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Review: Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” Vancouver to Banff

Review: Rocky Mountaineer


The Rocky Mountaineer is taken into account one of the luxurious and scenic practice experiences in North America, with service via Western Canada and the American Rocky Mountains. What started as a family-owned enterprise in 1990 is now the world’s largest privately-operated luxurious practice expertise.

I had the chance to take the Rocky Mountaineer and take a look at it for myself lately, when my accomplice Jessy and I ventured from the West Coast to the Rocky Mountains for 2 days of grandeur aboard the practice.

While I’ve taken a couple of practice journeys earlier than, this could be my first time onboard a luxurious practice of any variety, and I used to be excited to see how it might examine to my many flights in premium cabins.

Rocky Mountaineer – Routes

There are 4 distinct rail routes provided by the Rocky Mountaineer, which operates from April to October every year:

  • “First Passage to the West”, which we took, is the most well-liked route, and was beforehand often called the “Kicking Horse Route”. This itinerary encompasses a two-day journey from Vancouver to Lake Louise or Banff, with an in a single day cease in Kamloops en route.
  • “Rainforest to Gold Rush” runs from Vancouver to Jasper over the course of three days, with stops in Whistler and Quesnel.
  • “Journey Through The Clouds” travels from Vancouver to Jasper, with just one cease in Kamloops alongside the best way.
  • “Rockies to The Red Rocks” is a two-day route out there within the US Rocky Mountains. This route runs from Moab to Denver, and is presently the lone route exterior of Canada.

Several packages can be found. We launched into one of many “Short Journeys”, which takes two or three days throughout the varied routes.

Mid-length journeys are often called “Rocky Highlights”, which give additional days to go to outstanding stops, and “Circle Journeys” are the longest potential reserving choice, which permits passengers to mix a number of routes for a extra intensive expertise.

Rocky Mountaineer – Classes of Service

The SilverLeaf cabin is the base-level providing onboard the Rocky Mountaineer, whereas the GoldLeaf cabin is Rocky Mountaineer’s premier class, with an elevated railway expertise.

Both embrace complimentary meals and snacks, in addition to alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. However, with the GoldLeaf Service, there are a couple of notable additional inclusions.

SilverLeaf is a single-level carriage with stationary seats and normal home windows. In comparability, GoldLeaf has a two-level carriage, with a eating room and out of doors viewing platform on the decrease stage.

Furthermore, GoldLeaf options full-dome glass home windows on the higher stage for unparalleled panorama views. Moreover, the seats are roomier, and have the flexibility to recline.

If you’re travelling in SilverLeaf, you can also improve to SilverLeaf Plus on sure routes, which grants you entry to a lounge automobile. This lounge has its personal devoted host, bar, and lounge chairs, which makes for a pleasant, social ambiance.

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Booking

You can ebook the Rocky Mountaineer immediately on-line or via a journey company. A journey agent can organize the practice trip as part of a extra intensive bundle journey via the area.

For a two-day journey on the First Passage to the West route that travels from Vancouver to Banff, it’s round $1,800 (CAD) in SilverLeaf and $2,000 (CAD) in SilverLeaf Plus. Booking a GoldLeaf journey comes with a price ticket of round $2,500 (CAD) per individual.

Recall that Rocky Mountaineer additionally gives a partnership with Aeroplan. If you could have Aeroplan Elite Status of not less than 50K standing or a premium Aeroplan co-branded bank card, you get an computerized improve from SilverLeaf to GoldLeaf, topic to availability on the time of reserving.

Furthermore, all Aeroplan elite members, in addition to premium co-branded credit score cardholders, will take pleasure in a lodge room improve on the primary and final nights of their journey.

As an Aeroplan elite member or premium bank card holder, your finest wager is to ebook SilverLeaf, verify an improve to GoldLeaf if potential, and likewise safe upgraded lodging on the accommodations alongside the best way. 

It’s additionally potential to redeem Aeroplan factors for Rocky Mountaineer present playing cards to cowl the ticket value, though it isn’t essentially the highest-value use of Aeroplan factors. 

For full disclosure, I booked this journey on the “First Passage to the West” route within the GoldLeaf class of service at a beneficial journey agent fee to overview the expertise.

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Departure

For this two-day expertise from Vancouver to Banff, we confirmed up on the Vancouver trainyard vivid and early at 7am.

The Rocky Mountaineer Station is situated near the Pacific Railway Station; nevertheless, the Rocky Mountaineer has a separate trainyard of its personal.

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Rocky Mountaineer Station entrance
Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Rocky Mountaineer Station

The check-in course of is easy and swift. Simply present the attendants your boarding move, and they’ll seize your checked baggage. Luggage is then loaded onto a separate bus that travels by street to Kamloops, and ultimately onwards to Banff.

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Waiting space
Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Waiting space

The boarding move contains your pre-assigned seat and coach for the journey. For these on a “Circle Journey” round-trip reserving, a special coach and seat are assigned for every leg.

Before making our method onboard, we have been invited to assist ourselves to some espresso or tea within the ready space.

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Complimentary espresso

As I sipped on a heat beverage, I spent a while admiring the outside of the attractive façade of the practice.

The exterior is adorned in a deep blue, with touches of gold and white. The double-mountain brand is printed sharply between a Canadian and British Columbian flag.

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Train exterior
Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Train exterior
Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Train exterior

Below the practice steps was a vibrant purple carpet, able to welcome us onboard and into the GoldLeaf cabin to kick off this thrilling two-day journey.

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Train entrance
Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Red carpet

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Cabin

In the GoldLeaf cabin, the decrease deck performs host to the eating automobile, the place passengers go for his or her meals. The higher deck is the viewing cabin, accessible by a set of curved stairs.

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – GoldLeaf automobile staircase

The inside of the higher cabin has an ultra-modern look. It’s smooth and clear, with a full glass dome ceiling offering crisp, uninterrupted views.

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – GoldLeaf viewing deck cabin
Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – GoldLeaf viewing deck cabin
Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – GoldLeaf viewing deck cabin

The cabin has a delicate pure color palette, with leather-lined seats and touches of picket parts.

This upper-level viewing cabin is the place drinks and snacks are served, and can be the place passengers move the time throughout the day. At the far finish of the viewing deck is a galley space, the place the employees collect to organize drinks and snacks.

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – GoldLeaf viewing deck galley space
Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – GoldLeaf viewing deck galley beverage choice

The GoldLeaf cabin is organized in a 2-2 configuration throughout 18 rows, and might accommodate as much as 72 visitors.

Couples travelling collectively are normally seated collectively. If you’re travelling alone, you’ll most certainly be seated subsequent to a stranger.

Keep in thoughts that luxurious practice journeys are sometimes a social affair, and also you’re inspired to socialize with different visitors whether or not you’re up within the viewing deck or down beneath within the eating automobile.

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – GoldLeaf viewing deck seating
Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – GoldLeaf viewing deck seating
Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – GoldLeaf viewing deck seating

The GoldLeaf cabin’s true spotlight is the viewing deck, with its expansive glass ceiling home windows that supply panoramic views of the passing surroundings.

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – GoldLeaf viewing deck cabin

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Seat

The leather-based seats onboard Rocky Mountaineer’s GoldLeaf cabin are moderately comfy. I’d say they’re corresponding to an airplane’s premium financial system seats.

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – GoldLeaf viewing deck seats
Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – GoldLeaf viewing deck seats

Navigating the seat is kind of easy, as controls are situated on the seat’s armrest to fine-tune your seat’s place. Here, you possibly can alter the seat’s angle, recline, footrest, and temperature.

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – GoldLeaf viewing deck seat controls

The GoldLeaf cabin seats will let you recline a good bit, which is a characteristic you received’t discover within the seats of the SilverLeaf cabin.

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – GoldLeaf viewing automobile seat recline

Built-in seat heaters preserve the seat toasty and comfy, because the air con is cranked on in the beginning of the practice trip to maintain the cabin from overheating later. Thus, the seat hotter is available in fairly useful within the mornings.

Should you want a little bit of space for storing, there’s a pocket behind the seat in entrance of you, and a few area beneath that seat.

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – GoldLeaf viewing deck space for storing

A tray desk pops immediately forwards from the armrests, after which rotates upwards after which downwards alongside one other axis into place. There’s sufficient area for a snack and drink, however extra fulsome meals are consumed downstairs.

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – GoldLeaf viewing deck tray desk
Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – GoldLeaf viewing deck tray desk

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Dining Car

Heading again down a set of stairs, an computerized glass door supplies entry to the eating automobile. Breakfast and lunch are served on the practice on each days, whereas snacks are supplied at your seat.

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Dining automobile entrance

There are extra passengers onboard the practice than can match within the eating cart without delay. So, passengers are separated into two teams, and are invited to take their meals in two separate intervals.

On the primary day, our group was the primary to go down for each breakfast and lunch, after which on the second day, we needed to wait till the primary group completed eating.

If you’re a part of the group who has to attend for breakfast, you’ll be handled to a beverage service and freshly baked pastries on the viewing deck when you wait.

The eating automobile has a handful of two-person and largely four-person cubicles, out there on a first-come-first-served foundation.

If you’re travelling solo or as a pair, you would end up seated at a four-person sales space, which supplies one other alternative to attach and socialize with fellow passengers.

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Dining automobile seating
Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Dining automobile four-person seating
Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Dining automobile two-person seating

Note that there’s no meal provided for dinner, so in case you’re on the lookout for one thing to eat later within the day, you’re by yourself – whether or not that’s throughout the intermediate cease in Kamloops or upon arrival in Banff or Lake Louise. 

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Day 1

Shortly after our departure from Vancouver, we headed down for breakfast and sat down with a pleasant aged couple from Australia.

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Dining automobile desk setting

We began with a couple of contemporary croissants, adopted by a really intricately garnished cocktail with strawberries and apple slices within the glass, and a goldenberry on the high.

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Breakfast croissants
Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Breakfast cocktail

I ordered the Shuswap bacon breakfast skillet, which was a bowl of sentimental sunny facet up eggs over crispy bacon, tender mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, and baked potatoes.

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Shuswap breakfast bacon skillet

Meanwhile, Jessy ordered the Eggs Benedict, which got here with hollandaise sauce poured over scorching bacon and tender salmon, in addition to tossed arugula and crunchy house potatoes on the facet.

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Eggs Benedict

Both breakfast dishes have been pleasant, well-prepared, and really a lot befitting of the GoldLeaf cabin. They have been a step above what you may anticipate on a practice, and I used to be impressed with the kitchen employees’s capability to organize meals of such high quality onboard a transferring carriage.

I’d examine the general eating expertise onboard Rocky Mountaineer to someplace in-between enterprise class and First Class, though not fairly on the stage of first-rate eating on the bottom.

After breakfast, it was time for drinks again at our seat, the place I helped myself to some scorching chocolate and a few snacks that have been handed out. It was nonetheless earlier than midday, so I didn’t get began on the alcoholic drinks fairly but.

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Coffee
Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Snacks
Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Rocky Mountaineer Mile Post newspaper

To be sincere, there isn’t all an excessive amount of to do whereas on the practice, which we shortly found as we made our method north via British Columbia. Aside from consuming and taking within the views, we sometimes went downstairs to the out of doors vestibule for a breath of contemporary air.

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Outdoor vestibule
Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Outdoor vestibule
Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Views of British Columbia

Eventually, we switched our scorching chocolate out for gin sodas, and continued to soak up the views of the forests and fields of the Fraser Valley.

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Gin soda
Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Views of Fraser Valley

As we sipped on our drinks and ready to go down for lunch, we handed by one of many details of curiosity of the day.

The speeding white waters of Hell’s Gate within the Fraser Canyon have been fairly a sight to behold, because it’s an abrupt narrowing of the river with towering rock partitions.

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Views of Hell’s Gate

For our lunch starter, we had a small candied salmon platter with some naan bread to share.

I then opted for the steak with roasted greens as my important course, whereas Jessy selected the wholesome tofu bowl with grains and greens.

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Candied salmon platter
Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Steak with roasted greens
Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Healthy tofu bowl with grains & greens

For dessert, we helped ourselves to cheesecake, which was creamy and candy, with a raspberry sauce drizzled over it.

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Cheesecake

As we continued in the direction of Kelowna, the surroundings started altering from lush and inexperienced to dramatic and dry. We handed by the city of Lytton, BC, which was devastated by wildfires the earlier summer time, making this leg a extra sombre a part of our journey.

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Views of British Columbia
Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Views of British Columbia
Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Views of British Columbia

Around 5:30pm, we arrived within the metropolis of Kamloops, BC. Our lodge keys to the Delta Kamloops have been supplied immediately on the practice, so we didn’t have to test in.

Rather, we merely disembarked from the practice and boarded the coach that introduced us on to the lodge, and instantly headed upstairs to our room.

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Delta Kamloops lodge keys
Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Hotel switch bus
Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Delta Kamloops entrance

I’ll overview the Delta Kamloops in a separate article, so keep tuned for that.

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Day 2

Day 2 started with one other vivid and early begin, boarding the bus on the Delta Kamloops at 6:15am to return to the Kamloops trainyard. 

On at the present time, we have been the second group to go down for breakfast. While we waited, the practice employees got here via the viewing deck with some espresso, tea, and pastries.

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Coffee & pastries
Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Pastry

We started breakfast with extra croissants and refreshing smoothies. This time, I had eggs with roasted potatoes topped with salmon for my important dish, whereas Jessy had a yogurt parfait bowl.

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Croissants & smoothie
Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Eggs with roasted potatoes
Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Yogurt parfait bowl

After breakfast, I returned to my seat and opted for a Caesar, persevering with to admire the views as we approached the border of British Columbia and Alberta. The surroundings grew to become lush and inexperienced as soon as once more, as we moved into the mountains.

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Caesar
Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Views alongside the British Columbia & Alberta border
Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Views alongside the British Columbia & Alberta border

After a couple of hours of pretty chatter with the older Scottish couple seated reverse us, it was lunchtime as soon as once more.

For lunch, we had a charcuterie plate with blue cheese unfold, some sausage, and contemporary baguettes.

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Lunch desk setting
Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Charcuterie board

I helped myself to braised veal cheek for the principle course, whereas Jessy had the risotto with salmon. I had a chew of Jessy’s and located it to be fairly tasty, however I wasn’t an enormous fan of my veal.

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Braised veal cheek
Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Risotto with salmon

The views on Day 2 consisted of beautiful wide-open ranches, rocky lakeshores, and mountain peaks set towards sunny blue skies – with the primary few snow-capped peaks beginning to seem as we climbed in the direction of Lake Louise within the afternoon.

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Views of Alberta
Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Views of Alberta
Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Views of Alberta

We handed by Craigellachie, the place the final spike of the Canadian Pacific Railway was hammered, after which approached the spiral tunnels of Kicking Horse Pass.

These spiral tunnels are an engineering feat, by which a collection of tunnels spiral inside the inside of the mountain. They have been designed this manner in order that trains can safely acquire elevation right here.

We have been a bit delayed alongside the rails alongside the course of our journey, so we have been handled to an extra snack of butter hen within the late afternoon.

To be frank, the butter hen wasn’t that nice, nevertheless it nonetheless tided us over till our 8:30pm arrival in Banff.

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Butter hen

By this time, we have been nearing the top of our journey, so I helped myself to a different Caesar as we approached Banff. The solar was setting over the mountains as we arrived, and the orange glow on the bushes passing round us was spectacular, and left a long-lasting impression.

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Caesar
Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Sunset views approaching Banff

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Other Facilities

The restrooms on board are located on the decrease stage, and have been spacious, clear, and easy. The rest room has two railings on either side for stabilizing your self because the practice strikes.

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Restroom entrance
Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Restroom
Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Restroom

There is a bench that folds down beside the bathroom, a fairly large mirror, and a small sink beneath.

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Restroom bench
Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Restroom sink

Aside from the glass ceiling on the viewing deck, the spotlight of the Rocky Mountaineer is the out of doors vestibule. The out of doors deck permits passengers to get nearer to the surroundings round them.

We liked leaning over the railings and feeling the contemporary air and wind on our faces, taking within the surroundings because it handed by. We spent lots of day out right here merely absorbing and appreciating the views.

Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Views from the out of doors vestibule
Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Views from the out of doors vestibule
Rocky Mountaineer “First Passage to the West” – Views from the out of doors vestibule

Conclusion

The Rocky Mountaineer gives a extra romantic and slow-paced fashion of journey in comparison with what I’m sometimes used to.

After my maiden expertise, I’d describe luxurious practice journey as a sort of “land cruise”, well-suited for travellers who’re glad to soak up views at a leisurely tempo with out having to rise up and exert themselves an excessive amount of.

However, it’s additionally not going to be the correct sort of journey expertise for everybody. To illustrate, Jessy and I have been just about the one people below 50 years outdated on board.

I’d say that the Rocky Mountaineer is right for travellers of their wiser years who need to relish the social aspect of wining and eating with fellow travellers, whereas additionally taking within the excellent lush forests, rocky lakes, and epic mountains from the consolation of a panoramic viewing deck.

Meanwhile, for the youthful travellers on the market, think about bringing your mother and father alongside a particular journey on the Rocky Mountaineer if this sort of luxurious practice journey suits their journey fashion. 

For us, this was a pleasant change from the everyday busy airports and lengthy flights. We definitely loved our first luxurious practice expertise, and look ahead to attempting out extra rail adventures all over the world.





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