Jump to content
bmjhagen9426

Canadian rail adventure ideas

Recommended Posts

So now that the Northern Spirits have returned to Churchill this week, it is that time again for speculation of travel through Canada. Since I only get 30 days of vacation at a maximum (unless I have rollover days), I may have to split the American rail journey to the US rail journey and the Canadian rail journey. I'm thinking about entering and leaving via Vancouver BC because of the preclearance (unlike going to Montreal or Toronto). Thinking about going from either SEA or PDX to VAC, taking the Canadian to Toronto, Corridor to Ottawa and Montreal, the Ocean to Halifax, back to Montreal then Toronto, Canadian to Winterpeg, Northern Spirits/Hudson Bay to Churchill and back to Winterpeg, Canadian to Jasper, Skeena to Prince Rupert and back, Canadian to Vancouver, and Cascades to PDX or SEA. Here are the classes that I might be taking: Biz Class on the Cascades, Totem Deluxe (Touring class) when available on the Skeena, Prestige Class on the Eastbound Canadian, Roomette or Bedroom on the Westbound Canadian between Toronto and Winterpeg, Winterpeg and Jasper, and on the Northern Spirits, Berths on the Canadian Westbound between Jasper and Vancouver, and Sleeper in the Ocean. And is it advisable to spend nights between trains, and the selections of the classes (I am leaving off Abitibi and Saguyney for Canadian adventure part deux with going in/out via Adirondack and Maple Leaf), and how easy is it to enter Canada by way of the Cascades (Not worried about getting back in as a US citizen)?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Only" 30 days vacation????!!!!!

The Cascades has "airport" style Customs and Immigration on arrival at Pacific Central Station in Vancouver.  I have crossed on all three cross border services (Cascades, Maple Leaf, Adirondack) and the Cascades is the easiest.   The only problems I've ever had there is when I am going up for day trips, which makes them suspicious.  For real vacations in Canada (i.e. when I am carrying luggage), dealing with CBSA in Vancouver is usually easy and quick. 

I would always build in an overnight layover when connecting from a long distance train.  I typically do that on Amtrak, but it is an absolute must when connecting from the Canadian (during the timekeeping fiasco that ended when they lengthened the schedule in July, even one night was not sufficient buffer).  Also, connecting with the Skeena, the schedule of the two trains has usually forced a layover in Jasper, although I have not checked that on the most recent Via schedule.

One comment I want to make is that I  vastly prefer the Canadian in the off season, when it is not a 26 car hormonal monster.  I have ridden it both on and off season, and the off season is much more laid back and I only take it in the off season now.

My only comment on service classes is I seriously do not think Prestige is worth the triple or more cost (and more like 5 times the cost if you are traveling single, since Prestige pricing is based on double occupancy).  You are eating the same meals in the same dining cars and enjoying the same amenities (at least in the off season).  You get a bigger bed, a TV and a locking door.  If you want to watch TV while onboard the Canadian, I am afraid that there may be something wrong with you.  Oh, and free booze.  Personally, I'd find it hard to make up the $5000 or more price difference in booze in 4 days even with the most determined effort.

I have been riding the Canadian about once a year for the last 5 years and I am more than happy in a roomette.

Edited by zephyr17

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When crossing the border northbound aboard the Cascades, Business Class passengers get priority processing through Canadian Customs. In my opinion, it's worth the upcharge for that alone...particularly if you're coming in on the late night train.

The Rosedale on Robson Suite Hotel is kind of pricy, but is a VERY good place to spend the night in Vancouver before continuing on. All rooms have kitchenettes. If you want the continental breakfast for free, be sure to book directly with the hotel...if you use a third party site (Expedia, etc.) then breakfast is an extra charge.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've always felt the Rosedale to be quite reasonable priced for Vancouver.  And Yes, it's a great hotel/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, Qbar said:

I've always felt the Rosedale to be quite reasonable priced for Vancouver.  And Yes, it's a great hotel/

Qbar...Actually, I agree with you, but we seem to have some posters here who consider Motel 6 to be upscale....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I find your post mocking poorer members to be offensive.

13 hours ago, ehbowen said:

but we seem to have some posters here who consider Motel 6 to be upscale....

Folk don't consider Motel 6 upscale, it's more that those of us who have very limited resources find them good value for what little money we can afford.

Same goes for hostels, etc.

I would rather visit somewhere in America for 4 nights in a Motel 6, than 1 night in a more expensive place.

 

Ed.

Edited by caravanman
Removed references to "christian values"...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, caravanman said:

I find your post mocking poorer members to be offensive.

Folk don't consider Motel 6 upscale, it's more that those of us who have very limited resources find them good value for what little money we can afford.

Same goes for hostels, etc.

I would rather visit somewhere in America for 4 nights in a Motel 6, than 1 night in a more expensive place.

 

Ed.

I agree, Ed.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please. It's a joke. OK?

Look, I've paid $12 a night for a room in downtown San Diego (in 1986). Bathroom down the hall, 'characters' in the lobby, and a telephone switchboard straight out of 1927. But the sheets were clean, the staff was competent, and the characters were friendly and made for interesting conversation once you took the time to get to know them. I came back and stayed there again (although I moved upscale...room with bath for $16!), and was very disappointed when the place was torn down a year or so later. And I regretted that the characters now had nowhere to go except the homeless shelter.

On the other hand, especially when I'm traveling with family members such as my parents, I eschew adventure in favor of known quantities and, whenever possible, luxury. Hence the Rosedale on Robson in Vancouver and the Marriott Courtyard Pioneer Square in Seattle. These places are both expensive, given my income and resources. Yet I consider it money well spent. So I tried to give a heads-up a few posts back that the Rosedale is an excellent hotel, albeit "kind of pricy." Qbar responded that she thought their prices were quite reasonable for downtown Vancouver...and they are. So I tried to make a gentle joke in agreement with that point which points out that it's a matter of perspective...and two of you posted saying you found that offensive.

It's not possible to win. So I'm not even going to try. If you have a problem with that...then you have a problem.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For hotels in Vancouver, watching dates is key. Sometimes you can get a good deal; a couple of years ago I was able to stay at the Hotel Belmont (was a Comfort Inn at the time) for about US$100/night with a direct booking. There may be other inexpensive options as well, though I haven't used them personally. Hostels may also be an option if you're comfortable with that sort of shared accommodation. In Winnipeg you'll be best served by staying downtown as well; there's some good hotels near the airport but they're not very easily accessible without a vehicle. Also, check out the Canadian Museum for Human Rights while in Winnipeg; it's well worth the cost of admission and is a true gem of a museum.

Unless you have loads of money to spend, I wouldn't pay the extra for Prestige Class on the Canadian, especially if you're traveling alone. I took a lower berth the one time I took the Canadian, and for someone traveling alone it was definitely one of the best deals out there. If I was traveling alone again, I'd definitely take that whenever it's an option. All meals are still included, you still get the same access to the train as a standard sleeper passenger, and you get privacy at night with the curtains drawn.  I still got the "full experience" of the Canadian without having to spend the extra money for a private room. That said, park car access is now limited during peak season, though I don't think unrestricted access to the park car is worth the upgrade cost.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, ehbowen said:

If you have a problem with that...then you have a problem.

Post deleted, no further comment.

 

Ed.

Edited by caravanman

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×