“RING OF FIRE EXPEDITIONS” presents our 43rd solar eclipse tour:
TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN OVER SPITZBERGEN
March 18 – 23, 2015
What we hope to see in Spitzbergen. Photo by B. Braswell
The map of the eclipse path above shows the location of Spitzbergen (also known as Svalbard) at the Arctic Circle. Courtesy X. Jubier
Our 43rd solar eclipse expedition occurs at the Arctic Circle. The location of the eclipse was chosen based on weather prospects and convenience of access. While somewhat remote, Spitzbergen is in prime position for eclipse viewing! Those of you who have been on our Alaska aurora tours in winter will have experienced a bit of the type of temperatures that can be expected in Spitzbergen. The month of March is characterized by essentially constant daily high temperatures, with daily highs around 14°F throughout the month, exceeding 33°F or dropping below -6°F only one day in ten.
The tour will be coordinated and led by Paul D. Maley of the NASA Johnson Space Center Astronomical Society. It will originate in Longyearbyen, Spitzbergen, Norway though we have air space available from Oslo to Longyearbyen and back available at extra cost which must be booked along with this tour. International airfare may be booked separately by you or via Future Travel. A fixed eclipse observation site will be pre-determined and there will also be a mobile capability. S We reserve the right to modify the site in real time in order to attempt to maximize the chance of successful eclipse observation due to local weather changes. Due to the Arctic terrain and cold temperatures expected there will be very limited ranging ability on the day of the eclipse.
BASIC TOUR ITINERARY
as of September 1, 2014
(Some modifications may occur due to routing and schedule changes in the region prior to the time of the tour. Hotels are those currently known as of May 2013 and are typical of the region. Prices are those in effect as of the date above and may change due to currency fluctuations, fuel surcharges for ground transport caused by escalating oil prices or increases mandated by ground operators. RING OF FIRE EXPEDITIONS does its best to keep prices in line as far in advance as possible. Trip cancellation insurance is highly recommended just in case you or a companion becomes ill or is forced by circumstance to miss the tour.
Below, the abbreviations B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner.
March 17, 2015 (Tuesday) Arrive Oslo, Norway
We recommend you arrive one day early in order to assure that you will make the flight to Longyearbyen. Hotels (tonite and on March 23) are available for purchase.
March 18, 2015 (Wednesday) Flight from Oslo to Longyearbyen
Transfer from your hotel to the airport and on to Longyearbyen. Depart on Norwegian Air DY396 leaving Oslo at 1645, arriving Longyearbyen at 1940 (times subject to change). Note this flight and the return flight MUST be booked through Future Travel who has blocked seats for the entire group on this routing at extra cost. The official tour starts from this point and ends at Longyearbyen airport on March 23. Group transfer by motorcoach to your hotel. Dinner and welcome briefing tonite.
Our hotel in Spitzbergen: Mary-Ann’s Polarrigg
Set in the Skjæringa area of Longyearbyen, this property offers spa facilities and rooms with shared or private bathroom facilities. Central Longyearbyen is a 4-minute walk away. The rooms at Mary-Ann’s Polarrigg will be very simple with basic bed configuration, no frig, and a small desk. We are using this property since it has been recommended on Trip Advisor and also because it was the only hotel we could get due to incredible over demand.
Arctic food and Thai-inspired dishes are served at Vinterhagen Restaurant. Refreshing drinks can be enjoyed every day in the fully-licenced Peisen Bar. Breakfast is served each morning at the Shang Po-lar dining room.
Aurora Spa offers various optional cost facial and massage treatments. Relaxation options include an outdoor hot tub and sauna. Polarrigg’s staff can arrange snowmobile safaris with the possibility to see polar bears but during the eclipse excessive demand for all services may prevent this.
Other popular activities include dog sledding, skiing and ice cave trips. The bus stop for Longyarbyen Airport is a 4-minute walk away.
Our rooms are located in the “mining rig”; it is the main accommodation building and it is also where you will find the reception. In addition, they have a large, comfortable TV lounge and access to the kitchen. The mining rig offers 17 single rooms and 14 double rooms with bunk beds and single beds. The rooms are of a basic standard with shared showers and toilets. Wireless internet is available at cost from this building only.
17 single rooms all of a basic standard. A single bed (comfortable mattresses), writing table, a chair, reading lamp and somewhere to hang your clothes. Shared showers and toilets are just along the corridor. These rooms were under renovation in February 2014.
The mining rig has seven double rooms with bunk beds and seven with fold-up beds. Each room has a chair, writing desk and somewhere to hang your clothes. Shared showers and toilets are just along the corridor.
Sunset at 6.05pm
March 19, 2015 (Thursday) Longyearbyen
Sunrise at 6.02am
Enjoy breakfast (700am – 1000am Monday-Saturday) at the hotel. Following this your tour includes a visit to the award-winning Svalbard Museum. It is an easy walk from the hotel. Svalbard Museum opened in 1979, and was until December 2005 located in the oldest part of Longyearbyen. Since April 2006 you will find the museum in the Svalbard Science Center, residing together with The University Centre in Svalbard, The Norwegian Polar Institute and The Governor of Svalbard’s environmental information.
Svalbard Museum’s displays imparts knowledge and understanding of the relations between nature, culture, landscape, human activity, technology and the environment in the Arctic. Another goal is to engage in research to throw light on ways of life and standards of living through 400 years of human activity in Svalbard. Return to the hotel for lunch; this afternoon we will have a briefing and simulation in preparation of the solar eclipse.
One of the exhibit areas in the Svalbard Museum
If you have an interest in art you may also want to see Gallery Svalbard–a result of strong local desire for a place to document Svalbard’s place in history and in art. In addition to the three permanent collections– Svalbard collection, Recherche and Kare Tveter collection– are also displayed many of the artists who focus on Svalbard as the theme of their art today. Transport by optional taxi.
Since opening, the gallery has also served as a venue for concerts, theater and other cultural events. It presents works of art inspired by nature, light, colors, and contrasts of Svalbard. Svalbard Art Gallery presents artwork inspired by the nature, the light, the colors, and the contrasts of this isolated island region.
We plan to hold an eclipse briefing some time during this day. Tonite enjoy dinner at the hotel.
Aurora viewing: late March is outside the main season but it is still possible to view them. We will take a walking tour to an observing spot for this should weather cooperate.
Sunset at 6.12pm
March 20, 2015 (Friday) ECLIPSE DAY
Sunrise at 5.54am
[The eclipse day plan below is very preliminary and will be revised completely after more detailed consultation with our ground operator. Consider it only as information.]
Have breakfast at the hotel. The latest weather information will be provided. Details for this day will be provided later on. But the group will be mobile. All tour participants will either need to be able to drive snowmobiles (instruction provided) or be a passenger.
One photo can grab it all: inner corona, prominences, chromosphere, and the Diamond Ring at 2nd contact.
Snowmobile departure will be provided to an area not far from Longyearbyen to maximize chances to see the eclipse. We are waiting on details but this will be a self drive snow mobile excursion to a TBD location based on the weather data where we will attempt to get the best possible view of the eclipse. There is a physical limit on how far we can go and the group will be limited on travel based on the slowest vehicle and weather conditions. Everyone will have to be flexible.
Typical snow mobile
Information for the snow mobile excursion:
All participants are required to be in satisfactory physical and psychological health, as well as having the ability to adopt themselves to the circumstances, cooperate, be disciplined regarding driving, not be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, to bring as little personal equipment as possible and only what is strictly necessary, having in advance informed us about recent medical operations, illnesses, allergies, poor blood circulation, accidents etc. We find it important that our participants regard riding the snowmobile as a mean of transport, with consideration to the nature, animals and pollution. There will be many stops on the way, and we will adjust the speed to weather and driving conditions as well as to the participants’ abilities and capacities. The guide will not carry passengers.
Included in the price: experienced guide, emergency/safety equipment, rescue insurance, snacks and coffee. Minimum number of participants is 4.
For all trips with snowmobile: driver’s license for car or motorcycle is required for driving a snowmobile, and you are to bring it on the trip. You should bring warm woolen underwear, a pair of warm trousers and a good warm woolen sweater to wear under the snowmobile suit. Preferably bring an extra sweater, warm hat and gloves. Due to security the route might be changed according to the present weather and snow conditions. This will not make any difference to the original price of the trip. The participants are obliged to follow the directions given by the guide at any time during the trip.
Included in the price: briefing on driving, snowmobile, fuel, warm scooter dress, scooter boots, gloves, head wear, balaclava, snow goggles.
At groups of 3-10 participants there must, due to security be a minimum number of snowmobiles: with 4-5 participants there must be minimum 3 snowmobiles, 6-7 participants minimum 4 snowmobiles, 8/10 participants minimum 6 snowmobiles etc.
Partial phases of the eclipse begin at 10:11am local time (times are approximate and will be refined later); central eclipse is 2m 27s long and occurs at 11.12pm. Note that in all cases the Sun will be a mere 11 degrees above the horizon so it will be our goal to find the best possible view point (for the mobile group). A site has been pre-selected with a good view of the Sun provided the sky is clear. During totality it is conceivable that if there is auroral activity, this “might” be observed during totality. The partial phases end and the Sun returns to normal at 1:12pm. We will focus on seeing totality so if you are interested in the entire eclipse, this excursion will likely not be suitable unless the weather is completely favorable.
Anyone not interested in going on the snowmobile excursion may observe from near the hotel (again, provided the weather is favorable).
Sunset at 6.19pm
March 21, 2015 (Saturday) Longyearbyen
Sunrise at 5.47am
After breakfast at the hotel, enjoy a tour of the Spitzbergen Airship Museum (open today from 10am-3pm). It is an easy walk from the hotel.
The airship museum exhibition tells the story of three airships, departing from Svalbard, and their flights towards the North Pole:
- Wellman with the AMERICA in 1906, 1907 & 1909
- The NORGE in 1926 (Man first time at the North Pole)
- The ITALIA in 1928 and the following search and rescue expeditions
Lunch at the hotel. Afternoon enjoy a half day dog sled tour.
What you see from the sled
Dog sledding has long been a tradition on Svalbard. The stillness, the cooperation between man and animals and the incredible landscape will leave permanent impressions. On arrival to the dog yard you will be given an introduction to the art of mushing before heading out into the wilderness. The squeaking of the sleds and the patter of paws in the snow are the only sounds you hear as you travel over snow-covered plains. Each sled carries two participants, and you swap between driving and enjoying the views as a passenger. Duration approximately 4 hours
Dinner tonite at the hotel.
Sunset at 6.27pm
March 22, 2015 (Sunday) Free day and ECLIPSE 5K
Sunrise at 5.39am
Because of a change in the Norwegian Air schedule, we have added today as a free day. Feel free to explore the parts of Longyearbyen that you have not seen or consider to schedule an optional tour.
ECLIPSE 5K fun run will occur today. Times to be posted and route will be defined on site.
Sunset at 6.34pm
March 23, 2015 (Monday) Departure from Longyearbyen
Sunrise at 5.31am
Our last breakfast is at the hotel. Pack up and check out for the return flight to Oslo and back home. Flight is Norwegian Air DY397 departing 1330 arriving Oslo at 1630. This flight is extra cost and MUST be booked through Future Travel who has blocked all seats for our group on this routing. If you have booked our hotel, we will transfer to the airport shuttle (extra cost) for overnight and departure the following day.
As of 5/27/2013 we can only estimate the LAND ONLY tour price. At this time we estimate a minimum per person cost for 2 persons occupying a shared hotel room at US$3465. credit card price (cash price $3299.) LAND only beginning in and ending in Longyearbyen, Spitzbergen, Norway, double occupancy. USD$3885. credit card price (cash price $3699.) for single room occupancy (if available).
NOTE THE PRICE ABOVE CONTAINS NO AIR SEGMENTS. SORRY, NO CHILDREN ON THIS TOUR!
BASIC TOUR PRICE INCLUDES:
- 4 nights accommodation as indicated in itinerary with shared bathroom facilities
- where double accommodations are confirmed, bed configuration is bunk beds only
- all tour features as listed in the itinerary
- all touring by private chartered coach with experienced driver / guide
- most all meals as listed in the itinerary
- airport transfers in Longyearbyen if you are arriving and returning with the group
- entrance fees at attractions listed in the itinerary unless otherwise noted
- bus transfers to/from solar eclipse site or via snowmobile.
- solar eclipse briefing
- beverages only where specified
- eclipse viewing glasses
BASIC TOUR PRICE DOES NOT INCLUDE:
- meals not stated, beverages
- room use outside of normal check-in/check-out times
- no airfare of any kind (separate air will be announced when scheduled about 11 months prior to trip departure; you should allow for a minimum economy air of about $1500. from USA to Longyearbyen.
- porterage: you must be in a position to carry your own bags
- cost of passports and any visa, if required
- optional cost tours
- departure tax from Norway (if required)
- tips and gratuities
- personal expenses and anything else not included in the ‘tour includes’ features list
- trip cancellation/interruption insurance
PAYMENT SCHEDULE (per person)
At signup…………………………………………………………USD$630. DEPOSIT credit card price (cash price USD$600).
FEBRUARY 15, 2014……………………………………………..BALANCE DUE.
CANCELLATION FEES (per person)
BEFORE OCTOBER 1, 2013…………………………………USD$600. EXCEPT IF YOU FIND A REPLACEMENT FOR YOURSELF then $250. penalty plus service fees if any incurred up to that point.
OCTOBER 1, 2013 and BEFORE FEBRUARY 15, 2014…….USD$600.
AFTER FEBRUARY 15, 2014……………………………………100% OF THE TOTAL TOUR COST
Travel Leaders/Future Travel recommends that each client purchase adequate trip cancellation insurance, medical, baggage, accident and other personal effects insurance. Trip cancellation insurance must be purchased at time of initial deposit—unless already included in the tour package. Clients should be aware that we cannot guarantee the weather for this astronomical event or any other. Contact Travel Leaders/Future Travel for details.
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Tour Terms & Conditions
Please read the following tour terms and conditions prior to reserving your trip:
RESERVATIONS AND PAYMENTS
Your reservation may be confirmed ONLY with SIGNED application form AND DEPOSIT. Tour space is limited and group flight reservations are accepted subject to availability at the time both RESERVATION FORM and PAYMENT(s) are received by FUTURE TRAVEL. For information call: (281) 480-1988 or (800) 929-9004. In order for us to keep your tour costs down we cannot return phone calls outside of the Houston area. If you cannot get through, please call back.
Payment schedule is as outlined on the tour registration form.
CANCELLATION AND REFUND
The operators of hotels, airlines, and our ground logistics suppliers have strict policies which we have to follow. Cancellations must be received in writing by Future Travel. Because our tours are mostly to remote areas and are of an unusual nature, neither hotels, airlines, or ground suppliers will refund money to us for unused or canceled space. Our prices are based on group minimums and any cancellation could otherwise cause a rate increase for others.
Cancellation penalties are as outlined on the tour registration form.
Land and air prices are subject to change without notice due to unforeseen increases in the rates for hotel and meals, government taxes, currency fluctuations, and ground services. Prices are based on two persons sharing one room. There is additional cost for a single room (single supplement) or an extra person in the room if either of these features are available.
There will be a change fee of $75.00 per person charged for any change in travel arrangements made after ticketing and at least 30 days prior to departure. No changes will be allowed within 14 days of the departure date. These fees are subject to change.
If you are traveling by yourself but wish to share a room with someone else, we will attempt to match men with male roommates and women with female roommates, along with smoking/non-smoking preferences. If we cannot find a roommate for whatever reason we will advise you and have to charge you the single supplement fee. You may wish to look for a roommate from your local astronomical society.
ACCOMMODATIONS, MEALS AND SIGHTSEEING
Accommodations, meals and sightseeing will be provided as specified in the itinerary. Substitutions, if any, shall be of similar quality as outlined in the itinerary. Sightseeing will be provided by our tour host and is subject to change due to weather conditions, accessibility, border crossing limitations, and hours of operation. Sightseeing will be by motorcoach or best available transportation.
In order to provide maximum convenience for all tour participants, we normally accept children if they are the age of 12 and older, although some tours are for adults only and are specified as such. Children must be accompanied and supervised by parents or guardians and are expected to display proper decorum while the group is together, especially at the observation site and on tour buses.
Tour participants must attest that the are in good general health and capable of performing normal activities on this trip. They must further attest that: they are capable of caring for themselves during the expedition and will not impede the progress of the trip or enjoyment of other tour members; they must understand that this expedition may take them far from the nearest viable medical facility and that all expedition members must be self-sufficient. With that understanding they must certify that they have not been recently treated for, nor are aware of, any physical, mental or other condition or disability that would create a hazard to themselves or other members of the trip.
Tour prices are quoted based on coach (economy) fares and are subject to change without notice. If air fares are increased, any such increase will be collected from tour members. We will attempt to use the lowest available airfare at time of ticketing.
SMOKING IS PROHIBITED ON OUR TOUR BUSES, OBSERVATION SITE AND IN BRIEFING/LECTURE ROOMS.
United States citizens are required to have a valid PASSPORT (valid at least 6 months beyond the end of the tour). Citizens of other countries must make their nationalities known immediately to Future Travel and are responsible for obtaining proper documentation to enter the U.S. and any other countries where tour options are involved.
It is recommended that tour participants do not bring expensive jewelry or like possessions with them. Telescopes and observation equipment should be securely packed; insurance on expensive items is highly recommended. Future Travel or any of its representatives or contractors are not liable for loss/damage of any personal effects.
Consult the TSA web site for restrictions on what is currently allowed to be carried onto aircraft. Also, due to constantly changing airline limitations, we advise all participants to verify baggage allowances directly with the airlines. The following guidelines may vary from trip to trip. Consult the individual tour inclusion to be sure these are in force. In general, from the USA you are allowed to check two standard sized suitcases per person, each weighing not more than 70 lbs and combined length, width, height of each adding up to less than 106 inches. But for flights in most other countries, only one checked bag weighing up to 44 lbs is permitted. Carry-on luggage must fit in the overhead compartment or under the seat. Excess baggage can be checked at the tour participant’s own expense. Lost or damaged luggage while in transit is the sole responsibility of the carrier or traveler and subject to international and/or domestic governing regulations. All baggage of tour participant(s) is accepted on tour at participant(s) own risk. IF YOU ARE BRINGING A TELESCOPE OR ANY UNUSUAL EQUIPMENT, YOU MUST PROVIDE A LIST OF SUCH ITEMS TO FUTURE TRAVEL SO THAT WE CAN DETERMINE THEY ARE ALLOWABLE. WE WILL PROVIDE INSTRUCTIONS RELATED TO CUSTOMS FORMALITIES.
When transfers are included in the tour package between hotels and airports, transportation of participants and their baggage is provided only when participants travel with the rest of the group . If your 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 tour participants and porterage is included AFTER passing through customs area upon arrival. Porterage is included for two (2) pieces of baggage only at hotels and airport unless otherwise stated in the individual itinerary inclusions. In some situations hotel porterage may not be possible. Be sure to consult the tour information to be sure.
TIPS AND TAXES
Tours include taxes for hotel accommodations and airfare. Departure taxes within foreign countries are NOT included since they vary widely. Each airport departure may require a separate departure tax which will have to be collected from each tour participant prior to boarding. Tips are NOT included for guides, tour personnel or drivers who render special services or who have done an outstanding job. This is left to each person’s discretion.
CHANGES IN THE TOUR
Sometimes the airline or ground operator will be forced to change a portion of the tour dependent on equipment, weather or other factors beyond control of Future Travel. Alterations in the tour may also be necessary for other reasons. If this does occur, any additional expenses will have to be paid by tour participants and Future Travel will advise if/as soon as such expenses are anticipated.
Future Travel or its representatives cannot guarantee the observation of the advertised astronomical event(s). We make every effort to examine weather prospects prior to selecting the observation site including satellite photo studies.
WHAT IS NOT INCLUDED IN OUR TOUR
Cost of passports or visas, airport departure taxes outside the USA, excess baggage, meals and beverages not specified in the itinerary, baggage handling in the USA, tips, room service, liquor, phone calls, voluntary changes in flight(s), laundry, insurance costs, and items or services of a personal nature not specified in the tour itinerary.
CONSUMER DISCLOSURE NOTICE / DISCLAIMER
RESPONSIBILITY AND LIABILITY
Future Travel, Inc. and the Johnson Space Center Astronomical Society act only in the capacity of agent for the suppliers of the travel services named in the Itinerary or otherwise providing services or goods in connection with the Itinerary (the Suppliers), such as airlines, hotels and other lodging providers, cruise lines, camp operators, sight seeing trip operators, bus lines, car rental companies, driving services, restaurants, and providers of entertainment. We assume no responsibility for any personal injury, property damage, or other loss, accident, delay, inconvenience, or irregularity which may be occasioned either by reason (1) any act or omission of any of the Suppliers (2) any matter beyond our exclusive control including but not limited to a delay or cancellation of a flight that causes you to miss any portion of the Itinerary. We have no special knowledge regarding the financial condition of the Suppliers, unsafe conditions, health hazards, weather hazards, or climate extremes at locations to which you may travel.
For information concerning possible dangers at destinations, we recommend contacting the Travel Warnings Section of the U.S. State Department at (202) 647-5225 or www.travel.state.gov, and click on Travel Warnings.
For medical information, we recommend contacting the Centers for Disease Control at (877) FYI-TRIP or www.cdc.gov/travel. You assume full and complete responsibility for checking and verifying all passport and visa requirements of the destinations and for complying with all laws of the country in the Itinerary.
You are also responsible for respecting the authority and following the directions of the guide during the trip. We may exclude you from participating in all or any part of the trip if, in our sole discretion, your condition or behavior renders you unfit for the trip or unfit for continuation once the trip has begun. Unfitness may include, without limitation, any behavior that, regardless of its cause, is inappropriate or offensive or interferes with the delivery of our services, or may constitute a hazard or embarrassment. In such case, our liability shall be strictly limited to a refund of the recoverable cost of any unused portion of the trip. Should you decide not to participate in certain parts of the trip, no refunds will be made for those unused parts of the trip. You agree to indemnify and hold us harmless from and against any costs, damages, losses, or liabilities arising out of your actions or omissions.
The right is reserved to withdraw any tour announced by Future Travel or make substitutions and/or alterations as may be found desirable for the convenience of the parties and the proper carrying out of the tour. The tour price is per person and quoted in U.S. dollars. All rates are subject to change without prior notice due to unforeseen economic circumstances (including but not limited to airfare increases) or currency fluctuations. Any increase in cost as a result of change in either will be borne by tour participant.
Any dispute related to the trip shall be governed by Texas law without regard to conflict of laws principles. The federal or state courts in Harris County, Texas shall be the exclusive forum for any lawsuit related to the trip, and you consent to the personal jurisdiction by said courts. You agree to present any claims against us within 30 days after the trip ends and to file within one year of the incident, and you acknowledge that this expressly limits the applicable statute of limitations to one year. You agree to grant us (and third parties with whom we may engage in joint marketing) a worldwide, royalty-free, fully paid up license to use your photographic, video, or digital likeness solely for our promotional and/or commercial purposes. Facsimile transmission of any signed document shall be deemed delivery of an original. At our request, you shall promptly provide an original document as well. If there are any conflicts between these terms and conditions, the Reservation Form, and the Itinerary, these terms and conditions shall apply.