April 1, 2020

It isn't every day that a travel company tells you to stay home, but that's what we all need to do for now.  Unless, of course, you are an essential worker in healthcare or another industry, and if you are reading this we salute you!  We are all in this together and collective action will make the difference. 

A few updates on our operations:

Flights
If you have flights booked for an upcoming tour, watch your inbox in case the airline reschedules your flight.  If you are being asked to confirm or cancel a flight for a tour that we have not made a decision on (i.e. tours mid-May or later), just stand by, you can confirm or cancel once we know more about the status of your tour.  

Tour cancellations
We are watching the travel restrictions and recommendations around social distancing very closely.  Our Haida Gwaii Sailing tour is the only tour that has been cancelled since our last update.  We will be looking at our tours for late May around mid-April.  Rest assured we have no intention of running a tour if it is not safe or against government recommendations.  E.g. we are not going to put you in van with other people when you are supposed to stay 2 m (6 feet) from other people!   

Tour refunds mailed
Refunds for our land-based tours that have been cancelled have been mailed.  There are many operators out there that are only offering credits for future travel when they have cancelled a tour.  Each business's situation is unique, but we feel very good about our choice, and the choice of several other operators that we work with, to offer refunds when we have cancelled their tour.  

Thank you
We feel grateful every day for the support shown by our customers.  It is great to see so many of them rebooking for next year and they have been unwavering in their patience and understanding.  So, thank you!  I must also say a huge thanks to our amazing staff as we work through all of this!  They have been very effective, dedicated and compassionate as they work away, in many cases undoing all the work they had done!  

Best wishes, stay well and stay home,
Cam Gillies

 

March 23, 2020

The global situation continues to evolve and we are continuing to watch things very closely.  For our tour operations to return to normal we will need to start seeing things improving (fewer travel restrictions, businesses reopening, etc.).  Unfortunately, all the changes so far are going in the opposite direct.  I'm hopeful though that we may have reached peak pessimism.  Maybe we'll start to see a distant light at the end of the tunnel soon.

Weathering the storm
It is quite the storm and I expect some operators will not fare well in these challenging times.  I feel fortunate that Eagle-Eye Tours enters this rough patch with money saved for a rainy day (seems the rainy day is here!), no debt, all of our customer deposits held in trust, and very low overhead.  We will just ride it out and look forward to running tours again as soon as that is safe.  We have no interest in putting any of our clients or guides at risk!

England Birds & Gardens tour cancelled
This happened on March 17, but I forgot to mention this in my last update.  That was an easy, but unfortunate decision.

Upcoming tours
We have several tours in late May and June, mostly to Canada, including four trips to Nunavut (northern Canada).  Nunavut has just announced that non-residents are not allowed to fly to the territory and residents have to self-isolate for 14 days before boarding the flight north.  The Canada-USA border is also closed to non-essential travel.  I'm being honest with people booked on these tours and telling them that I am not optimistic about these May and June tours running.  We'll give them a little more time though.  I feel very bad for what this will mean for the livelihoods of our friends in Nunavut that we work with on these amazing tours.  However, we fully support these moves as the stakes are very high for people in Nunavut with many multi-generational households and the challenges of accessing health services from remote communities accessible only by air. 

Refunds
We are going to be sending out refunds for our cancelled land tours starting this week.  We will work through our tours in chronological order, starting with March tours.  Clients   Refunds for cancelled cruises on the Ocean Endeavour will be mailed to us on April 1 and we will mail them out as soon as we receive them (approximately 1 week later).    

And finally, yes, you need to stay home.  We are all working from home.  And, yes, I know your knuckles are bleeding, but you need to keep washing your hands :).  There are a few people out there that don't seem to think this is a big deal or that assume the advice to stay home is for somebody else.  This IS a big deal and everyone needs to follow the advice to maintain your social distance and stay home, please.

Take care everyone,
Cam Gillies

 

 

March 18, 2020

Apologies for the delay in posting.  It's a busy time...

The global situation and its impact on our operations continue to evolve.  Here are the latest changes.

6 week moving window to assess our upcoming tours
We're now looking ahead ~6 weeks to make a decision on the status of our upcoming tours.  In these very uncertain times we are trying hard to balance the need for some certainty for our clients against the risk of cancelling a tour too early when it could have run when the situation improves.

Colombia, Texas Spring Migration and Point Pelee tours cancelled
The growing list of travel restrictions, requirements for self-isolation on arrival and closure of restaurants and other facilities makes it unrealistic for us to operate these tours.  Most clients are opting to rebook for next year at guaranteed pricing or take a credit, but we are sending refunds to those that are standing by to see how the global situation develops.

All 2020 Ocean Endeavour cruises cancelled
Due to the Transport Canada closure of the Arctic communities to cruise visits to protect fragile remote health infrastructure, it has become impossible to operate the expedition cruising season onboard the Ocean Endeavour.  Clients have been offered refunds or the chance to rebook for next year.  We fully support the Transport Canada decision and want to keep the health of our friends in the Arctic as a top priority.

Thanks everyone for your patience during this time.

Take care,
Cam Gillies

 

March 13, 2020

Deciding whether to cancel a tour
When evaluating whether we cancel a tour, we are looking at 3 primary criteria. First, are there travel restrictions or major inconveniences to travel in place?  Second, can we still operate the tour?  I.e. are the restaurants, key sites, National Parks, etc. still open?  Finally, what are the health risks?  How many cases are there per capita?  How likely are our clients to come down with this disease?

We will be assessing and reassessing this for our upcoming tours, particulary for our tours in April.  It is too early to predict whether we will have to cancel any of our tours in May.

Tanzania tour cancelled 
This tour was set to depart March 28.  While Tanzania tour is not reporting any cases of COVID-19, US citizens arriving home on a flight from Europe will be asked to quarantine for 14 days.  We expect Canada will follow these restrictions and the travel restrictions will increase.  Given the inconvenience this poses we have unfortunately decided to cancel the tour.

Transport Canada cancels Arctic cruise season
In a statement today, Transport Canada has deferred the cruise season in the Arctic for the year.  Here is the text,
"Given the limited public health capacity in Canada’s Northern communities, the cruise ship season for vessels with Canadian Arctic stops will be deferred for the entire season this year. This would apply to cruise ships of all sizes.
We will know more about how this affects our clients booked on cruises in the Arctic early next week.

Stay well,
Cam Gillies
Eagle-Eye Tours

 

 

March 12, 2020

We wish to provide an update on our operations amid a very dynamic situation with Coronavirus (COVID-19).  We understand that many of you have concerns about our upcoming tours.  Please check back on this page for updates.

We have been operating for 25 years and the friendships we have developed over these years with our clients, guides, and everyone involved are a big part of why we love what we do.  The health and safety of all of these people is unquestionably our top priority.

In this very uncertain time, we are monitoring the development of the situation very closely with an eye to forecasting impacts on our operations ahead of when they occur.  The situation everywhere is changing daily and we will aim to keep you informed as frequently as possible. 

As you might expect, this is an unprecedented upheaval in the travel industry.  We are talking to many of you and are working to be as flexible as possible so that you can count on enjoying the safe and enjoyable tour you dreamed of. 

If we are no longer comfortable sending you, our valued client, on a tour and we make the difficult decision to cancel a tour, you will be offered the choice of a full refund or the opportunity to rebook on next year’s tour. 

Thus far, we have only had to cancel our Spain tour, which was scheduled for May.  While there are currently no restrictions against travel to Spain and there are no closures affecting our itinerary, we expect this to change soon and with the number of cases climbing quickly in Spain, we felt the risks were too great for our clients. 

On our tours you can expect that hygiene and preventing the spread of any illness among participants will be a top priority.

Clients booked on ship-based adventures can expect much more rigorous screening of passengers during embarkation, increased cleaning onboard, and protocols in place if someone becomes ill.  

If you are considering purchasing insurance, either medical or cancellation & interruption, it is important to have a conversation with us, preferably at the time of booking.  We can still offer emergency medical coverage to some clients that covers expenses if you contract COVID-19.  However, insurers are now excluding COVID-19 from cancellation policies, so you would not be covered if you have to cancel your participation on a tour because of something related to COVID-19.  Policies purchased before these changes are unaffected.  It is important to remember that cancellation coverage is designed to protect your payment if you have to cancel.  It is not relevant in a situation where we cancel a tour or an airline cancels a flight. 

Our hearts go out to everyone who has been impacted by this disease and we wish everyone good health in the days and months ahead.

We are confident that, in time, this will pass and we can all look forward to great travel experiences wherever that may take us. 

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

 

Yours sincerely,

Cam Gillies

President, Eagle-Eye Tours