We're on the RCI Serenade of the Seas in August. The ship's itinerary has a line item for "Misty Fjords", but in fact the time is only two hours. It's a drive-by. If you look at a map, what the ship does is pass by the very southwest edge of the national monument on the way back to Vancouver. In essence, if you want to see the monument at all, you won't see it from this cruise ship.
Assuming all the cruise lines are similar, the RCI shore excursion for the flight to Misty Fjords is in a DeHavilland Twin Otter, essentially a commuter plane on floats. It carries a relatively large number of people.
I did some checking on private operators. Go into Google and input "Misty Fjords Flightseeing" and you'll get a whole bunch of them. Most of them have websites where they go into the services they offer in detail. They all do similar things, and they all charge pretty much the same, which is about $200 per person.
The advantage of using your private operator vs. the cruise line's own private operator is that the former use smaller airplanes, the excursions costs less, and they stay longer when they put down on one of the isolated alpine lakes in the monument.
We booked a tour today, and there will be just four of us on a DeHavilland Beaver, a floatplane well-suited for this kind of flying.
I also found out that their August dates are filling up fast, so it is probably a good thing to act on it quickly if you have a summertime cruise coming up.
Platinum for Princess, for Royal Caribbean and for Celebrity.
For clairfication- the ship sailing of Misty fjords is extremely scenic and worthwhile- but it usually is at dinner time for early seating- this is the day to miss it and get out on deck. Not clear in the above- a major difference in going independent vs ship excursion- is the mid trip landing- the independents will allow you OUT of the plane and on land- the ship tours only allow you a brief step off on the pontoons. Also flightseeing here is NOT a set route- there are many different areas your pilot can take you- I have gone on this several times and they all went to different areas. If seating is a priority, get it in writing- they can add passengers in middle seats- they have and they do. I have flown in beavers with 7 people including the pilot. I have flown with Southeast Aviation, Carlin Air, and Island Wings- all long standing well run companies.
They said it would be four of us in the Beaver plus the pilot. They also said that they may add a fifth person.
I have taken your advice and insisted that they confirm in writing that that four of us get priority seating, that is, we are not removed from the window seats and or stuck way in the back to accomodate other people.
I booked a Misty Fjords float plane through Carnival, and the above comments didn't hold true.
Our pilot not only landed and let us out to walk around (and stare at bear tracks, which was neat but very scary), but he landed a second time, because another pilot had radio'd that he saw a bear in another location. It was gone when we got there, but we still landed in the lake and cruised all around it to look.
Then on the way back, he was radio'd that there were Orcas frolicking past our landing point, so he went for a long fly-by over them, which was incredible.
I've found all of the ships' tours 100% top notch on both of my Alaska cruises. The 8 passenger float plane was probably one of the best ever. I feel much more secure booking through the ship, and I don't think they're any less exciting.
You had an exception- MOST ship booked Misty Fjords float planes do not allow you on land. A major difference with your trip was with Carnival- you sail on the off days due to your Wed sailing, far less ships in port than other sailings. No way would this time been given on a day in Ketchikan with 3 ships docked and another 3 anchored- like there can be on some days, with full packed flight schedules. I have sailed Carnival 3 times to Alaska (9-12-01 was canceled). There was a big benefit with going on those days.
absolutely michelle with island wings. she is the best pilot, has a very safe plane and gives a great tour. she really know her stuff and lets you walk around at the lake for at least 20 to 30 minutes. i dont think all of the other tours let you do that. i will go with her again. and the price is much cheaper than from the cruise line.