Riding the Rails AND the Waves in the Latest Travel Trend
There’s a phrase in travel: ‘Multi-modal’. Think of ‘planes, trains and automobiles,’ where you complete your trip via a number of different types of transportation.
Multi-modal travel is not new. But one version – larger-than-life journeys combining the romance of both cruise and rail - is picking up steam.
Ships and trains are a natural fit, even mirror images of each other: one on land, the other at sea. Cruise and rail modes are both steeped in storied history and traditions, and many travel lovers can name famous ships and trains as well as routes on their bucket list. For North Americans embedded in car culture, the unique rhythms and motion of riding waves or rail are unique and hypnotic. (Personally, I sleep better on a ship or train than I do at home.) And both modes provide travellers with perspectives on scenery they simply can’t see from the road.
Cruise or rail journeys on their own are perfect vacations. Pairing them together takes ‘unforgettable’ to a whole level. Travel companies have started making the connection, and there’s a growing collection of epic train-plus-ship itineraries like these:
Rail Journeys Inland Following a Sea Voyage
REGENT SEVEN SEAS CRUISES' Concierge Collection of Cruise & Rail Journeys
Guests on Regent Seven Seas Cruises have had the option for several seasons to extend their journey on land - before or after their Regent Alaska cruise - on a Canadian Rocky Mountaineer train journey.
Where your luxury cruise on the Regent Seven Seas Explorer takes you along the wild West Coast and introduces you to unspoiled marine seascapes, Rocky Mountaineer operates bucket list rail journeys between Vancouver, the major cruise port gateway to Alaska, and the iconic Canadian Rockies National Parks and towns of Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper.
In the heart of the West’s greatest wilderness, from plush, glass-domed, railcars, guests take in a 360 degree view of mountains, lakes and forests as well as fine dining and personalized service.
So many guests have fallen in love with the train through Canada’s Rocky Mountains married with a luxury cruise, Regent-style along the northwest coast of the continent, that Regent is expanding opportunities globally with Belmond’s storied Belmond trains in what it’s calling a ‘Concierge Collection’ of journeys.
(Belmond via YouTube)
Imagine sailing for 16 days on Regent's Seven Seas Mariner from Los Angeles to Lima, Peru, where you’ll board the famous Hiram Bingham, a Belmond Train for the 3-day rail journey all the way to mystical Machu Picchu.
(Belmond via YouTube)
Other itineraries combining Regent cruises and Belmond ultra-luxury trains in Europe include the itineraries to the Swiss Alps and the Italian Dolomites.
What's better than a cruise through the untamed seascapes of Alaska on an ultra-luxury, small Seabourn ship? Guests can extend their time in Alaska and British Columbia with Seabourn Journeys, pre- and/or post-cruise itineraries featuring destinations and experiences in treasured locations that cannot be accessed on single-day excursions from Seabourn Odyssey during sailing. These include an exploration of some of Canada's most stunning mountain scenery aboard the Rocky Mountaineer luxury train.
Seabourn has an official partnership with UNESCO, and the cruise-and-rail route includes Canada's Banff National Park, a designated UNESCO World Heritage site.
Train Extensions of River Cruises in the Heart of Europe
Uniworld Boutique River Cruises are already unique. Each jewel-box ship is like a floating boutique hotel that captures and amplifies the best characteristics of the region where it sails.
You feel like you’re in an historic French hotel, re-done to modern tastes while sailing with Uniworld in Bordeaux or along the Rhone. For example, the company’s new ‘La Venezia’ has glass and textiles and flavours all sourced from its glamorous Venice home. (pictured, top)
Uniworld’s first Cruise & Rail journey transports guests from the Swiss Alps to Italy on a four-day Zurich-to-Venice train journey, taking guests to their week-long coastal cruise in Venice and Northern Italy on La Venezia.
Uniworld's La Venezia
It’s been so in demand, Uniworld has developed a second Cruise & Rail itinerary for guests on La Venezia, from Venice to Istanbul for eight nights, and reverse, all summer long. The journey transports guests not just geographically, to to another era, beginning with a hotel stay in Istanbul, then train travel through nine countries including Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia and Bulgaria, to the ship in Venice, where a week-long exploration of one of the world’s greatest seaports and coastline awaits.
If that’s not evocative enough, how about the ‘Castles of Transylvania’ journey connecting Golden Eagle’s Danube Express train with Uniworld’s ‘Enchanting Danube’ cruise, onboard the cruise line’s regal ship the Maria Theresa. Guests can choose from either a pre-cruise rail option for a 12-night trip starting with a one-night hotel stay in Budapest or a post-cruise rail option for an 11-night trip starting in Passau. On this trip, top highlights include a visit to three castles, including a visit to the capital of the Transylvania region, Cluj-Napoca and even dinner at Bran Castle of the legend of Dracula!
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by Lynn Elmhirst