By Ensemble Travel Group · March 2022
When it comes to expedition experiences, two of our favorite travel providers have come together to offer guests the ultimate adventure. We could not be more excited about their new partnership which combines the adventure of expedition cruising in Alaska and the romance of rail travel through the Canadian Rockies. We caught up with Shawn Bierdz, Chief Operation Officer at American Queen Voyages, and Josh Mahon, National Sales Manager at Rocky Mountaineer, to learn more.
Q: Shawn, tell us a little bit about American Queen Voyages (AQV) and why the company chose to partner with Rocky Mountaineer.
American Queen Voyages is a leader in encounter travel offering the most varied and comprehensive portfolio of North American itineraries and expedition experiences across rivers, lakes, and oceans. As we enter the expedition market in a big way with our new expedition vessel, Ocean Victory, we could not think of a more special way to travel to and from the ship in Vancouver than the iconic Rocky Mountaineer trains.
Q: Now Josh, tell us about Rocky Mountaineer and why the company is excited to partner with AQV.
Founded in 1990, Rocky Mountaineer offers luxury train journeys through Western Canada and the American Southwest. Our world-renowned train travels by daylight and is an incredible way to experience some of the most spectacular scenery North America has to offer. We are very excited for our new partnership with American Queen Voyages. Like Rocky Mountaineer, AQV is an iconic North American brand with a similar guest profile. There is a natural alignment when combining a Rocky Mountaineer rail journey with an AQV Alaska cruise, and we have worked closely with American Queen Voyages to craft unique pre-cruise and post-cruise experiences that their guests will love.
Q: And, can you talk more about these pre- and post-cruise experiences with Rocky Mountaineer?
Embarking on the elegant experience of traveling by rail through one of North America’s most scenic lands, the Landscapes & Luxury Rocky Mountaineer City Stay Package is available as a six-day pre-cruise option for guests booked on Ocean Victory May 2nd or 23rd, June 13th, July 4th or 25th, August 15th, or September 5th of 2022. It’s also available as a five-day post-cruise option for guests booked on Ocean Victory May 28th, June 18th, July 9th or 30th, August 20th, or September 10th of 2022. Expedition highlights include a two-day Rocky Mountaineer train experience with GoldLeaf Service, hotel nights in Banff and Kamloops and two nights in Vancouver, two half-day tours in Vancouver (Grouse Mountain and Capilano, Vancouver City Tour), a National Parks pass, luggage handling at hotels, as well as train station and airport transfers. Additionally, the pre-cruise option includes an additional hotel night in Calgary plus a full day sightseeing tour from Calgary to Banff.
Q: So, Shawn, what makes AQV’s new Ocean Victory expedition ship so special?
At American Queen Voyages, we strive to deliver extraordinary experiences for our guests. In Alaska, our new expedition vessel has been designed to capture encounter travel moments, up-close and personal.
Ocean Victory has been created for intimate access in Alaska with an innovative X-Bow design. The ship accommodates only 186 guests and will sail 12- and 13-day journeys through the less-traveled regions of Alaska led by a seasoned expedition team. Like-minded explorers will explore Alaska up close by deploying kayaks and Zodiacs with expedition guides, viewing wildlife from sliding observation platforms, witnessing marine research by California Polytechnic State University students in real-time, and having engaging discussion.
Q: As travel begins to truly recover from the pandemic, the key to success may be strategic partnerships. What are you both hoping will come from this great partnership?
Shawn: American Queen Voyages creates encounter travel experience and partnerships are an important way to develop lasting memories for our guests beyond the boat. A rail to sea experience from the Canadian Rockies to Alaska is the ultimate in encounter travel.
Josh: An Alaskan cruise is high on travelers’ lists, especially as destinations re-open across the globe. Alaska is truly extraordinary, and because it’s in North America, there’s such an ease to visiting. What’s a more memorable and incredible way to experience Alaska than adding a luxurious rail tour of the Canadian Rockies?
Q: Lastly, here’s a bonus question for both of you! What do you recommend for travelers wanting to get the best of both worlds – both at sea and on land?
Josh: The pre-cruise and post-cruise packages include Rocky Mountaineer’s iconic GoldLeaf rail service. With the all-inclusive GoldLeaf service, guests enjoy expansive views through the panoramic windows of a bi-level glass dome train car. Each GoldLeaf train car has its own exclusive outdoor viewing platform to get closer to the action, and meals are elegantly plated and prepared with local ingredients in the dedicated dining room. Onboard Hosts attend to every need including storytelling, drink service, and meal service.
Shawn: As we approach the inaugural expedition season of Ocean Victory showcasing Alaska and celebrating the 10th anniversary of American Queen Voyages, the addition of a Rocky Mountaineer City Stay Package is a magnificent mode of travel to add even more to our new expedition experience. We are honored to partner with Rocky Mountaineer, combining the adventure of expedition cruising in Alaska and the romance of rail travel through the Canadian Rockies.