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Skagway: whitepass train or take bus tour?


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I just got a notice that the iconic train in skagway will not go into canada but will stop and turn around at white pass.  So trip is cut short to 40 miles rd trip for 2.5 hrs. 

i originally booked excursion of train one way and bus/shuttle back with stops along the way for pictures.    However with train stopping now at white pass… there’s no longer a bus option because there is no road access for the bus at that junction.  
 

my question for those who have been to skagway is would you recommend the train ride (rd trip to white pass) or the small bus tour (rd trip) to the canadian border   
 

Also, im an avid photographer so which would give me better photo opportunities

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Both are excellent tours and give you different perspective and views. We did the train in the AM and the bus in the PM. Best of both worlds. If i could only do one, I would do the train and if affordable do the higher option as you can stand outside on the carriage which I found better for photos.   

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The majority of cruise ship based WPYR train excursions didn't do into Canada but stopped at the border and returned.  

I feel like many people are getting confused by this like somehow the cruise ship excursions have been "cut short" when in reality that's not the case.

The WPYR railways has also sold trains rides beyond cruise ships guests since Skagway is a popular destination for land travelers and one of a very few SE Alaska destinations you can drive to from the lower 48.  The Canadian restrictions impact land vacationers to a much larger extent compared to cruise ships guests.  

My WPYR train ride in 2017 stopped at the Canada border as did the vast majority of all train rides sold to cruise ship guests.  I could have walked into town and taken a train ride booked directly with the WPYR railroad that leaves from the train station in town but I didn't, I took a ride booked through a cruise line that picked me up right on the cruise ship dock. 

Had these restrictions been in place in 2017 it would not have impacted my train ride.  

You can read about my train ride experience in this post:

https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/boards/index.php?/topic/5211-alaska-recap-celebrity-millennium-june-2017/&do=findComment&comment=51843

 

 

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The crazy thing about the Canadian restrictions is that they mostly impact land vacationers who drive to Skagway.  The irony is that in order to drive to Skagway you MUST drive through Canada and the Yukon.  So someone who just drove through Canada and the Yukon to reach Skagway can't take a train that enters Canada and the Yukon.  But in order for that RV owner to leave Skagway they have to drive into Canada and the Yukon with their RV.  

Typically government red tape that makes absolutely no sense.  Regulations and restrictions to make it sound like the government is doing something.

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In 2017 we took the steam train excursion.  It went into Canada turned around and returned.  Stopped only long enough to switch rails.  No leaving the train. Returned the same way it came.

I had a great time and would recommend. 

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We took the bus tour.  As the road parallels the train route, we saw the train for much of our bus ride, therefore seeing much of the same scenery, albeit from at times a different angle.

The train however, would add the element of a train ride itself.  The bus added the element of comfort.

 

 

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We used an independent tour operator and did a tour on a small bus, the kind that has the asile between seats and the high backs seats. We had heard that the train was rather uncomfortable due to the slatted seats. Honestly, we were so thrilled that we did the bus instead. The train doesn’t stop along the way, but on the bus we had some amazing experiences at various stops (including a rather close encounter with a small brown bear and a stop for a close view of amazing lakes and vistas). And it was 50% of the cost of the train. Note that recent reports state that on the train you must wear a mask the entire time because the train is part of the Canadian transport system; that should not be the case on a private bus (and the trip to the Yukon is not a short one).

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18 minutes ago, AlohaLivin said:

Note that recent reports state that on the train you must wear a mask the entire time because the train is part of the Canadian transport system; that should not be the case on a private bus (and the trip to the Yukon is not a short one).

Mask requirements come from the US federal government for the same reason you have to wear one to fly on a plane.  

Amtrak or WPYR, this requirement comes from the Federal Railway Administration based on the CDC Requirement for Persons to Wear Masks While on Conveyances and at Transportation Hubs.

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/03/01/2021-04233/emergency-order-requiring-face-mask-use-in-railroad-operations

Private buses are not exempt from federal law.

https://www.transportation.gov/safety/mask-travel-guidance#:~:text=wear a mask%3F-,Yes.,required to wear a mask.

The effective date of the CDC Order is February 1, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. The Order will remain in effect for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency, and as determined by the CDC.

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33 minutes ago, twangster said:

Mask requirements come from the US federal government for the same reason you have to wear one to fly on a plane.  

Amtrak or WPYR, this requirement comes from the Federal Railway Administration based on the CDC Requirement for Persons to Wear Masks While on Conveyances and at Transportation Hubs.

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/03/01/2021-04233/emergency-order-requiring-face-mask-use-in-railroad-operations

Private buses are not exempt from federal law.

https://www.transportation.gov/safety/mask-travel-guidance#:~:text=wear a mask%3F-,Yes.,required to wear a mask.

The effective date of the CDC Order is February 1, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. The Order will remain in effect for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency, and as determined by the CDC.

I was basing this on something I had heard on a video yesterday regarding the train, and why they had those restrictions at this time. This Canadian travel vlogger had stated it was a Canadian requirement. But regardless of why, a mask would be required and  that was what I was trying to point out. Since the tour that I was talking about is coming out of the US the Canadian regulations that he was discussing would not apply. I was just pointing it out, it wasn’t deep 👍🏼

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26 minutes ago, smokeybandit said:

What company?

Good question 😓 So we took the tour via NCL - https://www.ncl.com/no/en/shore-excursions/SGY_05/Yukon-Territory-Scenic-Drive  I have looked for the last 30 minufes to try to find the name of the tour company but have not located it yet unfortunately.  It is the one that is approx. 6 hours with a drive up the  Klondike Highway, stops at various Yukon sites including Caribou Crossing, a visit to Emerald Lake, and then lunch at the Spirit Lake Lodge.  
 

I will keep looking an update this if I can locate the tour company name.

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59 minutes ago, AlohaLivin said:

I was basing this on something I had heard on a video yesterday regarding the train, and why they had those restrictions at this time. This Canadian travel vlogger had stated it was a Canadian requirement. But regardless of why, a mask would be required and  that was what I was trying to point out. Since the tour that I was talking about is coming out of the US the Canadian regulations that he was discussing would not apply. I was just pointing it out, it wasn’t deep 👍🏼

Since I am going there in a few weeks I contacted some bus tour operators.  The mask requirement will exist for most tours that use a bus, train or plane.

For example the "Streetcar" bus excursion responded: 

Here is one response:

Thank you for your email. 
 
Currently DOT protocols require masks on our tours as all Public Transportation.  We are also waiting updated protocols from the Cruise ships.
 
We will meet whatever protocols are required to operate. 
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29 minutes ago, Marlena said:

With Canada relaxing entry requirements shouldn’t tours be fully operational again?

Canada isn't exactly relaxing entry requirements.  They have backed off some some testing requirements but they ramping up border testing.  They are planning to eventually test 100% at the border.  

With the Omicron variant emerging they have recently banned travel from 7 African countries.  

Canada's entry requirements remain vague in practice.  Until they can test everyone arriving people will be randomly selected for a PCR test.  At the discretion of the CBSA agent you encounter, you could be asked to quarantine for 14 days.  

Basically Canada is up to old tricks.   Elusive verbiage that is confusing and difficult to understand.  They really want to ban all international travel but they know they can't do that so they continue to have ample room for a CBSA agent to make a judgement call at the border.  Wearing white after labour day?  Off to quarantine.  

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14 minutes ago, twangster said:

Canada isn't exactly relaxing entry requirements.  They have backed off some some testing requirements but they ramping up border testing.  They are planning to eventually test 100% at the border.  

With the Omicron variant emerging they have recently banned travel from 7 African countries.  

Canada's entry requirements remain vague in practice.  Until they can test everyone arriving people will be randomly selected for a PCR test.  At the discretion of the CBSA agent you encounter, you could be asked to quarantine for 14 days.  

Basically Canada is up to old tricks.   Elusive verbiage that is confusing and difficult to understand.  They really want to ban all international travel but they know they can't do that so they continue to have ample room for a CBSA agent to make a judgement call at the border.  Wearing white after labour day?  Off to quarantine.  

Did you copy/paste this from a post from December?

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Our original excursion had the train going pass whitepass into Fraser,BC where the Klondike hwy also converge so that we can get on a shuttle to head back to skagway.  
 

it seems that canada’s protocol has caused the wpyr to cancel all train rides pass the border.  So all trains stop and turn around at white pass (at border) now.  
 

it seems pretty definite for the 2022 season on the white pass train website. 

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9 minutes ago, smokeybandit said:

Did you copy/paste this from a post from December?

I've entered Canada four times since they reopened the border late in 2021.  I have another trip in April before I enter a sixth time for my cruise from Vancouver.

It's something I follow closely.  I'll be arriving with a molecular test in hand despite not needing to by letter of policy.  By having a molecular test in hand I hope to lessen the fears of the CBSA agent I encounter.  I'm only going for 3 days so a two week quarantine isn't going to work.  I'll have a molecular test in hand for my Vancouver cruise as well. It's not required but it does help at the border.

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18 minutes ago, Marlena said:

It sounds bad im.not aware of all this cause I'm canadian! Lol. But I assumed since vaccinated travellers no longer need to test it made us be able to venture into BC for these excursions. 

Damn my country sucks.

No it doesn’t 🙂 We love Canada! ❤️ My brother-in-law is from BC and one of my favorite humans. But like all countries at various point governments and the zillions of people under the umbrella make decisions they don’t make a segment of people happy and don’t seem to make sense. 

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13 hours ago, 5arbusto said:
I just got a notice that the iconic train in skagway will not go into canada but will stop and turn around at white pass.  So trip is cut short to 40 miles rd trip for 2.5 hrs. 

i originally booked excursion of train one way and bus/shuttle back with stops along the way for pictures.    However with train stopping now at white pass… there’s no longer a bus option because there is no road access for the bus at that junction.  
 

my question for those who have been to skagway is would you recommend the train ride (rd trip to white pass) or the small bus tour (rd trip) to the canadian border   
 

Also, im an avid photographer so which would give me better photo opportunities

I have this same excursion booked for our May cruise. I had heard the same thing. Was RC going to mention this to us or just let us find out when we get there? There are several white pass excursions where you get off the train and take a bus or bike ride down Klondike highway. 
 

These are all still for sale in my planner with no mention of not going into Canada and just turning around. 
 

I think there will be some upset people that won’t know this until the last minute 

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In case anyone is interested, I booked the Yukon Discovery excursion 6 hours.  I e-mailed them to make sure it would push through and got this reply back from them so seems a go.

Quote

Thank you for booking with Southeast Tours!  We are operating tours into Canada!  They are no longer requiring a negative COVID test to enter the country, so that is good news.  They are still requiring proof of vaccination, so make sure everyone in your party has their proof of vaccination as well as passports.

 

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