Our travel consultants have travelled all over the world to bring you the most up to date knowledge and insider information. Our personal travel consultant, Charlotte Potter, travelled on the Rocky Mountaineer in Canada and shares her adventure below:
This adventure begins in Seattle where wonderful mountain and water views abound. A guided tour of Downtown Seattle is a must, with visits to Seattle Waterfront, Pioneer Square, Chinatown, Seattle Centre and Ballard’s Lock; where you can see the fish ladder, built to allow Salmon to pass between fresh and salt water. Glass panels below allow you to see the Salmon as they swim through the ladder. You can also stop by the famous ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ floating house, visit Chihuly Garden and Glass expedition to view the work of artist Dale Chihuly and visit the Space Needle Observation deck which provides 360 degree views from 520 feet above sea level.
The food and culture tour of Pike Market, a beloved Seattle landmark welcoming more than 10 million visitors a year is well worth a visit. It’s a place where you can “Meet the Producer”— the farmers, butchers, fishmongers, cheesemongers, bakers, winemakers. There is no chain store allowed here except for Starbucks, as this is the very location where the first Starbucks was opened. Be sure to get to Pike Market early as it does get extremely busy mid-morning!
After a busy morning you can make your way to the station to board the next adventure, ‘The Rocky Mountaineer’.
The first journey with Rocky Mountaineer is the Coastal Passage Route from Seattle to Vancouver. This is a 5 hour journey along Pacific Ocean’s coastline, which allows you to view the amazing scenery passing by, along with wildlife such as eagles, herring and seals.
I travelled in Silver Leaf service, which included a delicious meal, along with unlimited snacks and beverages along the way. The seats were extremely comfortable, with a generous amount of leg room. The members of staff on board were excellent and extremely knowledgeable. They kept us updated with where we were on our journey, and alerted us if there was a chance to spot wildlife.
You will arrive into Vancouver around 9pm and get transferred to the Sutton Place Hotel; your base for the next 3 nights.
Day one in Vancouver begins with a short transfer to the Canadian Trail promenade. This is where the majority of the cruise ships dock before heading off to Alaska. And also the place where you can experience Vancouver’s new attraction FlyOver Canada; a breath taking, family-friendly, flight simulation ride complete with wind, scents, and mist! You feel like you flying past snow-capped mountains and about to dip your feet into raging water rapids when all the time you are actually sitting down!
Next up is SEA Vancouver; a zodiac tour of Vancouver’s inner harbour and Stanley Park. The zodiacs are open air vessels that soar along at speeds of 55kph. Other highlights include sights of Vancouver’s Coal Harbour, North Shore, English Bay and False Creek. After docking at Granville Island, you will have free time to experience the sites that Vancouver’s top chefs source their ingredients from, and soak up an array of fresh produce and gourmet goodies.
If you’re staying in Vancouver you can’t miss out on the amazing breakfast at the Fairmont Vancouver. It’s best to pre-book this the day before as it’s quite popular. For £30 you can experience the most amazing buffet breakfast.
Not for the faint hearted, but definitely worth visiting is the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park where you cross a bridge that’s suspended 70 meters up and 137 meters long. Alternatively you can do some shopping along Robson Street where you will find many of the well-known high street brands.
Next stop on the Rocky Mountaineer is from Vancouver to Banff; a two day journey through the Rockies. We were very lucky to experience this journey in Gold Leaf. We were directed up to our seats which were on the upper level in the domed carriage where we had 360 degree views. Along with the amazing views, you also get a separate dining cart for breakfast & lunch. There is also a viewing platform where you can go out and take amazing pictures. Another benefit of being in Gold Leaf is that your luggage is taken care of and will be waiting for you in your hotel room at each stop. The views I witnessed on this journey were stunning. From the green lush landscapes to the waterfalls high in the mountains, the scenery was mesmerising. As this was a two day journey, we travelled for eight hours before stopping in a small town called Kamloops.
An overnight in Kamloops, then it was straight on to Banff. Today’s highlights include Craigellachie, where the last spike of the Canadian Pacific Railway was driven, the climb over Rogers Pass, the Kicking Horse Canyon, the Spiral Tunnels and, of course, the glaciers and snow-capped peaks of the Canadian Rockies.
You will perhaps spend most of your time down on the viewing platform in the hope of spotting brown and grizzly bears. We were very lucky to have spotted a brown bear, completely oblivious to us being there, slowly roaming amongst the trees. That was the highlight of this trip for me; to see these creatures in their natural habitat was truly incredible.
Once in Banff you head to The Rimrock; a very good four star hotel, located slightly out of Banff town. They run a shuttle bus from the hotel every 30 minutes which is free of charge, down to Banff which takes five minutes. Opposite the Rimrock is the Banff Springs which is well worth visiting; especially after a long day travelling.
After a good night’s sleep and an amazing buffet breakfast courtesy of the Rimrock, you’re off to the next adventure – first a trip on the Banff Gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain for a stunning bird’s eye view of six mountain ranges. Afterwards head towards Calgary while taking in sights of Bow Falls, Surprise Corner and Hoodoos. We stopped at Kananaskis where we had the highlight of the day: a summit helicopter tour over the Canadian Rockies.
Your final destination is Calgary. Highlights here include Calgary Tower to experience the best views of the city along with Calgary Stamped Stadium where you can have a tour of the showground.