Category Archives: U.S.A.

Rocky Mountaineer Vacations in 2018

Canadian travel companies, including ours, have been very busy over the past few months. With Canada celebrating its 150th birthday this year, resulting in free entry into all National Parks here, combined with the weak Canadian dollar as well as Canada being seen as a safe country to visit, we are seeing record visitors in 2017. There is no better time to come and visit our magnificent country and join in with the 150th birthday celebrations. However, due to the popularity we are seeing some hotels and rail dates now completely sold out which, if you have set dates in mind, is proving to be quite disappointing, as not all the guests booking this late into the season will be able to secure rooms in the best hotels. If there is availability, then you will receive a FREE hotel night when you book a 2017 Rocky Mountaineer package of 4 of more nights, but this offer does not hold a candle to those who are now booking their 2018 vacation this far in advance. If there is one thing our guests have learned from the 2017 season, it is that booking far in advance gets you the best rates and deals, as well as availability at the best hotels. For a deposit, you can lock in the 2018 dates you want, at the best hotels and receive the best deals.

Rocky Mountain Holidays have just updated their website to include all of the 2018 Rocky Mountaineer Vacation packages. We are very excited about the addition of the “Culinary and Adventure Packages“. These packages have been introduced based on customer feedback and are to appeal to foodies and the more adventurous types – we think they will be very popular indeed!

Rocky Mountaineer have also renamed some of their popular packages to avoid confusion and to allow you to know for sure, you are booking a genuine Rocky Mountaineer vacation package. Look out for following trade-marked route names in the packages:

Rocky Mountaineer Rail Routes – 2018
  • Journey through the Clouds™
    Means the package incorporates Jasper-Kamloops-Vancouver 2-day train route (or reverse)
  • First Passage to the West™
    Means the package incorporates Banff-Kamloops-Vancouver 2-day train route (or reverse)
  • Rainforest to Gold Rush™
    Means the package incorporates Jasper-Quesnel-Whistler-Vancouver 3-day train route (or reverse)
  • Coastal Passage®
    Means the package incorporates the newest Seattle-Vancouver 5 hour train route (or reverse)

Any operators trying to mimic a Rocky Mountaineer package can no longer do this as they can not use the above trade-marked terms in their package names. We welcome this change as it ensures guests know that they are booking a genuine Rocky Mountaineer package, and not a trimmed down inferior product.

With our Canadian dollar so weak, you can now book your trip of a lifetime for less than you think. With a weak dollar, travelling outside of Canada is expensive for us Canadians, so we are finding many Canadians are now exploring their own country with a good old “staycation”. It is a great time to travel in Canada, no matter where you are from.

The Canadian Dollar ["Loonie"]
The Canadian dollar has weakened significantly against other major currencies.
Right now, Rocky Mountain Holidays are offering their best rates and deals for 2018. You will also be able to get locked into their private tours while availability is still good. Be sure to contact them directly to ensure you receive the absolute best service: RockyMountainHolidays.com

Have you travelled with Rocky Mountain Holidays or onboard the Rocky Mountaineer train? Share your experiences with us below!

2015 Rocky Mountaineer Vacations

2015 Rocky Mountaineer Vacation Packages – itineraries, rates and dates

Rocky Mountain Holidays have just posted all 2015 Rocky Mountaineer vacation packages for 2015. There are significantly more packages available with the welcomed addition of some old favourites such as the “at leisure” packages, which give you more time in the Canadian Rockies. There are now 129 Rocky Mountaineer Canadian vacation package options to choose from.

All vacation packages were always available through customisation, although the addition of these extended packages make it much easier for guests to view itineraries and prices at a glance. Rocky Mountain Holidays also have a useful vacation search tool which assists you in finding the perfect vacation package with Rocky Mountaineer (featured below):

For 2015, at time of press, all new Rocky Mountaineer Vacation packages will be subject to a 20% non-refundable deposit. In the past, guests took advantage of the low deposits to secure their vacations in advance. For now, any guests booking 2015 will have to be a little more committed – we always recommend you take out adequate travel insurance to protect you against unforeseen circumstances.

Changes to 2015 Alaska cruise out of Vancouver

It’s goodbye to NCL in 2015 and the relationship with Holland America continues to grow strong for the 2015 season. Having travelled onboard Holland America’s ms Zuiderdam myself out of Vancouver on their 7 night round-trip Alaska cruise, I have to say it was an excellent cruise ship and perfect for the Alaskan climate with not too much outside deck.

In 2015, the ms Zuiderdam’s route will be replaced by the returning ms Noordam. The itinerary will remain the same. This ship is a Vista-class ship like the Zuiderdam and was the last built of the Vista Class ships (Zuiderdam being the first).  As this is a newer ship, Holland America made some improvements. The consensus is that this is a better ship with some slight changes –  it is a sister ship to ms Zuiderdam and has mostly identical features.  So, this is a really positive change for the rail and cruise packages in 2015.  We are already off to a great start!

Here is a nice photo I took from onboard the ms Zuiderdam as we cruised Glacier Bay National Park – just breath taking.

Photo taken from onboard Holland America's Zuiderdamas we cruised Glacier Bay National Park
Photo taken from onboard Holland America’s Zuiderdam as we cruised Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska. The Zuiderdam is the sister cruise ship to ms Noordam.

Holland America’s ms Westerdam will be the cruise ship of choice out of Seattle again in 2015 and ties in nicely with the Coastal Passage route which connects Seattle to Vancouver and the Canadian Rockies.

So what new packages are available in 2015?

Taste of the Rockies Circle

Rocky Mountaineer’s research with guests and potential guests indicated that future guests are seeking more days onboard the train. To accommodate this growing demand for circle trips, Rocky Mountaineer introduced the new shorter-duration 6 night “Taste of the Rockies” Circle package.

Taste of the Rockies Circle Vacation with Rocky Mountaineer
Itinerary and map of the new 2015 “Taste of the Rockies” Circle Vacation with Rocky Mountaineer.

This rail vacation package includes both the Rocky Mountaineer’s best-selling First Passage to the West and Journey through the Clouds routes, plus a motorcoach tour along the Icefields Parkway connecting Banff and Jasper National Parks. The journey can also be extended to begin and/or end in Seattle instead of Vancouver by adding Coastal Passage, or combined with pre- or post-tour cruise options onboard the ms Noordam out of Vancouver.

Canadian Rockies Adventures

Canadian Rockies Adventures Vacation Package with Rocky Mountaineer
Canadian Rockies Adventure Vacation Package in 2015 with Rocky Mountaineer

During my years of guiding in Banff National Park, the Icefields Parkway was one of my favourite places to take guests and the scenery never failed to disappoint. This route is only accessible by road and is a favourite of many Rocky Mountaineer guests too. With this in mind, the “Canadian Rockies Adventures” vacation package was introduced for 2015.  It extends guests’ stays in Lake Louise and Banff to two nights, to allow for more time to include this spectacular highlight in their itineraries while at the same time, slowing the pace making this holiday more relaxing over 7 nights.

Please note that this package is not the same as the one with the same name sold until 2012 as the old itinerary did not include lunch on the Icefields Parkway tour or the helicopter flight at Cline River. A 7 night round-trip Alaskan cruise out of Vancouver onboard ms Noordam can also be added before or after this package.

Canadian Rockies at Leisure and Northern Rockies at Leisure

Due to increased demand of vacation packages in the Canadian Rockies with longer durations, the “Canadian Rockies at Leisure” (9 nights) and “Northern Rockies at Leisure” (10 nights) have been re-introduced. These itineraries are very similar to the best selling Western Explorer package and the Northern Explorer package, but with two night stays in Banff and Lake Louise, as well as in Jasper.  A 7-night round-trip Vancouver cruise onboard ms Noordaman can also be added to either of these packages (at the start or the end).

Coastal Passage Packages

We were some of the lucky ones to be invited onboard for the inaugural departure in August 2013 and we were certainly impressed by this new exciting route, connecting Seattle to Vancouver and the Canadian Rockies.

Back in February 2014, Rocky Mountaineer vastly expanded the number of Coastal Passage packages available, making a total of 41 package options to choose from which include this route.  For 2015, these packages will also be available with cruises from Holland America (ms Westerdam, before or after your rail tour)

As in 2014, the Coastal Passage add-on is  available to begin or end any Rocky Mountaineer package in Seattle, it can not be taken as a stand-alone.

Is that all the changes for 2015?

Yes, as far as we can see.  Apart for some minor tweaks on some existing packages, such as the Summit Helicopter tour removal from the Canadian Rockies Getaway, Grand Rail Circle, Trans-Canada Rail Adventure, and Coast to Coast by Rail, no other major changes to report.

We are delighted about the changes we have seen for the 2015 season…it will be here before we know it!

All aboard!

Rocky Mountaineer release 2015 Rail Schedule & Rates

Rocky Mountain Holidays posted Rocky Mountaineer’s anticipated rail schedule and rates for 2015 today. We have highlighted the main changes below.

Rocky Mountaineer's Coastal Passage Route
The Rocky Mountaineer train travelling north from Seattle to Vancouver  [Coastal Passage Route]
After Rocky Mountaineer’s launch of their successful Coastal Passage Route in 2013, which connects Seattle to Vancouver and the Canadian Rockies, they have introduced a planned 18 northbound and southbound departures, up from 12 departures this year (2014). The Coastal Passage Route can still only be booked in conjunction with 2-day rail, it cannot be booked as a standalone product.

The Rocky Mountaineer 2-day rail departures for 2015 remain the same, however, there will be no break in 2015 during the first week of August as per previous years. This break was due to annual maintenance of the trains but they have now changed this schedule to ensure a continuous service.

Rates have increased significantly for 2-day rail over their 2014 rates and at time of press, Rocky Mountain Holidays were still offering 2014 Rocky Mountaineer vacation package pricing for 2015.

In 2015, there are no longer two price bands of April through to May, and June through to October. In the past, April and May departures for 2-day rail were reduced to encourage guests to travel earlier in the season. As a result of this change, there have been some significant price hikes, especially for travel in April and May:

2-day Rail – Vancouver to the Canadian Rockies [Jasper, Lake Louise or Banff]

For April and May train departures in 2015:

  • RedLeaf = +26% rate increase over 2014
  • SilverLeaf = +12% rate increase over 2014
  • GoldLeaf = +10.5% rate increase over 2014

For June through to October train departures in 2015:

  • RedLeaf = +14.6% rate increase over 2014
  • SilverLeaf = +5% rate increase over 2014
  • GoldLeaf =  +5% rate increase over 2014
Rocky Mountaineer Train, Morant's Curve
The Rocky Mountaineer train in Banff National Park, travelling eastwards between Lake Louise and Banff [Morant’s Curve]

2-day Rail – Vancouver through the Canadian Rockies to Calgary

For April and May train departures in 2015:

  • RedLeaf = +23.4% rate increase over 2014
  • SilverLeaf = +11% rate increase over 2014
  • GoldLeaf = +9.8% rate increase over 2014

For June through to October train departures in 2015:

  • RedLeaf = +13.2% rate increase over 2014
  • SilverLeaf = +4.6% rate increase over 2014
  • GoldLeaf =  +4.7% rate increase over 2014

Vancouver to Whistler 3.5 hour train [Sea-to-Sky Climb]

For May through to September train departures in 2015:

  • Classic Service – One Way = Almost 18% rate increase over 2014
  • Classic Service – Return =  Over 11% rate increase over 2014

Seattle to Vancouver train [Coastal Passage Route]

  • SilverLeaf = +10% rate increase over 2014 ($50 increase per person)
  • GoldLeaf = +7.1% rate increase over 2014 ($50 increase per person)

Why such dramatic rate increases in 2015?

Our assumption is that rising operating costs, updates to their GoldLeaf dome coaches, along with expansion into the United States are all reasons for increased rates. The weakening of the Canadian dollar against the U.S. dollar has also contributed to potential increased costs in 2015.

The upgrade margins between RedLeaf, SilverLeaf and GoldLeaf service have been narrowed to entice guests to indulge in the ultimate luxury of GoldLeaf service onboard.

From November 1st, 2013, Rocky Mountaineer imposed rail fuel surcharges on all of their routes in 2014 due to rising oil prices, so taking that into consideration, the actual percentage rate increases from 2014 are less (as long as more fuel surcharges aren’t imposed for 2015). Rocky Mountain Holidays are still currently offering “rail and cruise fuel surcharge protection” on all of their Rocky Mountaineer bookings, so they will pay any fuel surcharges imposed on your behalf when you book through them.

The Canadian Dollar ["Loonie"]
The Canadian dollar has weakened significantly over the past year, most dramatically over the past few months.

How do these rate increases affect you?

The good news for most international guests is that the Canadian dollar has weakened significantly over the past year, most dramatically over the past few months.

For example:

  • The U.K. pound has increased in value against the Canadian dollar by 17% over the past year
  • The U.S. dollar has increased in value against the Canadian dollar by 10% over the past year

Unfortunately, Australians have seen a 5% decline in the Australian dollar against the Canadian dollar over the past year and most guests who live in Canada will not see any benefit in a weakened Canadian dollar.

That being said, the early-bird booking deals set to be offered for 2015 will be very attractive to encourage guests to book far in advance.

What do you think about these changes? Feel free to comment below.

Source: Rocky Mountain Holidays

Rocky Mountaineer Train Schedule & Rates – 2014

Rocky Mountain Holidays™ have just posted the schedules and rates on their website for the Rocky Mountaineer train in 2014.

The main (and most exciting) change is the permanent addition of the Coastal Passage Route which connects Seattle to Vancouver by Rocky Mountaineer train. This route is due to debut for the first time for just one departure in August 2013. In 2014,  there are the following departures:

  • 4 departures in May 2014
  • 3 departures in June 2014
  • 1 departure in July 2014
  • 2 departures in August 2014
  • 2 departures in September 2014

With the exciting Rocky Mountaineer Coastal Passage route in 2014, you will have the option of connecting with 2-day rail routes (Vancouver to Banff / Calgary or Jasper, via Kamloops) as well as the option of SilverLeaf service onboard. For the first debut departure this August 2013, the Coastal Passage route is only available in GoldLeaf service.

In 2014, you will also have the option of disembarking the Rocky Mountaineer train in Lake Louise (instead of Banff). This option was introduced in 2013.

We are thrilled with the new 2014 Rocky Mountaineer train schedule which will connect Seattle (U.S.A.) to the Canadian Rockies (via Vancouver) for over 5 months in 2014 – a fabulous addition.

Rocky Mountaineer video featuring the new Coastal Passage Route from Seattle to Vancouver:

Rocky Mountaineer packages in 2014 are now available to book by contacting Rocky Mountain Holidays.

Source [PDF]:  Rocky Mountaineer Schedule & Rates for 2014