Canada Train Trip Review (2021)

We give the Canadian Rockies an A+ for beauty! Unfortunately, we feel that the Rocky Mountaineer, Gold Leaf Service is a total rip off.They represent the Gold leaf (extra cost) service is “The Height of Luxury” and “Five Star Comfort”.  Not even close.

Poor service started way before we left with literally waiting hours (true) for somebody to take a phone call and then they were not helpful at all.

The seats are similar in size and pitch to airline premium coach seats (a few inches extra legroom). The seat back does not recline AT ALL. It does shove the seat up about 4 inches. Then there is no room for the leg rest though.

It was sold as a tour, from Vancouver to Vancouver, but we were just a group with no tour representative from the company and often left alone with no guidance.

We checked in to our  “upgraded” hotel in Vancouver but then had to get ourselves to a hotel a mile away to check in for the journey. They didn’t have a desk at our hotel and provided no shuttle. Never have we experienced that on any tour no matter what the price.

The train is constantly late. They have delays and represent, for example that arrival is between 5 – 7:30. Yet they constantly were an hour later yet. Only once did they arrive within their stated time, or even close.

The bus part was provided by Brewster Express which was lower end yet. The bus was not exclusively for our group. It stopped at many hotels to/from the train like a cheap airport shuttle. It was jammed full of people. and there was no space at all between seats. All over the world tour buses are way more comfortable.

It takes two days between Vancouver to the either Banff or Jasper. Kamloops (the overnight stop) has absolutely nothing to offer. It would make way more sense to take the overnight via The Canadian. You will save a day and have much finer rail car experience. Offering a private bedroom, their accommodations are way better also.

In Lake Louise, when we had a very early departure, the bus showed up over an hour late and the driver didn’t even say sorry or good morning. Nobody from Rocky Mountaineer was around and when we phoned after a long delay, we learned that the bus “would be late”.

The rooms at the hotels were between fair and terrible even though we paid extra for a room upgrade on top of Gold Leaf service. At the Jasper Fairmont, management told us they didn’t know anything about our having an upgraded room and put us in a room with 2 small beds and no view.  So basically, we paid extra to Rocky Mountaineer for nothing at all.

When we called Rocky Mountaineer, no one answered, and no one ever called us back even though we left a message to call any time.  That was two days ago.

I might add the hotel attitude was one of total disdain implying they sell to Rocky Mountaineer so cheaply that they don’t even need to be pleasant to us. Our room was a slum. They said to take it up with Rocky Mountaineer and didn’t care we had written confirmation of the upgrade.

In retrospect, we should have flown to Calgary and either rented a car or taken a small group tour. Jasper, Lake Louise, and Banff are all great. To continue to Vancouver, the overnight Canada Rail trip is recommended

Bottom line, enjoy, and don’t miss  the Canadian Rockies. Find any other way to tour it.

9 Responses so far.

  1. Chuck Weinstock says:

    Some of your comments are spot on. However there is no better way to see the Canadian Rockies other than chartering a private car on a private train that stops overnight somewhere (I’ve been on such a train.) The Canadian, while a great train, does much of the Rockies at night. And it only covers one of the two routes (the one it doesn’t cover is more scenic in my opinion.)

  2. Bill says:

    Good to know I will not recommend this to any one as I do see it pass through my town often thanks for the review

  3. sheree says:

    I took ViaRail all the way from Vancouver to Montreal – best trip ever! Private room with a bed [as opposed to a cot on AmTrak], and a comfortable lounge chair to check out the scenery along the way. Entertainment, French chef, and stops along the way to just see little non-tourist towns and play in the snow. I’m a train-freak. I take trains all over the world and that was one of the best. I thought about taking the one you took. nope. thanks for the insight.
    [Allyn: bet you don’t remember me!]

  4. Jan Mueller says:

    So disappointing to hear since this is (was?) on my list of travel wants! Thanks for the review and gorgeous pics :)

  5. seberkson1 says:

    So sorry to hear how disappointed you were about part of the trip. Too bad. Elaine

  6. Karen Vonier says:

    So very sorry it was so very below your expectations & high standards. I was actually sad that Henri & I were not onboard!

    So the pics & scenery were truly magnificent.
    No one can ruin that!

    Knowledge is power Barry & this will hopefully impact their poor business practices.
    I would hate to be on your “ SH.t List.

    I think the ORIENT EXPRESS is BEST FOR US!

    Love to you & Allyn 💞

  7. Lyde and Curt says:

    We just returned from a WONDERFUL week with Gold Leaf Service on Rocky Mountaineer. maybe we were just lucky from the comments of others – we loved our Gold Leaf Hotels – all top – big clean rooms – I especially loved the service and the grounds around Jasper Park Lodge and my husband enjoyed Emerald Lake Lodge with a fireplace in each room. That was definitely Gold leaf! I was the group leader with 24 older folks in our group – we had our own private Brewster guide with an EXCELLENT driver and tour director. This was the third time we had booked with Rocky Mountaineer – the last two times were Silver Leaf service which we were also very satisfied with. Perhaps we should give the benefit of the doubt to the Railroad company which has had 18 months of cancellations, loss of jobs with Brewster as well as the train company – it has been so tough on them. Rocky Mountaineer has been in business for many years and always received high grades – I’m 84 and looking forward to another adventure with them!

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