Alaska cruise ports aren’t anything like the Caribbean. You can’t just walk off a cruise ship and say, “I am going to go fly over the fjords today.” Flights sell out — fast. Just think about it: Planes seat just a few people, and your cruise ship will likely have thousands onboard. Planning ahead is super important with Alaska excursions.
Perhaps one of the hottest excursion tickets in Ketchikan, Alaska is jumping into a six-passenger seaplane aircraft and getting a unique narrated Misty Fjords flightseeing tour. The Misty Fjords National Monument covers over 2.1 million acres of Southeast Alaska and offers guests spectacular sites.
When you disembark your cruise ship you’ll met at the pier by a representative from a local aviation company who will provide transportation to the seaport where you’ll get a briefing of the flight, fill out liability waivers and put your non-essentials in a locker at the flight hanger.
Once all the preflight is done you’ll head to the pier to meet your pilot and get acquainted with the aircraft. The tour we took was a 90-minute tour, 70-minutes of flight time and 20-minutes of landing the seaplane on a lake in the Misty Fjords National Monument.
One we were strapped into our plane, given a safety briefing and threw the lines off, we idled out to the airstrip. Every passenger is given an aviation headset, so you’ll be able to hear the pilot talking to other aircrafts in the area. This is also the way of narrating the flightseeing tour.
Once you’re airborne, the pilot will go through his departure checklist, reach altitude and start the tour.
The pilot will tell you what to expect and look out for, mostly wildlife, like bald eagles, mountain goats and bears. The pilot will also point out the waterfalls, snow-capped mountains, ice covered lakes and all the greenery in the national forest.
After about 30-minutes of flying, and weather permitting, the pilot will put the plane down in a lake where you’ll be able to deplane and walk along the banks of the lake and check out the waterfalls. During the walk, the pilot will explain the rock formations and all the nature around you before boarding the plane for your 30-minute flight back to Ketchikan.
You’ll have some time to explore on the flight back to Ketchikan sea base. If the mountain goats are out in full-force, the pilot will point them out to you and most likely circle so passengers on both side of the plane can see them.
You’ll want to have your camera out for the flight back into Ketchikan because the runway runs North and South, the same way that the cruise ships are docked. This is a perfect opportunity to get an aerial photograph of your ship!
After the flight is over, you’ll deplane the aircraft, talk to the pilot and head back to the ship. You can finish your day in Ketchikan; a good start is walking down historic Creek Street.
A Misty Fjords flightseeing opportunity is a once-in-a-lifetime one, so if you have the chance to do it, don’t pass up it up!
Misty Fjords Flightseeing Tips
- Dress warm. The altitude decreases 4 degrees F for every 1,000 feet in elevation. Since you’re doing water landings, the bay and lake you land on could also be chilly and windy.
- Bring a camera. Fjords, waterfalls, wildlife and the plane are all worth taking photos of. Also, the Ketchikan Harbor Seaplane Base has over 43,000 enplanements per year, so you’ll have a lot to photograph.
- Though it is customary to extend a gratuity to your pilot, it’s not mandatory.