A very fine company called Uncommon Journeys has put together two of my favorite itineraries in the Northwest and combined them to offer one of the finest, most scenic travel experiences you will find anywhere. The Canadian Rockies and the Inside Passage of Alaska, ending with a cruise down the Pacific Coast to San Francisco is 17 days of luxury, fully escorted with many great meals included.
This special experience begins with a flight to Calgary, Alberta, where you are transferred from the airport to the Sheraton Cavalier with dinner that night in the Carver's Restaurant, the highest-rated steakhouse in Alberta.
The next day, it's off to one of the finest national parks in the world, Banff, where you have time to walk around the famous Banff Hot Springs, photograph various scenes along the Bow River and that night, enjoy dinner at Le Beaujolais Restaurant, which was a favorite of the Royal Family.
On day three, after breakfast, there is an inspiring drive up the Icefields Parkway to Jasper, stopping at Lake Louise and Peyton Lake along the route. This is a spectacular journey and full of great photographic possibilities. You'll have that night to roam around the village and just take it easy.
The following morning offers a drive to magnificent Maligne Canyon and Maligne Lake with the unbelievable scenic boat cruise to Spirit Island. This is one of the most photographed sights in the Rockies. After lunch, the ride is alongside the rushing Athabasca River with the Rockies as the backdrop. That evening it's another leisurely stop in a quaint village.
Day five is train day! Board the Rocky Mountaineer in the morning at Jasper and dive into the heart of the Rockies, passing Mt. Robson, the highest peak in the Rockies, traveling through Rocky Mountain Trench and past the Cariboo Mountain Range. You might consider this the most scenic of all the routes through the Canadian Rockies and the entire day is spent traveling west through fantastic scenery. That evening the train arrives in Quesnel, British Columbia, with a stay overnight.
Day six, after breakfast, it's back on the train for another day of spectacular scenery along the Fraser River, past Anderson and Seton Lakes with evening arrival in the resort village of Whistler with rooms waiting for you at the Hilton Whistler Resort. The next day you are on your own to roam about the village, perhaps play some golf; take a ride on the aerial tramway or snoop in the shops.
On day eight, after a Belgian waffle breakfast, you'll board the Whistler Mountaineer train, in luxury Glacier Dome class, for a scenic ride along the coast past Howe Sound and Britannia Beach. Many say this is one of the prettiest train rides anywhere. It takes you to Vancouver, my favorite city in North America. There, rooms await you at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.
In this great city you have most of two days for city sightseeing, including Queen Elizabeth Park and plenty of time to explore historic Gastown, Robson Street and famed Stanley Park.
Now, it's time to board the Norwegian sun and go off the clock and cruise north along the Inside Passage of Alaska. There, visit Ketchikan, gateway to Misty Fjord, Juneau, the state capital, with nearby Mendanhall Glacier, and then turn south for a visit to Canada's charming Victoria. There, you'll want to see famous Butchart Gardens, which has perhaps the finest flower display in the world. Be sure to stroll into town, past stores that remind you of England, visit a museum or two, maybe have high tea at the Princess Hotel in the beautiful harbor before boarding your ship to sail south along the Pacific Coast with two leisurely days at sea. The Norwegian Cruise Line ship has a selection of restaurants to enjoy, fine entertainment, beautiful lounges and bars, a casino, movies and deck chairs to enjoy the sea air.
On day 17, the ship will sail under the Golden Gate Bridge, past Alcatraz and dock near Telegraph Hill. You can extend your visit here or be transferred to the airport for your return home.
For this entire holiday, some fine meals, a tour manager, your rail fare, cruise fare, transfers and sightseeing, the rates begin at $4,595 for an ocean-view stateroom. For information and reservation, consult your travel professional or call Uncommon Journeys & Train Holidays at 800-323-5893 or see the Web site, www.uncommonjourneys.com.
This is one trip you will never forget!