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Undecided between Rocky Mountaineer, and VIA Rail.

Sedona, Arizona
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19 posts
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Undecided between Rocky Mountaineer, and VIA Rail.

Excitedly planning a Christmas Holiday in the Canadian Rockies (can you say "snow"?).

One trip is from Vancouver to Kamloops via Rocky Mountaineer, also stays in Banff and Calgary. No overnight aboard the train.

The second choice is Vancouver to Jasper riding on VIA Rail, includes overnight aboard train. This package includes stays in Jasper, Lake Louise, Banff, and Calgary. (Cost about $350 more each.)

The train ride portion of the week's vacation is the most important to us. Would love to hear from anyone who has taken one or both and what you think the advantages of each would be??

Thanking you in advance. Holly

Calgary, Alberta...
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1. Re: Undecided between Rocky Mountaineer, and VIA Rail.

I have not caught either train, so cannot comment on the train experience itself. However, I've done the same routes by car many times, so I can comment on the scenery, etc.

The fact that VIA Rail travels through the night is more of a disadvantage in winter, I think, because there are long hours of darkness, and you would miss a fair bit of scenery.

Because the Rocky Mountaineer stops for the night in Kamloops and puts its passengers up in hotels and motels in town, the train travels largely during daylight. In the summer months it travels exclusively during daylight, but I suspect the Christmas journey involves a little bit of travelling in the darkness when you initially board the train in the morning. Still, the vast majority of the Rocky Mountaineer's journey would take place in daylight.

It's almost inconceivable to me that the VIA Rail package would cost more than the Rocky Mountaineer package. The Rocky Mountaineer is reputed to be more luxurious than VIA Rail, and it's usually more expensive than VIA Rail (although I think there's a bit of a price overlap between Rocky Mountaineer's cheapest seats and VIA Rail's most expensive seats -- if I correctly remember what I've seen on their websites).

I can only assume that the difference in prices arises from the fact that you're comparing apples and oranges rather than apples and apples. For example, perhaps the VIA Rail package includes hotels in Jasper, Lake Louise, Banff and Calgary. Perhaps it also includes bus transfers amongst all those places.

I'm not able to compare that with the Rocky Mountaineer's package, because I don't know what the Rocky Mountaineer folks are giving you -- how many hotel nights are included, what kind of bus transfers are included (even if nothing else than a transfer to Calgary Airport).

Perhaps folks who have actually done these train trips at Christmas will be able to report their experiences to you.

Hope that helps.

Vancouver-by-the-Sea
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for British Columbia
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2. Re: Undecided between Rocky Mountaineer, and VIA Rail.

If you want the experience of a lifetime take Rocky Mountaineer-a professionally run travel company.

Via Rail is simply a shuttle that runs at night-I've done it once-never again!

Sedona, Arizona
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3. Re: Undecided between Rocky Mountaineer, and VIA Rail.

This is for Judy in Calgary: Thank you for very detailed advice. We have changed our plans based on some points you made, and are much happier with new combination. Holly

Vancouver, Canada
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818 posts
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4. Re: Undecided between Rocky Mountaineer, and VIA Rail.

Hi Holly,

For an amazing train experience the Rocky Mountaineer has a Christmas train and it's magical. I have been on the R.M. train and it offers so much more than VIA.

When you arrive at the station it's decorated for the holiday season with carolers singing and warm drinks for you as you wait to board the train. Then you head east into beautiful snow covered areas. They have 2 levels of service Red and Gold leaf, the difference is dome seating and downstairs on the car is dinner seating, very nice!

The Christmas train is the best of all the trips. A camera is a must for your trip.

Good luck.

Noel

Brisbane
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5. Re: Undecided between Rocky Mountaineer, and VIA Rail.

Thanks everyone. From Australia it is hard to decide if the additional cost of the train is worthwhile. As the road covers the same route I think we will go that way. It also makes hiring a car easier - Vancouver to Vancouver.

Regards

Allan

Iowa City
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887 posts
4 reviews
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6. Re: Undecided between Rocky Mountaineer, and VIA Rail.

No question, Rocky Mountaneer wins thumbs down-just came back from a trip Vancouver-over night Kamlooops-Jasper-Lake Louise-Banff-return from Calgary. I stroingly recommend spenbding the extra and stay only in Fairmonts- the view from lake side room of the blue Lake Louise framed by glaciated mountains is indescribable.

7. Re: Undecided between Rocky Mountaineer, and VIA Rail.

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