by their sole discretion, advance to Participant the cost of emergency medical care, including medical evacuation and/or medical care provided ashore, as well as transportation and/or lodging in connection therewith. Tour Operator shall have no responsibility to advance any such costs.
- CHILDREN: Programs are formulated specifically for adults, and any children under the age of 18 must be accepted on a special approval basis in writing. Any approved children must be accompanied and supervised by parents or guardians, who will bear ultimate responsibility for their actions, and are expected to display proper decorum while the group is together, especially at the observation site and on all transport vehicles.
- LUGGAGE: Each Participant may bring no more than (2) pieces of luggage on the Program unless specified otherwise in the Program It is recommended that Participants do not bring expensive jewelry or like possessions. Telescopes and observation equipment should be securely packed; insurance protection for high-value items (such as cameras, computers, etc.) is highly recommended. Pets, dangerous or illegal items such as weapons, explosives, combustible substances, non-prescription controlled substances, or illegal drugs may not be brought on the Program. Any such items shall be surrendered to security at embarkation and may be disposed of at the sole discretion of the Ground Operator. Tour Operator assumes no responsibility for checked or carry-on luggage. IF PARTICIPANT CHOOSES TO BRING A TELESCOPE OR ANY UNUSUAL EQUIPMENT, PARTICIPANT MUST PROVIDE A LIST OF SUCH ITEMS TO TOUR OPERATOR. TOUR OPERATOR WILL PROVIDE INSTRUCTIONS RELATED TO CUSTOMS FORMALITIES.
- TRANSFERS:When transfers between hotels and airports are included in the Program price, transportation of participants and their baggage is provided only when participant(s) travel with the rest of the group (or language in the tour terms indicates that participant(s) can arrive at any time). If the participant(s) schedule is different from this, private transfers are available at extra cost and must be requested in writing. Carry-on bags must be carried by P Porterage may be included after passing through the customs area upon arrival if so indicated in the inclusions. Porterage is generally not included unless otherwise stated in the individual itinerary inclusions. In some situations, porterage may not be possible or available.
- TAXES: The Program price paid includes all taxes Tour Operator has knowledge of for included services such as lodging, transportation, meals, entry fees, permits, and any other services delivered as part of the Any newly enacted taxes imposed by local authorities’ unknown to Tour Operator as well as any applicable airport departure taxes will have to be collected from each participant during the Program.
- GRATUITIES: There are generally two types of applicable gratuities which are defined as: 1) Gratuity associated with Tour Operator provided services such as group meals; porterage; facilities; etc.; and 2) Gratuity which may be payable to Tour Director(s)/local guide(s) and/or driver(s) at participant’ sole discretion. The Program price paid generally includes type 1 gratuities, while type 2 gratuities are at the participant’ expense. Tour Operator makes every effort to advise participant ahead of time about type 2 gratuities which are customary in many cultures.
- MISCELLANEOUS ADDITIONAL COSTS: There are other associated costs that are not included in the Program price including but not limited to: cost of passports or visas, excess luggage, meals and beverages not specified in the itinerary, phone calls, voluntary changes in flights or other methods of transport, laundry, insurance costs, and items or services of a personal nature not specified in the cruise itinerary, and any additional gratuities.
- ROOMMATES/CABINMATES: If Participant is traveling alone, but wishes to share occupancy of a room/cabin, Tour Operator will use reasonable efforts to match same-gender roommates, along with smoking/non-smoking preferences. If Tour Operator cannot find a roommate for any reason, Tour Operator will advise Participant and charge the single supplement fee. Participant may wish to look for a roommate from a local astronomical society, family or friends. Participant’s decision to accept a roommate for the Program is at his or her own risk. Tour Operator is not responsible or liable for any and all claims or cause of action arising out of or in connection with Participant’s acceptance or selection of a roommate for the Program, including, without limitation, any injury or damage to persons or property which may be caused, directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, from such request or selection.
- SMOKING: Smoking is prohibited on Program buses, the astronomical event observation site, and in briefing and lecture rooms as well as in hotel rooms and any other places where the group is congregating.
- INFORMATION: The information Tour Operator publishes on the Program Website is believed to be accurate and reliable. Tour Operator makes no representations or warranties regarding such information or any information provided by a third party. Unless expressly stated in writing, the Tour Operator does not endorse products or services offered by any company or person identified in brochures, collateral materials or Websites, nor is the Tour Operator responsible for any content published by a third party.
- DISCLAIMER AND LIMITATION OF LIABILITY: In no event will Tour Operator be liable for any injury, loss, claim, damage, or any special, punitive, exemplary, direct, indirect, incidental, or consequential damages of any kind, whether based in contract, tort, strict liability, or otherwise, that arise out of or are in any way connected with the Program even if advised of the possibility of such damages. In no event will Tour Operator’s aggregate liability exceed the total Program price set forth in the itinerary for any occurrence including, but not limited to: (1) injury, death or delay of Participant, or loss, damage or delay of or to Participant’s luggage or other property, which may be caused, directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, from participation in the Program including, without limitation, Participant’s use of or participation in any excursion, on concession or athletic or recreational activity; (2) Participant’s request for or selection of a roommate/cabinmate for the Program; (3) emotional distress, mental suffering or anguish or psychological injury of any kind under any circumstances (except when such damages were directly caused by Tour Operator’s negligence and resulted from the same Participant sustaining actual physical injury, or having been at risk of actual physical injury, or when such damages are held to have been intentionally inflicted by Tour Operator); (4) any change in scheduled Program events and/or celebrity appearances; (5) the Ground Operators’ exercise of its contractual rights; or (6) or (if Participant is entering into this Agreement on behalf of itself and its group, party, or traveling companions) any claim arising out of their assertion that Participant was not authorized to agree on their behalf. Participant further agrees that Tour Operator shall not be held vicariously liable for the intentional or negligent acts of any persons not employed or engaged by Tour Operator, nor for any intentional or negligent acts of Tour Operator’s employees committed while off duty or outside the course and scope of their employment. In the event that a court of competent jurisdiction holds any of the foregoing to be unenforceable, then Tour Operator’s liability shall be limited to the maximum extent permitted by law. In addition to the restrictions and exemptions from liability provided in these terms and conditions, Tour Operator shall have the full benefit of any applicable laws providing for limitation and exoneration from liability, and nothing contained herein is intended to operate to limit or deprive Tour Operator of any such statutory limitation of or exoneration from liability.
- FORCE MAJEURE: Tour Operator assumes no responsibility for any personal injury, property damage, or other loss, accident, delay, inconvenience, or irregularity which may be occasioned by reason of any matter beyond Tour Operator control including but not limited to a delay or cancellation that causes Participant(s) to miss all or any portion of the Program, acts of God, acts of government, acts by controlling or regulating bodies, war, terrorist acts, riots, disaster, fires, civil disturbance, disease epidemics, public utility failure, restraints or delays affecting carriers or inability in obtaining suppliers or adequate materials, hurricanes, earthquakes, weather extremes, strikes/labor disputes/labor unrest, or any other comparable condition beyond the reasonable control of the Tour Operator. has no special knowledge regarding the financial condition of third-party suppliers, unsafe conditions, health hazards, weather hazards, or climate extremes at locations to which Participant(s) may travel. Participant understands that health care standards, facilities, and services abroad may be different or even inadequate for treating health conditions. It is the responsibility of each Participant to obtain health and medical certificates, inoculations and vaccinations that may be required.
- DISPUTES: Except where prohibited by law, Participant and all members of Participant’s party expressly agree that: (1) any and all disputes, claims and causes of action against Tour Operator arising out of or connected with the Program shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action, and exclusively by the appropriate court located in Houston, Texas, U.S.A. to the exclusion of the courts of any other state, territory or country; (2) Participant waives any venue or other objection that Participant may have to any such action or proceeding being brought in any court located in Houston, Texas; (3) any and all claims, judgments and awards shall be limited to actual out-of-pocket costs incurred, including costs associated with the Program, but in no event attorneys’ fees; and (4) Participant waives the right to claim any other damages whatsoever, including, but not limited to, punitive, special, consequential, direct or indirect damages. All issues and questions concerning the construction, validity, interpretation and enforceability of these terms and conditions shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the State of Texas, without giving effect to any choice of law or conflict of law rules which would cause the application of the laws of any jurisdiction other than the State of Texas. Participant agrees to present any claims against Tour Operator within 30 days after the Program ends and to file within one year of the incident, and Participant acknowledges that this expressly limits the applicable statute of limitations to one year. NEITHER PARTY MAY INITIATE OR BE PART OF A CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT OR LEGAL PROCEEDING AGAINST THE OTHER.
- INDEMNIFICATION: Participant shall indemnify, defend and hold harmless Tour Operator and its officers, employees, directors, third-party suppliers and agents, in their individual capacities or otherwise, from and against any losses arising out of: (i) Participant’s negligence; (ii) Participant’s failure to comply with applicable law; or (iii) Participant’s failure to comply with this Agreement.
- ASSUMPTION OF RISK AND DISCHARGE: Participant acknowledges that he or she has voluntarily applied for the Program. Participant understands that he or she may travel to countries and areas that are inherently risky. Participant agrees to assume all risks associated with the Program including forces of nature, terrorism, civil unrest, war, accidents, and transportation including land vehicles, boats, and aircraft that are not operated and maintained to the standards found in North America, and Participant hereby assumes such risks. Participant also assumes risks associated with altitude, illness, disease, physical exertion, and alcohol consumption, knowing that access to evacuation and/or suitable medical supplies and support may not be available. Participant further assumes full responsibility for personal injury to himself or herself and further releases and discharges Program and its affiliates, managers, agents, representatives and assigns, for injury, loss, delay, or damage, all claims or causes of action related to Participant or Participant’s property arising out of Participant’s use of or presence upon the facilities arranged by or of any activities arranged by Program whether caused by the negligent or intentional acts or omissions of Participant or other third parties. Participant agrees that in the event he or she shall require medical care or treatment, Participant will be financially responsible for any costs incurred as a result of such care or treatment. Participant acknowledges that all activities associated with the Program, however conducted, including airline flights and ground transportation, are operated by independent contractors and third parties. Tour Operator neither supervises nor controls their actions, nor makes any representation, either expressed or implied, as to their suitability and safety. These services are provided only as a convenience for Participant, and Participant is choosing to use the services.
- MISCELLANEOUS: Tour Operator may assign its rights and/or delegate all or a portion of its duties under this Agreement to any third party at any time without the consent or permission of any parties to this Agreement. If there is a conflict between this Agreement and one or more terms contained in another agreement between Participant and Tour Operator, this Agreement will control. No alteration, cancellation, variation of, or addition to this Agreement shall be of any force or effect unless reduced to writing and signed by Tour Operator. If there is a conflict between any part of this Agreement and any present or future law, the part that is affected shall be curtailed only to the extent necessary to bring it within the requirements of that law. The Parties agree and intend an electronic or facsimile version of this Agreement shall be considered an original if signed by both Parties via an authorized digitally scanned signature or original signature.
BY SUBMITTING A REGISTRATION FORM HERE, I CERTIFY THAT I HAVE DIGITALLY SIGNED THIS AGREEMENT, AND I UNDERSTAND AND ACCEPT THE FOLLOWING TERMS AND CONDITIONS, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO ALL REFUND AND CANCELLATION POLICIES.