Covid Conscious Travel

Covid Conscious Travel

A Health and Safety Guide for Our 2021 Season Guests

Vaccinations are now required of all eligible guests and staff. A complete set of helpful details and information to answer your questions can be found below.

Last updated April 16, 2021
With the constantly changing nature of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and evolving health and safety mandates, we will use this webpage as our primary resource for sharing information with our 2021 summer season guests. Please check back to this page prior your trip to stay well informed.

We’re so excited you’ll be our guest in Alaska this summer! Since our start in 1977, our highest priority is – and has always been – the safety of our guests and staff.

Our team is encouraged by recent and ongoing improvements in vaccine availability and continued social distancing practices. We all have an important part in making your upcoming Alaska vacation as seamless and safe as possible. On our end, Alaska Wildland Adventures (AWA) requires all staff to be vaccinated, and we are now requiring travelers to be vaccinated in advance of travel to Alaska. There are provisions for exemptions (see below for details).

It has been a difficult decision for us to require vaccinations for this summer, and we did not reach it without significant research and consideration. Given our unique style of adventuring to remote locations with sometimes limited facilities, we feel it’s critical our guests and staff are vaccinated for Covid-19. As a company committed to responsible travel, we believe in the duty to not only protect the delicate natural environment supporting our operations but also the people and communities committed to serving you. By having as many guests and staff vaccinated as possible, our Covid-19 protocols will greatly reduce the odds of your trip being interrupted or inconvenienced. Please continue reading for more details about our travel requirements and guidelines for this summer’s trips, and we invite you to watch this message from Kirk Hoessle, President and CEO (Chief Exploration Officer):

Travel in a Covid Environment

The novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, remains a complex and evolving hazard. Although the risk of contracting the illness caused by the virus – known as Covid-19 – while traveling with Alaska Wildland Adventures (AWA) cannot be entirely eliminated, we have identified and implemented mitigation strategies to reduce that risk. Between our new operational strategies and participation in mitigation steps from our travelers, we believe the risk can be managed appropriately throughout the 2021 travel season.

Our team and staff at AWA is committed to minimizing risks presented by the ongoing pandemic, and – together with the participation of our wonderful guests – we can’t wait to safely partake in the grandeur of Alaska by kayak, fishing boat, canoe, raft or foot! The restorative powers of nature await you in Alaska.

Our Commitment to You

Our Stance

AWA and its staff are committed to following well-researched guidelines and recommended protocols established by trusted experts in science and public health, from local, state and federal levels. Additionally, we’ll incorporate our 43+ years of experience in remote lodge management to continually refine and improve our best practices as situations evolve. We will remain active, engaged, and open-minded advocates for our travelers and staff. AWA will take a more conservative approach when we feel it’s warranted.

Communication Plan

Our website houses our most up-to-date Covid-related resources for guests. We ask you to check back routinely and also keep up with the State of Alaska’s travel page, to stay aware of any new travel requirements. We generally take the stance of “no news is good news;” our Reservations Team will only plan to contact you prior your scheduled adventure if there are unexpected, last-minute travel mandates or new notifications impacting your trip.

Your Role for a Safe, Enjoyable Trip

Guest Vaccine Information

To safeguard your personal health along with the investment of time and money toward your vacation, AWA requires qualifying travelers who are eligible for a Covid vaccine to be fully vaccinated by the time they arrive in Alaska. You will be asked to complete a Guest Vaccination Information Form (click here for a downloadable pdf) and return in advance of arrival. We encourage you to also bring an extra copy of your proof of vaccination with you while you travel.

For guests traveling before June 30, 2021:

  • You will need to provide proof of vaccination or a qualifying negative molecular based Covid-19 test within 72 hours of arrival. Locate the nearest testing site to you using the Nationwide Testing Sites Locator

For guests traveling on or after July 1, 2021:

  • You will need to provide proof of full vaccination at the start of your trip. Click here for information on what qualifies as full vaccination.

Special exceptions and exemptions:

  1. For travelers under 18 years of age: At this time, travelers under the age of 18 will not be required to be vaccinated; however, youth under 18 will be required to provide proof of a qualifying negative molecular based Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of arrival.
  2. For travelers requesting medical exemptions: Please complete the Qualifying Medical Exemption/Accommodation Form (click here for a downloadable pdf). A completed and approved medical exemption/accommodation form will be required in addition to proof of a qualifying negative molecular based Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of arrival.
  3. For travelers requesting religious exemptions: Please complete the Qualifying Religious Exemption/Accommodation Form (click here for a downloadable pdf). A completed and approved religious exemption/accommodation form will be required in addition to proof of a qualifying negative molecular based Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of arrival.

Proof of negative molecular based tests are to be shown to AWA staff at the start of your trip. Locate the nearest testing site to you using the Nationwide Testing Sites Locator.

General Guest Actions, Mitigation and Masking

Aside from keeping up with basic personal hygiene and hand-washing/sanitizing, we ask that our 2021 visitors be prepared for social distancing and wearing properly-fitted masks at all times when inside any lodge or building, or while aboard any of our modes of transportation when social distancing cannot be maintained. Masks will be worn while enjoying outdoor guided outings when social distancing cannot be maintained, unless specifically addressed by your guide.

You will not need to wear a mask whenever you are inside your personal guest cabin/room, while in the act of dining in designated areas, or while on guided activities where social distancing is maintained.

If you have a medical condition precluding mask wearing, please contact our team with medical documentation prior your trip. Thank you!

Health Reporting

Guests will be asked to self-monitor and report any Covid-19 symptoms to our staff immediately, either before or during the trip. Additional health screening of guests by trained staff may be implemented at any time, which may involve simple temperature checks and/or a short health questionnaire. 

In addition to getting vaccinated at your soonest convenience, we also ask you to review our Travel in a Covid Environment: Your Role as Our Guest guidelines (click here for a downloadable pdf).

Our Operations

Our inherent style of “small group, big experience” active outdoor nature touring has set us up for success to operate capably in the new Covid environment. We’ll strive to maintain the same overall look and feel at our Alaska wilderness lodges and on our guided trips for this summer, with a few adjustments added for your enhanced safety and peace of mind.

As AWA offers a wide variety of Alaska vacation and travel options, our below guidelines are intended to cover the majority of trips and guest experiences arranged for our 2021 season. We aren’t a “one size fits all” operator, though, and if you can’t find the info you seek here, we encourage you to contact your Reservations Specialist about your specific trip.

Small Groups

Although we have always prided ourselves on our small groups, in 2021 we’ve reconfigured some guest spaces, groups sizes, and other elements of our trip operations to allow ease in social distancing. By design, our operations and various modes of transportation are small-scale and intended to host smaller groups of travelers. We feel the best way to experience wild Alaska is away from the crowds. There will likely be moments during your trip when social distancing between our travelers or with our staff is not possible and a well-fitted mask will be required.  

Transportation

Part of what makes our trips diverse and exciting is the opportunity to tour Alaska through various modes of transport. AWA utilizes our own fleets of high-end touring vehicles, customized fishing boats, custom water vessels and landing craft, and more – in addition to partnering with trusted vendors such as the Alaska Railroad, small aircraft operators and others.

At this time and until further notice by the AWA team, when social distancing cannot be maintained indoors or outdoors while at our Lodges, on our modes of transportation or on our guided activities, masks shall be worn by both guests and staff.

Property Improvements

Our team has spent the past 12 months implementing several improved health and hygiene tools and systems at our properties, including but not limited to: HEPA air filtration; hand sanitation stations; touchless fixtures; expanded outdoor covered guest relaxation and dining areas; and enhanced disinfection and cleaning protocols throughout our hospitality departments.

Activities

Most of our outdoor guided activities are well-suited for social distancing and lots of fresh air. At this time, when social distancing cannot be maintained on either indoor or outdoor activities, masks will be required by both guests and staff.

Gear provided for guest use for water-based or specialty activities will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between use. Please see our Packing List for more details.

Dining

We’ve implemented expanded dining options for this summer’s trips, which may include some or all of the following: expanded indoor and (covered) outdoor dining areas; additional service times and/or assigned dining times/dining groups; and in-cabin dining. Your specific dining options will be clearly outlined for you at the start of your trip or stay with us.

Our “family style” meal service and deluxe create-your-own pack lunch buffets will be replaced by made-to-order options designed by our talented culinary team with your preferences in mind. You’ll select from delicious options communicated with you throughout your trip by your Trip Leader or by Lodge Support Staff. Walk-up snack and beverage stations will keep you energized between meals, and clean, potable water and a variety of beverages will also be available throughout each day.

Rest assured, our commitment to serving you delicious, gourmet-inspired meals with Alaskan flair remains a top priority!

Staff

AWA requires all of our staff to be vaccinated for Covid-19 as soon as they are eligible. Our staff will follow required pre-season testing and quarantine, complemented by daily health screenings and – when available – randomized testing throughout the season. Staff will be required to wear masks while indoors, in vehicles and when social distancing is not feasible; additionally, Personal Protective Equipment such as gloves and other tools will be made available and encouraged whenever feasible.

Additional Planning Resources and Frequently Asked Questions

State of Alaska and U.S. Travel Guidelines

Follow along with Alaska’s up-to-date travel guidelines here. If you’re traveling to Alaska from outside the United States, please find requirements for international travelers here.

I’ve already been vaccinated. Do these guidelines apply to me?

We are continually monitoring guidance from the CDC and others for vaccinated individuals. At this time, our expectation is that all guests and staff – regardless of vaccination status – follow our mitigation protocols as outlined above, until further notice.

What if there is a positive Covid-19 case for me or my travel party? What happens next?

If a guest experiences any symptoms of Covid-19 during a trip or visit at one of our Lodges, the guest must notify our staff immediately. Affected guests will be required to isolate from other visitors and staff in the comfort of their own guest cabin, with meals delivered until transportation to the nearest medical facility for testing becomes available.

Transportation to the nearest medical facility will be arranged and provided for affected guest(s) by AWA. In the event of a positive test, the involved guest(s) agrees to voluntarily discontinue the remainder of the tour. While we will offer whatever reasonable assistance we can, it will be the sole responsibility of the traveler(s) involved to make their own onward travel arrangements, at their own cost. We highly recommend guests purchase their own travel protection/travel insurance.

In the event of a negative test and with improved/cleared symptoms, a traveler may rejoin their trip at the next available opportunity; additional arrangements and costs may be involved and are at the responsibility of the traveler.

What happens if someone in my travel party – including me – tests positive before our scheduled trip?

In this rare event, please contact our Reservations Team with verified documentation of a positive test for you or a member of your travel group as soon as possible prior your trip. Depending on the specific AWA trip or tour on which you’re reserved, our team will do all we can to help you reschedule your selected trip for later in the 2021 summer season or anytime during our 2022 season, at your choice and based on availability.

What if I want to reschedule or cancel my trip?

If you will be more comfortable traveling at a later time, you are welcome to reschedule your existing reservation to the 2022 season with no penalty up until 60 days prior your scheduled arrival in 2021. Voluntary requests to reschedule within 60 days of your scheduled 2021 trip will be subject to our standard cancellation terms, found here. If you wish to cancel your scheduled 2021 trip outright for any reason, our standard cancellation terms apply. 

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