Cruise Tour Destinations -
The Canadian Rockies
The Canadian Rockies is another excellent cruise tour destination for those travelers looking for wilderness adventure and has some of the finest mountain scenery on earth. Add Banff and Jasper National Parks, the Rocky Mountaineer Train, and some of the finest and most famous hotels built during Canada’s grand railway hotel era and you have a spectacular cruise tour choice. A Canadian Rockies land tour is easily combined with a cruise beginning or ending in Vancouver.
Banff National Park, established in 1885, is Canada’s oldest park. Born from a humble beginning known as the Banff Hot Spring Reserve covering 10 square miles, today, it is one of the most visited national parks in North America encompassing 2,564 square miles. Other than the townsites of Banff and Lake Louise and the highways that bisect the park, about 93% of it remains untouched wilderness. Crystal-clear lakes, rushing waterfalls, alpine meadows, accessible glaciers and the ragged snow capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains, so close you feel like you can reach out and touch them.
It is against this backdrop of spectacular scenery that you’ll bathe in the soothing and recuperative Canadian Rockies Hot Springs where travelers have come for more than a century. But before you immerse yourself in the warm mineral waters visit the original Cave and Basin Hot Springs site, preserved and opened up as an interpretive centre. A short walk through a rocky tunnel leads to the historic earliest developed hot springs site. Unfortunately, there is no soaking permitted here. The habitat is preserved and protected for the rare and threatened Banff Springs Snail. It’s a trip back in time as you enter the reflecting pool and fountain area in what was once the Bathing Pavilion. Exhibit photos will remind you of a time when laughter filled the air.
It’s a short trip from the Cave and Basin Hot Springs site to the more recent Banff Upper Hot Springs location. The restored 1930’s heritage bathhouse has all the amenities of a modern facility including a spa that utilizes hand-made all-natural products in their treatments. Water temperature is kept between 98 and 104 Fahrenheit, just right to ease your cares away. Movie stars, kings and presidents have all “taken the waters” here, you’ll appreciate the experience too.
A trip down the Icefield Parkway, named for the Columbia Icefield and the numerous glaciers visible from the road, is a must do! You’ll want to make sure it’s included in your Canadian Rockies cruise tour itinerary. This is one of the world’s most stunning roadways and a drive of a lifetime. Wildlife; elk, moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, black and grizzly bears, wolf, or caribou, is frequently spotted along the route.
The Columbia Icefield is one of the largest accumulations of ice and snow south of the Arctic Circle. It covers 150 square miles and the ice can be 2000-3000 feet thick in places. The Columbia Icefield is a true "hydrological apex," meaning its meltwater feeds streams and rivers that pour into the Arctic, Atlantic, and Pacific oceans. The continuous snow accumulation feeds eight major glaciers. One of them is the Athabasca Glacier, the most accessible glacier in North America. It comes within walking distance of the parkway. The Columbia Icefield is located on the boundaries of Banff and Jasper National Parks.
Jasper National Park is the largest of Canada's Rocky Mountain Parks and part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. A designation it shares with Banff National Park. It covers 4,200 square miles and is home to Alberta’s highest mountain, Mt. Columbia, at 12,274 ft. The park is internationally-renowned for wildlife viewing and offers 660 miles of superb hiking trails.
Miette Hot Springs, the hottest springs in the Canadian Rockies, are located in Jasper National Park. The source of the heated water is deep underground and temperatures can reach 129 Fahrenheit. Today, the springs are cooled to approximately 100 degrees before they are allowed to touch your skin. There are multiple pools to choose from, both hot and cool, and the scenery is first-class. You may even be greeted by the local welcoming committee, a family of mountain goats who have become a regular fixture at Miette Hot Springs.
A trip to the Canadian Rockies wouldn’t be complete without a train tour on the Rocky Mountaineer. The Rocky Mountaineer train was recently recognized as the top train in the world by The Society of American Travel Writers. This is one time when the marketing hype is actually true! The incredible panoramic views are jaw-dropping and you’ll go places and see things you can’t any other way.
Go back in time and relive the romance of train travel when the journey was just as important as the final destination. Follow the historic route constructed over 100 years ago that united Canada from coast to coast. The service is outstanding, the cars extremely comfortable with all seats facing in the direction of travel with plenty of leg room. The train travels in both eastbound and westbound directions – we recommend you start in Vancouver and head east, the scenery is much more dramatic, which means you’ll enjoy your cruise first.
There are two famous grand old hotels in Banff National Park, The Chateau Lake Louise and the Banff Springs Hotel. Both hotels have played a considerable role in the colorful history of Canada’s mountain west and were the brain child of Cornelius Van Horne, general manager of the Canadian Pacific Railway.
Recognizing the tourism potential of Canada’s mountain west and the role it would play in the success of the CPR, Van Horne envisioned a succession of lavish hotels along the railway. Banff Springs Hotel was born. Referred to as, “the Castle in the Rockies,” it was the first luxury hotel in the Rocky Mountains. Styled after a Scottish baronial castle and located on the banks of the scenic Bow and Spray Rivers, few hotels in the world can rival the majesty.
Mr. Van Horne’s vision for Chateau Lake Louise was, “a hotel for the outdoor adventurer and alpinist.” Lake Louise is renowned as the birthplace of Canadian mountaineering. Referred to as Canada’s “Diamond in the Wilderness” Chateau Lake Louise is a unique blend of opulence and seclusion. It is a beautiful chateau-style resort located on the eastern shore of Lake Louise offering stunning views of the Victoria Glacier. This is definitely one of the most photographed destinations on earth.
Canadian Rockies cruise tours bring together the scenic wonders of the North American Rocky Mountain range with an Alaska sailing. Consisting of land tours of 3, 5, 6 or 7 days originating or terminating in the beautiful coastal city of Vancouver, British Columbia, paired with a 7-day (or longer) Inside Passage cruise. Overnight stops may include: Vancouver, Whistler, Kamloops, Jasper, Banff, Lake Louise and Calgary, Alberta.
A typical Canadian Rockies cruise tour package will have you begin your tour in Calgary, Alberta, for your first overnight, followed by motor coach service to Banff for a 1 night stay. Jasper is your next destination via motor coach for 1 evening before boarding the Rocky Mountaineer train bound for an overnight stop at Kamloops. You’ll continue your rail journey into Vancouver for a 1 night stay before boarding your ship and sailing the Inside Passage. Your tour will end in Vancouver after disembarking the ship and you’ll fly home.
On one of the shorter variations you’ll be enjoying the Coast Mountains of British Columbia and one of Canada’s premier year-round destinations, Whistler. You’ll arrive in Vancouver and overnight, followed by a scenic ride on the Rocky Mountaineer train to Whistler for a 2-night stay and then board your motor coach for the trip back to Vancouver where you’ll board your ship to begin your 7-night cruise. When you return to Vancouver, you’ll disembark and fly home.
Being able to purchase round-trip airfare, versus one-way travel into Calgary or Vancouver, is a benefit of the Whistler itinerary but you’ll miss the Canadian Rockies experience.
If you select this itinerary please take care when reviewing what is included in your cruise tour fare. Many Canadian Rockies cruise tours include some meals as well as sightseeing excursions.
Even though there are many different cruise tour itineraries available for this destination. It is more manageable than the sometimes overwhelming number of tours offered into the interior of Alaska. Not all cruise lines offer the Canadian Rockies as a cruise tour option.
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