Very few examples remain in the world today of elegance on the rails as passengers wind their way through lush countryside or picturesque mountainous horizons. However for those that do, the pageantry of such a journey exists in its truest form, supplemented with the state-of-the-art amenities and services modern travellers have come to expect.
Among these classic rail journeys in the world today is the Rocky Mountaineer in Western Canada – which each year reaches new heights of popularity among Australian travellers. Far more than just a facilitator of passage between two parts of Canada, the Rocky Mountaineer prides itself on being an experience which delves deep into the raw Canadian wilderness and takes passengers right to nature’s doorstep.
Rocky Mountaineer rail journeys often serve as a perfect hand-in-hand accompaniment to a Canadian holiday, whether at the beginning or end of an Alaskan cruise from Seattle or Vancouver in the northwest of continental North America. Combining both into the one holiday allows the opportunity to see two very different personalities of Canada, as glaciers and crystal clear waters are interchanged for the winding peaks of the Rocky Mountains, dry Gold Rush-style western towns and furious rivers along the way.
From Seattle or Vancouver, the Rocky Mountaineer season runs from the first thawing of the winter snow through to the final falling of the autumn leaves – happily coinciding with the emergence of a host of native wildlife such as grizzly and black bears and easy access to a range of townships nestled within the mountains themselves.
Trains run both east and west and only in daylight hours to ensure guests do not miss any of the sights. Journeys are either two or three full days of onboard travel in your choice of either SilverLeaf or GoldLeaf carriages, stopping at the end of the day in towns such as Whistler, Quesnel and Kamloops where guests are shuttled to hotels for the night before reboarding and completing the journey in subsequent days.
Through a partnership with Holland America Line, Rocky Mountaineer sells packages in Australia whereby a rail journey can be coupled into one itinerary with a week-long Alaskan cruise departing from Seattle or Vancouver on MS Westerdam or MS Nieuw Amsterdam respectively. Cruises depart on Saturday each week during the peak spring and summer seasons. Guests booking through Rocky Mountaineer are assured an Ocean View or Verandah stateroom, depending on which service was booked onboard the train.
While the train itself is a minimum of two full days, guests are encouraged to extend their time in the Rocky Mountains with a holiday package to make an itinerary of up to 17 nights including the seven-day cruise. The rail portion of the itinerary consists of up to three days onboard Rocky Mountaineer with either an escorted coach tour or private car rental for independent exploration.