Sea Plane or Helicopter

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#1
115 Posts
Joined Jan 2008
Our cruise this summer is on the Celebrity Infinity. While in the port of Juneau, I am trying to decide between a sea plane tour that flies past 5 glaciers or the helicopter tour that lands on a glacier. I have flown in helicopters before but not a sea plane. If I elect the sea plane tour, are there glaciers that I can walk on without taking the helicopter tour?
#2
Maui (Kihei)
420 Posts
Joined Nov 2008
I have done much research and read these boards for my upcoming trip. I would say no. You need the helicopter to get up on the glacier field. A seaplane as you know lands on water. Not close to it. Well there is Mendenhall Glacier in town, but that is not what you are wanting. I'm sure the experts will chime in soon.
#3
NJ, USA
1,528 Posts
Joined Dec 2007
We've done a seaplane twice in Ketchikan with Michelle of Island Wings and loved our excursions. We've also done the Pilots Choice Double Glacier Landing out of Juneau with Temsco Helicopters. We loved it. I would choose that because there may be other opportunities to go in a seaplane but landing and walking on a glacier is very unique! BTW, I went to book with Temsco out of Skagway for our upcoming cruise and it looks like you'll need to book through the cruise line now. Not sure if they've increased prices because of that or not...
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#4
Texas
2,100 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
Taking off and landing on water is a fun thing to do. Landing in a helicopter is nothing special.
The only helicopter flight I have taken was in Hawaii and the noise was much louder than in the dozen or so float plane flight I have taken.
If the float plane had an engine problem over water, it could glide down and land on the water.
If a helicopter has an engine problem it can only auto-rotate pretty much straight down for a controlled crash.
You have to consider how much walking on a glacier appeals to you.
After busting my backside on icy sidewalks many times, walking on a glacier has no appeal for me.
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#5
NY
39 Posts
Joined Jul 2016
That answers my question too. I’m def taking the helicopter tour. I saw two travel programs which showed what it’s like to walk on a glacier, and its an experience not to be missed. That’s what I’m doing.
#6
California
67 Posts
Joined Jan 2017
You will enjoy the glacier landing. I did that when is was in Alaska. There was only four of us and the pilot on the helicopter. We landed on two different glaciers. He shuts down the engine and you get out and walk on the glacier. Very quite. You can see other helicopter fly over sometimes. Probably thinking, wish we could land. They give you special boots to go over your shoes to walk on the glacier, but still be care full walking. You are only allowed to take a camera or video camera. No backpacks or purses. Space on the copter is limited, you will see.
#7
Massachusetts
39 Posts
Joined Jan 2017
We plan to do the glacier landing. We've been told it can't be missed. Where is the best place to do that? Juneau? I was just reading about a tour to Tracy Arm which sounds awesome, but it's an all day excursion. If we did that in Juneau then we'd have to do a glacier landing somewhere else. Our other stops are Ketchikan, Icy Straight Point, Skagway and ending in Seward. Can you visit a glacier from any of those places?
#8
Maryland
5,392 Posts
Joined Mar 2004
We did both when we visited Alaska some time ago. I enjoyed both, although I don't remember landing on the water while on the float plane, although perhaps we did. The helicopter got us closer to big mountains and glaciers, although that may have just been because of the location. (Right now I cannot remember where we were.) We may be going back to Alaska this year. I've seen plenty of opportunities for a float plane flight, but few for a helicopter. (Cruise I'm considering goes to Ketchikan, Sitka, Juneau and Hoonah (Icy Strait). I'm following this thread to get a better idea of what to do if we cruise. flights and excursions in Alaska are expensive, so I want to make the right choices.
#9
Concord, California
3,706 Posts
Joined Jun 2000
I prefer the plane over the helicopter. I'm a bigger guy and on the helicopter weight is more of an issue so I'm always in one of the center seats, never by the window. The airplane flights also tend to cover more distance so you see more.

An option if you are in Haines or Skagway is a flight with Paul from Mountain Flying. He is based in Haines but does flights from both locations over Glacier Bay. On a flight with him last year we landed on top of a glacier thousands of feet above Glacier Bay, Absolutely spectacular and worth every penny
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#10
14,874 Posts
Joined May 2005
Originally posted by nukesubsailor
Taking off and landing on water is a fun thing to do. Landing in a helicopter is nothing special.
The only helicopter flight I have taken was in Hawaii and the noise was much louder than in the dozen or so float plane flight I have taken.
If the float plane had an engine problem over water, it could glide down and land on the water.
If a helicopter has an engine problem it can only auto-rotate pretty much straight down for a controlled crash.
You have to consider how much walking on a glacier appeals to you.
After busting my backside on icy sidewalks many times, walking on a glacier has no appeal for me.
You think like I do...sea plane for me...I did the heli and glacier last time and sea plane too....this time I am only doing one my pick the plane I am also doing the included dinner which means 2 take off and landings.......like u said its fun!
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#11
Oxford, MS
2,932 Posts
Joined Feb 2005
Originally posted by PictureNana
We plan to do the glacier landing. We've been told it can't be missed. Where is the best place to do that? Juneau? I was just reading about a tour to Tracy Arm which sounds awesome, but it's an all day excursion. If we did that in Juneau then we'd have to do a glacier landing somewhere else. Our other stops are Ketchikan, Icy Straight Point, Skagway and ending in Seward. Can you visit a glacier from any of those places?
If you are ending in Seward, are you planning on spending any extra time on land? The reason I ask is that you can hike on the Matanuska Glacier that is a couple hours from Anchorage. We used Mica Guides, but there are others. It was great and a lot cheaper than a helicopter ride.
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