Cruise and Beach Destinations
in the Caribbean, Mexico & Beyond

Alaska Cruise Flightseeing Tours

Alaska cruise flightseeing is exciting and expensive © 2018 Scott S. Bateman
Alaska cruise flightseeing is exciting and expensive © 2018 Scott S. Bateman

Alaska flightseeing excursions are an exciting and expensive way of seeing the grandness and beauty of Alaska from the air.

Flightseeing excursions are available to cruise visitors at nearly every port, large and small, along the Alaska coast.

They also are available at Anchorage. It isn’t a cruise port, but it is a common destination for airline flights for passengers who transfer to nearby debarkation ports such as Seward and Whittier.

Cruise passengers can flightsee by plane or helicopter.

Even ones who don’t take advantage of it will often see quite a few helicopters and especially planes take off and land by the cruise ports. Helicopters take off and land on land; planes often do it from the water.

We saw many planes zoom by us during our water excursion at Ketchikan.

Cruise passengers with an excursion budget will find that flightseeing is one of the most expensive excursions they can buy. They also are among the shortest excursions.

They are often out of reach for limited excursion budgets, possible as the only excursion for moderate budgets and affordable for big budgets.

Tours by plane are longer and less expensive than tours by helicopter. Prices vary in part based on the length of the tour.

Flightseeing By Plane

For example, one flightseeing company had a “standard tour” by plane for $255 per person plus a 3 percent “transportation fee”. The total flight time was one and a half hours. It included flight time over glaciers and valleys.

The same company had a “premium tour” during the summer for $305 per person and the transportation fee. It lasted two and a quarter hours and includes landing on a glacier lake for photo opportunities.

A review of dozens of flightseeing tours showed that the majority of them are around $250 per person and between 90 minutes and two hours long. One company in Ketchikan had a 30 minute tour for $129, so it is possible to take one on a limited budget.

Some tours by plane were much more expensive but quite a bit longer. The most expensive tour on the list—out of Juneau—was $800 for an eight-hour tour or about $100 per hour.

One way to figure out the best value for all of the tours at all of the ports is by dividing the price by the number of hours. Nearly all of them under review cost between $100 and $200 per hour.

Location also matters. Some of the smaller cruise ports have only a few touring companies, so their prices are a bit higher.

The bottom line is, if a flightseeing tour sounds appealing, review as many as possible for multiple ports to find the best one for the price.

Flightseeing By Helicopter

Flightseeing via helicopters is usually both shorter and more expensive than flightseeing by plane.

For example, one helicopter company in Seward had options of 15, 30, 45 and 60 minutes.

Prices were $199 for 15 minutes, $319 for 30 minutes, $399 for 45 minutes and $519 for 60 minutes. Like the plane rides, prices often are higher at the smaller ports than the larger ones with more competition among tour companies.

Some companies offer a combination of helicopter rides and dogsledding. A Juneau company charged $599 for a three and a half hour tour that included an extra glacier landing.

Another company charged $299 for a two and a half hour tour that included a guided glacier walk. In these cases, the helicopter ride is usually brief.

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas.
March 25, 2022