TTG – Features – Why exploring Canada by train is just a ticket
Often traveling where roads cannot reach, train journeys through Canada’s vast landscapes are sure to create unforgettable moments for guests, says Debbie Ward.
freelance journalist / editor
The Canadian mountains by train. Credit: VIA Rail
freelance journalist / editor
With breathtaking mountain and prairie landscapes to traverse and vast areas to cover, it’s no wonder that train travel in Canada is popular. As Brian Hawe, Product Manager of First Class Holidays, says: âThere is only one way to really see and experience the vastness of Canada and itâs happening, because the tracks take you to places. where the roads don’t go. “
Rail travel in Canada can also be attractive to customers looking to reduce their carbon footprint.
But while the Rocky Mountaineer is famous, in part thanks to its glass dome observation cars, other train routes remain less well known. Agents may also be unaware of the creative ways in which operators can create back-to-back trips or sell train trips as additions to other Canadian highlights.
Here we have gathered some of the countless rail options available in the destination.
For culture and the coast
Umbrella Alley, Quebec, Canada
Several famous cities and the coast can be explored on Premier Holidays’ Eastern Canada train journey, says product manager Tim Greathead.
âOn this trip, guests experience the cosmopolitan city of Toronto, with iconic landmarks such as the CN Tower. Montreal is a feast for art lovers, with its galleries, museums and jazz cafes. Quebec City is the only walled city in North America and has a fascinating old town. When arriving in Halifax, the fresh sea air will then fill the lungs of customers. They can explore its maritime history, fantastic art studios and restaurants and take a day trip to Peggy’s Cove, Lunenburg or Mahone Bay. â
RESERVE: Premier’s 10-night Eastern Canada train journey costs from Â£ 1,399 per person, including flights and city accommodation, based on travel April 25 through May 6, 2022.
For the grand tour
Rocky Mountaineer, SilverLeaf service on board
For an epic trip from Toronto to Vancouver, ideal for train buffs, combine Via Rail’s The Canadian cross-country train with the Rocky Mountaineer, as offered by First Class Holidays’ Trans-Canada Rail Adventure.
Hawe said, âThis vacation not only combines some of Canada’s most beloved cities and the fantastic Rockies, but also showcases the heart of the country in a way only train travel can do, as the Canadian takes you. through the lakes of Ontario to the breadbasket of the country, before climbing the foothills of the Rockies to Jasper.
RESERVE: The 14-day Trans-Canada Rail Adventure, starting at Â£ 4,449 per person, includes flights, hotel and train accommodations, and trips to Niagara Falls, Lake Louise and Banff. First Class Holidays also sells several separate train segments.
For the train and the cruise
Great Rail Journeys recommends a visual feast that combines two special modes of transportation.
âOur Rocky Mountaineer & Alaska cruise is not a conventional cruise,â says Beverley Goring, tour manager. âThe double-trip combination lets you soak up two iconic destinations and two modes of travel, without the hassle and expense of crossing the Atlantic twice. I highly recommend it for those looking for adventure, new cultures and breathtaking views. â
RESERVE: The 15 day package covers the Rocky Mountaineer between Jasper and Vancouver, seven nights aboard Holland America’s MS Zuiderdam, tours of Banff, Lake Louise and Vancouver, all flights and meals from Â£ 4,495 per person. Other Great Rail Journeys options include a coast-to-coast tour from Vancouver to Halifax.
For polar bears
The Via Rail branch from Winnipeg to Churchill – Canada’s polar bear capital – is rarely featured in sightseeing packages, but Frontier Travel offers it, with the train arriving at a heritage station in Hudson Bay.
âThe train journey to Churchill is unmatched for the northern scenery and the opportunities to see the Northern Lights, and it’s the only land connection to Churchill and the other small communities along the way,â says Julie Thompson, Head of Product and Marketing at Frontier.
âIt gives a different vision of Canada and its inhabitants, by visiting a region less traveled, especially by train. Most of the 2022 dates are on the waiting list but 2023 is already on sale.
RESERVE: A seven-night package starts from Â£ 6,250 per person and includes dog sledding, two days of polar bear watching in Churchill, and a return flight to Winnipeg. Includes accommodation and meals but excludes international flights.
For budget explorers
Perfect for those on a budget, or who want the freedom to really explore, the CanRail pass – sold by Gold Medal – allows unlimited travel on the Via Rail network, connecting the Atlantic, Pacific and Hudson Bay .
Andrew Sullivan, Destination Director for the Americas at Gold Medal, says, âUnlike the Rocky Mountaineer, Via Rail isn’t geared toward tourists exclusively, so it’s a great way to meet the locals.
He recommends upgrading to Sleeper Plus, which is discounted with the pass. âAccommodation and service are comfortable, with en suite cabins that have seating during the day and convert to two berths at night. You also have all your meals served in the dining car and access to the observation dome lounge, which has live entertainment, it’s a great place to socialize with other travelers, âhe adds.
RESERVE: The CanRail pass is valid for 12 days within a 30-day period. During off-peak hours, the standard Comfort Class adult pass starts at Â£ 541pp or Â£ 487pp for those under 25. Peak prices are Â£ 865 for adults and Â£ 778 for those under 25.
For a trip on the to-do list
Calgary Stampede Cowboy Experience, Canada
A great sale for special occasions, Canadian Affair packed the famous Calgary Stampede with the Rocky Mountaineer and an Alaskan cruise. âAll of these experiences are a vacation in themselves for anyone who enjoys outdoor adventure,â says Stuart Rogers, Product Manager.
âFrom late June to early July each year, the Stampede lights up Calgary by showcasing the excitement and entertainment of cowboy culture through its rodeo and other attractions known as The Greatest Show. outdoors on Earth. â
RESERVE: Canadian Affair’s Cow Town to Gold Town package includes two days at the Calgary Stampede with show tickets, two days aboard the Rocky Mountaineer (Banff to Vancouver) and a full board Alaska cruise from Â£ 3,959 per person , accommodation and international flights included. The operator also sells RV exploration of Vancouver Island with Via Rail’s The Canadian Journey.
Useful information for selling train journeys
Rocky Mountaineer has two classes and three main routes in Canada: Vancouver-Banff / Lake Louise, Vancouver-Jasper and Vancouver-Jasper via Whistler.
Meanwhile, Via Rail’s four-class utilities serve Toronto and Halifax to the east, Vancouver and Prince Rupert to the west, and Hudson Bay to the north. Since the introduction in 2014 of its Prestige class, which offers customers a dedicated concierge and a spacious cabin with extra large windows, it has been easier to sell.