Travelling the old-fashioned way

If you’re looking at booking a cruise holiday with a difference this year, why not look at the increasingly popular cruise-rail deals on offer.

More and more cruise line companies are offering packages combining sea travel and inland travel –the best of both worlds without the hassle of having to make separate arrangements for each part of the journey.

And while cruise enthusiasts often say you get a different and sometimes surprising perspective of a country from the vantage point of the sea, there are some destinations that just can’t be reached by ship.

Alaska is one of the original cruise-rail tour destinations because of its amazing coastline, fjords and inland scenery.

Rocky Mountainner

Rocky Mountaineer

Cruise companies offering packages include Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises and Holland America Line.

Royal Caribbean offers 21 Alaska  10-14 night Cruisetour packages on Radiance of the Seas, including a seven-night Northbound or Southbound Alaska cruise, and several days travelling on the ‘Wilderness Express’ train with its specially designed glass-domed viewing carriages.

Their 12-night ‘Family Style’ Cruisetour has been specially designed with children in mind, with an Adventure Ocean programme, onboard entertainment and a visit to the Hubbard Glacier. Then it’s on to a five-night escorted land tour between Seward and Alyeska, with the added highlight of two nights at the Denali National Park.

Princess Cruises offers a Cruisetour package described by the company as a ‘seamless land and sea vacation’. This package includes a seven-day cruise along the Alaskan coast, with three to eight day tours inland. You get to spend time at Denali National Park, a full-day sailing Glacier Bay National Park, and to stay at wilderness lodges owned and operated by Princess Cruises.

Outdoor adventure types can go river rafting, kayaking, fly fishing, and even dog sledding.

The famous Canadian Rocky Mountaineer train company has partnered up with Holland America Line for rail and cruise holidays. Sailing from Seattle on the ms Oosterdam, the seven-night cruise goes up the Canadian coast to Alaska, spending several days visiting the fjords, picturesque ports and national parks of the country.

Then when you reach Victoria in British Columbia, you board the Rocky Mountaineer train, travelling to Vancouver and Kamloops, staying in hotels on the way, and ending up in Banff.

Closer to home, Celebrity Cruises offer a cruise-rail experience on the newly renovated Celebrity Solstice and in partnership with Australia’s Great Southern Rail’s ‘Indian Pacific’ train.

The 18-night cruise departs Auckland, sailing around New Zealand’s North and South Islands. Then it’s across to Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Esperance and Perth. At Perth you board the Indian Pacific for a three-night journey, sleeping in a cabin and eating your meals onboard, while enjoying the scenery.

TGV European Trains

TGV European Trains

If you’re going to Europe, most major European ports connect with Rail Europe’s high speed and modern network of trains.

In Italy, Trenitalia, Italy’s rail service has introduced cheap fares linking in with cruise ships in and out of Venice and Rome. Cruise Factor is offering a free transfer from Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci’s airport to the Port of Civitavecchia.

Most river cruise lines offer the option of high-speed rail connections to transfer river cruise passengers from airports and cities to cruise terminals. Cruise Factor is offering a 10 per cent discount off all European rail passes.

Here’s a few more cruise-rail ideas to put on your bucket list.

  • Cruise on the Amazon – train on the trans-Andean railway. A four-night Amazon River cruise on a luxury expedition ship, the Anakonda, down the Ecuador section of the Amazon river. Then board the train for a four-day journey across the Andean uplands to Guayaquil on the Pacific Coast. Passengers spend each night at a historic hacienda or country inn.
  • Train from Memphis to New Orleans – cruise from New Orleans to the Caribbean. Visit Graceland and the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis then a six-hour Amtrak journey through Tennessee and Louisiana to New Orleans where you spend three days. Then a seven-night cruise on the Carnival Conquest from New Orleans to the Caribbean.
  • Train from San Francisco to New York – cruise from New York to Southampton. A 5,000 km trek across the US then boarding Cunard’s Queen Mary II for a seven-night trip to Southampton.

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