Travel

ViaRail Toronto-Vancouver

  • Last Updated:
  • Oct 12th, 2019 8:21 pm
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[OP]
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Oct 18, 2014
1967 posts
858 upvotes
HK

ViaRail Toronto-Vancouver

Has anyone done this trip?

I'm looking for feedback on:
-Prestige vs Cabin for 2/3/4?
-Is Prestige restricted to 2 ppl in the cabin? Or can infant/toddlers stay as well?
-Would you recommend this trip with infants/toddlers?
15 replies
Member
Jan 8, 2008
485 posts
58 upvotes
Toronto
I would not wish this trip on my most hated person. This was the worst trip the boredom was high level and the WiFi was non-existent.
Deal Addict
Jun 23, 2010
1814 posts
256 upvotes
Markham
I agree, excruciating. Fly to Alberta and pick the same train up there to Vancouver.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Oct 18, 2014
1967 posts
858 upvotes
HK
I appreciate the feedback. Vancouver-Calgary looks like a good option (if that's where the best views are).

Although it looks like one has to do at minimum Winnipeg - Vancouver (3 nights) for Prestige.
Last edited by McKinsey on Oct 10th, 2019 5:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Feb 1, 2005
2166 posts
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If you like train rides you will enjoy it. If you don't care too much about train rides you will probably hate it.

For toddlers, it will depend on the toddler's temperament; will they be happy with a non-internet tablet to keep themselves entertained in the lulls?

The meals are good but you are basically stuck on a train for 3/4 days straight, entertainment is basically reading, chatting, personal entertainment devices (no internet) and watching the scenery go by. It will be a cozy ride with a long continuous time with your travelling companions/family.

The cabins are also cozy (even in prestige - but then again cabins on the ridiculously expensive Orient Express are also cozy).

Biggest issue is that freight has priority so don't be surprised if you're occasionally stuck not moving for long periods of time.
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Jun 12, 2007
16284 posts
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London
ShopperfiendTO wrote: The train stops in Edmonton and Jasper, not Calgary.
Also need to check the time of day when the train passes through the mountains. At one point, this happened at night for one of the directions (eastbound/westbound)

Assume the OP is talking about the via train vs the rocky mountaineer tourist train
edit sorry, tourist train only goes Vancouver to Banff
Deal Addict
Oct 6, 2015
2463 posts
1372 upvotes
McKinsey wrote: Has anyone done this trip?

I'm looking for feedback on:
-Prestige vs Cabin for 2/3/4?
-Is Prestige restricted to 2 ppl in the cabin? Or can infant/toddlers stay as well?
-Would you recommend this trip with infants/toddlers?
Done it a few times, but never contiguously across the country.

Prestige is crazy expensive, and you're at the back of the train, so you get the worst possible ride. They get up to 130-135km/hr in some sections which can quite violent and seems to worsen the further back in the train you get.

If you book a pair of Cabin for 2's that are next to each other, the wall is temporarily removable so it effectively becomes a very large double bedroom. That is very suitable for families.

All infants/toddlers/children (under 12) must be supervised at all times. If you get caught letting the kids roam free, and you don't heed the warning, they will de-train you.

The dining is absolutely fabulous, but I doubt kids younger than 5 or 6 would really appreciate that.

As a family (of 4), you would all be seated at the same table (of 4) for dining, which kind of defeats a lot of the social aspect of the train, and that is, meeting new people. I have met people from Europe, New Zealand, Australia, and the US on the train, and still keep in touch with them years later. Families with young children are scarce in the sleepers; the clientele tends to be elderly.

There can be delays which are occasionally especially severe. And there's a good day and a half with almost zero cell service through Northern Ontario. The cell service is also less than perfect in western Manitoba and in parts of BC (but is generally 100% solid in Sask/Alberta).

I think if you're accustomed to 5 star accommodation, in either hotels or cruise ships, you'll probably be relatively disappointed with the overall railway experience. But it is an experience.
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Aug 29, 2011
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Mississauga
iceprince wrote: I would not wish this trip on my most hated person. This was the worst trip the boredom was high level and the WiFi was non-existent.
I think that is kind of the point with trips like this. Unplug from the rat race and just enjoy the scenery.
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Jul 7, 2017
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SW corner of the cou…
mrweather wrote: I think that is kind of the point with trips like this. Unplug from the rat race and just enjoy the scenery.
Exactly. It is the experience, much like taking the 10-day trans-Siberian (if no stops).

Much like the trans-Pacific crossing on a container ship I did 3 years ago.
I smile when I see container ships sailing past my house laden with stuff made in China
[OP]
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Oct 18, 2014
1967 posts
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HK
Based on the feedback, I think this is more suitable without kids.

And yes, the whole purpose is to unplug. On my last trip to Japan, I did it without a smartphone/data plan, and just wandered and followed the crowd. I would use the internet at the hotel (when needed). Sure I get lost and may have not found the best restaurants on Yelp, but I meet a lot of interesting locals. Anyone remember traveling around with a Lonely Planet book only? If you were lucky you had a map, otherwise you had to ask ppl for directions.
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Aug 27, 2009
1384 posts
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Oakville
Check out this youtube video - it's done by seat61 - the guy with the excellent European rail info site.
He doesn't say it but aside from a few highlights between Toronto and the Rockies it looks like the first few days would be a huge bore. Also, from the video it seems like there aren't many of those skylight cars. The cars look pretty dated too.

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Jul 7, 2017
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RETD wrote: The cars look pretty dated too.
Except for 3 cars, it looks like all the rolling stock dates back to well before the Centennial.
I smile when I see container ships sailing past my house laden with stuff made in China
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Oct 6, 2015
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thriftshopper wrote: Except for 3 cars, it looks like all the rolling stock dates back to well before the Centennial.
Early 1950s in fact. But they're very well heated and air conditioned. No drafts from the windows. They took out some berths, added showers in their place. And the toilets don't flush onto the tracks like they used to.
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Jul 7, 2017
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burnt69 wrote: Early 1950s in fact. But they're very well heated and air conditioned. No drafts from the windows. They took out some berths, added showers in their place. And the toilets don't flush onto the tracks like they used to.
Only issue I've heard, from decades past, was the heat pipes - steam connected via (uninsulated?) hoses - would at times freeze in cold weather resulting in no heat. It'd be nice if Via bought the double-decker DB sleeper cars.

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I smile when I see container ships sailing past my house laden with stuff made in China

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