From the Andes to Arctic Russia, luxury cruise trains have made a comeback in a big way. These four blur the line between journey and destination by taking you there in style.
1. Peru: BELMOND ANDEAN EXPLORER
Travelers now have a more comfortable way to get around the Peruvian Andes. Billed as South America’s first luxury sleeper train, the Belmond Andean Explorer is launching in May with a series of one- and two-night itineraries along one of the world’s highest rail routes. It shuttles 48 guests between Cusco and Puno on the shores of Lake Titicaca, with a longer option to and from the UNESCO-listed colonial city of Arequipa. For some blissful time out between the excursions en route, book a treatment in the spa car.
2. Japan: TRAIN SUITE SHIKI-SHIMA
Taking just 34 passengers from Tokyo’s Ueno station on a circuit around northern Honshu—and sometimes going even as far as Hokkaido—the first super-deluxe cruise train from JR East is slated to make its inaugural run on May 1. Guest quarters include a maisonette-style suite with two levels, while the glass-walled observation cars at either end make the most of the passing scenery. The train’s roster of two- to four-day trips vary according to the seasons, and as spots are so limited, applications must be made roughly a year in advance.
3. Russia: GOLDEN EAGLE
Also new this year is the 11-night Land of the Midnight Sun, an annual tour scheduled for June 15 that takes travelers deep into the Arctic Circle. Five of those are spent aboard the Golden Eagle, which will ply an almost 2,000-kilometer route from Moscow to the Barents Sea port of Murmansk. After crossing the Russian-Norwegian border to Kirkenes for king crab fishing and other diversions, guests will hop back on board for the journey south to St. Petersburg, joining the city’s so-called White Nights midsummer festivities.
4. Ireland: BELMOND GRAND HIBERNIAN
A grand tour of the Irish countryside and the island’s dramatic coastline can’t get any more indulgent than this. Choose from a range of two-, four-, and six-night journeys from Dublin, bedding down in en-suite cabins that put a modern spin on Georgian architecture and traditional tartans. Expect five-star cuisine in its two restaurant carriages, not to mention local whiskies and live music in the observation car. The train also doubles as a moving gallery that showcases a selection of Irish contemporary artists.
This article originally appeared in the April/May 2017 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Track Stars”).