Alaska Rail And Cruise Packages Add Value, Adventure

Alaska rail and cruise packages, commonly called Cruise Tours, are heating up as more travelers opt to see more of what the land of the midnight sun has to offer. Choosing a multi-day land exploration, either before or after a seven-day cruise line sailing, gets passengers deeper into the Alaska heartland than possible by ship only. Now, a third-party travel source is offering to combine their package with a standard cruise line experience for something different.

Rocky Mountaineer is a rail line that offers over 45 Canadian vacation packages on four unique routes through British Columbia and Alberta, each rich in history and natural wonders. The luxurious train travels by daylight through the wild beauty of Canada’s West and is a great way to experience the majestic Canadian Rockies either before or after an Alaska cruise.

Traveling eastbound or westbound on the Rocky Mountaineer, the all-daylight rail journey departs three times per week on both the First Passage to the West and the Journey Through the Clouds routes from the end of April until the beginning of October. The Rainforest to Gold Rush route runs from the middle of May until the end of September, as does the Whistler Sea to Sky Climb route.On board, Rocky Mountaineer offers different levels/choices of service for rail journeys too. All passengers get onboard attendants that provide friendly service and informative commentary of the regions through which the train travels. Gold, Silver and Red levels of service offer more onboard amenities.

Now, combining Rocky Mountaineer extensive experience on land with Holland America Line’s experience at sea, comes a package that bundles it all.

Called Canadian Rockies Highlights & Coastal Passage with Pre-Tour Cruise – 2013, the package includes three days onboard the Rocky Mountaineer, a seven-night Holland America Alaskan cruise, eight dinners, eight lunches, nine breakfasts and five nights of hotel accommodation. Also included are Banff & Seattle tours, a Yoho Park tour and Helicopter Flightseeing.

The offer is simple: book a Coastal Passage rail/cruise trip by March 28 directly through Rocky Mountaineer and earn up to $1300 in credits toward the cruise portion, or extra hotel nights/restaurant meals along the train portion in cities like Seattle, Vancouver and Banff.

Want to know more about what travel via rail in the Rockies is like? Check this video:

[Photo Credit- Rocky Mountaineer]

Exploring the Canadian Rockies on Cross Country Skis

Stretching into Alberta and British Columbia, the Canadian Rockies form the backdrop for one of the best settings for winter outdoor adventure in North America, if not the world. The region can be explored by sled dog or on snowshoes, and offers some of the best skiing, both downhill and cross country, anywhere.

With that in mind, outdoor enthusiast and writer Peter Potterfield recently made the trek up north to take in the amazing terrain and sample the best Canadian lodges in the area as well. He wrote about his expedition over at, sharing all the details of his mid-February cross country ski trip across miles of backcountry trails.

The trip begins with a flight into Calgary, followed by a quick one-hour drive to the mountains and the Num-TiJah Lodge, the first of five that Potterfield would visit on his journey. Over the course of the next few days, he spent the daylight hours exploring the trails, which range in difficulty from relaxed and easy to challenging and strenuous, depending on the chosen route. Evenings are spent in comfortable accomidations, sipping wine and dining on fine cuisine, with the beautiful, remote scenery just outside the window.

The article has all the details on how to get to the area, including links to all the lodges as well. There is also information on what equipment to bring or rent while you there, as the varying conditions allow for the use of a wide variety of winter gear.

Winter isn’t over for a few more weeks, and the skiing up north should be great for well into the spring. If you’re looking for a remote getaway for some backcountry skiing, the Canadian Rockies will offer everything you need.

Adventure Travel in Luxury in the Canadian Rockies

Usually I equate adventure travel with roughing it. Getting dropped off by helicopter into the wildnerness where there are no paved roads also sounds a bit risky. On the contrary on both accounts. Although heli-hiking vacations do involve helicopters and donning hiking boots for some rigorous activity, there’s no reason to forgo the niceties of pampering if you’re spending the night in the wild.

That’s what I found out when I read Joe Nocera’s first person account of his trip to Canada in the New York Times travel section. He went on a Canadian Mountain Holidays vacation that involved being dropped off on top of a mountain in the morning so he could hike all day with the rest of his group in stunning, hard to reach places before the helicopter came back for them to return them to the lodge. According to him, this experience allows for roughing it travel that is mixed with luxurious slumber in a lodge that also offers massages, wine and hors d’oeuvres. That does sound good BUT. . .

One of the things he mentioned was seeing markings left by grizzly bears, something that might be hard to see if you just hike somewhere. Harumph! The first time I hiked in Glacier National Park in Montana with my husband the spring before we got married, he pointed out two grizzly bears across a field from where we were heading to a lake he thought I should see. I wondered about the fruit in his pack. He said I ought to be more concerned about the salami in mine and all he had to worry about was out-running me. The bears were so far away they looked like small dogs and according to this personal tour guide of mine who spent the summers in college doing laundry at Many Glacier Hotel in East Glacier, we weren’t in any danger. We made it to the lake several miles from the parking lot. I still remember the mountains still capped with snow and the brilliant blue of the water. And at the end of the day, I had the satisfaction of knowing that I got there and back by using my legs to carry me. We didn’t see one person along the way. If a helicopter had shown up, though, I probably wouldn’t have turned down the ride.

One company I found that offers a smaller scale version of Nocera’s experience is Heli-Canada Adventures. You can do a heli-hike for a day if you want to picnic on top of a mountain, for example, and you just don’t want to walk there.