Arrivals & Departures Rail and sail: Land and sea pairing on the up

Photo of Angie Tomlinson

Travellers are increasingly combining a cruise itinerary with a train journey to get the most out of their holidays on land and at sea.

The popularity of “sail and rail” is on the up, according to Rail Plus, which has identified an increase in travellers booking rail passes to complement cruise itineraries.

“Convenience, spectacular scenery, value for money and high-quality on-board services are usually top contributing factors for travellers when it comes to deciding which rail journeys or passes to book,” says Rail Plus commercial director Ingrid Kocijan.

For cruises around the Adriatic or Mediterranean or from Venice to Athens, the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express is a good option. Journeys cost from $4262 per person.

Popular among those cruising in the Indian Ocean or from Singapore to Vietnam is the Eastern & Oriental Express. The journey costs from $4022 per person.

Starting from $474 per person, VIA Rail's The Canadian four-night, three-day trip between Vancouver and Toronto is popular among cruise-goers sailing from Vancouver to San Diego or around the North America region.

Of course, in our own backyard, the Indian Pacific links Perth to Sydney. Travellers are taking the four-day, three-night journey across the country before or after a South Pacific Sydney return cruise. It's from $1799 per person.

The Eurail Pass for three or four countries works for those on Mediterranean ocean cruises or Rhine river journeys. 

Cruisers hopping on or off a Mediterranean or Istanbul return cruise can opt for the Eurail Four Country Select Pass for 10 days within two months covering Hungary, Serbia, Romania and Turkey.

Those cruising the River Rhine and between Basel and Amsterdam usually opt for the Eurail Three Country Select Pass for six days within two months covering Italy, France, Switzerland.

There are plenty of tour companies and travel agents putting together rail and sail deals, too.

Cruiseco is combining a 17-night voyage aboard Sun Princess from Perth via Geraldton, Broome, the Kimberley Coast, Darwin, Cairns, Alotau in Papua New Guinea and Brisbane with a three-night rail journey back to Perth, via Adelaide, on the Indian Pacific. Departing on November 3 next year, it costs from $6260 per person twin share.

Or if steam engines are your thing, Cruise Express is selling a new rail and sail tour featuring the Flying Scotsman. The Scotsman and the Baltic is a fly, rail and sail package departing Australia on May 16, 2018.

At the centre of the 25-night itinerary is a heritage rail trip from London to Edinburgh and back, hauled in part by the Flying Scotsman locomotive. The sail component is aboard Celebrity Silhouette for a 14-night round-trip cruise to northern Europe. The package costs from $9499 per person twin share in an inside stateroom.

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