Several companies sell train packages to the Canadian Rockies, and it’s sometimes difficult to figure out which package offers the best value and the features most important to you. When you’re looking at train packages, consider the following before making a decision:
Hotels and Rooms
Unless you look at package features, you may not get the best value and the best trip for your money.
Length of Trip
Trip length seems pretty straightforward until you realize that some packages focus on number of days and some on number of nights.
If your trip begins with an overnight stay, then that night is included in the price of the package.
If your trip begins in the morning when you board the train or get picked up by a bus, then you’ll have to add an additional hotel night to the cost of the trip.
When you compare package prices, count the number of nights and not days. because it’s the nights that add to the price of the trip.
Trains and Train Service
Canada has two passenger trains: the Rocky Mountaineer and the ViaRail. All our packages include the Rocky Mountaineer. We don’t seel ViaRail trips, but you can book directly with ViaRail if you want a trip to Toronto, Montreal or Halifax.
Some companies sell packages that include only the ViaRail train. If you want to travel on the Rocky Mountaineer all daylight luxury train, then be sure Rocky Mountaineer is specified in the package. If the train isn’t named, then it’s not the Rocky Mountaineer.
And, while ViaRail trains are great, they are not the Rocky Mountaineer, so be sure the packages you’re comparing or considering include the train you want.
Furthermore, there are bus tour packages to the Canadian Rockies that include no train component at all. If you want to ride the train, then be certain that the package you’re considering includes the train. If it’s not clear, call the company and ask them specifically if the package includes a train ride and ask them to specify the name of the train.
Both Rocky Mountaineer and ViaRail offer different levels of Service. Rocky Mountaineer offers SilverLeaf and GoldLeaf Service. You can compare them on our Service Comparison page. You can even watch videos shot on the train.
ViaRail offers private bedrooms, private berths in shared cars, and coach travel. Both private bedroom and private berths in shared cars include meals. Coach class does not include meals. There are a few triple bedrooms on ViaRail good for three people or two people who both want lower berths.
ViaRail also offers Prestige Class which offers a larger bedroom with a double bed, concierge service, priority seating in the dining car and an open bar.
Be sure to be clear about what type of sleeping accommodations you’re paying for with ViaRail trips.
The Canadian Rockies is famous for three hotels: the Fairmont Banff Springs, the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise and the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. Many packages, however, do not include these hotels though they sometimes include hotels with similar names that can be confused with these famous hotels.
When you compare packages, be sure the included hotels are those you want. Sometimes, no hotel is listed in the trip description. If a hotel is not listed, contact the company to inquire about hotel names. Then look up reviews of the hotels online.
We always list hotels with our packages, and it’s always a good idea to find out the name of your hotel before you travel so you know exactly what you’re paying for since hotel prices and amenities can differ significantly.
Another thing to compare is room type. For example, the Chateau Lake Louise offers Deluxe Lake View rooms as well as Lake View and non-Lake View rooms. There is a big difference between rooms with a view and rooms without. Once we’ve discussed your options, you may decide a view room is worth the extra expense.
There are other room variables to consider and we look forward to discussing your preferences: 1-800-913-9207.
One thing many people don’t realize is that Canadian Rockies train trips do not include train transportation between Jasper National Park and Lake Louise, Banff or Calgary. And though the Rocky Mountaineer does travel between Banff and Lake Louise, it is not possible to take the train just between Banff and Lake Louise. The Rocky Mountaineer does not go to or from Calgary.
So once you reach the Rockies, you will travel by bus or car. We offer rental cars and luxury motor coaches with restrooms.
If you choose a rental car, you can pick it up in one place and drop it in another.
As you compare packages, consider airport transfers. Few packages include airport transportation though we offer complimentary transfers to and from downtown Calgary and the Calgary airport on packages of 4 nights and longer.
If you want to include airport transfers, you can add them when you make reservations since most companies offer airport transfers at an additional charge.
Tours and Activities
Tours are often used as a means of getting travelers from one destination to another. For example, we have a tour of Yoho National Park and Emerald Lake that gets travelers between Banff and Lake Louise.
We have a tour of the Columbia Icefield Parkway, the highway that links Lake Louise and Jasper, that gets travelers between Jasper and Lake Louise. This tour includes a ride on the Ice Explorer at the Athabasca Glacier, the Glacier SkyWalk and the Columbia Icefield Visitor Center as well as stops at Crowfoot Glacier, Peyto Lake and Athabasca Falls.
If you want tours and activities included in your packages, make sure they are included. Often package descriptions include interesting tours and activities but those tours and activities are optional and cost more. Make sure the packages you compare have the tours and highlights you want to include with your trip.
Some packages include some or all meals for the duration of the trip. Others do not. Pay attention to the number of meals included. If it’s not clear, call the company to ask.
Our packages include meals while you’re on the train but no meals when you are not on the train. We offer meal plans that include breakfasts and/or dinners.
Meal plans are convenient and easy and hotels in Canada’s Rocky Mountains often have more than one restaurant, so you’ll have a choice about where you eat.
If your package does not include meals, be sure to factor in the cost of food if you want to know the total price of your trip.
Escorted, Guided, Free
Some Canadian Rocky train trips are escorted. An escorted trip features one guide and one, unchanging group of people who travel together from the beginning to the end of the trip. If you want that kind of trip, then make sure you call a company that offers that type of tour. We can make suggestions.
A guided trip features several guides who change as you go from one place to another and a group of fellow travelers that changes as you move from one part of your trip to the next.
A guide, for example, is waiting at your hotel to look after your luggage and make sure you get on the right bus for the train station on the morning your train departs. When you arrive at your hotel in the evening, another guide is waiting to make sure you have your luggage and room key and are settled into your room.
When you take a tour, you will have a new tour guide and you’ll see some familiar and some new faces among your fellow travelers as travelers follow their own itineraries.
If you put together your own package that includes a rental car, you’ll share the train experience with others, but once you’re off the train, you will have the flexibility to do what you want when you want with whom you want. This is what we call a Free trip.
These three types of travel: escorted, guided and free, make it possible for each person, couple or group to have the experience they prefer. We do not offer escorted tours but we do offer both guided and free packages and will put you in contact with a company that offers escorted tours if that is what’s best for you.