Step on board, take a seat and toast the passing scenery as you glide through some of nature’s most spectacular settings on board the world’s most luxurious trains. Nothing can compare to traveling by superyacht. The pinnacle of luxury, a superyacht is as much about the vessel itself as it is the cruising ground. For those who relish the journey as much as the destination, there are a number of magnificent iconic luxury train rides that should feature on the bucket lists of every discerning traveler. Navigator speaks to the Caitlin Cornish at International Rail about her top picks.
A legend in its own right, the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express is as famous a character as the countless royalty, celebrities and statesmen who have boarded its carriages. The train against which all other luxury trains are measured, the Orient Express invites passengers to step back in time to the Golden Age of travel as they are whisked towards Venice. Residing in the original cabins — rest assured, restored and furnished to ensure modern standards of comfort—you will be treated to a heady taste of the 1920s, with original Art Deco marquetry and shimmering glass panels. Board the train in London and enjoy a few days of stunning travel through the landscapes surrounding Paris, Innsbruck and Verona. During the day the passing scenery is compelling, as city landmarks give way to rolling countryside and snow-capped mountains. As night draws in, the plush carriages are lit by subtle lighting, creating a romantic ambiance as you dine on fine cuisine in one of the restaurant cars. After dinner, head to the Bar Car for an evening of music and cocktails as the train gently clatters on through the night. Wake up early and find yourself in the most stunning of alpine settings as you cross the Alps, then as the carriages ease into Venice in a cloud of steam, rest assured your next embarkation will be a worthy reflection as you step aboard your charter yacht and head off on a cruise across the Adriatic.
South Africa’s Rovos Rail operates on a number of routes, but for train aficionados in the know, the route from Pretoria to Cape Town is a must. Step aboard and you are immediately transported to a bygone era of travel as you glide through the majestic landscapes of South Africa, surrounded by Edwardian-style furnishing and colonial glamor. Relax over breakfast in the Victorian dining car, take in the views from the train’s open-air balconies in the observation car, then sink into a wing-tipped chair with an aperitif as you await the dinner gong. The journey takes passengers through the grasslands of Highveld to the desert of Great Karoo and on through to the Cape Winelands before disembarking in Cape Town, all the while passing jaw-dropping scenery and wildlife.
Celebrating 30 years, the Rocky Mountaineer is a different type of journey by rail that takes guests through Canada’s iconic Rocky Mountain landscape, on routes that are sometimes only accessible by train. Stopping each night to stay at a different hotel, the journey traverses the Continental Divide, from Banff through the mighty Rockies to Lake Louise, Kamloops and on to Vancouver, or vice versa. Huge full-length windows capture the vast and rugged beauty of Canada’s mountains, rivers and forests, verdant with wildlife including elk and eagles, and even the odd bear if you are lucky. Exchange terra firma for a different form of transport as you embark on a cruise into the wilderness through the Inside Passage, either crossing the border from Vancouver into Alaska, or boarding your yacht in the Alaskan capital of Juneau. America’s 49th state, Alaska offers some of the world’s most serene cruising grounds.
The colonial-style Eastern & Oriental Express has been gliding between three of Asia’s most glittering cities for more than three decades, providing passengers with the perfect vantage point to see the breathtaking scenery of Southeast Asia while wrapped in luxurious comfort. Embarking in Singapore, enjoy a gourmet dinner followed by a nightcap in the Piano Bar as the elegantly-decorated train glides through Malaysia’s rainforest landscape to Kuala Kangsar. Over the next two days, discover a traditional Malay village, walk through paddy fields and hike up hillsides, before moving on to Thailand to travel to the River Kwai and then on to Bangkok, all the while taking in the expansive views of the passing greenery and bustling cities from the Observation Car or from the privacy of your own luxurious compartment.
Trans-Siberian Express, Russia Moscow – Vladivostok
For those looking to explore the vast Russian landscape, the Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express showcases the region’s finest scenery during an epic journey of luxury that spans almost 6,000 miles. To keep passengers entertained, cultural lessons are on offer, along with opportunities to take Russian language lessons. Ensconced in luxury (each cabin has a butler available 24/7), there is plenty of time to simply sit back and take in the views of the Mongolian Steppes, the sublime scenery of Lake Baikal (with the opportunity to take a dip) or to explore Mongolia’s capital city of Ulaanbaatar.
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