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Author Topic: Antarctica 2011 - November / December - Who is Going?  (Read 9707 times)

Josh-H

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Antarctica 2011 - November / December - Who is Going?
« on: October 05, 2010, 07:53:15 PM »

Is anyone else planning on coming on this trip with Andy Biggs, JPC and Seth?
http://hosted.verticalresponse.com/167367/a6ed91ca9f/84530/a6f9b95865/
It sounds great and should really be an amazing trip. From what I understand the Ocean Nova is supposed to be one of the better ships.

I have just been going through the Terms and Conditions of the trip as laid out by 'Quark' or 'QEI' (available on Quarks website or by contacting them and requesting them) and there is one clause that is really bothering me. The normal 'waive your rights to potential damages' is pretty standard - no problem and no problem with 99% of the other terms and conditions. But there is a clause that Quark reserve the right to alter or amend the trip as they see fit (fair enough based on Antarctic storms etc.) and charge an additional surcharge on top of the original trip fee totally at their discretion. It reads 'Quark reserves the right to alter prices or introduce surcharges accordingly, even if payment has been received in full'.

I have not come across a clause like this before on any of the trips I have been on. Is it pretty standard for trips to Antarctica? With full payment required up front more than a year out from the trip there is a lot of time for 'additional surcharges' to be added in or things to change. If I recollect correctly such a surcharge for fuel was added into MR's trip by Quark at the eleventh hour? I may just be being overly cautious having not travelled to Antarctica before Thoughts?

Quote
Dear friends,

We are excited to be contacting you with the latest details about our Antarctica 2011 workshop.

We plan to visit the highlights of the Antarctic Peninsula - Deception Island (sailing into an active volcano), Paradise Bay (gliding below slowly calving glaciers), Neko Harbor (walking up to the edge of and looking down at a calving glacier), La Mer Channel (sailing through mountain peaks at sunset), Plenneau Bay (iceberg graveyard) and many more.

Our timing (November 30 - December 10) is early in the season when the ice is great, the weather is good, and the penguins are nesting.

There will be many lectures, demonstrations, and reviews. There will be special guest instructors - soon to be announced. (We've got a killer list.)

The cost of the trip is based on the type of berth you opt for - single, double, or triple occupancy. We are traveling on one of Quark Expeditions' most comfortable boats, the Ocean Nova.

$7,990 (shared triple berth)
$9,990 (shared double berth)
$14,990 (shared single berth)

These rates include all on board expenses; travel, room, board, lectures, etc.
They do not include airfare to and from Ushuaia, Argentina.

After long negotiations, we have been limited to one payment option. All participants will need to make a full non-refundable commitment to the trip.

We're writing to you now to inquire if you are among those willing and able to make this commitment now (within the next four weeks).

The fee is transferable - you can sell or gift a spot to someone else.

Funds will not be collected by Quark Expeditions until we have positive responses from enough people (we'll alert you in the next ten days) and Quark Expeditions is ready to receive funds (several weeks). In addition, we recommend Quark Expeditions' travel insurance which will protect your investment should you need to make a cancellation later.

Availability on this trip is limited and will be handled on a first come first serve basis. The first three voyages sold out in as little as 72 hours.

Even if you are not able to make this commitment at this time, we'd like to hear from you, about whether you are still interested in making this voyage with us and what type of berth you''re interested in.

Please email us at [email protected] to let us know you are interested in joining us or if you have any questions.

To see more images and for future information please visit www.photographantarctica.com

Our very best wishes,

Andy Biggs
John Paul Caponigro
Seth Resnick

feppe

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Re: Antarctica 2011 - November / December - Who is Going?
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2010, 07:59:21 PM »

Is anyone else planning on coming on this trip with Andy Biggs, JPC and Seth?

Was ready to cancel my trip to Central America, but then realized you're not talking about Seth Rogen :(

dreed

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Re: Antarctica 2011 - November / December - Who is Going?
« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2010, 03:23:30 AM »

But there is a clause that Quark reserve the right to alter or amend the trip as they see fit (fair enough based on Antarctic storms etc.) and charge an additional surcharge on top of the original trip fee totally at their discretion. It reads 'Quark reserves the right to alter prices or introduce surcharges accordingly, even if payment has been received in full'.

I have not come across a clause like this before on any of the trips I have been on. Is it pretty standard for trips to Antarctica? With full payment required up front more than a year out from the trip there is a lot of time for 'additional surcharges' to be added in or things to change. If I recollect correctly such a surcharge for fuel was added into MR's trip by Quark at the eleventh hour? I may just be being overly cautious having not travelled to Antarctica before Thoughts?


And when you combine the above with this:

Quote
After long negotiations, we have been limited to one payment option. All participants will need to make a full non-refundable commitment to the trip.

There's plenty of room for people to come away from it either paying twice the cost or losing all their money because they can't come up with whatever extra amount is required.

Yes, that's being extremist because if they did something like that then the bad reputation and will it would generate would kill any future offerings. So it is likely that it won't be that way. But obviously they're written it to be like that for a reason.

But the contract for payment is *very* one sided. If I was going to hand over that much money for a trip and with those conditions, I think I'd be asking a lawyer what they can legally claim (plenty of contracts will ask you give up rights that they're not allowed to or can't enforce) as the time of a lawyer to vet it could be insignificant to your loss.

... or it may be that you've just not included enough of the contract to fully understand what the implications are of the pieces presented and that the full contract is actually a bit more realistic (like exploring what conditions would require the price of the ticket to vary, etc.)
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Josh-H

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Re: Antarctica 2011 - November / December - Who is Going?
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2010, 07:46:07 AM »

Here are the complete T&C's.

Ken Doo

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Re: Antarctica 2011 - November / December - Who is Going?
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2010, 09:08:19 AM »

If I didn't have to worry about my kids in school----I'd jump on going to Antarctica with Andy Biggs (or M.R.'s excursion too)!

 :)

pindman

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Re: Antarctica 2011 - November / December - Who is Going?
« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2010, 10:01:55 AM »

Hey Ken,

C'mon!  I'm signed up.  The last trip on the Ocean Nova was fantastic (once we got through the Drake) and I can't wait to go back!

You can always grow new kid!

Paul ;D

Some images from the last LL trip here:  www.pauldavidimages.com
« Last Edit: October 06, 2010, 10:04:14 AM by pindman »
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feppe

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Re: Antarctica 2011 - November / December - Who is Going?
« Reply #6 on: October 06, 2010, 12:18:56 PM »

And when you combine the above with this:

There's plenty of room for people to come away from it either paying twice the cost or losing all their money because they can't come up with whatever extra amount is required.

Yes, that's being extremist because if they did something like that then the bad reputation and will it would generate would kill any future offerings. So it is likely that it won't be that way. But obviously they're written it to be like that for a reason.

But the contract for payment is *very* one sided. If I was going to hand over that much money for a trip and with those conditions, I think I'd be asking a lawyer what they can legally claim (plenty of contracts will ask you give up rights that they're not allowed to or can't enforce) as the time of a lawyer to vet it could be insignificant to your loss.

... or it may be that you've just not included enough of the contract to fully understand what the implications are of the pieces presented and that the full contract is actually a bit more realistic (like exploring what conditions would require the price of the ticket to vary, etc.)

I did quite a bit of research on workshops for my Central America trip I mentioned, and ran into similar legalese in the contracts. All of them had refund clauses, although you were generally not entitled to any refund if you cancel 30 days or closer to the trip, even if your spot is filled. They also often had ridiculously high "administration fees" in the hundreds of dollars for cancelling several months before the trip. This seems to be pretty standard in the industry, unfortunately.

I understand arranging these trips is expensive, but you don't treat your potential customers like that. Dropping 3k+ on a workshop which has a very one-sided contract is not something I'm willing to do. In the end none of the workshops fitted with my schedule or shooting style (how many birders are there in the world, jeesh), but I would have contacted the arrangers to say that I'm forgoing their workshop due to the cancellation policy. That'll get their attention.

Josh-H

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Re: Antarctica 2011 - November / December - Who is Going?
« Reply #7 on: October 06, 2010, 10:18:10 PM »

I did quite a bit of research on workshops for my Central America trip I mentioned, and ran into similar legalese in the contracts. All of them had refund clauses, although you were generally not entitled to any refund if you cancel 30 days or closer to the trip, even if your spot is filled. They also often had ridiculously high "administration fees" in the hundreds of dollars for cancelling several months before the trip. This seems to be pretty standard in the industry, unfortunately.

I understand arranging these trips is expensive, but you don't treat your potential customers like that. Dropping 3k+ on a workshop which has a very one-sided contract is not something I'm willing to do. In the end none of the workshops fitted with my schedule or shooting style (how many birders are there in the world, jeesh), but I would have contacted the arrangers to say that I'm forgoing their workshop due to the cancellation policy. That'll get their attention.

Yes, the contract is extremely one sided - all of it in Quarks favour. I am not a lawyer, so I cant determine what may or may not be enforceable in a court of law 'should' something go wrong. And reality is.. I am not going to spend any dollars to have my lawyer read the document. Those $ are better spent on travel insurance (which wont cover any surcharges that 'may' be introduced). I want to go on this trip, but admit the T&C's are giving me pause for concern and doubt. Again, simply because its so far between handing over around 10k and actually boarding the vessel. Lots of time for potential problems to arise.

A quick google search shows Quark regularly imposes fuel surcharges (and it looks like it seriously pisses ppl off)
http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g312855-i6870-k1495414-Quark_Expeditions_and_fuel_surcharge-Ushuaia_Province_of_Tierra_del_Fuego_Patagonia.html

As a side question - does anyone know what the sailing time is from Ushuia to Antarctica? Just wondering how many days you loose just sailing to get there (its already not a long trip).
« Last Edit: October 06, 2010, 10:38:02 PM by Josh-H »
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dreed

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Re: Antarctica 2011 - November / December - Who is Going?
« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2010, 12:55:10 AM »

A quick google search shows Quark regularly imposes fuel surcharges (and it looks like it seriously pisses ppl off)
http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g312855-i6870-k1495414-Quark_Expeditions_and_fuel_surcharge-Ushuaia_Province_of_Tierra_del_Fuego_Patagonia.html

That's really quite poor.

It seems like that they're deliberately giving out low quotes to get business (and running on thin margins) or that from the time they've spent in business, they've failed to learn how to safely do long term quoting on fuel prices, etc.
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pindman

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Re: Antarctica 2011 - November / December - Who is Going?
« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2010, 11:13:18 AM »

CONFIRMED:  NO FUEL SURCHARGE ON THIS TRIP!

I can confirm that there will be no fuel surcharge as it is in our contract:
> >
> Fuel and Fuel Surcharge
> Quark has hedged its fuel purchases for the Antarctica 2011-12 season.
> As such, no fuel surcharge will be assessed for this Exclusive Voyage.
>
> > Best,
>
> Seth

Paul
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Re: Antarctica 2011 - November / December - Who is Going?
« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2010, 11:23:31 AM »

The trip is going to be awesome and we have Eric Meola and Arthur Meyerson as instructors in addition to ourselves. There is some additional information posted at
http://www.d-65.com/workshop/antarctica.html and there WILL NOT BE ANY FUEL SURCHARGE.

Best,

Seth
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PeterAit

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Re: Antarctica 2011 - November / December - Who is Going?
« Reply #11 on: October 08, 2010, 11:50:36 AM »

A lesson to be learned - last month we went to Alaska on CruiseWest, a long-established and well-respected company (photos to be posted soon). We paid in full 6 months early. All went well, we had a great time. Then, 3 weeks after we returned, CruiseWest went under - no refunds, no nothing. If people had no insurance, they would be screwed out of many thousands of dollars.

I would be very wary of this Antarctic trip. The company seems to be desperate for money and is covering their asses in every possible way. Their contracts show no respect for the customer.

Then there is also the price of $14,990 for a "shared single berth." Please, I would like to know who I'll be sharing with!
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pindman

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Re: Antarctica 2011 - November / December - Who is Going?
« Reply #12 on: October 08, 2010, 02:06:26 PM »

With all due respect, I went on the last LL tour with many of the same people, the same ship, and the same company.  It was excellent!  And when you look at value, and compare to other "adventure travel" companies, I consider it a true bargain! 

I just don't see the point of this type of negative post from people without first-hand knowledge of this company.

Paul
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Josh-H

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Re: Antarctica 2011 - November / December - Who is Going?
« Reply #13 on: October 08, 2010, 05:49:00 PM »

The trip is going to be awesome and we have Eric Meola and Arthur Meyerson as instructors in addition to ourselves. There is some additional information posted at
http://www.d-65.com/workshop/antarctica.html and there WILL NOT BE ANY FUEL SURCHARGE.

Best,

Seth

Seth,

Thats great news and I have signed up this morning and am really looking forward to this trip.

Can I suggest you have Quark amend the Terms and Conditions to reflect this 'no fuel surcharge' - as they stand now its open slather for Quark to apply whatever they like in the way of charges.

And just to be clear... the intent of the original post in this thread was to draw attention to the terms and conditions as issued by Quark. No dispersions are cast at anyone else in this regard.

Ken Doo

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Re: Antarctica 2011 - November / December - Who is Going?
« Reply #14 on: October 08, 2010, 08:57:52 PM »

With all due respect, I went on the last LL tour with many of the same people, the same ship, and the same company.  It was excellent!  And when you look at value, and compare to other "adventure travel" companies, I consider it a true bargain! 

I just don't see the point of this type of negative post from people without first-hand knowledge of this company.

Paul

Paul,

I'm jealous!  I'd love to go!  I look forward to seeing your images! 

ken

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Re: Antarctica 2011 - November / December - Who is Going?
« Reply #15 on: October 09, 2010, 07:56:11 AM »

I am afraid you miss my point, which was that an excellent company with a sterling reputation and run by great people can still go belly-up with no warning.
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Josh-H

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Re: Antarctica 2011 - November / December - Who is Going?
« Reply #16 on: October 09, 2010, 07:30:56 PM »

I am afraid you miss my point, which was that an excellent company with a sterling reputation and run by great people can still go belly-up with no warning.

And it is a good point - As most travel insurance policies will not cover you if the firm goes under - usually written as an exclusion along the lines of 'excludes any negligence on behalf of the tour operator'.

neile

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Re: Antarctica 2011 - November / December - Who is Going?
« Reply #17 on: November 01, 2010, 09:48:22 PM »

I'm a little late to this thread, but glad to hear you've signed up for the trip Josh. I was on the LL Ocean Nova trip in 2009 (in fact I was Paul's roomie :)). It was awesome, and the trip with Seth, JP, and Andy will be awesome too, I'm just sad I can't make it this time. Apparently they've arranged for all the best Quark crew from prior trips to be on this one. I know, for example, the ship's doctor from our trip will be on this one. He's one hilarious Brit!

It's a 2-day trip to cross the Drake from Ushuaia, so you eat 4 days total.

You definitely want to buy trip insurance for the trip, and I recommend www.tripinsurancestore.com. The website looks a little goofy but they have great service and can definitely help you pick out the right policy to fit your needs.

Here's photos from my trip: http://www.danecreekphotography.com/Antarctica.html.
Here's the book from my trip: http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/1166997
Here's a lengthy PDF outlining what I took, what worked, what didn't: http://forums.thoughtsmedia.com/f303/neil-enns-antarctic-trip-94640.html

If you have follow-up questions feel free to shoot me an e-mail. It's a awesome experience!
Neil

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pindman

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Re: Antarctica 2011 - November / December - Who is Going?
« Reply #18 on: November 01, 2010, 11:26:54 PM »

Neile,

Do you want me to take Minke for you?

Paul (your cabin-mate on the last trip)
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neile

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Re: Antarctica 2011 - November / December - Who is Going?
« Reply #19 on: November 02, 2010, 08:55:15 AM »

Laugh. He's sitting next to me right now, we're in Zion National Park!

Neil
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