Having decided the next place on our bucket list to check off was going to be Alaska we pulled together an itinerary to maximise the experience over almost 3 weeks. Rocky Mountaineer was an appealing way to cover the vast area of the Canadian Rockies. The thought of travelling in style on a preplanned tour left us in no doubt it was the perfect add on to an Alaska cruise.

Although we spent an innumerable amount of time in advance creating our perfect itinerary, the actual experience far exceeded our expectations. We imagined a well organised tour, but we hadn’t expected the stress free plans the Mountaineer team had in store for us. The experience of your luggage travelling separately was a real bonus, this made the whole tour a very seamless journey – what a great idea to leave your luggage in your room and step aboard the Mountaineer to then find your luggage already waiting for you in the next hotel room.

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IMG_4747The Mountaineer provides a stunning panorama with the train only reaching speeds of up to 50mph with roll along’s at important viewing positions along the way. The stunning views are combined with excellent commentaries from the welcoming hosts who take it in turn to wine and dine you. The panoramic view of the carriages is perfect for spotting wildlife and the hosts are also perfect at pointing out the animals en route.

IMG_5288The train has 3 service levels, starting with the economical Red Service and upgrade paths to Silver Leaf or the ultimate of Gold Leaf. Silver Leaf offers increased viewing and comfort, whilst in Gold Leaf you have extra comfortable reclining seats in a 2-2 configuration with a double height domed-glass viewing carriage offering exceptional views from every seat. Gold also includes a full dining experience on the lower level of the carriage, steps take you down to the diner with large windows, toilets and an outdoor vestibule ideal to catch the open views with the wind ruffling through your hair.

IMG_4736The tour is built up from a combination of days on-board the train with overnight hotel stops and days in the various locations. The trains include a full breakfast & lunch giving you the freedom to make your own evening dining arrangements at your destination. The tours are very flexible as they are made up of small touring segments. Our Tour included the Coastal Package of 1 night in Seattle with the Rocky Mountaineer running from Seattle to Vancouver. Setting out from Seattle’s historic King Street Station, we enjoy the journey along the sparkling coastal shorelines of the Pacific North West. It’s an magnificent sight for the locals as they wave us along from the shoreline. Rocky provided hotels either side of the train journey along with shuttle connections.

We made separate arrangements in Vancouver to include a Cruise package to see the Glaciers of Alaska. Once back in Vancouver we were ready to take on the next part of our Canadian adventure aboard the Rocky Mountaineer. This 10 day, 9 night package was called “Canadian Rockies Getaway” which included: 2 nights Vancouver, 1 night Kamloops, 1 night Jasper, 1 night Lake Louise, 2 nights Banff, 1 night Kamloops and 1 night Vancouver. Although this was a pre-built package it transforms into a bespoke one once you change your train service level and adjust the hotel choices to suit your taste and budget.

The entire journey takes place during daylight hours so you don’t miss any of the countryside rolling by and leaves you free to make your selection of the various hotels for your over night portions. We chose the following hotels:

  1. 2 nights Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver – our rating: Out of this world!
  2. 1 night Sandman Signature Kamloops – our rating: 4 out of 5
  3. 1 night Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge Jasper – our rating: 4 out of 5
  4. 1 night Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise – our rating: 4.5 out of 5
  5. 2 nights Rimrock Resort Banff – our rating: 3 out of 5
  6. 1 night Sandman Signature Kamloops – our rating: 4 out of 5
  7. 1 night Four Seasons Vancouver – our rating: 5 out of 5

The “Canadian Rockies Getaway” also included these excursions as part of the package:

  1. Vancouver Lookout Day Passes
  2. National Parks Pass
  3. Experience Jasper to Lake Louise Tour
  4. Ice Explorer at the Athabasca Glacier
  5. Experience Yoho Park Tour
  6. Experience Banff
  7. Summit Helicopter Flightseeing Tour
  8. Banff Gondola Ride

IMG_5284From Vancouver on-board the Rocky Mountaineer Train we head into the heart of British Columbia. Departing at 07:30 we roll through the sprawling landscape of Canada’s only semi-arid desert following the Thompson River to Kamloops, arriving at 16:00. We make the 5 minute onward transfer to the Sandman Signature hotel and chose to spend the evening enjoying beers and burgers at the Noble Pig.

After a good night sleep we set off on the next leg of our adventure to Jasper, Alberta which is around 275 miles. Couples are enjoying the views with wine in hand looking out for bears and other wildlife. We are lucky to spot plenty of wildlife, including beavers, black bears, elks, bald eagles, bighorn sheep, raccoons and a hoary marmot which we learn is the largest squirrel of North America. This part of the journey takes us over the Yellowhead Pass into the spectacular Jasper National Park – this is an unbelievable ride into the snow capped Rockies.

Arriving in the quaint town of Jasper, it’s the perfect postcard view. Set in a World Heritage Site National Park the scenery is majestic as we take the 10 minute ride to the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. We had but one night here, so with the evening arrival and early start the following day we make the most of our time and set off for a walk around the Fairmont grounds showcasing a spectacular lake setting. With another 7am start its time for bed, after being so well fed on the train we opt to skip dinner for an early night.

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