US and CA trip planning - ferry, float plane or chopper and trains

Matt_01

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Hi, thought I would reach out to those who may have done something similar. Our 2022 travel plans have changed a couple of times but think we have settled on the US and Canada. Travel is not until the Sep/Oct school holidays so heaps of time to plan and as we have all been to the US and Canada I am well aware of most of the standard travel stuff, the Covid rules I will not even worry about until closer to the travel dates. One of my aims is to stay away from airports and unnecessary flights. It is not a long trip as we are only taking MissM out of school for an extra couple of weeks and it is around 4 weeks.

We will arrive in SEA for a few days with the next port of call been Victoria, BC. The option of catching the ferry (about 3 hours) leaving from central Seattle and arrives at Victoria Harbour seems feasible and well within walking distance. From what I have read you need to do all the immigration and customs activities at Victoria and there does not seem like there is pre-clearance from the US side. From memory pre-clearance was available to the US but not to Canada but maybe wrong.

Next will be getting over to Vancouver, Harbour Air departs from Victoria Harbour and arrives at Vancouver Harbour (35 minutes) should be walking distance. I generally dislike travelling in small aircraft and have never been on a float plane, is there any differences in the take-off or landing from water when compared to land. The other option is Helijet (35 minutes) and for some strange reason I would much rather fly in a chopper than small fixed wing. On these small aircraft if your luggage does not fit do they just bring in over on the next available service. Luggage is a consideration as Mrs&MissM are not known to travel light and as it is a family trip I will most likely be asked to bring luggage as well. I do not think weight will be the issue rather the room available in small aircraft. This seems like a good option and the fall back would be to fly YYJ-YVR.

On to trains, when planning YUL-JFK/LGA/EWR I found out there was a train service and are considering travelling on the Adirondack (Amtrak). Some searching on YouTube and Goggle suggests that it is not uncomfortable or unpleasant however it takes 10 hours. As travel will be early autumn/fall the trip may be quite scenic as the foliage should be turning. We have not done a 10 hour train trip before but on the upside it is during the day and we like train travel, maybe less so after 10 hours.

Final considerations, we do have a YVR-YUL flight that has been booked on WS using QF points however I am unsure if I will keep it. I thought seat selection and luggage was included however when I go to MMB on the WS site it looks like seat selection is charged and luggage does not seem to be included. I also suspect we will not get access to the WS lounge if there is one, is this others experience. We are looking at booking revenue flights and our status is of no value in Canada, I suspect my *G (SQ) may at best allow me to take one guest into the AC lounges if I book Y but have not checked. As the flight is 5-6 hours we are looking at J options on AC the prices seem high, WS is cheaper and TS is the cheapest and maybe the best option. After looking at FR24 TS is currently not operating YVR-YUL so will just have to wait and see what happens and may book revenue closer to the date.

Any ideas or thoughts appreciated.
 
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Matt_01

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Now on to the next part are there any recommendation for accomodation Seattle, Victoria, BC, Vancouver, Montreal and Manhattan. There are 3 of us and normally would just book in the Hilton chain (I have diamond, MrsM is gold). I am considering using other chains as I seem to recall reading a while back the Hilton in the US free breakfast is not available any more but not sure. Also the hiltons we have previously stayed at while in the US have been hit and miss and there was a recent post by another member which indicated their experience at the Vancouver Hilton was not the best. In Montreal access to any type of executive lounge is not a consideration as MissM will not be allowed to enter (a Quebec law). Manhattan I am most familiar with and tend to stay in the midtown area but not wedded to that. As for status I also have Discovery titanium, Bonvoy gold, Shangri-La jade however happy to stay outside of the chains, accomodation just needs to be comfortable and centrally located.

Currently the only bookings I have made are in Seattle at the Mayflower Park Hotel on arrival day and the DoubleTree at EWR the night before we return. These can be changed/ cancelled and I am open to anything.
 
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Matt_01

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Also looking for any restaurant or places to eat at across the above locations. We are not that fussy if it is casual or fine dining we have eaten at michelin star restaurants but just as happy with a pizza place, deli or street food. For Manhattan I have eaten at quite a few places but cannot remember the names and not even sure if they still open. I had asked a similar question in late 2019 or very early 2020 as we had plans for 2020 but for the life of me cannot not find that post.
 

trooper

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If I were you I would investigate the baggage situation VERY carefully for the float plane flights. Depending on fare class the allowance can be from 50lbs (which is the absolute limit for a bag) to as little as TEN lb. Dimensions of baggage can be very restrictive also depending on aircraft type... (I looked at flying with them once some years ago...but having 2 "normal" full size bags on the trip made it impossible - or perhaps just VERY difficult) Having said that..if you have time...and if you like aircraft... a lunch at the restaurant overlooking the float plane base may be worthwhile. (I enjoyed it thoroughly) Having flown in a Beaver floatplane in Sydney (rather than Canada) my experience was that the takeoff can be quite bumpy..which of course depends entirely on the water state. I THINK Victoria Harbour is quite placid... so you may be spared the loud thumps we experienced...
 

RooFlyer

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Sorry, missed this until now.
Next will be getting over to Vancouver, Harbour Air departs from Victoria Harbour and arrives at Vancouver Harbour (35 minutes) should be walking distance. I generally dislike travelling in small aircraft and have never been on a float plane, is there any differences in the take-off or landing from water when compared to land.

The float planes land in Vancouver's inner harbour, and pull up at a pier almost right downtown. Shouldn't be an issue in landing - its like taking a cab (ie there are numerous ones coming and going). Maybe some potholes, but just relax and enjoy the scenery.

But there is (used to be) a car ferry from Victoria (or is it Sidney?) to Vancouver, which is also great.

YYJ-YVR on commercial is a PITA - a 45 min ride becomes 3-4 hours with all the airport hassle,.

The ferry between Seattle and Victoria is awesome - through the well-named Orca Islands.

Now on to the next part are there any recommendation for accomodation Seattle, Victoria, BC, Vancouver, Montreal and Manhattan.

Vancouver - avoid the Pan Pacific - totally touristy and over-priced for what you get. I used to stay at the Fairmont on West Georgia St (there are 2 others), but was never thrilled about it, for the cost. Its one of the old style Fairmont 'railway' hotels/chateaus. "Fairmont Hotel Vancouver" - Luxury Hotel in "Vancouver" - Fairmont, Hotels & Resorts

Sorry, no recommendations, but if you come up with a few names I may be able to give pros and cons on locations.

Montreal - the Chateau!

And Toronto - the King Eddie!

Also looking for any restaurant or places to eat at across the above locations. We are not that fussy if it is casual or fine dining we have eaten at michelin star restaurants but just as happy with a pizza place, deli or street food.

Vancouver - Lift on the waterfront near the Westin. If its fine enough outside has fantastic views over the Harbour; or more casual (but extensive) Carderos nearby, also on the water. Yaletown-Roundhouse is a subway ride away and has lots of 'cool' (read upmarket uni types) places to eat.

Try the BC wines - not bad. Blasted Church.
 
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RooFlyer

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Forgot to add - for Manhattan, check out the Algonquin. I think its a Marriott. I stayed there once, and couldn't afford to again 🤣 But I think it will appeal to you & family. I'd drool at a TR on it.

 

kookaburra75

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On to trains, when planning YUL-JFK/LGA/EWR I found out there was a train service and are considering travelling on the Adirondack (Amtrak). Some searching on YouTube and Goggle suggests that it is not uncomfortable or unpleasant however it takes 10 hours. As travel will be early autumn/fall the trip may be quite scenic as the foliage should be turning. We have not done a 10 hour train trip before but on the upside it is during the day and we like train travel, maybe less so after 10 hours.
MrsK and I took the train from New York to Montreal (the Adirondack ), which does take ten hours - one hour was a wait at the Canadian border waiting for the officials to do their bit. It was great. It left from Penn Station which is a central location and pulled into central Montreal. It was very comfortable, wide seats, heating, wifi and a dining/bar car. Although once you cross the US/Canadian border, the bar closes - but as that is the last hour or so of the trip it wasn't a problem.

The scenery is fantastic, and in autumn/fall it will be spectacular. We did the trip in March, so it was all snow and the local lads out on the ice fishing, with their Hiluxes parked out on the frozen rivers and lakes. There was one stop at Albany, but otherwise it was straight through.

We had no issues with luggage, as we were travelling with just one suitcase each. Check their website for details Amtrak Baggage Policy
 

kookaburra75

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Now on to the next part are there any recommendation for accomodation Seattle, Victoria, BC, Vancouver, Montreal and Manhattan. There are 3 of us and normally would just book in the Hilton chain (I have diamond, MrsM is gold). I am considering using other chains as I seem to recall reading a while back the Hilton in the US free breakfast is not available any more but not sure. Also the hiltons we have previously stayed at while in the US have been hit and miss and there was a recent post by another member which indicated their experience at the Vancouver Hilton was not the best. In Montreal access to any type of executive lounge is not a consideration as MissM will not be allowed to enter (a Quebec law). Manhattan I am most familiar with and tend to stay in the midtown area but not wedded to that. As for status I also have Discovery titanium, Bonvoy gold, Shangri-La jade however happy to stay outside of the chains, accomodation just needs to be comfortable and centrally located.
In New York, we stayed at the Staybridge Suites Times Square, which was a nice place to stay and being an apartment, we stocked up with food from nearby shops for breakfasts and lunches. There was even a bottle shop that had Penfolds. Although the street is a little bit dodgy with the Parole Reporting Centre a couple of doors down. But we never had any issues. Despite the name, it's a couple of blocks walk from Time Square but lots of good eating places nearby. And, it was only a five minute walk to Penn Station.

In Montreal, we stayed at Hotel Bonaparte, which was close to everything. It had its own character, and certainly not like the big chains, which was what we were after.
 
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ausfox

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Hi, thought I would reach out to those who may have done something similar. Our 2022 travel plans have changed a couple of times but think we have settled on the US and Canada. Travel is not until the Sep/Oct school holidays so heaps of time to plan and as we have all been to the US and Canada I am well aware of most of the standard travel stuff, the Covid rules I will not even worry about until closer to the travel dates. One of my aims is to stay away from airports and unnecessary flights. It is not a long trip as we are only taking MissM out of school for an extra couple of weeks and it is around 4 weeks.

We will arrive in SEA for a few days with the next port of call been Victoria, BC. The option of catching the ferry (about 3 hours) leaving from central Seattle and arrives at Victoria Harbour seems feasible and well within walking distance. From what I have read you need to do all the immigration and customs activities at Victoria and there does not seem like there is pre-clearance from the US side. From memory pre-clearance was available to the US but not to Canada but maybe wrong.

Next will be getting over to Vancouver, Harbour Air departs from Victoria Harbour and arrives at Vancouver Harbour (35 minutes) should be walking distance. I generally dislike travelling in small aircraft and have never been on a float plane, is there any differences in the take-off or landing from water when compared to land. The other option is Helijet (35 minutes) and for some strange reason I would much rather fly in a chopper than small fixed wing. On these small aircraft if your luggage does not fit do they just bring in over on the next available service. Luggage is a consideration as Mrs&MissM are not known to travel light and as it is a family trip I will most likely be asked to bring luggage as well. I do not think weight will be the issue rather the room available in small aircraft. This seems like a good option and the fall back would be to fly YYJ-YVR.

On to trains, when planning YUL-JFK/LGA/EWR I found out there was a train service and are considering travelling on the Adirondack (Amtrak). Some searching on YouTube and Goggle suggests that it is not uncomfortable or unpleasant however it takes 10 hours. As travel will be early autumn/fall the trip may be quite scenic as the foliage should be turning. We have not done a 10 hour train trip before but on the upside it is during the day and we like train travel, maybe less so after 10 hours.

Final considerations, we do have a YVR-YUL flight that has been booked on WS using QF points however I am unsure if I will keep it. I thought seat selection and luggage was included however when I go to MMB on the WS site it looks like seat selection is charged and luggage does not seem to be included. I also suspect we will not get access to the WS lounge if there is one, is this others experience. We are looking at booking revenue flights and our status is of no value in Canada, I suspect my *G (SQ) may at best allow me to take one guest into the AC lounges if I book Y but have not checked. As the flight is 5-6 hours we are looking at J options on AC the prices seem high, WS is cheaper and TS is the cheapest and maybe the best option. After looking at FR24 TS is currently not operating YVR-YUL so will just have to wait and see what happens and may book revenue closer to the date.

Any ideas or thoughts appreciated.
We have travelled on the Adirondack Northward and found it comfortable, relaxing and interesting.
 

Maca44

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It would appear that the US/Canada boarder is closed to trains (according to the Amtrak schedule for THIS route), but may open by the time of your travel, therefore have you considered taking the Amtrak Cascades from Seattle to Vancouver BC. I have done it several times and the views are fantastic. Leaves from King Street Station. Prices are reasonable, and from memory about US$90? o/w for business class. You don't clear customs until you arrive in Vancouver, and business class pax go through customs first. The Skytrain is 100 met from Pacific Central Station.

I have also taken the float plane a few times from Vancouver to Victoria and Maple Bay, although the car ferry (BC Ferries) is a great trip also. There is a great ferry that leaves Sidney just out of Victoria and make several stops in the San Juan island group, but unfortunately ends in Anacortes WA, back in USA so maybe next time.
 

Matt_01

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If I were you I would investigate the baggage situation VERY carefully for the float plane flights. Depending on fare class the allowance can be from 50lbs (which is the absolute limit for a bag) to as little as TEN lb. Dimensions of baggage can be very restrictive also depending on aircraft type... (I looked at flying with them once some years ago...but having 2 "normal" full size bags on the trip made it impossible - or perhaps just VERY difficult)
Thanks for this information I sent an enquiry to Harbour Air and although we are guaranteed weight restricted to 50lbs each there is another 50lbs on standby and over 100lbs you can pay for extra weight, my concern was more around volume. They came back to me and indicated that I can drop off all the bags in the morning and they would carry them across and can be stored at the Vancouver end for CAD10 and I would be able to collect them we our flight arrives, essentially freight. Helijet was more restrictive 50lbs each (total) no option to pay for additional weight and no answer on what would happen if it cannot fit in the chopper. To be fair when I say Mrs&MissM are not known to travel light their luggage is on the smaller check in size around 60 litres? and a carry on. Also thanks for your response around float plane take offs, if we hit some bumps this is normal and nothing to worry about :)
 
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Matt_01

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@RooFlyer thanks for chiming in, much appreciated. I am hoping the float plan option works out as this seems the simplest way to get from Victoria to Vancouver. I have seen that there was a ferry between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen and this may still be an option and YYJ-YVR is last on the options list. The restaurant options have been noted and I will check these out.

Accomodation options in NYC ;) you may have just set me back 2 years. As we have not been able to travel for the past 2 years I have spent this time convincing Mrs&MissM that accomodation is just a place to sleep and booking us into regional SA hotels be it Robe, KI, the Barossa etc. Then you put the Algonquin into the mix :D and my stupidity for showing them the hotel details, yes this place is right up their ally.
 
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