Ketchikan Stories and Tips

Misty Fjords Float Plane Part One

Holland America's Zuiderdam from a Float Plane Photo,

We reserved our tour of Misty Fjords as an excursion from Holland America on the Zuiderdam. Upon arriving in Ketchikan, we met a representative of the outfitter near the ship and then walked a few blocks to the bus. Then we were delivered to the outfitter's seaplane dock on the other side of town. Once there, we had to wait nearly an hour to board the seaplane. Each plane could only ferry six people, and only four planes could dock at a time. Therefore, it took quite a while for all 200 passengers to be flown out to Misty Fjords. Everyone had to wait at either the seaplane dock in Ketchikan or at the Punchbowl formation in Misty Fjords on board the catamaran. Although the weather was pleasant, we had to stand outside on the dock to wait. At least we did have a view of several bald eagles fishing at the nearby cannery.

The floatplane was a small craft and required climbing a short ladder into the plane. The plane was bobbing in the water at the time, so the ladder seemed a bit precarious, but we all made it. Inside, seats were arranged so that each passenger sat next to a window. We were instructed to don the large headsets which provided a taped recording of music and description of the flight. The pilot occasionally interjected his own commentary as well.

We started with a circle around Ketchikan ending with a close-up view of our ship. Then we headed off into the wilderness, flying over mountains and lakes for about twenty minutes. We could take photos out of the windows, but it was hard to get a view without the structure of the plane.

The landing of the seaplane was very smooth, much easier than a commercial jet landing on concrete. Once again, we had to brave the bobbing ladder, but there were people standing on either side to assist. We were warned that the dock was extremely slick. Since we were the last float plane to land, we were ushered into the catamaran pretty quickly. I would have liked to have spent more time here, as the surroundings were impressive. The dock was in a cove surrounded by high cliffs, covered in green forest. The temperature was much cooler than in town, about 60 degrees.

Inside the catamaran, we were relegated to a center booth, similar to a fast food restaurant. Although we could see windows across the aisles, we were limited in our view. We had to stay seated as the catamaran launched, but luckily, we were released to wander after about five minutes.

We bypassed the snack bar and headed to the top deck which had an open area on the back of the boat and a small indoor seating area. It was also possible to walk around the perimeter of the deck, although that would have blocked the view of the indoor seating area.

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