A 20-day holiday combining a seven-night cruise exploration of Alaska’s Inside Passage, a Rocky Mountaineer train ride, a week touring Canada and three nights in Vancouver is available for travel in the middle of this year.
The fly-cruise-rail-and-stay holiday, lasting almost three weeks, is called ‘Regatta’s Rocky Rail Roving’. It includes Qantas flights from Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne to North America and return.
‘Regatta’s Rocky Rail Roving’ costs from A$7999 per person twin share from Worldwide Cruise Centres (worldwidecruisecentres.com.au). The Alaskan cruise is aboard Oceania Cruises’ boutique-size Regatta, a ship that’s five-star but “without the bow tie”. A bonus US$100 in shipboard credit is provided per twin cabin.
The holiday begins with a flight from Australia to Canada on 27 June 2014. That’s a perfect time to go – midwinter in Australia and high summer in Alaska. It’s also summertime in Calgary, Canada’s city of the famous Calgary Stampede. Calgary is where the holiday begins, with a night staying there at the Delta Bow Valley Hotel.
From Calgary, you’ll head off on a fantastic six-night/seven-day Western Highlights tour ending in Vancouver, staying in superior grade accommodation as you go (Banff Caribou Lodge, Deer Lodge Lake Louise, Sawridge Inn Jasper and a Kamloops hotel provided by Rocky Mountaineer).
In Banff, you’ll visit the Hoodoos (shaped by centuries of wind), Surprise Corner, Sulphur Mountain (gondola ride included) and Tunnel Mountain Drive overlooking the splendour of Bow Valley. There’s time at leisure between sightseeing to do your own thing.
You’ll travel by coach along one of the most scenic highways in North America, the Icefields Parkway. See enormous Columbia Icefield (nearly 325 square kilometres). If you wish, ride the Ice Explorer on the Athabasca Glacier. A full day tour between Lake Louse and Jasper incudes picnic lunch.
The tour will make stops at Bow and Peyto Lakes, the Crowfoot Glacier and the Athabasca Falls, terrain renowned for sightings of bear, elk, moose and mountain sheep. Keep your camera ready! Weather cooperating, you should be there at a time when the mountain lakes are not frozen over.
Experience the Jasper Wonderland for some amazing close-up wildlife photo opportunities. An evening wildlife tour is included. Then, all aboard the famed Rocky Mountaineer train for a scenic rail journey to Kamloops in the interior of British Columbia. Two breakfasts and two lunches are served aboard. Pass the sprawling grandeur of Mount Robson, highest peak in the Canadian Rockies, and follow the mighty Thompson River, the route of early fur traders, before arriving in Kamloops.
You’ll see Fraser Canyon and Hells Gate, where a mighty water torrent thunders through narrow canyon walls, before your overland journey ends.
In Vancouver, you’ve three nights accommodation at the Delta Vancouver Suites hotel, within walking distance of art galleries, theatres and Stanley Park. Shop the Granville Street mall and Robson Street and take in the vibrant dining scene and nightlife of Gastown and Yaletown.
A coach trip over the US border now to the great northwestern city of Seattle, to board Regatta, an intimate and luxurious ship catering for just 684 discerning guests. Savour some of the finest cuisine at sea, be pampered by five-star personal service, enjoy world-class entertainment and relax in casual, country-club ambiance. All meals and entertainment aboard this five-star ship are included. The ship’s smaller size makes the atmosphere more intimate. Take in lectures by world-renowned experts or succumb to the pleasures of an aromatherapy massage. Maybe work out in the state-of-the-art fitness club. Your lifestyle aboard can be active and engaged – or as private and laid back – as you wish.
With its mild, maritime climate, Alaska’s Inside Passage is prime habitat for bald eagles, sea lions, porpoise and whales. In the Tracy Arm Fjord region, black and brown bears, deer and wolves roam spectacular scenery while birds such as arctic terns and pigeon guillemots soar overhead. As well as wildlife, the region offers quaint little towns like Prince Rupert, on the edge of the wilderness, and Ketchikan with its totem poles. You’ll also visit a town most Inside Passage cruises miss: Wrangell, once a Tlingit Indian stronghold, then a Russian outpost, and finally an American settlement in 1867.
At the end of a great adventure, time to fly back from Seattle to Australia.
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