Last week I shared about my previous cruise to Alaska, and how I traveled through the Canadian Rockies by train, so this week is the rest of the story…
Traveling by Train in the Canadian Rockies, Part 2
Last week I started sharing the details on my train trip on the Rocky Mountaineer (RM) from Banff, Alberta to Vancouver. The experience was so different from anything I’ve done in the past that it was too much for one article, so this week I continue to give a perspective of this amazing travel style.
Obviously, the beautiful scenery of the Canadian Rockies is a key reason people decide to try out this type of trip. Beside the scenery, one of the big draws is the opportunity to see wildlife. The crew is very attuned to this and try to facilitate the experience. The engineer watches for wildlife and will slow down (if possible) and calls back to each car so our car’s staff can alert us where to look. All the guests in the car are on the lookout for wildlife and are encouraged to shout out to the rest of the group if they see an animal.
Throughout the trip our hosts tell stories of the area, history, the wildlife and the sights in certain areas. They had the perfect mix of time spent sharing information and times of quiet. If you like maps and tracking where you are going, they have an excellent newspaper-type brochure with a map of the journey with mile markers and key sites.
There is an open area vestibule at the back of the car for taking pictures with no window reflection, or the opportunity to lean out a bit to get a picture of the train as we went around a curve. I enjoyed going back there periodically for the photo ops, but also just to feel the wind in my face and smell the forest.
The key part that I really didn’t understand is how they handled the stayover evenings, so I was very interested to see how this would unfold. At the end of our first day of train travel, our stopping point was Kamloops, a small town halfway along our journey from Banff to Vancouver.
Late in the day while we were still traveling on our train coach, we were handed our hotel room keys. Our luggage had already been delivered and waiting in the hotel room. As we pulled up to the Kamloops station, I witnessed their incredibly well-orchestrated logistics, where 10+ motorcoaches lined up to take the entire trainload worth of passengers to their respective hotels – this was accomplished easily and seamlessly. I had wondered how they handled the logistics with giving people numerous hotel options in each stopover city, and I saw firsthand that they knew how to execute this perfectly. Arriving at the hotel, since I already had my key, I went straight to my room to find my luggage waiting inside.
The evening was free for dinner and exploring – the staff had told us about a music festival that night, so I liked that they were in tune (ha!) with local activities and could suggest options.
The next morning, I left my luggage in my room when I departed to catch my transfer back to the train station, and once again my luggage magically was waiting for me in my hotel room in Vancouver. And, by the way, I did not book my hotel as part of a RM package, but because my hotel is one of their partner hotels, Rocky Mountaineer transported my bags to the hotel and had them delivered to my room. When the train arrived in Vancouver, they had multiple motorcoaches lined up to transfer folks to a multitude of hotels, and they provided me a complementary transfer to the hotel. When a travel supplier is flexible in providing service for the convenience of the guest, that is a company I like to work with.
Clearly, this was a unique and memorable trip and a lovely way to travel. It’s a wonderful chance to unwind and disconnect, as it feels sinful to even think about pulling out an electronic device when you are surrounded by incredible beauty. It’s an opportunity to appreciate nature and wildlife, all the while enjoying service and attention that is refined yet friendly.