My Review: The Rocky Mountaineer.
I’m frequently asked about various train rides. Which ones have I taken? Which ones did I like best? Which ones would I recommend? And, specifically, I’m often asked if I would recommend The Rocky Mountaineer. Well . . .yes and no.
Four years ago, my wife and I took the Rocky Mountaineer from Vancouver to Banff. It was a two-day ride, stopping that first night in Kamloops, where everyone got off the train and piled into buses that took us to a number of different hotels where we had dinner. The next morning, we were collected in buses, taken to the railway station and resumed out journey to Banff.
It was certainly a very scenic trip and it was quite difficult picking from the photos I took along the way. I finally decided to include some in this post and a few more in the next one. And save my comments and opinion of the total experience for the second post. Anyway, here we go:
The rail cars are bi-level with seats on the upper level and a dining area on the lower. They make a mini-production out of the boarding process, complete with a couple of men performing on bag pipes. Cynics say the pipers were there to drown out the pickets shouting at the entrance to the station. The short version of the long story is that when the union contract with his employees was up, the owner of the Rocky Mountaineer fired them all and hired new non-union people. There’s more to the story, but not now.
Food and drink are a big part of the Rocky Mountaineer experience. (Are you listening, Amtrak?) There is a mini kitchen and tables on the lower level and, at the forward end of each car up above, a bar set-up for coffee, tea and just about any alcoholic beverage you might care for.
A half hour or so after departing from Vancouver, we’re invited to the lower level of our car where the choices included a delicious Eggs Benedict served on real china on a crisp white linen tablecloth. As in Amtrak dining cars, we were seated with another couple—he was a member of a Chinese trade mission who had been living in Washington DC for the prior two years. A breakfast bonus!
After progressing at a leisurely pace following the Fraser River through the beautiful, verdant valley, the train entered the mountains. We followed the river—sometimes almost placid, sometime a torrent—for the rest of the day.
A unique feature of these rail cars is an open vestibule area which was always pretty well crowded with passengers taking photos of the passing scenery. I don’t remember exactly what time of year it was; I do remember—the shirtsleeve attire of these folks notwithstanding—that it was damn cold out there.
More photos and my impressions of the Rocky Mountaineer experience next time.
Before you spend a penny for a trip on the Canadian Rocky Mountaineer please be sure to read their Terms. Any monies paid for a reservation will NOT be returned—not even if you change your mind an hour later, if COVID shuts the Canadian border down, if an avalanche covers the tracks, if you become hospitalized, if you have a death in the family, if you die. Their paragraph 12 spells it out very clearly and any attempt to cancel the reservation will result in a terse message attesting to their policy.
Their trip has been on my bucket list for all of my 87 years. My failure to read their Terms cost me $2853.89 although I acted long before an anticipated May trip. Don’t repeat my mistake as you will be subject to the greatest train robbery in existence.
glad I saw this before booking. Thanks
What a dishonest company that refuses to refund money to paying customers in these difficult times.
We have lost $8214 for 3/5/2020 -4/5/2020
Shame on you Rocky fraudulent Mountaineer
My wife and I placed a deposit to take this train from Vancouver to Banff in September 2020 and put down $668 deposit last September. I came across the reviews of fellow travelers who ended up getting travel vouchers for some time in the next 2 year period because the company cancelled their plans. I was shocked to see that the company cancelled on travelers who paid the entire amount due to coronavirus yet people had to accept travel vouchers for future travel. WE live in South Carolina and have other vacations planned and have no desire to rebook. It seems even if you purchased travel insurance and the company cancelled last minute it doesnt seem you would get any part of your money back and end up with a travel voucher. I see that the company changed its policy so now only requires a $25 deposit but you still have to pay the balance 30 days out-and if they cancel you are out of luck you have to take a voucher. Furthermore the responses from the company to many of these reviews were really consistently heartless. I decided I had no choice but to cancel and give up my deposit even though we werent traveling for another 4.5 months. I totally appreciate others who provided their reviews as it helped me make a better decision. I also think the company made a terrible decision not to provide an option for people to get at least some of their money back. The Company acts like they are the only one affected in this transaction by the coronavirus and seems not to care that it doesnt operate at all without customers like us who are fortunate enough to spend a considerable amount of money to take a train through the Rockies. Perhaps they have the law on their side, I dont know, because I could not find any guidance for how it they legally came to the decision to only offer vouchers. Yet I feel this is a shortsighted solution that in the end may put them out of business and all these poor people with vouchers will be out of luck. This review is consistent with other similar experiences already published by Trip Advisor and is important for others who are in similar situations.
I would urge you to contact Christopher Elliott at firstname.lastname@example.org. He is a well-known travel writer and has a web page that functions as an ombudsman for travel-related issues. I have referred several other people with this same complaint and one more will held to encourage him to take on all these complaints against the Rocky Mountaineer. Good luck!