The U.S. Coast Guard has confirmed that a sightseeing floatplane has crashed near Ketchikan, Alaska, with cruise passengers from a Holland America cruise ship. According to the USCG, all six on board have died, including the pilot and five people on a shore excursion tour during their cruise vacation.
Sightseeing Plane Crashes Near Ketchikan
Just days ago, the cruise industry was celebrating the restart of operations to Alaska from the Port of Seattle, and cruise lines have continued to resume their sailings to the state. However, on Thursday, near the popular cruise port of Ketchikan mood changed when a floatplane crashed with cruise passengers on board.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, an Emergency Position Radio Beacon was activated near the Misty Fjords area at 11:20 AM. The wreckage was also sited on a ridgeline in the area. The Coast Guard, Alaska State Troopers, U. S. Forest Service, and Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad responded to the crash.
At 2:37 PM, a Jayhawk Coast Guard helicopter located the wreckage, and it was confirmed that there were no survivors. Onboard the plane was the pilot and five passengers from the Nieuw Amsterdam cruise ship operated by Holland America Line.
Holland America Line said in a statement, “Holland America Line confirms that the float plane carrying five guests from Nieuw Amsterdam that was reported missing in Ketchikan, Alaska, has been found. All five guests on board the plane and the pilot did not survive. This float plane excursion was independently operated and not sold by Holland America Line. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the victims and with our guests and team members who are affected by this tragedy.”
The cruise ship passengers were not on a tour sold by the cruise line, and Southeast Aviation owned the plane. The company offers a range of different tours in the region, including the Misty Fjords. The tours offer round-trip transportation to and from the cruise ship docked in Ketchikan and include aerial views of the landscape and wildlife.
The Holland America cruise ship was in Ketchikan as part of its seven-night sailing from Seattle, Washington, which departed on July 31. The itinerary includes many scenic views and stops, including Juneau, Glacier Bay, Icy Strait Point, Sitka, and Ketchikan, before returning to Seattle on August 7.
Nieuw Amsterdam was the first ship in the fleet to restart operations on July 25 and is only on its second sailing. It’s very sad indeed, and we send out thoughts to the families and friends of the cruise passengers and the pilot.
It’s not the first crash involving a floatplane in Alaska with cruise visitors on board. In 2019, two planes crashed into each other just near the cruise port in Ketchikan. Over a month later, there was another accident when a floatplane crashed while trying to land, and thankfully, in that case, everyone was pulled to safety with the help of local boats.