If you love an adventure and the great outdoors, then just imagine how incredible it would be to explore the Rockies and Alaska in one trip.
Book on the 17-day Rockies & Alaska Cruise Extravaganza Holiday and you will experience two-days on Rocky Mountaineer from Lake Louise to Vancouver and a cruise along the Inside Passage from Vancouver to Alaska.
While you can be sure to see the most spectacular sights in Western Canada and Alaska, many people worry about what they need to pack and wear on the cruises to Alaska.
We’ve created a guide to help you answer the most common questions and queries you might have before going on this popular holiday in Canada.
What will the weather be like?
There is a variety of weather and temperatures you will experience in Alaska and the Rocky Mountains and this not only differs in location, but the drop from day to night can be extreme
Departure dates for this trip run between May and September, meaning that though the weather will fluctuate, it will not drop to the freezing temperatures that Canadian winters are known for. In Lake Louise, where Rocky Mountaineer departs, the temperatures you can expect to experience, according to Info Banff, are as follows:
– May – highs of 12.8°C, lows of -1.7°C
– June – highs of 17.2°C, lows of 2.1°C
– July – highs of 20.1°C, lows of 3.6°C
– August – highs of 20.4°C, lows of 3.1°C
– September – highs of 14.3°C, lows of -0.8°C
In Alaska, May, June, July, August and September are summer months, but the weather can change in an instant. The Alaska.org website has information on the temperatures you can expect in the southeast and Inside Passage region, which you can see below:
– May – highs of 12.7°C, lows of 3.3°C
– June – highs of 15.5°C, lows of 7.2°C
– July – highs of 17.7°C, lows of 8.8°C
– August – highs of 16.6°C, lows of 8.3°C
– September – highs of 12.7°C, lows of 6.1°C
What should I pack?
As the Rockies & Alaska Cruise Extravaganza Holiday heads to so many different places you can expect to experience lots of different climates and that makes it harder to decide what you need to pack.
It can be really easy to over pack, but here we try to give you a helping hand by advising you the essentials to pack, things for the train and the Alaska cruise.
– Passports, travel documents and ESTA visa
– Hiking boots
– Jeans/comfortable trousers for walking
– Jumpers and t-shirts for walking
– T-shirts, long sleeved tops and light layers
– Fleece/warm coat
– Gloves & woolly hat
– Casual and smarter clothes for the train and cruise
Documents for two countries
Passports and travel documents are crucial for any holiday you’re going on, but all cruise passengers must complete the online Visa Waiver form to enter the US. This is in addition to the eTA you need to enter Canada.
The Visa Waiver form costs $14 per application and the eTA costs $7 CAD. For the Visa Waiver form you must complete the application at least 72 hours before flying.
What to pack for the train
Most guests wear casual dress on Rocky Mountaineer, so you’ll need to pack some comfortable clothes to spend the day sitting on the train. Rocky Mountaineer’s service includes all your baggage handling, making sure that your main suitcase is waiting for you in your next hotel when you arrive. This makes things a lot simpler, and means you only have to take on the train the things that you’ll need for the day. There’ll be time to change in your hotel before the evening meal if you wish.
Nicole Ford from the Rocky Mountaineer recommends some things you should pack, “Our guests’ main luggage is collected from their departure point and sent on ahead to their hotels, so while travelling on-board Rocky Mountaineer, we recommend bringing only what you need for the day of travel – layers, camera, medications and other essentials.
“We recommend guests bring your cameras, phone or tablets on-board with you, so you can capture the incredible scenery along the way.
“Temperatures can vary quite significantly, depending on the rail route, time of day and season, so we suggest guests wear comfortable layers and bring a light jacket or sweater. It is also a good idea to wear flat-soled shoes with grip due to the natural movement of the train.
“We often see guests with binoculars and nature books, too, so they can try to identify the birds or trees they see from the train.
What to pack for the cruise
You might be worried that Alaska will be very cold, but it’s usually much the same as a spring day in the UK. It can also be easy to over pack for your Alaska cruise, but Experience Ketchikan have shared some guidelines for you to follow.
Rene from Experience Ketchikan, says, “Begin with a lightweight t-shirt (your comfort layer), add a hoodie (hooded sweatshirt), cardigan sweater or fleece sweater (your warmth layer), add to that an all-weather coat (your protection layer), and a scarf if it is warranted. If you get hot, simply shed enough clothes to make yourself comfortable.”
You should also bring an all-weather jacket, long trousers and closed-toe shoes for warmth as well as a good pair of walking or hiking shoes.
Binoculars will also come in handy when it comes to the Alaska cruise as you can use them to spot whales and other wildlife.
Rene also recommends packing some polarized sunglasses, “You will spend a lot of time looking at or around the water. Polarized sunglasses cut the glare on the water and allow you to see colours much clearer. Believe me when I tell you, spending the extra money on a good pair of polarized sunglasses will reward you with better views and less stressed eyes!”
Lisa Goodmurphy from Gone with the Family, adds, “The most important thing to remember when packing for a cruise to Alaska is that the weather can be variable. A weatherproof jacket/coat, comfortable weatherproof shoes for walking, gloves/mittens, and a hat are essential. It’s also advisable to dress in layers as the weather may change over the course of a day.
“This is especially true for anyone scheduled on a land tour after disembarking from the cruise. The weather on our late June/early July trip to Alaska varied from cool and wet to warm and sunny t-shirt weather. Be prepared for anything!”
When you stop in port, there are lots of opportunities for excursions and these can require additional clothing. On some trips, like whale watching, the companies often provide warm, waterproof clothing, whereas for hikes and glacier walks, you will need your own boots. Check the details of your excursion to see what they provide and ensure you are prepared.
The question of dress
Another common question that we often hear is “What should I wear?”
The Rocky Mountaineer train journey is often seen as the ultimate luxury. While this is true in terms of service and experience, it is a common misconception when it comes to dress. A spokesperson from the Rocky Mountaineer, said, “We do not have a dress code on-board the train. As long as you are comfortable for your journey, we advise guests resort to casual!”
The same is also said of the cruise to Alaska. Some cruise-goers leap at the chance to dress to impress and don a tuxedo or evening gown. The atmosphere on the cruise, however, is very relaxed and cruisers will not be out of place if they dress casually.
The cruise will usually have one or two more formal evenings on board. While you can dress in your finery if you wish, smart clothes similar to what you would normally wear out for a nice evening meal are more than acceptable.
The Rockies & Alaska Cruise Extravaganza Holiday is a 17-day trip and as you’ll be travelling to some of the most spectacular corners of the world there are lots of highlights. Here we share some of the favourite moments from people who have been on Rocky Mountaineer and the Alaska Cruise.
The views on Rocky Mountaineer
Carol Perehudoff, a travel writer who runs the Wandering Carol blog, says the best part of going on Rocky Mountaineer were the stunning views.
She says, “My favourite aspect of this luxury train is the ever-changing panorama that spreads out before you: waterfalls, mountains and river valleys. It simply cannot be beat. You can read more about Rocky Mountaineer Scenic Train Routes on my travel blog.”
Rocky Mountaineer is renowned for serving some incredible food and this went down well with Carol Perehudoff.
She adds, “The food focuses on Western Canada’s fantastic culinary landscape with an inventive twist. Think Alberta beef short ribs, Fraser Valley chicken and sockeye salmon.”
Nicole Ford from Rocky Mountaineer agrees, “In addition to the items listed above, guests should also bring a large appetite on-board as you will be incredibly well fed on the train. Our talented chefs prepare amazing food that is inspired by the regions the train passes through. From fresh salmon and Alberta beef to local berries and vegetables, the on-board meals showcase the best of Western Canada cuisine.”
The comfortable seats
Rocky Mountaineer is the epitome of comfort and this is highlighted by many as their favourite part of the train journey.
Rocky Mountaineer says, “One of the best parts of a Rocky Mountaineer journey is relaxing into the comfortable seats and watching the amazing scenery pass by. With the oversized domed windows, guests have an almost 360-degree view of vast landscapes that include lush rainforest, turquoise rivers, emerald lakes and snow-capped mountain peaks. And with little to do but experience the incredible scenery from the comfort of this luxurious train, guests can relax, reconnect with their travel partners and enjoy the company of other guests they meet on-board.”
The Alaskan cruise is full of spectacular sights, but the part that many people enjoy the most is the abundance of wildlife you can see.
She says, “Wildlife – I’ve never seen so many bald eagles and we saw tons of moose. The Glacier Cruise was perfect for seeing an abundance of wildlife.”
Julia’s shorter excursion is just a taste of what you can see as you journey through the Inside Passage.
The Sawyer Glacier
The Inside Passage is a scenic waterway stretching from Vancouver to Alaska. Visitors will make this journey and get to see Alaska’s amazing islands and the Sawyer Glacier.
The Sawyer Glacier is home to a number of animals, including black and brown bears. Animal lovers also love Glacier Bay as humpback whales and killer whales are commonly seen breaching the water.
Alaska is of course known for its fjords. Unrivalled views of the enormous cliff-flanked fjords will delight visitors as you travel through Glacier Bay.
If you need any more help with what to pack, call our experts and they will happily discuss the climate you will experience. Our knowledgeable advisors can also talk you through upgrade options on Rocky, cabin types on cruise and help you book excursions.
Before an Alaska cruise or a journey on the Rocky Mountaineer you will be able to spend some time in Vancouver and for many people this is one of the attractions of the trip.
Dayna Miller, Tourism Vancouver’s Director of Sales, Leisure Travel, says, “Surrounded by spectacular mountains and the Pacific Ocean, Vancouver is a sophisticated cosmopolitan city perched on the edge of nature.
“Spending time in Vancouver is a perfect way to complement an Alaska cruise vacation or Rocky Mountaineer train trip, and the city offers a blend of outdoor adventure and urban experiences.
“Nature lovers can cycle the seawall around Stanley Park, kayak in False Creek, or take an exhilarating walk across the famed Capilano Suspension Bridge. Visitors can also feel the pulse of city life in Vancouver’s diverse neighbourhoods: taste your way through Granville Island’s buzzing Public Market, shop in hip Yaletown, explore ancient Chinatown, or meander the cobblestone streets of historic Gastown. There is truly something for everyone in Vancouver.”