All aboard the Rocky Mountaineer

//All aboard the Rocky Mountaineer

rockymountaineer1.jpgAll aboard! Today our happy band of Princess Cruise passengers, on a land tour in the Canadian Rockies, left behind the motor coach that brought us from Calgary, and boarded the Rocky Mountaineer train in Jasper.
We said farewell to driver Dale, and hello to train attendant Tim who kept us entertained – and fed – throughout the day.
There were about 500 passengers on the train in 17 carriages; six of them with the domed observation cars providing GoldLeaf service. I’m up front, in coach number 1, enjoying RedLeaf service at half the price.
We still get breakfast and lunch on the train, plus almost unlimited between-meal snacks (we are limbering up for the prodigious quantities of food awaiting us on Diamond Princess). Adult beverages are included for GoldLeaf passengers; for us, beer, wine and spirits come at C$6 each.
Pulling out of Jasper station under a thunderous grey sky at precisely 8.05 a.m., it was difficult to believe that 274 miles and nine hours later we would be sweltering in 86 degrees of dry desert heat in Kamloops.
But even as we crossed the Yellowhead Pass from Alberta into British Columbia, the clouds were thinning, affording spectacular views of mountains reflected in the mirror-still Moose Lake. On we went, past Pyramid Falls, through the town of Blue River and over Little Hell’s Gate – where the North Thompson River squeezes through a narrow gorge – every bridge along the route providing an excuse for a snack, according to Tim.
As fascinating as these sights were, the big news of the day concerns the bear sighting count. Up by a fantastic FIVE ! There were two in the woods shortly after leaving Jasper, then nothing for hours. But a few miles out of Kamloops, we hit the jackpot. Mummy Bear and Baby Bear were spotted loping across a grassy field and within a couple of minutes, another bear – probably Daddy – was seen on the river bank. An impressive count, thanks to the keen eyes of Tim and tour guide Larissa.
But back to the tracks. Freight trains have priority on the railroad, and you wouldn’t want to get in the way of any of them. I counted 165 trucks as one passed our train; if a standard shipping container is 40-ft long, then that amounts to one-and-a-quarter miles of train by my calculations. Please let me know if my maths is deficient.
Today’s Rocky Mountaineer had a good run, arriving into Kamloops – self-styled “tournament capital” of Canada – a few minutes early.
Passengers don’t sleep on this train – a fleet of motor coaches was waiting at the station to take us to some of the numerous hotels in the town, which must do good business in the summer thanks to the Rocky Mountaineer.
Tomorrow there’s another 285 miles of travel to Vancouver, through the intimidatingly-named Jaws of Death Gorge, Avalanche Alley, and the inviting prospect of Skuzzy Creek. If I make it safely, and there’s time to spare before our farewell dinner with Larissa, I’ll be back to let you know how we got on.

By | 2017-06-15T16:00:23+00:00 13 August 2010|Cruise Destinations|1 Comment

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

One Comment

  1. UK Cruiser 13 August 2010 at 11:47 am - Reply

    Feeling really envious. Have been around the world but havent yet experienced an Alaska Cruise yet. Looking for a good deal for 2011, how much would an Alaska tour and cruise cost?

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