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As the lockdown begins to ease in the UK and a roadmap for lifting the restrictions has been announced by the government, many of us are thinking about where we would like to go on holiday when we can travel again.
Unsurprisingly, lots of us will be looking to book up the journey of a lifetime and for many Canada will be one destination that will be high on their list of places to visit.
If you’re looking to explore Canada’s natural beauty and relax all at the same time, then you need to book a Rocky Mountaineer train holiday. With its magnificent carriages; first-class, personable service; spectacular views and gourmet cuisine, there are lots of reasons why you should consider booking a train holiday in Canada. Below we share some of the main reasons why you should go on Rocky Mountaineer and some tips about riding on the train.
The reasons you should experience a Rocky Mountaineer holiday
•A warm and welcoming atmosphere
•You can make it your own
All the different Rocky Mountaineer routes offer you some great views of the incredible scenery that Canada is synonymous with.
The huge windows in the SilverLeaf Service and the 360° domed carriage in GoldLeaf Service provide you with unrivalled mountain views as you weave through West Canada’s wilderness. The landscapes you will come across are diverse as one minute you’ll be watching the towering snow-capped mountains and luscious forests, and the next you will be experiencing picturesque lakes and the coastline of the Pacific Ocean.
Some of the spectacular scenery that you can see along the different routes of the Rocky Mountaineer include the Fraser Valley, Rogers Pass, Kicking Horse Canyon, the Spiral Tunnels, Castle Mountain, Lake Louise, Mount Robson, Pyramid Falls and the North Thompson River.
Stuart Forster, the UK-based travel blogger behind the site Go Eat Do, was thoroughly impressed with the stunning landscapes that the routes offer.
“Riding Rocky Mountaineer is a great reason to plan a trip to western Canada. The region’s dramatic landscapes and wildlife are enduring draws. Following a period in which we’ve put our lives on hold, why put off rewarding ourselves and booking the kind of travel experiences that we’ve long wanted to do? A train journey on Rocky Mountaineer really does qualify as one of those ‘trips of a lifetime’ type experiences. I rode the First Passage to the West route from Vancouver to Banff and loved it – the scenery was tremendous and the Rocky Mountaineer’s onboard team did a great job of explaining what we were seeing.”
Imagine sinking into a comfortable seat and looking on in awe at soaring mountains and beautiful lakes as they gradually go by your window. Once you’ve taken your seat, that’s all you have to do as for the next few hours you can just sit back, relax and enjoy the views and the gourmet cuisine. It’s no wonder why everyone boasts of such a relaxing experience aboard Rocky Mountaineer.
If you want to avoid driving, directions and maps, then this is the most laid-back way to explore Canada. Rocky Mountaineer only operates in daylight hours and is not a sleeper service, so you will be staying in luxurious hotels at night. Check-ins are much easier than airports as you don’t even need to worry about your luggage as your suitcases and bags will be in your hotel room before you!
Terri, who runs the Mums Travel Blog, told us that her trip on Rocky Mountaineer was one of her favourite parts of her holiday.
She said: “Having spent two years travelling the globe with my then 7-year-old son, our two days aboard Rocky Mountaineer still remains one of the highlights of our whole trip. The experience exceeds anything you can imagine from brochures or videos, it is a multi-sensory voyage that you will never forget or regret.
“Rocky Mountaineer had long been on my bucket list but truly did exceed all expectations. I previously said it was a once in a lifetime experience but now I have done it once I most definitely want to do it again.
“My trip in October 2018 was as a single mother with my 7-year-old son, but I have subsequently met the love of my life and we are planning on getting married next year, I am desperately trying to persuade him to go on Rocky Mountaineer for our honeymoon, although as a Marriage Celebrant myself in the UK if they would let us have our wedding ceremony on the train that would quite literally be the icing on the cake!”
READ MORE: What to expect onboard Rocky Mountaineer
Rocky Mountaineer’s cuisine is world-famous as it offers five-star breakfasts and lunches as its varied menu has been created by award-winning chefs.
Although you’ll be dining like royalty in the comfort of your seat on the SilverLeaf Service or at a comfortable dining table on the GoldLeaf Service, what makes the menu so unique is that it showcases the best cuisine the West Coast has to offer.
From Fraser River salmon and tender braised short ribs to Okanagan wines, cinnamon scones and fresh fruit salads, there is something to suit all tastes.
David, the writer behind The Coeliac Man blog, told us a bit more about his experience on Rocky Mountaineer and the cuisine.
“I would recommend Rocky Mountaineer as one of the ultimate bucket list items. I was lucky enough to take the train from Vancouver to Banff over two days and it was honestly the most out of this world couple of days of my life! The journey was quite simply stunning. Travelling at a leisurely pace to make sure everyone could appreciate the views, we rolled past quaint towns, tranquil lakes, winding rivers and of course, huge, breath-taking mountains. All the while we were treated to some amazing food and drinks and were looked after by our fantastic carriage hosts, who shared their knowledge and made sure we had everything we needed to make the trip perfect. I couldn’t recommend Rocky Mountaineer highly enough, and I wish I could do it all over again!”
Stuart Forster adds: “The food served on the train is first class. The breakfasts are hearty, so there’s no need to snack before boarding. At lunch, I remember being impressed by the flavour and texture of the salmon.”
A warm and welcoming atmosphere
When you travel with Rocky Mountaineer you will enjoy a warm and welcoming atmosphere from the fantastic hosts as they take care of everything. It’s almost as if Rocky Mountaineer hire the friendliest people in the world as they greet you like an old friend and welcome you onto the train with open arms.
On top of the complimentary drinks that all guests receive, the hosts will also share tales and historical stories of the areas you travel through which demonstrate their incredible knowledge of the train route.
Caroline Maryan, who runs a photography blog, told us that as well as the scenery she was impressed with the hosts and how they entertain you along the journey.
“During your ride on Rocky Mountaineer, you’ll gain access to one of the most scenic parts of North America, the Pacific Northwest and the Canadian Rockies, while relaxing in style. You’ll experience dramatic changes in terrain as you enjoy delicious meals and snacks on board. Gracious hosts will entertain you with stories of the places you are passing, while also pointing out unique plants and animals along the way.”
You can make it your own
With different routes across Western Canada and a plethora of packages available, you can customise Rocky Mountaineer holidays so they suit your needs.
You can also add off-train excursions to your trip, and this could include riding on Banff’s Ice Explorer, going on the Banff Gondola, enjoying a Skywalk experience or going on a guided tour of Vancouver.
No matter whether you are looking to go on family holidays to Canada or are planning a romantic holiday with your partner, here at Canadian Affair we can take the headache out of research and help you to organise any excursions you want to go on before or after your journey.
Stuart Forster also runs the Why Eye Photography blog and he suggests you spend a few days in Western Canada before your Rocky Mountaineer journey.
“Spending at least a couple of days in western Canada before riding Rocky Mountaineer is worthwhile as it gives you time to adapt to the time-zone difference and make the most of the train journey.”
Tips for riding on Rocky Mountaineer
If you want to get the most out of your experience on what is regarded by many as the best train journey in the world, then there are a few tips we have shared that you should consider before your holiday.
Brush up on your camera skills
Rocky Mountaineer’s trains weave along canyons, glide through stunning mountain landscapes and along the banks of roaring rivers where passengers can discover the unparalleled beauty of Canada. You’ll undoubtedly want to take photographs of your trip so you can make a photobook and remember your holiday.
This is why Caroline Maryan recommends brushing up on your camera skills before you head off on your Rocky Mountaineer holiday.
“Since this adventure is a photographer’s dream, be sure to brush up on your camera skills before you go. You’ll need to be quick to capture photos of passing wildlife. The large windows allow for great shots, but your photos will look better if you place your camera as close to the window as possible. This helps eliminate reflections from inside the car. Also, don’t forget to take photos from the outdoor viewing platform as you ride along.”
Stuart Forster told us that anyone planning to go on the train should get to know their camera more and become comfortable with the different settings.
“As a photographer, I’d recommend you get to know your camera ahead of the trip. Understanding the settings means you can use it at short notice should animals such as grizzly bears, bald-headed eagles or wild big-horn sheep be visible from the train – I got outstanding shots of all three.”
Remember to put the camera down
Whilst you want to take lots of photographs of your time on the train and all the stunning scenery to remind you of what you saw as well as to show your friends and family, you must take what you’re seeing in by putting the camera down.
Terri from Mums Travel Blog adds: “Tempting as it is to want to capture every moment, remember to put the camera down, see it through your own eyes and commit to memory.
“Spend a while standing outside on the caboose even if it’s cold, the crisp mountain air is all part of the experience.”
Consider upgrading your ticket
There is a choice of routes you can take, but there are also two service levels that you can choose from to suit your budget. Whichever ticket you opt for you will not be disappointed and below we’ve shared some details about each one.
•GoldLeaf Service: This represents the highest level of service. You travel in 360-degree glass-domed carriages with spectacular panoramic views and you can access a large outdoor viewing area, a gourmet á la carte menu and complimentary drinks.
•SilverLeaf Service: Travel in a single-level domed carriage with oversized windows to enhance your view. There is an outdoor viewing area and you can enjoy a great menu consisting of continental breakfasts, hot lunch options and complimentary drinks.
Travel and lifestyle blogger Terri would recommend upgrading your ticket. She said: “If you can afford it then the upgrade to GoldLeaf is absolutely worth it.”
Get in touch about dietary requirements before your trip
The cuisine on Rocky Mountaineer is incredible, but if you suffer from any allergies, it is best to get in touch with the team before your trip so they can plan meals that suit your needs.
This is something that travel blogger David had to do before his trip. He adds: “If you have any special dietary requirements, I would advise you to get in touch with the team at Rocky Mountaineer to let them know ahead of your trip.
“We did this to let them know I had coeliac disease and I was looked after wonderfully on board. Each carriage has its own chef and ours went above and beyond to make sure I was catered for, coming over to speak to me about my menu choices (which were all delicious) and even baking me some gluten-free cookies to go with my afternoon cuppa! This really did enhance the trip for me and meant I could relax and enjoy the journey without worrying about what I was going to eat.”
These are just some of the reasons why a Rocky Mountaineer holiday should be on your bucket list once travel restrictions ease. If you want to find out more about other locations across Canada, you can read our Canada Hub or our blog.