Canada coast to coast dream trip

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dadonatrain

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I’ve got a fantasy trip I’d love to take, because Canada has always been one of my two favorite non-US countries. It’s only a fantasy, not even a “dream”, as I define those terms, because practically speaking there’s no chance it’ll ever happen, but I can still fantasize about it.

I’d get to Halifax from Greenville, SC, by train. See Halifax. Then do Halifax-Montreal. Lay over a few days there cuz I’ve never seen Montreal. Then any sensible Montreal-Toronto. Lay over again, maybe visit the hockey hall of fame. Then Toronto-Jasper. Lay over there a few days. Can’t beat that scenery! Then finish up Jasper-Prince Rupert. Ideally I’d do the Toronto-Jasper leg in Prestige class just to see how good it is and to say I’d done it. After that, I’d take ferries back down to the US and who cares where I go or how I do it after that?! But it’d be by train, that’s for sure!

One possible variation I’d like to tack on would be to split the Canadian at Winnipeg and sandwich in a round trip to Churchill. I’ve never seen polar bears in the wild and the only time I ever saw the northern lights was so long ago, I barely remember it. I’d love to do those two things on this fantasy trip!

I know this trip would cost me some expense, but it’s my fantasy trip! Actually, the two factors that would most influence the final cost would be 1) if I could book Toronto-Jasper in Prestige vs “regular” first class; and 2) the alimony taking this trip at all would cost me!

Anyone else have any fantasy trips you’d like to talk about? Any thoughts on mine? Including just how monumentally stupid the idea really is?😝
 

pennyk

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I was able to accomplish a partial trip across Canada in 2011 and 2012, when fares were much more reasonable and routing was more frequent. In December 2011, I took the Canadian from Toronto to Vancouver. In Fall 2012, I took the Ocean roundtrip from Montreal to Halifax and back. I had the help of AU members in planning and executing these trips, to whom I am thankful (although all are no longer with us).
In 2011, I traveled from ORL to NYP, spent, the night, then traveled on the Maple Leaf to Toronto. I seem to recall meeting up with AU members, AlanB, Shanghai and Jis in New York. Returning from Vancover, I traveled to Seattle, spent the night, then using points, I traveled on the Coast Starlight, CZ, CL and Meteor home to Orlando. For a lifetime Floridian, seeing so much snow was a really big deal. I recall being in Winnipeg when it was 15 below (the coldest I had ever experienced). I lasted about 5 minutes outside, then warmed up and then stayed outside for a whole 15 minutes when the temperature reached 1 below (F). I also recall being on the CZ eastbound (second week in December) and being only one of two passengers in the signtseer lounge. I hope to never forget that trip. I am so fortunate that I made the trip when I was younger and fares were lower. The assistance I received from AU members was pricelss. :)

My 2012 trip on the Ocean was not as memorable, but was enjoyable.
 
Joined
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Somewhere in Southern Ontario
I’ve got a fantasy trip I’d love to take, because Canada has always been one of my two favorite non-US countries. It’s only a fantasy, not even a “dream”, as I define those terms, because practically speaking there’s no chance it’ll ever happen, but I can still fantasize about it.

I’d get to Halifax from Greenville, SC, by train. See Halifax. Then do Halifax-Montreal. Lay over a few days there cuz I’ve never seen Montreal. Then any sensible Montreal-Toronto. Lay over again, maybe visit the hockey hall of fame. Then Toronto-Jasper. Lay over there a few days. Can’t beat that scenery! Then finish up Jasper-Prince Rupert. Ideally I’d do the Toronto-Jasper leg in Prestige class just to see how good it is and to say I’d done it. After that, I’d take ferries back down to the US and who cares where I go or how I do it after that?! But it’d be by train, that’s for sure!

One possible variation I’d like to tack on would be to split the Canadian at Winnipeg and sandwich in a round trip to Churchill. I’ve never seen polar bears in the wild and the only time I ever saw the northern lights was so long ago, I barely remember it. I’d love to do those two things on this fantasy trip!

I know this trip would cost me some expense, but it’s my fantasy trip! Actually, the two factors that would most influence the final cost would be 1) if I could book Toronto-Jasper in Prestige vs “regular” first class; and 2) the alimony taking this trip at all would cost me!

Anyone else have any fantasy trips you’d like to talk about? Any thoughts on mine? Including just how monumentally stupid the idea really is?😝
It's a great trip that you'd really enjoy. I'd forget the part about getting from Greenville to Halifax by train. That's not really possible and it would be far cheaper to fly, but the rest is do-able if not beyond your budget. Prestige can be a little pricey.
 

Northwestern

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It does sound like a fun trip. I've never taken Prestige Class, on the Canadian, but is seems to be super expensive. For example, Jasper to Vancouver on the Rocky Mountaineer, even with RM Gold Leaf service, is less than Prestige Class on the Canadian. from what I can tell. If you lay over in Toronto, Sleeper Plus class on the Canadian will be cheaper than Prestige Class, Toronto to Jasper. I've never taken Sleeper Plus.

If you were to change your itinerary, and include a flight to Vancouver, another possibility for exploring BC and Jasper could be the Rocky Mountaineer "Rainforest to Gold Rush" package. Vancouver to Whistler to Quesnel, to Jasper and the reverse. I took this one a number of years ago. Really scenic and interesting.

 

dadonatrain

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It's a great trip that you'd really enjoy. I'd forget the part about getting from Greenville to Halifax by train. That's not really possible and it would be far cheaper to fly, but the rest is do-able if not beyond your budget. Prestige can be a little pricey.
Hehe. Thx., To be honest, one reason I did even fantasize about a trip like this at all is simply to know I’d done it! And, the fact is, except for the alimony, I could find a way to afford it if I decided to do it! I don’t have that much time left, and I can’t take it with me! 😝
 
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dadonatrain

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It does sound like a fun trip. I've never taken Prestige Class, on the Canadian, but is seems to be super expensive. For example, Jasper to Vancouver on the Rocky Mountaineer, even with RM Gold Leaf service, is less than Prestige Class on the Canadian. from what I can tell. If you lay over in Toronto, Sleeper Plus class on the Canadian will be cheaper than Prestige Class, Toronto to Jasper. I've never taken Sleeper Plus.

If you were to change your itinerary, and include a flight to Vancouver, another possibility for exploring BC and Jasper could be the Rocky Mountaineer "Rainforest to Gold Rush" package. Vancouver to Whistler to Quesnel, to Jasper and the reverse. I took this one a number of years ago. Really scenic and interesting.

Yeah that could work too. I did actually do a round the continent trip sorta like this a few years back. Greenville New Orleans LA Seattle Vancouver Toronto NYC Greenville. My wife flew out to Vancouver and we did that then the Canadian together as far as Edmonton and she flew home. Great trip.
 
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I did a trip from Halifax to Vancouver in 2019. I live in Fort Worth, so to get to Halifax I went Fort Worth-Chicago-New York, spent a night in New York, then took the Adirondack to Montreal. I spent 2 nights in Montreal, then rode the Ocean to Halifax.

After 2 nights in Halifax, the real adventure started, riding the Ocean to Montreal, then Corridor train 65 to Toronto. Three nights in Toronto was followed by riding the Canadian (Prestige Class) to Vancouver.

After 2 nights in Vancouver, I rode the Cascades to Seattle and the Empire Builder to Chicago. I spent a night in Chicago before riding the TE home.

I spent a ridiculous amount of money on this trip, but consider it well spent. I only hope my health allows me to go back and ride the Canadian Vancouver to Toronto. And yes, I’d spend the money for Prestige Class again.
 

Rambling Robert

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A trip across Canada, a wonderful place for vacations, is also on my fantasy/dream/bucket list. Canadians love being a good host.

As said above - going Greenville SC to NYP and roundtrip on the Ocean from Montreal looks doable. With some help with AU I could get to Halifax by bus on a convoluted route from Portland ME DownEaster.

A bus tour around Cape Brenton - from Halifax might be nice ... although I’ve never been on ANY bus tour. Best to rent a car. I’m now wondering how much “Ocean” you’ll see on ViaRail. I’ve seen most of the coast by car/ferry - Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island on the Atlantic and a glimpse of British Columbia on the Pacific ... also by car/ferry / over a fifty year period.

In June - a trip across Canada on viaRail was my dream - I’ve simplified my trip - Amtrak Boston to LA via EB/Portland ME with a two day roundtrip rental car excursion from Spokane to Banff BC Canada. When planning this trip there was (is?) a pandemic related border issue so I could reschedule the excursion to within the US if necessary.

Is having border access no longer a fantasy?
 
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We did something similar over a 3 year span going PHL - Montreal - Truro NS via the Atlantic Limited then Truro to Sydney NS. 3 years later did PHL - Montreal - Vancouver and return on the Canadian. This was back in 1981 - 1984 sadly none of those trains run anymore.
 

Railspike

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Houston
We've been considering a trip across Canada on the Canadian in Prestige Class for some time. We can afford it, but are having issues justifying the cost. Based on your experience, what justifies the cost in your mind?
Thanks
 

Maglev

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We've been considering a trip across Canada on the Canadian in Prestige Class for some time. We can afford it, but are having issues justifying the cost. Based on your experience, what justifies the cost in your mind?
Thanks
I think the experience of enjoying the widest bed and biggest window of any public sleeper accommodation in the world justifies the expense. Coupled with a dome lounge, incredible scenery, good food, and good service; and this is a must-do for me if I ever have the cash (my wife would rather buy a boat).

edit to add: I took the Super Continental from Montreal to Vancouver in 1975, and it ranks as the most scenic train trip I have taken. I had an Open Section lower, which I believe is the second-widest bed available (wider than the lower in a Bedroom on Amtrak).
 
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dadonatrain

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I would agree with Maglev that many aspects of the level of service are enough justification. You can be confident you’re getting good quality. But even though it’s a luxury, I’d also add that as long as you know you can afford it, that alone puts it at least a little in the category of buying yourself a present. And I don’t think that ever needs to be justified! 😝 You can’t take it with you.
 

Northwestern

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I most definitely agree, Dadonatrain. I'm getting on in years (I'm in my 70's) and I think about the day when long vacation trips may not be possible, due to health and physical activity restraints. I only take one yearly vacation, so I splurge whenever I can! Upper levels of train accommodations, high end lodging along the way, and little restrictions in spending if reasonable. However, I was planning a trip to Whitefish, this summer, but I had to cancel due to health concerns for one person in my group. I was thinking of staying at a very expensive lodge in Whitefish. They wanted around $400 a night (peak summer season) and a 3 day minimum stay. That was unreasonable, to say the least.

My first trip trip on the Rocky Mountaineer, Vancouver to Jasper, was really expensive. I told myself just a "one time only" excursion. Well, I count 6 trips on the RM so far. It was worth it. You do save on some of the lodging when it's part of the package. Examples are the Jasper Park Lodge, in Jasper, and the Chateau Lake Louise in Lake Louise. I noted the room costs, for each, if they weren't included in the package. Very exorbitant room rates.

I wonder if Amtrak could do the same. Offer, for a little more in cost, a 4 star hotel or lodge as part of an Amtrak travel package, most likely on a LD train route. I guess, because Amtrak is a govt. or "semi-private" service, it wouldn't be possible.
 

dadonatrain

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Wow! This is so cool! When I first posted my fantasy train trip msg, I never imagined I’d get so many neat replies from so many others who feel, one way or another, just like I do!

Such neat replies make me wish even more that I could maybe find someone else to take a trip like this with. I’m 78, and I despair, some days, especially after three years of Covid-inspired cabin fever, that my time is running out. Maybe I should just put my money where my mouth is and do what I suggested in reply to Railspike about how to justify it. I can’t take it with me, so what the heck! I’m just gonna buy myself a present and take one last trip of a lifetime! To heck with the alimony it’ll cost me! 😝 (If you don’t get that part, see the last paragraph of my first post!)

Anybody wanna go along?
 
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The best space on VIA for an older couple travelling together is what used to be called a drawing room. They have two lower berths, forming an L-shaped sleeping area, and one upper. They're found in Chateau sleepers and non-Prestige Park cars - neither of which are usually offered on the Canadian during peak seasons. This encourages the sale of Prestige class. They are offered on the Hudson Bay service, sold as a Cabin for 3, and are scheduled to return to the Ocean, sold as a Large Cabin for 2. With the reconfiguration of the Ocean's Budd consist though, the Park car is impractical leaving a Chateau as the only option.
 

dadonatrain

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I have too, Rasputin, and in fact I agree with you. All things considered, I’ve done Tor-Van in first class more than once and it’s perfectly acceptable. In fact, on my most recent trip, at dinner I shared a table with a couple traveling in Prestige and they were having dinner from exactly the same menu as I was. And of course the same kitchen. The only diff I saw (I did not quiz them on it; I thought that would have been rude of me) was that they had been served an appetizer I was not offered.

In defense of my original msg, I offer only the weak excuse “Hey! It’s my fantasy!” 😆😆😆. I don’t suggest for a moment that the cost could be justified at all! I’m only sayin’ if I get told to get my affairs in order, and I can only do one final splurge train trip, something like this would be on my list of possibilities. I might also put the Orient Express on the list, and maybe consider renting a costume and going as F. Scott if I could get my wife to go along as Zelda! That’d be a hoot!
 

dadonatrain

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Messages
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Easley, SC
The best space on VIA for an older couple travelling together is what used to be called a drawing room. They have two lower berths, forming an L-shaped sleeping area, and one upper. They're found in Chateau sleepers and non-Prestige Park cars - neither of which are usually offered on the Canadian during peak seasons. This encourages the sale of Prestige class. They are offered on the Hudson Bay service, sold as a Cabin for 3, and are scheduled to return to the Ocean, sold as a Large Cabin for 2. With the reconfiguration of the Ocean's Budd consist though, the Park car is impractical leaving a Chateau as the only option.
This is good to know. Thx for this.

I just learned something about the Prestige bedroom design that takes a bit of the bloom off the rose for me, so to speak. Apparently, the bed is one mattress, built as a Murphy bed, and only one side of the bed is open to the rest of the cabin. So one of you would have to climb over the other to “go potty” in the middle of the night! Not ideal at all, IMO, esp at our age!
 

JontyMort

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May 4, 2021
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United Kingdom
I’ve got a fantasy trip I’d love to take, because Canada has always been one of my two favorite non-US countries. It’s only a fantasy, not even a “dream”, as I define those terms, because practically speaking there’s no chance it’ll ever happen, but I can still fantasize about it.

I’d get to Halifax from Greenville, SC, by train. See Halifax. Then do Halifax-Montreal. Lay over a few days there cuz I’ve never seen Montreal. Then any sensible Montreal-Toronto. Lay over again, maybe visit the hockey hall of fame. Then Toronto-Jasper. Lay over there a few days. Can’t beat that scenery! Then finish up Jasper-Prince Rupert. Ideally I’d do the Toronto-Jasper leg in Prestige class just to see how good it is and to say I’d done it. After that, I’d take ferries back down to the US and who cares where I go or how I do it after that?! But it’d be by train, that’s for sure!

One possible variation I’d like to tack on would be to split the Canadian at Winnipeg and sandwich in a round trip to Churchill. I’ve never seen polar bears in the wild and the only time I ever saw the northern lights was so long ago, I barely remember it. I’d love to do those two things on this fantasy trip!

I know this trip would cost me some expense, but it’s my fantasy trip! Actually, the two factors that would most influence the final cost would be 1) if I could book Toronto-Jasper in Prestige vs “regular” first class; and 2) the alimony taking this trip at all would cost me!

Anyone else have any fantasy trips you’d like to talk about? Any thoughts on mine? Including just how monumentally stupid the idea really is?😝
I would highly recommend the Inside Passage ferry from Prince Rupert to Port Hardy, but the art will be timing the Jasper to PR train to connect with the ferry, and then connecting from the ferry to the bus that runs from Port Hardy to Campbell River. That one runs three days a week, and I don’t know if it serves the ferry terminal (which isn’t in Port Hardy itself, but at Bear Cove) - albeit it’s within taxi range.
South of Campbell River, you’re back in the real world and there should be a daily bus.
I don’t think there is a coastal ferry all the way south of Port Hardy, so getting to Seattle via either Victoria or Vancouver would be a roundabout way.
The direct SeaCat from Victoria to Seattle wasn’t running when we were there, but hopefully that was a Covid aberration.
We happened to coincide with the Canadian in Jasper…619A99EE-FE0A-4114-A589-64388E6C8A15.jpeg C850976F-BEE2-424E-A78C-E93276B8EA79.jpeg
 
Joined
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Arlington, MA (near Boston)
I've done the full Canadian twice, once with my mother and once with my son. Both trips were in February/early March, when the fares were still low but the days were a bit longer, if not warmer. Both trips were amazing and well worth the standard sleeper room cost. I'd always dreamed of doing the Canadian and very happy that we did it. Both trips had few passengers so we all got to know each other and had a very relaxed single seating for dinner.

We're not rich but we're comfortable and can afford such things. For people with somewhat higher assets, more power to them if they want to splurge on Prestige class. And even if it is a big hit on the wallet, perhaps you can think of it as a (non-deductible) donation to the VIA Rail Dome Car preservation society :)
 

Northwestern

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Santa Rosa
********************************************

I had a chance, a number of years ago, to take the "Royal Hudson" before its demise. Vancouver to Squamish. It was a tourist jaunt with a brief lunch served when we got to Squamish. A scenic journey and I hope the Royal Hudson excursion train will return..


I would like, some day, to rent a car in Vancouver and drive up to Squamish. It looks like an interesting town with a number of things to do and see.

 
Joined
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Has anyone taken the Canadian in the last few months? Curious how well the traditionally high standards of service have been holding up. Both times I did it, we were accompanied by a passenger service director that took care of problems quickly. He/she popped into the Park car about an hour before dinner with a free drink service. The first night was bubbly, the second local wines, and the third local beers. While the servings were small they kept refilling them generously. They also served some small hors d'oeuvres, nothing remarkable but a nice touch.

One thing to consider about Prestige class. In an Amtrak full-size bedroom, the lower bed is larger and can accomodate two reasonably friendly people. The VIA Rail "Bedroom for Two" is well designed and comfortable, but it is smaller than the Amtrak bedroom, and the beds are true bunks. The Prestige class is the only way to get a bed that sleeps two. Not sure if that alone justifies the cost (as if it could be justified) but something to consider.

Finally, for anyone thinking about the trip and hasn't taken it, may I recommend this excellent if long video. Don't get turned off by the somewhat dated music, stick with it at least through the departure scene about two minutes in. It really captures the essence of the trip, where you spend long hours just staring at the scenery.

 
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