Land tour suggestions Seattle to Canadian Rockies

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#1
351 Posts
Joined Jun 2002
Hope I'm posting this on the proper board. We are doing RCI Explorer OTS in Sept. 2018. I noticed that RCI had a Canadian Rockies land tour add on for 2017, but no info available for 2018 as of yet.
Can anyone tell me if this is worth doing? Cost? Would we be better off to plan our own trip to the Canadian Rockies independent of the cruise line? That would leave us free to do a "pre cruise" or "post cruise" trip. We usually like to do land tours prior to our cruise as in Alaska.
Have wanted to do this itinerary for a long time and would really appreciate any advice. These boards have proved to be invaluable. Thanks so much.
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#2
YVR & PDX
3,831 Posts
Joined Jul 2010
I've yet to hear of any cruiseline add-on that was a better price then booking independently. Since all of your purchases would be in CAD, as well as the usual price-padding there's also the extra 'what if the currency rate changes' padding issue for tours that are not in the immediate future.

All the cruiseline, and other add-on offerings by any other big holiday firm, are simply resold Rocky Mountaineer rail tours, VIA rail trips, or bus tours you can also book by yourself. Personally, since all your driving would be same side of the road with the only real difference being kilometres rather than miles on speed and distance signs, I'd be inclined to recommend booking a rental car. One-way from Vancouver to Calgary is popular - regardless of how many days you plan it's likely the most efficient cost and time whether before or after your cruise.

You could also bring a US rental car up from Seattle (or a Canadian car to there), but unless you looped back there's the chance of hefty drop fees if you have a Calgarian car in Seattle or vice versa. Vancouver-Seattle one-way rentals are very popular though so drop fees aren't an issue unless you're daft enough to book nonrefundably a long time in advance - since you'll definitely want to spend at least a short time in both of these cities having come all the way up here this can still be efficient.

Of course if money isn't a problem, throw your cash at Rocky Mountaineer - they provide a popular and premium service, but it is NOT cheap. Being driven everywhere, staying in hotels overnight so you always have views from the train is certainly going to be pleasant if it's affordable to you - in comparison the VIA train is simply a people-moving service and runs through the night with sleeper cars available. You'll get some daytime views of course, but in Sep it will already be dark when you leave Vancouver - so you'll see diddly-squat until next morning.

I'd suggest researching open jaw flight to SEA, Seattle sightseeing, cruising, train/car/bus to Vancouver, a few days here, then a car rental (or fancy train trip, or coach tour) to Calgary and flight home from there - or the reverse order. Since bad weather in the mountains or in Alaska would both suck the order you do them in isn't so important unless there are specific things you want to do that are date-restricted - with an RT cruise you don't have to worry about Denali closing with early snow etc.
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#3
Victoria, Canada
698 Posts
Joined Feb 2012
If you want to do a rail tour into the Canadian Rockies there are two options.

The Rocky Mountaineer (you can google them) offers a day time rail tour, where you overnight in a hotel as pass through the Fraser valley gorge and the rockeries during the day time. That departs from Vancouver. Typically that passed through Banff.

Via Rail is also an option. They operate more as a railway and pass through Jasper departing from Vancouver. Depending on how you space different segments you gain quite a bit of flexibility.

There are also bus tours etc. However I find the train more comfortable.
#5
351 Posts
Joined Jun 2002
Thank you everyone for the wealth of information. Many options. We just returned from our 2 weeks in Alaska and now will research next year's trip. I also feel that doing an independent trip would be less expensive than going thru the cruise line.
I thank you all again for your feedback.
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#6
St Ives, England
2,204 Posts
Joined Apr 2010
Originally posted by Sleddogs
Have wanted to do this itinerary for a long time and would really appreciate any advice.
In case it's any help or interest we did a self-drive from Banff-Vancouver ahead of our Alaska cruise and I made videos of each day which can be seen from no. 7 in this playlist https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...vRzf6DV3I3D54i

It was all very easy, from memory we stayed 2 nights in Banff, 3 in Jasper and 1 at Kamloops (where there is nothing to see but that wildlife park but Jasper-Vancouver is a very long drive). All the best, Tony
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CALIFORNIA COAST inc SAN FRANCISCO, YOSEMITE N.P., LAS VEGAS & DEATH VALLEY N.P. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...F2GS9rPCocVdFM ALASKA (Inside Passage)/CANADIAN ROCKIES/VANCOUVER https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...vRzf6DV3I3D54i
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#7
351 Posts
Joined Jun 2002
Thank you Tony!


Originally posted by Cornishpastyman1
In case it's any help or interest we did a self-drive from Banff-Vancouver ahead of our Alaska cruise and I made videos of each day which can be seen from no. 7 in this playlist https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...vRzf6DV3I3D54i

It was all very easy, from memory we stayed 2 nights in Banff, 3 in Jasper and 1 at Kamloops (where there is nothing to see but that wildlife park but Jasper-Vancouver is a very long drive). All the best, Tony
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Holland America Oosterdam 9/2015 Land tour and Alaska Inside Passage (Seward to Vancouver)~~40th Anniversary
#8
351 Posts
Joined Jun 2002
Hello Tony,
Have begun to watch your terrific videos on You Tube. What a wonderful job you did, we are thoroughly enjoying your tour. Makes us want to visit the Rockies even more. We love these types of trips to Alaska as well, can never get enough of the scenery.


Would you mind if I ask what rental car company you used? You made a self drive trip very tempting. Our only concern is that we would want to end up in Seattle where our cruise begins.


Would appreciate any suggestions you may have. Again, your videos were terrific, you have a nice looking family. Everyone seemed to be having a ball.

Thanks again,
Denise & Mark "Sleddogs"






Originally posted by Cornishpastyman1
In case it's any help or interest we did a self-drive from Banff-Vancouver ahead of our Alaska cruise and I made videos of each day which can be seen from no. 7 in this playlist https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...vRzf6DV3I3D54i

It was all very easy, from memory we stayed 2 nights in Banff, 3 in Jasper and 1 at Kamloops (where there is nothing to see but that wildlife park but Jasper-Vancouver is a very long drive). All the best, Tony
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Carnival Fascination 8/00 (Southern Carib)~~25th Anniversary
Norwegian Sky 8/01 (Alaska) Enchantment of the Seas 8/02 (Western Carib)
Carnival Destiny 8/10/03 (Southern Caribbean)
Celebrity Summit 12 night Alaska cruise tour 8/2004
Jewel of the Seas 12 night British Isles/Norwegian Fjords 7/2005~~30th Anniversary
Crown Princess 10/07 Southern Caribbean
Holland America Oosterdam 9/2015 Land tour and Alaska Inside Passage (Seward to Vancouver)~~40th Anniversary
#9
St Ives, England
2,204 Posts
Joined Apr 2010
Originally posted by Sleddogs
Hello Tony,
Have begun to watch your terrific videos on You Tube. What a wonderful job you did, we are thoroughly enjoying your tour. Makes us want to visit the Rockies even more. We love these types of trips to Alaska as well, can never get enough of the scenery.


Would you mind if I ask what rental car company you used? You made a self drive trip very tempting. Our only concern is that we would want to end up in Seattle where our cruise begins.


Would appreciate any suggestions you may have. Again, your videos were terrific, you have a nice looking family. Everyone seemed to be having a ball.

Thanks again,
Denise & Mark "Sleddogs"
Hi Denise and Mark

Thanks for your kind words, I always make vids of my trips as especially on trips like that I would otherwise never remember where we went ! We had a great time with that one.

On the car hire, to be honest I can't recall which company we used except it was one of the big ones (Alamo/Avis/Hertz) but our "search" would not have been very sophisticated. We flew into Calgary from London, collected the car at the airport and drove to Banff. As we needed a Dodge Caravan or similar I imagine my sister (Chief Administrator for Overseas Trips) just Googled "car hire Calgary airport" and took it from there. We collected it at 4 pm which meant it had to be at the Vancouver drop-off point by 4 pm a week later or we would trigger another day's hire charge. Despite seemingly meticulous planning we only made it with 10 minutes to spare but that could be because I threw in an unscheduled stop at Whistler purely because I went skiing there 20 years ago. The others were not overly impressed

We bought a 5 day National Park pass, and as we were a family/group (of 6) it was just under $20 a day. The driving is very easy, with plenty of parking everywhere. 2 nights at Banff and 3 at Jasper worked well. For our white-water rafting my niece was too young to go on the grade 3 rapids and rather than split the party we just did the grade 2. I think unless you go up to grades 4-6 the difference is marginal, and it was good fun. As it turned out I could easily have taken the camcorder but with the cruise coming up the next week didn't want to risk ruining it, so that is why that bit has just a few stills from the CD that you can buy at the end.

Overall I would give ourselves 8.5/10 for the itinerary and what we saw. Maybe even a 9. With hindsight I think I would have done a glacier drive/walk instead of the Glacier Skywalk and missed out the Banff Gondola, which is all very pleasant but had no wow factor after all the really steep gondolas/cable cars we have ridden on our ski trips. My favourite sights were the crashing waterfalls and walking the canyons, especially Maligne Canyon. It was a wonderful experience in the summer but would be even more spectacular in winter when waterfalls are frozen.

You'll see that we followed the well-trodden path that 99% of first-timers do, nothing very groundbreaking. As long-time skiers, while we enjoyed the scenery we really wanted to see bears and after a slow start we got lucky. Which was just as well as we didn't see any on the Alaska cruise, and specifically our day out of Skagway and into the Yukon, which was always going to be our best chance.

As you're heading for Seattle you'll taking the same roads. Jasper-Vancouver is a very long way, which is why we had to stop at Kamloops. But we did get to see a Grizzly bear at the wildlife park, which you won't in the wild. Obviously how you would do it is down to time, budget and how much driving you want to do. It's clearly not ideal to have a long travel on the day you start the cruise but Vancouver - Seattle is "only" 142 miles so if your ship departs late you could leave Vancouver early to catch it. But that would mean seeing very little of Vancouver and also Seattle (I've not been but imagine it's a great city).

These are only my thoughts, there are so many ways to do this sort of thing, but having a car gave us options each day by allowing us to stay longer here and shorter there as the mood took us , as well as be able to work around the vagaries of the differing opinions of a party of 6 We saw the Rocky Mountaineer at Jasper but all the passengers on that would have to get on coaches to go where we did so they must have been all around us at various times. All the best, Tony
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Personal cruise excursion videos :
CALIFORNIA COAST inc SAN FRANCISCO, YOSEMITE N.P., LAS VEGAS & DEATH VALLEY N.P. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...F2GS9rPCocVdFM ALASKA (Inside Passage)/CANADIAN ROCKIES/VANCOUVER https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...vRzf6DV3I3D54i
BERMUDA https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...3A28wOjkiFMnNc FRANCE inc Monaco https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...WgQDY2hb_of0TZ GREECE https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...Sce3udW0GwnDX3 ITALY https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...5dAwo9lc2VdVk7 SPAIN/PORTUGAL/GIBRALTAR https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...0mZabjIjNmqXZM OTHER MEDITERRANEAN PORTS inc Istanbul https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...RkQWm30KQ4SiDh THE BALTICS inc Berlin & Bruges https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...EQxusSHjWztBzu KYOTO/TOKYO https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...nFWHQ-MNzJdSy4 ATLANTIC CANADA & NEW ENGLAND https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...lp6AQsFY5NV7mn PANAMA CANAL/CARIBBEAN https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...oWjfBZ6FHiA1TC AUSTRALIA/SOUTH AFRICA/HONG KONG https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLrVUjbiYVZU7NA- GREAT BRITAIN & IRELAND https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...ogdJNPM1BktP3h Email Tony : cortina26 at talktalk dot net
#10
351 Posts
Joined Jun 2002
Hi Tony,
Your detailed notes are very much appreciated. We are taking a Pacific Northwest cruise out of Seattle next Sept. and hope to do a 5 or 6 day Rockies tour. It will be just the two of us and have some flexibility, so could go either before or after the cruise.


We don't want to be gone more than 2 weeks total, as we don't like to board our huskies for too long. I admit it, we are those dog owners that treat our dogs like our kids. LOL

Flying into Calgary from Boston would work well for us and then the self-drive to Vancouver would be doable.


Lots to research and your notes are a tremendous help. We don't ski or white water raft, but we do like adventure and there is lots to choose from.


Again, thank you so much for letting us pick your brain as it were. Have a good weekend.


Best regards,
Denise & Mark











Originally posted by Cornishpastyman1
Hi Denise and Mark

Thanks for your kind words, I always make vids of my trips as especially on trips like that I would otherwise never remember where we went ! We had a great time with that one.

On the car hire, to be honest I can't recall which company we used except it was one of the big ones (Alamo/Avis/Hertz) but our "search" would not have been very sophisticated. We flew into Calgary from London, collected the car at the airport and drove to Banff. As we needed a Dodge Caravan or similar I imagine my sister (Chief Administrator for Overseas Trips) just Googled "car hire Calgary airport" and took it from there. We collected it at 4 pm which meant it had to be at the Vancouver drop-off point by 4 pm a week later or we would trigger another day's hire charge. Despite seemingly meticulous planning we only made it with 10 minutes to spare but that could be because I threw in an unscheduled stop at Whistler purely because I went skiing there 20 years ago. The others were not overly impressed

We bought a 5 day National Park pass, and as we were a family/group (of 6) it was just under $20 a day. The driving is very easy, with plenty of parking everywhere. 2 nights at Banff and 3 at Jasper worked well. For our white-water rafting my niece was too young to go on the grade 3 rapids and rather than split the party we just did the grade 2. I think unless you go up to grades 4-6 the difference is marginal, and it was good fun. As it turned out I could easily have taken the camcorder but with the cruise coming up the next week didn't want to risk ruining it, so that is why that bit has just a few stills from the CD that you can buy at the end.

Overall I would give ourselves 8.5/10 for the itinerary and what we saw. Maybe even a 9. With hindsight I think I would have done a glacier drive/walk instead of the Glacier Skywalk and missed out the Banff Gondola, which is all very pleasant but had no wow factor after all the really steep gondolas/cable cars we have ridden on our ski trips. My favourite sights were the crashing waterfalls and walking the canyons, especially Maligne Canyon. It was a wonderful experience in the summer but would be even more spectacular in winter when waterfalls are frozen.

You'll see that we followed the well-trodden path that 99% of first-timers do, nothing very groundbreaking. As long-time skiers, while we enjoyed the scenery we really wanted to see bears and after a slow start we got lucky. Which was just as well as we didn't see any on the Alaska cruise, and specifically our day out of Skagway and into the Yukon, which was always going to be our best chance.

As you're heading for Seattle you'll taking the same roads. Jasper-Vancouver is a very long way, which is why we had to stop at Kamloops. But we did get to see a Grizzly bear at the wildlife park, which you won't in the wild. Obviously how you would do it is down to time, budget and how much driving you want to do. It's clearly not ideal to have a long travel on the day you start the cruise but Vancouver - Seattle is "only" 142 miles so if your ship departs late you could leave Vancouver early to catch it. But that would mean seeing very little of Vancouver and also Seattle (I've not been but imagine it's a great city).

These are only my thoughts, there are so many ways to do this sort of thing, but having a car gave us options each day by allowing us to stay longer here and shorter there as the mood took us , as well as be able to work around the vagaries of the differing opinions of a party of 6 We saw the Rocky Mountaineer at Jasper but all the passengers on that would have to get on coaches to go where we did so they must have been all around us at various times. All the best, Tony
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Carnival Fascination 8/00 (Southern Carib)~~25th Anniversary
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Carnival Destiny 8/10/03 (Southern Caribbean)
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Jewel of the Seas 12 night British Isles/Norwegian Fjords 7/2005~~30th Anniversary
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#11
St Ives, England
2,204 Posts
Joined Apr 2010
Originally posted by Sleddogs
Hi Tony,
Your detailed notes are very much appreciated. We are taking a Pacific Northwest cruise out of Seattle next Sept. and hope to do a 5 or 6 day Rockies tour. It will be just the two of us and have some flexibility, so could go either before or after the cruise. Flying into Calgary from Boston would work well for us and then the self-drive to Vancouver would be doable.

Lots to research and your notes are a tremendous help. We don't ski or white water raft, but we do like adventure and there is lots to choose from. Again, thank you so much for letting us pick your brain as it were. Have a good weekend.

Best regards,
Denise & Mark
You're so welcome. Being just a couple you can be much lighter on your feet than we were so may get away with just 2 days at Jasper. Anyway, if I can help further get in touch (my e-add is in my signature).
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Personal cruise excursion videos :
CALIFORNIA COAST inc SAN FRANCISCO, YOSEMITE N.P., LAS VEGAS & DEATH VALLEY N.P. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...F2GS9rPCocVdFM ALASKA (Inside Passage)/CANADIAN ROCKIES/VANCOUVER https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...vRzf6DV3I3D54i
BERMUDA https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...3A28wOjkiFMnNc FRANCE inc Monaco https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...WgQDY2hb_of0TZ GREECE https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...Sce3udW0GwnDX3 ITALY https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...5dAwo9lc2VdVk7 SPAIN/PORTUGAL/GIBRALTAR https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...0mZabjIjNmqXZM OTHER MEDITERRANEAN PORTS inc Istanbul https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...RkQWm30KQ4SiDh THE BALTICS inc Berlin & Bruges https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...EQxusSHjWztBzu KYOTO/TOKYO https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...nFWHQ-MNzJdSy4 ATLANTIC CANADA & NEW ENGLAND https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...lp6AQsFY5NV7mn PANAMA CANAL/CARIBBEAN https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...oWjfBZ6FHiA1TC AUSTRALIA/SOUTH AFRICA/HONG KONG https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLrVUjbiYVZU7NA- GREAT BRITAIN & IRELAND https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...ogdJNPM1BktP3h Email Tony : cortina26 at talktalk dot net
#12
351 Posts
Joined Jun 2002
Wonderful! Thanks so much.



Originally posted by Cornishpastyman1
You're so welcome. Being just a couple you can be much lighter on your feet than we were so may get away with just 2 days at Jasper. Anyway, if I can help further get in touch (my e-add is in my signature).
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Carnival Fascination 8/00 (Southern Carib)~~25th Anniversary
Norwegian Sky 8/01 (Alaska) Enchantment of the Seas 8/02 (Western Carib)
Carnival Destiny 8/10/03 (Southern Caribbean)
Celebrity Summit 12 night Alaska cruise tour 8/2004
Jewel of the Seas 12 night British Isles/Norwegian Fjords 7/2005~~30th Anniversary
Crown Princess 10/07 Southern Caribbean
Holland America Oosterdam 9/2015 Land tour and Alaska Inside Passage (Seward to Vancouver)~~40th Anniversary
#13
Vancouver, BC
80 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
If you chose to drive from Calgary to Vancouver, there are plenty of options to get you down to Seattle for your cruise - namely the Amtrak Cascades (in case your land tour would not be complete without a trip on a train)

Happy travels!