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Old 07-08-2014, 12:12 AM   #1
shushh
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Help for Vancouver, Alaska and Canadian Rockies June 2015

Its been a while since I've popped by (for various reasons) but its great to be able to start planning another trip!

We are heading to Canada and Alaska in June next year flying into Vancouver, going for a 7 day Alaskan cruise onboard the Disney Wonder and then we have a bout 10-12 days for road trip to the Canadian Rockies to fulfil DH's lifelong dream of playing golf at Banff. It seems like we are unable to travel as a small group...this time around the in-laws will also be coming along.

For someone who's accustomed to travelling in winter to the Northern Hemisphere, the prices were a bit of a shock to the system! We would love to be able to stay at the Fairmont in Lake Louise but I nearly choked to death at the prices...Even the prices of hotels in Vancouver was pricey.

I would appreciate any tips/advice or suggestions on your favourite places to visit & places to stay and why that is so. I'm trying to figure out what is worth "forking out" for and where it is best to go the cheaper option.

Would also love to hear from any Aussies who've been to Alaska, especially your highlights and "must do"s.

Last but not least, we are considering ending our drive at Calgary rather than doing the round trip drive from Vancouver to Vancouver post cruise. The only reason being to go to the famed Calgary Stampede! Once again any Aussie thoughts on the experience would be great.

Thanks in advance! If you're Canadian (or any other Nationality for that matter) and reading this...please don't let my "Aussie take" comment put you off, join in the discussion! Would love to hear your thoughts too
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Old 07-08-2014, 04:13 AM   #2
CJ2001
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So jealous, I would love to go back to Canada it is so beautiful

We were there in June 2012 and we stayed in Vancouver for 5 nights and Whistler for 2 nights. Whistler is the most beautiful place I have ever seen. You can only really spend a couple of nights if you are not a skiier (as we werent).

We stayed at the Crystal Palace and it is stunning and not hugely expensive. We went for tea at the spaghetti factory which was very nice. There are so many Australians working up there too.

We went up by bus and came back on the Rocky Mountaineer and it is totally worth the money - absolutely stunning scenery and such a relaxing trip.

My parents went on an Alaskan cruise and they loved it, we met up with them in Vancouver and went up to Whistler with them.

Oh if you go to Whistler I would go on the Peak to Peak gondola, I'm scared of heights but it was so beautiful seeing the snow and views. Felt really safe in the gondolas
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Old 07-08-2014, 04:33 AM   #3
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You'll love it We did Canada and Alaska for our honeymoon in 2007 and it was brilliant.

We did one night at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise... but it was certainly NOT cheap!!! But we had to do it, the whole trip was basically planned around it!

We did a few days in Vancouver, then flew up to Ketchikan for a small-ship cruise to Juneau. If you can stomach the cost (makes DCL look VERY VERY CHEAP) then IMO there is no better way to see Alaska. Our ship only had about 70 guests on board, it was amazing. After that, we did an inland Alaska tour to Denali National Park, before flying to Calgary. We drove up the Rockies for a few days, then back to Vancouver and out.

If you want to read my blog posts, I did a daily blog post on our trip. Go here -> http://blog.thesystemisdown.com/?cat=16&paged=3 and start from the bottom and work your way up. Most of the image links are broken unfortunately. But you can go straight to our photo gallery and follow along easily.

Our photo gallery is here ->

http://losfp.smugmug.com/Holidays/Honeymoon
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Old 07-08-2014, 04:48 AM   #4
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Hi Shushh. Great to see you back on the boards.

Sorry I can't help as Canada and Alaska are still on my bucket list. But I just wanted to make the comment that your trip sounds awesome. Looking forward to reading all about it.
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Old 07-08-2014, 05:19 AM   #5
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Welcome back, Shushh! Nice to see you have a fantastic trip in the works!

That part of the world is wonderful to see in June. You'll love the wildlife.
It's been a very long time since I last visited the Canadian Rockies.

Neither of the Fairmonts - the one at Lake Louise or the one at Banff - are cheap. I would try and swing for one night at the Lake Louise one and look for accommodation elsewhere.
We were doing a camping trip through the Canadian Rockies; so I won't even bother to recommend any of them.

We drove in via Vancouver and stayed the night at Yoho National park and then based ourselves in Banff and did most of the major sites - glaciers and lakes - from there. We covered Jasper NP from Banff and drove out via Waterton NP.

It's just jaw-droppingly beautiful everywhere. Lake Moraine is the one at the back of the Canadian $20; and it really is gorgeous. We walked around Lake Louise and also hired a canoe so that we could see it from the lake itself. I also remember that we found a place where there were hot springs near Yoho, where we stayed.

The icefields/glaciers were interesting but the thing I remember the most is the animals. We saw brown bear, mountain goats, deer/elk, big horn sheep, moose and wolves.

Have fun planning!
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Old 07-08-2014, 07:04 AM   #6
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DH and I really want to cruise to Alaska. We want to see bears! Unfortunately we only ever seem to get to the US in winter

My sister and brother in law spent some time at Whistler and not including a nasty skiing accident, they had a great time. One of the main things they enjoyed was Dog Sledding. However I don't know how much you'd be able to do this in June...
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Old 07-08-2014, 05:26 PM   #7
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Thank you all for jumping in! The problem right now is my mind is all jumbled as I've got information overload. We're considering a camping tour, DH wants to stay a dude ranch, I want to stay at luxury resort...the-laws fortunately has said they'll do whatever we organise phew!

Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ2001 View Post
So jealous, I would love to go back to Canada it is so beautiful

We were there in June 2012 and we stayed in Vancouver for 5 nights and Whistler for 2 nights. Whistler is the most beautiful place I have ever seen. You can only really spend a couple of nights if you are not a skiier (as we werent).

We stayed at the Crystal Palace and it is stunning and not hugely expensive. We went for tea at the spaghetti factory which was very nice. There are so many Australians working up there too.

We went up by bus and came back on the Rocky Mountaineer and it is totally worth the money - absolutely stunning scenery and such a relaxing trip.

My parents went on an Alaskan cruise and they loved it, we met up with them in Vancouver and went up to Whistler with them.

Oh if you go to Whistler I would go on the Peak to Peak gondola, I'm scared of heights but it was so beautiful seeing the snow and views. Felt really safe in the gondolas
Thank you for your input. We have vaguely inserted Whistler into our itinerary but to be honest we don't very much about it! Thanks for the giving us a start. Will check out the Crystal Palace.

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Originally Posted by losfp View Post
You'll love it We did Canada and Alaska for our honeymoon in 2007 and it was brilliant.

We did one night at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise ... but it was certainly NOT cheap!!! But we had to do it, the whole trip was basically planned around it! I'm hoping we can make this happen! It is at moments like these when I curse having the third child...

We did a few days in Vancouver, then flew up to Ketchikan for a small-ship cruise to Juneau. If you can stomach the cost (makes DCL look VERY VERY CHEAP) then IMO there is no better way to see Alaska. Our ship only had about 70 guests on board, it was amazing. After that, we did an inland Alaska tour to Denali National Park, before flying to Calgary. We drove up the Rockies for a few days, then back to Vancouver and out.
I wouldn't mind hearing more about this. One of the options we are considering is scrapping the Disney cruise (the kids would be horrified) and doing a one way cruise on Princess (in-laws have some super status so they get free wifi, minibar and laundry) and then doing our land based part of the trip in Alaska. How long was your tour and how many people were in the group?
If you want to read my blog posts, I did a daily blog post on our trip. Go here -> http://blog.thesystemisdown.com/?cat=16&paged=3 and start from the bottom and work your way up. Most of the image links are broken unfortunately. But you can go straight to our photo gallery and follow along easily.

Sorry I posted above before reading this part properly! Will head off to your blog to read and browse through your photos. Thanks for sharing!
Our photo gallery is here ->

http://losfp.smugmug.com/Holidays/Honeymoon
Quote:
Originally Posted by WanderlustNZ View Post
Hi Shushh. Great to see you back on the boards.

Sorry I can't help as Canada and Alaska are still on my bucket list. But I just wanted to make the comment that your trip sounds awesome. Looking forward to reading all about it.
Thanks for dropping by! It is nice to be back. House & building issues will hopefully all be behind us soon...

Quote:
Originally Posted by PrincessInOz View Post
Welcome back, Shushh! Nice to see you have a fantastic trip in the works!

That part of the world is wonderful to see in June. You'll love the wildlife.
It's been a very long time since I last visited the Canadian Rockies.

Neither of the Fairmonts - the one at Lake Louise or the one at Banff - are cheap. I would try and swing for one night at the Lake Louise one and look for accommodation elsewhere.
We were doing a camping trip through the Canadian Rockies; so I won't even bother to recommend any of them.
I'm actually veryinterested to hear about your experience because DH is keen on a camping tour. We found a few that would take kids Jonah's age. And although we pay more, they provide equipment. It looks like all we had to do was to bring our own sleeping bag. But even then, 5 sleeping bags take up valuable luggage space.

We drove in via Vancouver and stayed the night at Yoho National park and then based ourselves in Banff and did most of the major sites - glaciers and lakes - from there. We covered Jasper NP from Banff and drove out via Waterton NP.
That's handy to know. We were considering this and wondering if we should stay at Jasper instead. I guess it would depend on whether we do a loop drive or one way.
It's just jaw-droppingly beautiful everywhere. Lake Moraine is the one at the back of the Canadian $20; and it really is gorgeous. We walked around Lake Louise and also hired a canoe so that we could see it from the lake itself. I also remember that we found a place where there were hot springs near Yoho, where we stayed. Just added that to my to-do list...

The icefields/glaciers were interesting but the thing I remember the most is the animals. We saw brown bear, mountain goats, deer/elk, big horn sheep, moose and wolves.

Have fun planning!
Quote:
Originally Posted by BecBennett View Post
DH and I really want to cruise to Alaska. We want to see bears! Unfortunately we only ever seem to get to the US in winter That's us too! We've only been there once in autumn

My sister and brother in law spent some time at Whistler and not including a nasty skiing accident, they had a great time. One of the main things they enjoyed was Dog Sledding. However I don't know how much you'd be able to do this in June...
The kids would love this, I'm wondering if this is something we can do in Alaska instead. I'll have to look into it.
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Last edited by shushh; 07-08-2014 at 05:32 PM.
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Old 07-08-2014, 05:49 PM   #8
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I'm not as organised as some of the other veterans here...my standards are slipping! I just realised that I haven't introduce myself or provided very much information our travelling party.

As you can see from my signature that most of our recent trips have had Disney components which means that I'm usually an obsessive compulsive planner. With much going on over the past couple of years, our trips of late have had more "last minute" elements. Well, last minute by Disney planner standards

So here I am on the boards, with a vague plan only because DH and I had one intense internet browsing session together...

Anyway...our 3 littlies will be aged 6, 10, 12 at the time of travel next year. They are fairly adaptable and adventurous and will do/eat/try most things. The in-laws are also great to travel with. Other than my MIL having a bad back, they are open to most things as well. MIL will usually just find something alternative that she can do if we want to do something that isn't kind to her back condition.

We love the National Parks, enjoy museums and we always look for unique experiences and adventures that are off the beaten track. We also thrive on finding great culinary experiences of the places that we visit. We like eating like the locals and we're willing to try anything once! We're also open to visiting good shopping spots if they fit with our general itinerary.

Thanks for all your input so far. Looking forward to hearing more!
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Old 07-08-2014, 06:27 PM   #9
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Welcome back!!!

I saw awhile ago that you were doing the DCL Alaska cruise, it is on my list but it will be a few years before it actually happens. The Princess cruise is tempting particularly with those extras, but keep in mind the northern part is open ocean and you will then have NO Disney part to the trip.

Vancouver is a nice city, but it is definitely worth a day trip from there to do Whistler. I would strongly recommend driving, as it is spectacular but easy.

We have done the Canadian Rockies in winter with skiing, and yes the prices in winter are actually alot cheaper despite the skiing because everyone goes there during summer holidays. However I am sure it will be well worth it. Also, unfortunately there is a distinct lack of the secondary Hilton/Marriott brands like Homewood Suites that make US travel with bigger families more affordable.

The first priority is to drive the Icefields Parkway between Lake Louise to Jasper, another spectacular road.
Secondly, I strongly recommend staying in Jasper at least one night, it is a wonderful small town.
Thirdly, if you want your shopping fix Edmonton is THE place but it depends on the time you have.

As for the Fairmont hotels, for the price they charge they are really overrated as hotels. You can just visit each one and then stay somewhere else. Indeed with the Lake Louise one many rooms do not even have the lake view that any member of the public can see.

I agree with not driving back to Vancouver, there is no need.

It sounds like a great trip. Enjoy planning.
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Old 07-08-2014, 06:50 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shushh View Post
I wouldn't mind hearing more about this. One of the options we are considering is scrapping the Disney cruise (the kids would be horrified) and doing a one way cruise on Princess (in-laws have some super status so they get free wifi, minibar and laundry) and then doing our land based part of the trip in Alaska. How long was your tour and how many people were in the group?


It's a bit annoying that the DCL Alaska cruises are round trip Vancouver, and they don't go to Glacier Bay. If Princess do one way and go to Glacier Bay, I would certainly pick them as a preferred option despite the lack of Disney magic.

I think the inland part was just a package deal through Gray Line. They were pretty rubbish and left us to chase up our bus connections and we almost missed our train to Fairbanks. There's heaps of companies that offer something similar. It was basically a bus from Anchorage to Denali (and a train from Denali to Fairbanks), 2-3 nts staying just out of Denali National Park, and tickets for the Tundra Wilderness Tour. Your littlies might find this tour a bit dull - it's basically 8 hours on a bus, searching for scenery and wildlife. We found it fascinating. The scale of the place just blows you away. The train is great, they have those huge windows that wrap around the top of the car so you get a great view.

Regarding the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise? When we woke up and this was the view from the room... Worth it. Won't be spending many nights there, but I'm glad we did it


Last edited by losfp; 07-08-2014 at 07:00 PM. Reason: adding pic
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Old 07-09-2014, 12:21 AM   #11
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So excited to see another epic Shush trip in the making!

I don't have much to contribute as I have yet to get to these places myself. But I will be hanging on your every word as they're pretty high on my wishlist.

Losfp - that view is just to die for! Amazing
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Old 07-09-2014, 01:05 AM   #12
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What a dream trip, sorry have nothing to contribute as this is on my bucket list to do, so look forward to your planning and of course all the great details on your return........I will be taking notes for my future holiday.
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Old 07-09-2014, 01:21 AM   #13
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What a dream trip, sorry have nothing to contribute as this is on my bucket list to do, so look forward to your planning and of course all the great details on your return........I will be taking notes for my future holiday.
Nothing to add either, but I am another one with Canada on our bucket list, both winter(skiing) and summer. Will be reading along with interest
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Old 07-09-2014, 03:02 AM   #14
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Oops sorry I got it mixed up with the restaurant at Magic Kingdom. Just shows I'm looking at too much Disney stuff!!

We stayed at Crystal Lodge & Suite
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Old 07-09-2014, 05:47 AM   #15
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Shushh - We went with Trek America. I know they market for 18 - 35 year olds but they did have a "customise your own personal trek" section. If you have 'extra family' join you, it might be something worth looking into.
You do have to BYO sleeping bags with Trek; but then you could always buy some cheaper ones in the US??
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