Current Voyage Update

Aurora Expeditions voyage to Antarctica & South Georgia,
The Greg Mortimer, ASG80G, departure 15th March 2020


Update as at 7th April 2020, 3.30pm AEST

“We have been working on charters and flights for all onboard with the aim of disembarking our passengers as soon as possible. While our preferred plan had been to disembark all passengers simultaneously, the nature of the situation and the difficultly in securing flights has meant it is likely that the Australian and New Zealand passengers will leave the vessel before our European (UK included) and North American passengers.”

Australian and New Zealand passengers

“With DFAT’s assistance we have been able to secure a company that will take all the Australian passengers back to Australia. We have also asked DFAT to accept the NZ passengers into Australia and allow the NZ passengers to complete their quarantine in Australia before returning home. We expect the flight will leave within 2-3 days and are doing everything possible to expedite disembarkation.”

“The plane going to Australia is set up with medical facilities for this type of situation and will be managed in alignment with current COVID-19 protocol to ensure the health and safety of all onboard.”

“In regard to where the plane will land in Australia, Border Force has requested the plane fly to Melbourne and for passengers to undergo their mandatory 14-day quarantine in a facility in Melbourne.”

European and American passengers

“We have been advised that European and American passengers that have tested positive to Covid-19, unfortunately must wait until they have a negative test result after which we will be able to organise their departure via Sao Paulo and then to their final destination.  We will be retesting all passengers every 2 or 3 days from last test based on the availability of the Uruguayan lab to be able to process the test results.  Accordingly, we will be organising a new swab for all positive passengers in the coming 2 days.  We expect as passengers test negative we will then be able to organise their departure. We have notified our passengers’ respective embassies.  Ideally, we hope that these passengers will be allowed to finish their quarantine onshore once the Australians and New Zealanders are off the vessel.”

Flight Costs to Australia

“The plane that we have been able to charter to Australia, is an Airbus A340 that has been refitted to act as a medical plane.  The operator is used to dealing with medical situations and although we are still in the planning stage, it is likely we will separate the positive and negative passengers on the flight home into different cabin areas.”

“The cost of the flight back to Australia is material and reflects the global aviation situation as well as the need to bring all passengers back to Australia.  It also reflects flying the plane from Portugal to Uruguay, onto Australia and then back to Europe as well as an extensive clean following the flight and the need for two flight crews.  The final cost per passenger is undetermined at this stage. What we do know is that the hard cost equates to around AU$15,000 per passenger. We have asked the Australian government for support with this cost as we know that it is not viable for many people and we are working on a solution. We have shared this information with our passengers to be 100% transparent and are doing everything we can to ensure this full amount is not passed on to each individual.”

Flights costs to EU/US

“At this stage, we don’t have an approximate cost for these but as soon as we gain further clearance for those returning to those regions, we will share an update with passengers.”

Medical update

“Today we can confirm all the results of the PCR COVID-19 tests carried out onboard and further updates. There are currently no fevers onboard and all are asymptomatic.

  • Of the 217 people tested onboard
    • 128 passengers/staff/crew tested positive for Covid-19
    • 89 passengers staff/crew have tested negative for Covid-19
  • There are presently no cases of fever onboard
  • All 6 people ashore are stable”

“We continue to have the support of the Uruguayan health professionals and have another English-speaking Ship’s Doctor joining the ship on 7th April local time.”

In Summary:

  • Australian passengers likely to fly home Thursday or Friday
  • We are seeking permission for New Zealanders to be able to travel as well (subject to agreement from the Australian government)
  • US/ European passengers that are negative will hopefully be able to depart later in the week, subject to a second test and permission from the Uruguayan government.
  • US/ European passengers that are positive will have to wait until they test negative before they will be able to fly home

“As always, we would like to acknowledge the Uruguayan public health and infectious diseases team for their ongoing time and support.

“We will be providing further travel and health information to all passengers as we have it becomes available.”

For passenger and friends & family enquiries: [email protected]

For media enquiries: [email protected]