TCS Expeditions Introduces Three Rail Journeys

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By Tyler Davidson

Reed Travel Features

SEATTLE -- TCS Expeditions, based here, is offering three new rail journeys aboard the luxurious vintage American Orient Express train, which is entering its third season of service.

In addition to the new seven-night Great Trans-Canada Rail Journey between Vancouver, British Columbia, and Montreal, the line is introducing a Great Northwest program and a Rockies and Yellowstone itinerary.

According to Vicki Brems, vice president of marketing for TCS Expeditions, the Rockies and Yellowstone itinerary was designed to follow up on one of its popular programs highlighting some of the premier national parks in the West.

The five-night Rockies and Yellowstone itinerary travels between Denver and Portland, Ore., taking passengers over the Rocky Mountains to Salt Lake City, with explorations by motorcoach into Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks.

The train continues west along the Columbia River and through the Columbia River Gorge to Portland.

Departures are from Denver June 12 and Portland Oct. 6. The price starts at $2,590 per person, double.

The eight-night National Parks of the West itinerary originates in Santa Fe, N.M., or Denver and includes sightseeing in Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon and Zion national parks, a crossing of the Rockies and a day in Salt Lake City to visit Great Salt Lake and Temple Square.

Departures are from Denver May 25 and Oct. 11 and from Santa Fe May 17 and June 4; prices start at $3,990 per person.

The operator's Great Northwest itinerary rounds out the national park theme by adding Glacier National Park to the mix.

"This is letting us move the train north and also letting us have a look at Glacier National Park, Yellowstone and Grand Teton," Brems said of the new itineraries' focus. "So in 1997 we're sort of expanding our national parks network."

Although TCS departs the train for the standard motorcoach tours into the parks, the trip there is what makes the journey special.

"There aren't many ways to see the parks, except to drive, stay at the hotels or take buses," Brems said.

"By traveling by rail through this wonderful scenery to get to the park, you're seeing scenery you can't see any other way."

The five- or six-night Great Northwest programs, which operate in June and September, travel along the Columbia River to the Yakima Valley and end at Glacier National Park.

The train departs Portland June 17 on an itinerary that loops through Glacier National Park and terminates in Seattle.

On the way back to Seattle the train travels through the Idaho panhandle and across the Cascade Mountain Range.

Clients sleep on the train during the journey but have overnight stays in Portland and Seattle on the day before and after the trip, respectively.

The tour cost starts at $1,990 per person, double.

A five-night Portland-Glacier National Park itinerary departs the "Rose City" Sept. 8 and runs a reverse itinerary from Glacier National Park Sept. 13.

The cost of this trip starts at $1,790 per person. There is one hotel night spent in Portland before the Sept. 8 journey.

The itineraries include all excursions and most meals.

The privately owned and operated American Orient Express train features 11 carriages from the streamliner era of the 1940s and 1950s.

Two vintage dining cars are the setting for gourmet meal service, with fine china, crystal, silver and linen. There are two club cars appointed in leather and brass, and guests will find nightly entertainment courtesy of a baby grand piano.

All of the air-conditioned sleeping compartments have their own bathrooms, and at the end of the train is an observation car that served 20 years on New York Central Line's 20th Century Limited train.

For more information, call (800) 727-7477 or (206) 727-7300; fax (206) 727-7309.

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