All day long, I talk about travel. When I’m not working, I study destinations and suppliers in order to give my clients good counsel. So, knowing what I know, you might wonder, where would I go? The answer is easy. “Winner, winner…salmon and Alaskan king crab dinner.” The perfect trip combines an Alaskan cruisetour with a Rocky Mountaineer Canadian Rockies rail trip.
Highlights: Rocky Mountaineer only journeys during daylight hours. They partner with amazing 4 and 5-star hotel properties in stunning destinations like Whistler, Lake Louise and Banff. They provide unforgettable service and gourmet cuisine with dedicated hosts in each rail car. You never have to lug a bag on or off the train. Your luggage is both picked up and waiting for you in your hotel room. And they hand you the keys to your hotel room every night before you leave the train. Their tagline “Beauty Beyond Words” is true. The scenery leaves you speechless.
There’s a couple ways you can do this trip. You can either combine a Princess or Holland America Cruise with the rail journey. There’s a number of Rocky Mountaineer routes and trip lengths. My favorite is the one-way First Passage to the West Highlights route from Vancouver to Calgary (or reverse) with stops at Banff and Lake Louise. Here’s some tips:
Bundle or not?: There’s definite benefits to a bundled cruise/tour/rail package where it all works seamlessly from start to finish, but some of the bundled packages have round-trip components. In order to see as much as possible, I try to not ever back-track. So for me, I always choose one-way routes on both the cruise and the rail journey, even if that means that I can’t bundle them. It’s also really important to me to make sure my cruisetour includes at least three nights in Denali National Park. So, that’s one more reason why I line up the best possible cruisetour along with the best possible Rocky Mountaineer journey one right after the other, rather than settle for a bundled package. A good travel agent can help make sure that’s still an easy, seamless trip.
Service Levels: You can mix and match Rocky Mountaineer Silver and Gold Leaf Service. Splurge for Gold Leaf service on the train in order to secure the best seats and service but then select Silver Leaf hotels in order to manage the budget. They’re nice hotels but all you’re doing is sleeping in them. Spend your money where it truly improves your experience.
When to go? July is ideal but the season is from May to September.
When to buy? Six months to a year out. The train is the component that dictates availability. Remember, there are only 180 guests on their smallest journey and several hundred guests on their largest. Compare that with cruises of 2,000 or more guests. I am already selling trips for next year.
Trip Budget: One more reason to purchase early? It’s not inexpensive. This is the trip of a lifetime and it’s priced accordingly. You’ll want that year to pay off that credit card. But when it’s time to go, there won’t be a single regret. Every single moment of it will be unforgettable.
I’d be thrilled to help you plan this spectacular trip.