A Luxury Train Ride on Rocky Mountaineer

If I could pinpoint my most exciting travel year to date, 2015 has to be it. Looking back, I can’t quite believe the mileage I clocked up and despite having many moments of feeling like George Clooney’s character from the 2009 film ‘Up in the Air’, I also had some truly incredible experiences.  One of my all time travel highlights was travelling through British Columbia on the Rocky Mountaineer.

Rocky Mountaineer - A Luxury Train Journey

As you can probably guess from the title of this blog post, this wasn’t your average trip as 2015 was the year that my husband (lucky man), Mr O’T turned 30 and for once, I was banned from planning the travel itinerary!

Rocky Mountaineer - A Luxury Train Journey

After departing London Heathrow and racking up 4700 air miles, we arrived at our starting point of Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada.

Rocky Mountaineer - A Luxury Train Journey

One of the things I was most excited about, based on the undercover research I had done, was the various modes of transport on offer to get around Canada. None more so than our 2 day train journey from Vancouver to Banff (Alberta) on the Rocky Mountaineer.

Rocky Mountaineer - A Luxury Train Journey

Trains have never really been my go-to mode of transport. The only exception being the London to Manchester route with Virgin Trains that I did regularly for over 10 years. The Rocky Mountaineer, however is a very different type of travel experience and consistently wins awards in the travel industry for offering one of the best travel experiences in the world. It is also the best way to travel through the Canadian rockies without actually having to go to the effort of driving or hiking, particularly if you are restricted in terms of time.

Last year, the company celebrated its 25th birthday and since its first journey back in 1990, the Rocky Mountaineer has grown to become the largest privately owned luxury tourist train company in the world.

Rocky Mountaineer - A Luxury Train Journey

With numerous different routes on offer, we opted for the 2 day journey from Vancouver to Banff with an overnight stay in Kamloops. After checking out of our hotel in Vancouver city centre, we headed to Terminal Avenue early doors to check-in prior to our 7:30am departure. Upon arrival, we were greeted to a fanfare reception of bagpipes.

Rocky Mountaineer - A Luxury Train Journey

After admiring the musical talent, the whistle was blown signalling that the train was ready to depart. Naturally I couldn’t miss out on getting a quick picture before embarking on this once in a lifetime luxury train experience 🙂

Rocky Mountaineer - A Luxury Train Journey

There are 2 classes operating on-board, Gold Leaf and Silver Leaf. The respective ‘leafs’ are a little like differentiating between business class and premium economy. However, I must add that Rocky Mountaineer cannot be compared to your average train journey. When Mr O’T was in his research phase, we couldn’t decide which class to reserve. We finally concluded that if we were going to do this then we were going to do this properly. So, it was Gold Leaf all the way for the O’Toole’s!

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Gold Leaf carriages are stand out in terms of comfort and views. The dome shaped panoramic windows provide breath-taking visions of the Canadian landscape and it’s fair to say that the experience on-board will be unlike any train ride you’ll ever experience. We spent many an hour staring out of the windows taking photos at every possible opportunity.

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The staff on-board are very well trained in their knowledge, commentary and of course service. One of the added bonuses of being in Gold Leaf is the complimentary beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and snacks that are served throughout the day. The staff are also well versed when it comes to searching for wildlife. During our trip, we spotted bears on 5 occasions and each time, the driver radioed ahead warning staff so they could inform passengers. This was fantastic as it gave passengers the opportunity to get their cameras out ready to take that all important snap.

Another highlight of the whole experience were meal times. Breakfast and lunch formed part of the Gold Leaf package and this was served in the local restaurant which was exclusive to this passenger class. I was fortunate enough to share this incredible experience with my in-laws and as you can see, they loved every minute of this incredible luxury train journey.

The Rocky Mountaineer

Our trip included two full days on the Rocky Mountaineer with an overnight stay in Kamloops. I won’t expand on Kamloops other than to say that the stop is not optional and it’s a very remote town in the middle of nowhere.

Whilst I’m not sure that I could do a solid 5 day journey, as I think I would start to get itchy feet, I will say that 2 days is the perfect amount of time.  This was the most incredible and special train journey I have ever experienced and it will remain vivid in my travel memories for many years to come!

Bubble Tips

champagne glass png Due to the harsh winters in Canada, rail services only operate during the spring and summer months. So, if you’re looking to take the Rocky Mountaineer then plan your trip around this period to avoid disappointment.

champagne glass pngLook for offers in your local travel journals or newspapers. My mother-in-law found a great deal in the Sunday Times one weekend that was offering a good discount on the Gold Leaf class.

champagne glass png It’s also possible to reserve your train seats last minute once you arrive in Vancouver. If seats are available and you are travelling off-peak i.e. at the start or end of the season, then tickets may be heavily discounted.

Love Mrs O’T

x

Published in Destination, North America
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2 Comments
  1. Sara Broers 11 months ago

    I’ve always wondered what this adventure was like. I love the mountains and believe I would enjoy train travel. Now I’ve got to do some planning and diving into this, to make it happen! Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. Manoj kumar 11 months ago

    Really amazing and wonderful..

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