Planning a trip for two to Canada probably August 2018 and I'm not sure which way to do it. I'd like to know if anybody has done this trip using both methods and which they'd recommend. We'd like to fly to Calgary travel to Vancouver then take a cruise to Alaska. But which way is best, coach or self drive? If possible we'd also like to extend the holiday by about a week so we can explore around Vancouver ourselves.
One thing I would warn you in advance is that when you board an Alaskan cruise from the Vancouver port, you'll have to do customs at the port and that can take a long time. So be prepared for the wait, and don't expect to get right onto the cruise ship.
If there are multiple ships docked, it takes even longer. Basically you go through a security line first, then you enter another line for U.S. customs.
With an extra week, you'll have plenty of time to explore Vancouver and the surrounding area, so I'm guessing it might make sense for you to drive so you can explore places like Banff too.
There are certainly advantages to both. Firstly, how do you feel about driving on the right side of the road with the steering wheel and controls on the left side of the vehicle? [i.e. left turns into the far lane - not unlike the EU].
Driving yourself will certainly provide you with more flexibility around when and where you stop, and the Canadian Rockies are a spectacular sight to behold. There are many places to stay/visit along the way.
On the other hand, dusk & dawn driving in the mountains may heighten chance encounters with animals on the roads. A bus ride may be less stressful, but much less flexible for stops or detours for that opportune photo, unless you plan some sort of tour.
Driving through the Canadian Rockies in the summer is beautiful. Sunrise will usually be between 5:00-5:30 am and sunset is usually between 8:00-8:30 pm - depending upon early-mid-late August. You can easily drive Calgary to Vancouver comfortably in two days or take a week or more to get there - there's lots to see along the way.
A deviation northward up the Icefields parkway to Jasper is well worth an extra few days (there and back to the TransCanada #1 highway) to explore.
Petrol is hovering around $1.30/litre at the moment, but should fall back to $1.00-1.10 or lower, by next August.
I've driven in the UK and just recently returned from France and Italy for a month where we logged 3,500km - pickup in Paris, drop off in Milano. I vote drive, but that will depend on your level of comfort in being on the right side of the road. :) Can't comment on the cruise, but it's one I'd like to do.
Mentioned in this answer:
Hi..Definitely self drive. You can stop where you want and take in the sights. Its a fantastic drive with tons to see. We took a cruise to Alaska several years ago and drove to Vancouver and spent the night at Holiday Inn Express Calgary. They let us park our car for the duration of the cruise for free so we just drove home after the cruise back to Calgary.. We just took a cab to the cruise terminal. Go early so lines aren't bad.
Mentioned in this answer: