Like cruise ships, trains come in all sorts of ages and designs and travel to fascinating destinations. Many cruises include the chance to ride on a train while ashore or on a shore excursion. These are some of the best and most diverse.
Click on each thumbnail photo to enlarge. All photos (c) Linda Garrison.
Alaska Railroad Grandview Train engine
Guests fly into Anchorage
, Alaska, for cruises embarking or disembarking in Seward
. The most scenic and relaxing way to travel the 127 miles between the two towns is on the Alaska Railroad.
White Pass Railway Bridge
Many cruise ships visiting Alaska stopover in Skagway
, one of the great frontier towns of the gold rush days. If the weather is clear, a day trip on the historic White Pass Railway is a perfect way to see the route the gold seekers traveled.
El Chepe Train Ride to Copper Canyon
Would you like to tell your friends that you took the world's longest one-day cruise shore excursion? If so, take a cruise to Mexico's Sea of Cortes and book an 18-hour day trip to Copper Canyon
, Mexico on the Chihuahua to the Pacific Train, which is usually called El Chepe.
This train ride features magnificent desert, mountain, and canyon views, all from the comfort of a classic train car.
Mountain village as seen from Flam Railway
The fjords on the western coast of Norway are spectacular, and cruises to the Norwegian fjords usually include a stopover in the small village of Flam. A great excursion from Flam is to take the Flam Railway overland to the town of Voss. Climbing almost straight up from the fjord, the train passes through many tunnels and spectacular mountain scenery.
Palma to Soller Train on Mallorca
The island of Mallorca is a popular cruise port of call in the western Mediterranean. Palma is the capital, and many do not venture outside of this fascinating city. However, the best way to see some of the outlying countryside of Mallorca is to take a train ride across the island to Soller. The train tracks connecting the two towns date back to 1912, and the carriages decorated with mahogany and brass are vintage, too. Photos from Palma to Soller Train
Paris from the Tour Montparnasse
River cruises also sometimes include train rides. A Central Europe river cruise tour
with Avalon Waterways starts with two nights in a Paris hotel, followed by a ride on the high-speed TGV train to Metz, France. From there, it's just a short bus transfer through Luxembourg to Trier, Germany on the Moselle River where the seven-day cruise to Nuremberg embarks. The TGV can fly along at speeds of almost 300 mph, but usually glides along the rails at a more sedate 160 mph when carrying all those heavy passengers. It's certainly one of the smoothest train rides you will ever take.
A cable car connects the Montserrat train station to the monastery.
Montserrat is a 16th century monastic complex about an hour's train ride from Barcelona. One of the displays at the monastery is La Moreneta, the Black Virgin. Barcelona is one of the most popular ports of call in Barcelona, and a day trip to Montserrat is a wonderful way to see some of the countryside on the train. The cable car connecting the train station to the mountaintop monastery and the views from the top are quite marvelous.
Barron Falls as seen from the Kuranda Scenic Railway
The old Kuranda township is in a mountain rainforest about 17 miles from Cairns. The Kuranda Scenic Railway dates back to the 19th century, and follows the scenic Barron River Gorge on its way between the two towns, passing through numerous tunnels as it winds its way up the Great Dividing Range. Kuranda has many fun activities, including the Rainforestation
St. Kitts Scenic Railway
Most Caribbean islands are too small to support passenger trains. However, trains were once used to transport sugar cane from the inland fields to the coast. The train tracks on the island of St. Kitts are now used for a tourist train that skirts the edges of the island. It's a fun way to tour St. Kitts, and the guides provide entertaining stories of the history of the island. The train crosses high bridges over gulleys, and you will also catch a glimpse of some beautiful black sand beaches.
Train at the End of the World
You can ride the world's southernmost train at Tierra del Fuego National Park in Argentina. Properly dubbed the "train at the end of the world", this ride provides a look at what life was like for the prisoners who were held at the Ushuaia prison in the early 1900's. They cut down thousands of trees for firewood and used the train to transport the logs back to the prison in Ushuaia. The train also passes along rivers, pristine mountains, and even a few beaver dams.
Train from Ollantaytambo, Peru to Aqua Calientes and Machu Picchu
You can't really visit Machu Picchu on a day trip from Lima or Santiago, but many cruise travelers visiting South America extend their cruise vacation with an add-on to Machu Picchu. There's only two ways to reach this mysterious mountain city--on foot or on the train from Ollantaytambo to nearby Aqua Calientes, where you transfer to a bus for the ride up the mountain to Machu Picchu.
The tracks follow the Urubamba River, and the train ride
is about two hours. The mountains seem to almost close around the train as it nears Aqua Calientes. It's quite a ride!