Updated February 2017
Chelsea from our sales team had a once in a lifetime chance to travel onboard Rocky Mountaineer. Here’s what she has to tell...
A dream became reality
After booking many customers on Rocky Mountaineer, I had a strong desire to experience this wonderful trip for myself. My dream came true when I was offered the chance to go along and try it as part of a familiarisation trip for work.
Along with a group of UK travel agents, we spent seven days in Canada courtesy of Rocky Mountaineer. After selling Rocky Mountaineer for over a year, it was amazing to experience it first-hand.
Having worked the Alaska season onboard Celebrity Cruises from Vancouver, I was already acquainted with the city, however it was now time to venture further inland.
After a nine hour direct flight from Gatwick on Air Transat I arrived in Vancouver. I was initially dubious about this airline, but I was proved completely wrong. The flight was extremely smooth and the flight attendants were extremely attentive.
During the afternoon we travelled into Downtown Vancouver by catching the sky train. This runs every 10 minutes from the airport directly into the city centre and down to the port.
After spending one day a week here previously, I wandered around the city remembering all the sights and found myself drinking a coffee outside the port, watching the ships and reminiscing about my time at sea.
After tearing myself away from the stunning views I made my way to The Fairmont Airport Hotel. The restaurant, bar and our room had huge windows over-looking the runway so you could watch the planes come and go, it was a perfect stay.
After an early wake-up call we took a short trip to Rocky Mountaineer's privately owned train station.
This train was the last of the season to Calgary. Rocky Mountaineer had invited five wounded service men and patrons of military charities and their families to join the train, a very nice touch I thought. The atmosphere was incredible as families were glowing with pride, it made me feel incredibly proud of our armed forces. After a short speech and a cup of tea it was time to board the train on SilverLeaf travelling from Vancouver to Kamloops.
The carriages are huge and the space you get is incredible. They are airy and bright with large curved picture windows. We had three hostesses in our carriage, who after quick introductions, began serving breakfast.
In SilverLeaf you are served at your seat. There was coffee, tea, fruit juice, warm scones with jam, fruit salad, Canadian bacon, eggs and potatoes. The amount of food I received was amazing, they just kept presenting me with more delicious treats.
The rain was pouring for the first hour, so the scenery wasn’t the best and with the raindrops on the windows, neither were my pictures! However this did not dampen the experience for one minute.
Once we left the city, it was like we had entered another world. The views were breath-taking as we travelled higher and higher past lakes and through the mountains.
We reached Kamloops with a warm welcome and were transferred to our hotel. Whether you travel in GoldLeaf or SilverLeaf, your luggage follows you wherever you go, you do not have to lift a finger. So after a quick change, we were meeting the rest of our group at the Noble Pig.
This brew pub makes their own beer from scratch and their staff make up the crazy names for the new beers too. After our tour of the brewery, our tour guide ordered our food. He ensured we tried some traditional Canadian appetisers such as bacon popcorn, fried pickles and poutine, chips with cheese and gravy (everyone in the group was slightly taken back by this, they’ve obviously never been up north!)
The train stayed in the station overnight as it only travels during daylight hours. The most exciting thing about today was that we were upgraded to GoldLeaf :-)
The GoldLeaf carriage is split into two levels. The top floor is where you will sit for the majority of your journey. The same style seats as SilverLeaf but the carriage has a complete glass domed ceiling for better views.
Where the GoldLeaf differs from the SilverLeaf is the dining. The downstairs cabin is a sit down restaurant with chefs to prepare fresh meals for you. I thought the food was amazing in SilverLeaf, so this was an ultimate luxury for me.
I sat there feeling like a queen as I gazed out the window, admiring the scenery whilst eating smoked salmon and caviar.
The menu was divine and the presentation really proves better than many top restaurants I have been to.
Today's train journey took us from Kamloops to Banff. The higher we climbed, the more beautiful it became. The turquoise lakes spread around the snow-capped mountains were a sight seen to be believed.
Waking up in Banff was like waking up on Christmas day. Banff’s log style cabins are covered in fairy lights and with snow on the ground, it looked truly magical.
We stayed in the Caribou Lodge, which is located in the centre. It’s on the main street and within short walking distance to the area with the bars, restaurants and souvenir shops.
The first stop we visited was the Spiral Tunnels, we had travelled through here on the train the day before.
The next top was the Emerald Lake. The sun was out and the water was an amazing turquoise colour. We sat with our gloves on watching the wildlife and drinking warm maple syrup cider, yum!
Finally came the big part of the day - Lake Louise. The Fairmount Hotel dominates the lower end of the lake and the rest of the area is pure picturesque scenery. We walked down to the end of the lake and back again, taking in the incredible scenery. It was very grand in scale and for that reason I would say that Emerald Lake was more beautiful as it was quaint and silent, but that’s just my opinion!
The great thing about Banff is there is something for everyone. There are plenty of bars, restaurants and shops. The surrounding areas are also home to some great attractions including, Banff Springs, Skiing, and Gondola rides.
We decided to go on the Gondola Tour up Sulphur Mountain. The gondola takes you up to the summit where the views are incredible. You can see everything; lakes, forests and the whole area of Banff nestled in between the mountains.
After a short trip back into town to get souvenirs and a quick bite to eat, it was time for the part I had most been looking forward to – the Helicopter tour!
The rest of my group were a little scared of heights, but I was eager to go. There was only one seat left - next to the pilot, so I jumped in and became co-pilot for the trip! I later realised it was the best seat as I had glass all around me so the views I had were spectacular. This was an excellent way to see the beauty of Canada and an experience I will never forget. I would definitely recommend this to anyone.
After this trip we continued from Banff onto Calgary were we stayed at the Delta Bow Valley Hotel.
Today we visited Calgary Heritage Park. For those who are not aware, it is a handful of villages that are set up to represent the different eras of Canada's history. It’s all outdoor and has its very own railway. Everyone who works here dresses in full costume and acts as different characters. If you’re travelling with younger children, this is definitely a place to visit.
Our final stop of the day was the Calgary Tower, where you can experience panoramic views over Calgary. There is a revolving restaurant at the top if you fancy a bite to eat with a great view.
After a jam-packed week, today was a little more relaxed. We stayed in the International Suites for our last night, with a final meal and goodbye drinks before we all flew home the following day.
The end of my adventure...
Everything and everyone on this amazing trip has been incredible and it is hard to put into words just how fantastic it was.
Rocky Mountaineer experience has been nothing short of breath-taking and something everyone should try to experience if they can.
A massive thank you to Craig and Rocky Mountaineer for having all of us onboard.
If you are inspired to visit these unique destinations we have a series of cruise packages which include this incredible journey. See our Rocky Mountaineer deals here.