Riding the rails overnight on Amtrak from Florida to New York City

Amtrak overnight trains are the best way to travel across country.

There are plane people. And there are train people. Some people want to get there yesterday. Others, like me, enjoy the journey.  For train people, the trip begins when you step onboard, settle in and wait for that slight forward lurch as the wheels engage, signaling your  journey has begun. It’s slow travel; scenic, relaxing and sometimes adventurous, but never boring.

Postcard of Santa Fe Super Chief at Raton Pass NM   Credit: Santa Fe RailroadI’ve been riding Amtrak since before there was an Amtrak. My first overnight train ride was a solo trip at age 12 aboard the Santa Fe Super Chief. My dad tipped the room attendant to “keep an eye on me,” I waved good-bye to my parents and as the train left the platform in Chicago, I was on my first train adventure, albeit only to Arizona to visit family.

Then, in 1970, Congress created Amtrak in an attempt to revitalize train travel. The following year, Amtrak officially took over the management of the nation-wide rail system. And so it began.

While the trains’ names may have changed, or worse, disappeared, some linger like the last flicker of sun setting behind the burnt-red colored rocks, ironically seen from aboard the long-running California Zephyr.  It’s quite a picture.

The City of Miami is gone, which ran from Chicago to, you guessed it, Miami. It’s been replaced with Amtrak’s Silver Service trains, running between Miami and New York City. There are two trains that bear this status; the Silver Star and the Silver Meteor, operating about four hours apart. While I’ve been a frequent passenger on both, last week it was the Silver Star that would take me from Winter Park, near Orlando, to New York City. A mere 21 1/2 hours train ride.

Winter Park Florida Amtrak StationGetting there.
6:30 pm – I arrived at the small but busy Amtrak station in the heart of downtown Winter Park.  I’ve tried the Orlando and Kissimmee train stations and prefer the one in Winter Park.  My train was scheduled to arrive on time at 7:41pm.  After checking in with the station agent, he graciously stowed my bags in his office so that I could walk across the street for a coffee.  I don’t think the gate agent for Continental could do that.

7:20 pm-ish – A five minute walk from the coffee shop and I was back at the station. I could have relinquished my larger suitcase to the baggage car, but I’ve done this run before and know how to safely secure my suitcase in my tiny roomette so it doesn’t take up too much space.

Silver Star arrives at the Winter Park Amtrak Station7:30 pm- The station agent announces the arrival of our train and all the passengers in the building scatter to their designated waiting points along the platform, carefully observing not to get to close to the yellow line.  Coach passengers going to various destinations had different places to stand for their train car. Sleeping car passengers, like me, had our own area to congregate, although there were only four of us compared to at least twenty-five coach passengers. With twenty-four station stops along the way to New York City, it was anyone’s guess who was going where.

Amtrak roomette on the Silver Meteor7:45 pm – My train car attendant checked my ticket, hoisted my luggage onto the train and carried them into my roomette.  I neatly put my bags where they always go; on a ledge, under the seat, next to the door and on a hook.  Tucked away into my little compartment, I said a quiet goodbye to Winter Park and watched out the window as we traveled from urban to rural in a matter of minutes. Another Amtrak adventure was under way.

Dining car without dinner time tableclothsSilver Star Dining Car at lunch time. For dinner, there are tablecloths.


Dinner in the Dining Car

8:00 pm- At the request of the dining room attendant who walked through to welcome the newly-boarded, I left my roomette and walked through two sleeper cars to the dining car for an eight o’clock seating.  The drill was familiar. Wait in the doorway until the Dining Chief beckons and tells you where to sit. You’ll be seated at a table for four and if you are lucky, the three others at your table will be friendly, conversant and all-around pleasant table-mates.

Dining car menu on the Silver StarWhile china plates are now disposable plastic, the cutlery is real as are the wine glasses. Except for the cooked to order steak, much of the food is microwaved. There is a vegetarian option as well as fish. Salad is served (packets of Paul Newman dressing are on each table) with your beverage while your entree is prepared. I choose the “grilled” salmon and rice which was amazingly excellent.  Dessert is always good especially when you can choose from a selection of Hagen Daaz Dixie cups. All meals (and bottled water) are included if you have a a sleeping compartment.

Dinner with new friends on the Silver StarAs for my table-mates, I lucked out. Seated at my table were three other solo women travelers.  One woman, in her mid-sixties, was headed to New York to rendezvous with her new boyfriend that she reconnected with at their 40th high school reunion. Of the other two across from us, one was rather quiet and left for her sleeper right after coffee.  So the three of us closed the diner!

Room service dinner in your sleeping compartmentIf you’re not feeling sociable or just want to have a quiet dinner alone, you can order complimentary room service! Your room attendant will take your order and deliver it to you piping hot. You can do this for any meal. On one returning trip, I was tired and requested room service.  The steak arrived perfectly cooked-to-order and it even included a slice of New York-style cheesecake. (A brief hiccup from my vegan agenda.)

Roomette made up for sleeping9:30 pm – Upon returning to my compartment, my bed had been turned down, an extra pillow added (at my request), shades closed and the tiny reading light above my bed lent a welcoming glow to the room.  Trusty Kindle in hand, I read for a while, peeked out from the shades to see where we had stopped (Florence, SC). As the passengers stepped off the train, hugs were the norm as families and friends were reunited. Shades closed again, I went to sleep.

Nothing could be finer…
7:00 am – We were somewhere in North Carolina and the scenery was beautiful. Of course I couldn’t help but “play” the music and lyrics to that old song over and over in my head. Oh well, it goes with the territory.

8:00 am – Time to eat again. Unlike dinner where you have a reserved seating time, breakfast (and lunch) are open seating. For coach passengers, it’s pay-as-you-go, so many will choose to either brown bag it or get snacks from the Club Car.

Eggs, whether omelet, over-easy or scrambled, are prepared to order. No frozen eggs. Real eggs, real toast and even grits. Not to mention piping hot “train” coffee.  Years ago, the coffee was so strong it didn’t even need a cup. Now it’s mellowed a bit and your cup doesn’t stay empty for too long.

9:30 am – By the time I returned to my room, we were almost out of North Carolina, edging into southern Virginia and only ten hours to New York.   My room was already made up; the bed stowed into the wall and chairs popped back up.  A current USA Today was neatly folded on my chair and a fresh hand towel was placed above the sink.

Public shower in the sleeping carIn case someone feels the need to shower, there is a public shower room in each sleeper car. No one ever seems to use it. On really long-haul trips, I’ll grab my shampoo and conditioner and head over to the shower room. It’s challenging to take a shower on a train going 80 mph, but fun to try. Each roomette has two electric outlets, so after your shower, you can use your hair dryer and charge your phone at the same time. Ooh. The simple things in life.

Instant replay
Before I knew it, the Dining Chief announced yet another meal; it was time for lunch. I closed up my laptop, put it away, slipped my shoes back on and made the “long” walk back to the dining car. Didn’t I just do this a few minutes ago?

1:00pm – Rather than repeat what I wrote about the last two meals, I’ll quickly note that lunch was quite good. There’s a selection of hot and cold sandwiches, a chef’s salad, soup and of course, dessert. There are always a few non-meat meals on an Amtrak menu.

Aboard Amtrak Silver Star somewhere in VirginiaThe day seemed to quickly pass and soon we were in Washington, D.C. En route, the train raced through Richmond,VA and Quantico Air Force Base as well as a couple of university towns. It’s interesting scenery, so I probably spent as much time looking out of my window as I did trying to write a couple of articles.

This route is especially picturesque in winter, even better further north if there’s a dusting of snow. The train rolls past what looks like a scene from a Thomas Kincaid painting; singularly lit little houses and storefronts, no more than maybe two dozen yards away from the tracks. It’s almost like you were suddenly transported to the middle of a toy train set, one that was carefully assembled in a cozy living room over the winter holidays.  It’s all too quaint.

Since we were scheduled to arrive into New York City just a little before eight o’clock, there wasn’t dinner service, though the Club Car would serve lighter fare. The crew had to break everything down, tally up and clean up before reaching New York’s historic Pennsylvania Station.  The past eighteen hours seemed like an eat-a-thon anyway, so I wasn’t hungry. And it would give me something to do in NYC; find a restaurant with take-out, close to the hotel.

Almost there
7:00 pm – Time to start organizing and putting away. Over the years, I’ve learned to pack for the train so repacking isn’t too difficult. It’s all the electronic miscellany that slows me down. Cords, charges, phone, camera, batteries…all have to be put away.  If you’re wondering why I have my camera out, it’s because I keep it at the ready to take photos from the train.

Jefferson Memorial seen from aboard AmtrakIf you are remotely interested, it is very important to be ready because, going 70 mph, you have to frame and shoot pretty fast. Lighting is also an issue as is the reflection in the window. I find it helps to sit in the chair that faces forward, (there are two chairs in a roomette) then when you spot something coming up, you  quickly jump to the other chair that makes you sit backwards. The angle of looking back at the glass window diminishes the glare or reflection so you can get a pretty good shot. That’s how I was able to get the shot of the Jefferson Memorial.

Arriving on Track 16
7:30 pm – Our train began its descent under the Hudson River which takes about 3-4 minutes in the one-way tunnel (built in 1910.)  The ascent begins, your ears pop and you emerge under the bright lights of bustling Penn Station.  Time to assemble my luggage. A train person had walked past my room just before arriving in New York asking if anyone would need luggage assistance. Unfortunately, I didn’t hear her.

Arriving into Penn Station in New York CityAs the train slowly came to a halt, the transom opened, the stairs unfolded and an extended arm from the attendant helped all of us alight from the train. I was the last to leave and to my dismay, the Red Cap had already left with his luggage cart filled to the max.  I was alone on the platform, hoping for another Red Cap to come by.  Not one in sight.

Just as I was about to haul my gear myself, the conductor steps off the train and asks why I didn’t already have the Red Cap to assist me. I said I didn’t hear the announcement and I was waiting to see if anyone would return with a luggage cart.

He said no, they had left, but he would help me.  I tried to convince him otherwise…it wasn’t in his job description for sure. But he wouldn’t take no for an answer.  He wheeled my two heaviest bags across the platform, up the escalator, and across the expansive station. Not only did he take my bags to the curb, he also flagged down a taxi!  When was the last time a co-pilot or flight navigator helped with YOUR luggage! Even though he refused, I insisted on giving him the tip that would have gone to the Red Cap. “Take you wife out for a drink or a movie,” I suggested, as she was patiently waiting for him on the platform when he sped past with my luggage.

Price tags
Cost of the train ticket including accommodation, bottled water and three meals: $381. Taxi from Penn Station to my hotel: $6.50.  Italian take-out dinner: $31.  Time spent traveling aboard the Silver Star: priceless. (Sorry, MasterCard, it was too good to resist.)

Aboard the Sunset Limited somewhere in New MexicoN.B. There’s something magic about train travel. Maybe it’s the throwback to a simpler time or a childhood memory. Whatever it is; the sound of a distant train whistle, the rumble of the wheels as the train passes by or a wave from the engineer to a small, wide-eyed child, there’s something uniquely special about trains.

Photo credit: Santa Fe Railroad (Super Chief postcard), Sherry Laskin

Comments

  1. Sherry Laskin says

    Hi Don,

    Thanks for reading the article and hope you’ll have a better time with your Amtrak photos. Yes, I recently visited the Winter Park station. It looks great!

    Sherry

  2. says

    Hi Sherry,

    Thank you so much for the tip on avoiding glare on trains. Nearly all of my photos taken through train windows have been marred by glare.

    Since you posted this, Winter Park has gotten a nice new station.

  3. Sherry Laskin says

    Hi Cetow,

    Thank you for reading the article. No…there isn’t any issue with odors eminating from the toilet in the roomette. They are kept very clean for each new passenger in the compartment. Have a wonderful cruise (on one of my most favorite ships) and a terrific train ride to get to NYC. If you haven’t seen the new Winter Park train station, you’re in for a treat!

    Hint: To get through the immigration line more quickly after your QM2 cruise, hire a porter. They will whisk you and your luggage right through in no time at all.

    Sherry

  4. Sherry Laskin says

    Hi Kevin,

    So glad to know you had an excellent Amtrak trip. Thanks for reading my post.

    Sherry

  5. Sherry Laskin says

    Hi Tom,

    Thanks for reading the post. Amtrak offers a USA Rail Pass which you can purchase for 15, 30 or 45 days of travel. Similar to a Eurail Pass, you also need to have a seat ticket. Sleeping accommodations can be purchased in conjunction with the Rail Pass. You can call 1-800-USA-RAIL and when “Julie” answers, say, “Agent.” Eventually, you’ll get a real person. Good luck and have a wonderful trip!

    Sherry

  6. Sherry Laskin says

    Hi Bruce,

    Thanks for your comment. There’s something addictive about train travel. Have a good trip next year!

  7. Bruce Gibbins says

    It was early october, 2010, I traveled on the Silver Meteor from, Miami to Palatka, Fl., to visit with friends there – well, Melrose, Fl., actually, but Palatka was the closest station to Melrose. I rode coach, bought a snack lunch to take back to my seat. Coach seating is comfortable and accomodating being of a similar size to an airliners Bussiness Class seats.
    As the train neared Palatka I felt dissapointed that my journey of some eight hours was over, I could have happily continued on the rest of the way to Penn Station, NY.

    Next year sometime, I fully intend to do just that – ride the Silver Meteor from NYC to Miami and return again a couple of days latter. Thats my hope, anyway.

  8. Tom says

    Hi Sherry,

    Thank you for the informative post about Amtrak travel! My girlfriend and I are Australian and are thinking of traveling from New York to Miami as we have a cruise departing from there early next year (Jan/Feb).

    I was just curious is it possible to purchase tickets for this journey which let you disembark at a station if you want to stay somewhere for a night then catch the next service which passes through? For example if we would like to get off in Savannah, stay a couple of days then get on another service to Miami? Any advice would be appreciated.

    Thank you!

    Tom

  9. Kevin Verrette says

    Hi Sherry, I loved your impression of your travel on Amtrak. I love Amtrak as well. My husband Carlos and I had a wonderful experience during July 2014. Loved the whole journey.

    kevin
    boston ma

  10. Cetow Carter says

    Hi Sherry – Great trip report. Traveling to NY for QM2 Christmas/New Year voyage & contemplating Silver Meteor from Winter Park to Penn Station. Is there any (unpleasant) odor from the toilette in the Roomette? Thanks

  11. Sherry Laskin says

    Hi Becky,
    I’ll try to answer your questions. Going coach isn’t the best option, but it certainly is the most economical. Bring small blankets and pillows for all of you, so you can be more comfortable. I’d suggest bringing snacks and beverages (water) with you, but remember that there is a good selection of food/snacks and drinks to purchase in the lounge car. For dinner in the dining car, I’d suggest that either you or your husband make your way to the dining car shortly after you board and speak with the dining car supervisor to find out how to best arrange your dinner seating if you decide to have dinner in the dining car. There are no reservations for breakfast or lunch.

    Penn Station is really very easy to navigate, especially if you enter from the street level at 32nd and 8th. Checked luggage is back in the corner on the main floor. Ask any police or Amtrak personnel and they will direct you.

    If anyone has a tablet or computer or video player, I’d suggest bringing several movies or ebooks (and earphones!) to pass the time. Thanks for writing and have a fun trip!

    Sherry

  12. Becky says

    Thank you for writing such a great article. My husband and two children are taking the train from NYC to WPB(August 9) and bought coach seats but now I am worried the kids (13 and 8) won’t be able to sleep at all in coach. Is it that noisy and uncomfortable? Also, thinking of bringing food on for dinner on Saturday night( We board at 3:15) when we leave and eating breakfast or lunch in dining car. Since there are no reservations how can we figure out how to go try and get a seat for all four of use without all of us traipsing through the entire train. We are LIRR people and have done Amtrak to Hudson NY but never an over nighter. Penn station is always so chaotic – will it be evident when we get to our train how to check our luggage etc?
    Thank you for any answers and for your articles.

  13. John Fitzgerald says

    Excellent article. A friend of mine traveled Amtrak from Washington DC back to Fort Lauderdale after my wedding in D.C. and had the same sleeping car. We have been thinking about an overnight train trip with a sleeping car and after this article, I will definitely do it!

  14. Zef says

    I’d like to know:
    1. Can be a possibbile to travel from W.P.Beach(or Palm Beach Garden) to New York ?
    2.If yes how much it costs ?
    3.How much time will travel keeps?
    4.Do there have a bedroom (cabin)for a familly couple?
    Thank you

  15. Sherry Laskin says

    Hi Elisa,

    Thank you for reading about my train experience. My best advice, especially if you are planning to travel during Thanksgiving, is to book your deluxe accommodation as soon as possible. Not only do the rates increase as the amount of sleepers decrease, there are only a handful of the deluxe sleepers.

    Have a wonderful rail journey.

    Sherry

  16. Elisa A Batista says

    Thank you so much for having all this information for us who dont fly. I have a fobia of planes, my partner, Maria doesnt, as a matter of fact shes scared of the train derrailing bc weve seen in the news such a horror happening, but shes willing to take a relaxant so she can do it. We are planning to visit out cousin in Queens , N Y for Thanksgiving. We want the accomodations ” Deluxe”, comfortable and a little more spacious, with the bathroom inside, etc. We are waiting for our son Robert to let us know if his coming with us or not, i told him to let us know A S A P, bc especially in Thanksgiving Amtrak gets booked. Please give us some feed back, we would love to hear from you. Elisa and Maria.

  17. Sherry Laskin says

    Hi Sylvia,

    I apologize if I did not reply to your email last week. If I understand your question, yes…all of the coach seats recline. If possible, I would suggest that you contact Amtrak and see if any roomettes are available for purchase. There is also a senior discount on the rail fare (not accommodations) for 62+. Bon Voyage!

    Sherry

  18. Sylvia says

    Hi sherry wonder if u can help me we r boarding an amtrak train from Fort Lauderdale to New York we r in our late 60 to75 age will we automatically get a reclining seat .we r doing a two week cruise from Southampton staying in Fort Lauderdale overnight then amtrak for 26 hours .?2 nights in New York then 7 night cruise home .thank u x

  19. Sherry Laskin says

    Hi Ben,

    Sorry for the confusion. Sitting up in coach is do-able. Bring an small pillow and travel blanket for the most comfort. Someone once suggested the purchase of two seats next to each other, and have one seat remain empty. I don’t know if this is permitted but it’s definitely a way to a better night’s sleep. Also, I’d suggest DVDs or books or some distraction. You can still of course, enjoy the dining car and lounge car. Alternatively, check out the price of a sleeper at various segments along the way. For example, at Richmond, Raleigh or Rocky Mount to Tampa. You’d be in coach til Raleigh and then move into the sleeper in the evening. Sometimes you can save money this way.

    Hope this helps!

    Sherry

  20. Ben says

    Regarding your previous response (see below), I was referring the the physical experience of riding in coach for 24 hours. Thank you!

    in response to ben:

    Hi Sherry, I’m wondering if you have any idea or thoughts on what it might be like to travel the same distance in coach. From Philadelphia to Tampa is $530.00 with a room. Thank you!

    Hi Ben,

    Rates on Amtrak fluctuate as unpredictably as the airlines. You can continue to check pricing and availability at Amtrak.com in case there is a price drop.

    Sherry

  21. Sherry Laskin says

    Hi Ben,

    Rates on Amtrak fluctuate as unpredictably as the airlines. You can continue to check pricing and availability at Amtrak.com in case there is a price drop.

    Sherry

  22. ben says

    Hi Sherry,

    I’m wondering if you have any idea or thoughts on what it might be like to travel the same distance in coach.

    From Philadelphia to Tampa is $530.00 with a room.

    Thank you!

  23. Cassy J says

    Thank you so much for your reply Sherry. We definitely plan to arrive the day before. And I will look into the Winter Park station.

  24. Cruise Maven (Sherry Laskin) says

    Hi Cassy,

    Sorry to hear that your Autotrain was so late. The Silver Service between Miami and NYC usually runs pretty close to on-time but if there is a freight delay, it’s the fault of the freight lines as they have right of way over passenger trains, as there’s nothing to do but wait. I would definitely suggest arriving the day before, just to be safe and to start your cruise relaxed. Since you are leaving from Port Canaveral, I will guess that you plan to get off/on the train in Orlando? There usually is a Hertz rental right there at that station. Another convenient Amtrak station is Winter Park…the station just north of the Orlando station. There is an Avis rental 1/2 mile away and they will pick you up at the Amtrak station to get your car rental at their office. That’s the station that I always use; less crowded, quaint neighborhood and they’re building a new facility.

    Have a great train ride and a wonderful cruise! Thanks again for stopping by!

    Sherry
    Cruise Maven

  25. Cassy J says

    Hello cruisemaven,

    I just happened to run up on your page while searching for information on the Amtrak travel between NJ and Orlando. Can you tell me how on-time the train is? Is it often late? I’ve traveled by rail several times. Our last family trip on Amtrak was on the Autotrain and it was about 7 hours late. I know the Autotrain is much longer, so perhaps that kind of delay is not typical. We are planning to cruise out of Port Canaveral, and a train ride would be much easier on the wallet and the nerves than flying. Any input you have would be helpful. Love your website!

  26. Cruise Maven (Sherry Laskin) says

    Hi,

    Thanks very much for watching my video. Yes, a taxi to the rental car facility or check to see if one of the rental car companies can pick you up at the Miami Amtrak Station. Actually, I think there may be a Hertz counter right there. Regarding the upper level, the Silver Service trains between Miami and NYC are one-level. You can try to choose a compartment in the middle of the car. If you’re not sure, ask the Amtrak reservationist. Generally, the mid-car roomettes are not the lowest numbers. And about the wine glasses, in the dining car, the wine glasses are glass. Not sure about from the club car, though.

    Have a great trip!

    Sherry

  27. Rick Oliva says

    Wonderful and very informative video! We were wondering…from NJ to Miami, is it best to take a cab from the station to a rental car facility at Miami Intl airport?? We have reserved a bedroom for our travels from NJ, and were told to get an upper level one due to wheel noise. We thought there weren’t any on the lower level. Also, silly question, but do they use real wine glasses in the lounge and dining cars?!? Thank you,

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  29. Cruise Maven (Sherry Laskin) says

    Dear Bus in Bali,

    There are two Amtrak trains between New York City and Miami. You can choose either one as they are both the same type of train. The only difference is the departure times. If you want to spend more time in Miami, then I would suggest that you reserve a roomette on the later train. I hope this is helpful. Thank you.

    Sherry

  30. Bus KUSMULJONO says

    Thank u Sherry for ur reply. Now we are more determined to take the Silver Star Amtrak from Miami to NYC in June 2014. We hope there will be many others to join and we all can become new friends. Just one more query, how many hours exactly the trip will take, as there are different figures from two sources, 21,5 and 28 hours. Our best regards from Bali Indonesia.

  31. Cruise Maven (Sherry Laskin) says

    Hi Michele,

    Thank you for relating your train experiences. Sadly, public restrooms in coach cars, whether here or in Europe, are not in the most perfect condition after several hours of the trip. The only exception I would remark, is on the long-haul, cross-country Amtrak trains. The roomettes do not have their own facilities and except for one restroom on the upper level, there are several on the first level. Thankfully, the Amtrak car attendant keeps the restrooms in great condition and sanitation, throughout the two-night train trip.

    Have a wonderful train trip from NYC to Jacksonville. The sooner that you reserve a roomette, the lower the fare.

    Sherry

  32. Cruise Maven (Sherry Laskin) says

    Thank you for your question. I would suggest that you contact Amtrak (+1.800.USA.RAIL / +1.800.872.7245) for exact requirements. I would suggest that you use checked baggage for your four pieces of over-sized luggage and pack one or two small carry-on bags for the overnight trip. Luggage must be checked in at the station no less than 30 minutes before departure.

    Have a wonderful train journey.

    Sherry

  33. Bus Kusmulyono says

    I am Indonesian with global citizenship, have homes in Bali, Jakarta Java, Singapore, Kaysville Utah and L.A. Ca. My wife and I both are over 60 and love to travel all over the world. In USA we have travelled on Route 66 from Chicago to LA, cruises to Alaska and the Bahamas, as well as taking Amtrak LA to San Diego, SF to Salt Lake City, NYC to Boston and DC. We are now dreaming to take Amtrak Silver Miami to NYC on summer June 2014. We wonder if we can share with tourists from oversea who have had the experience with Amtrak Miami to NYC route. Among other questions is on bringing big size luggages since we will travel around the world, at least each of us will carry two big size 32″ suitcases. Will it be convenient to travel on Amtrak train with four such suitcases plus hand carried bags?

  34. Michèle says

    Hello, Sherry,
    I really enjoyed your description of your Miami-NYC train trip, as I am thinking of taking a NYC-Jacksonville train in March 2014 to spend a week in St. Augustines. Two years ago, I took Amtrak from Montreal (Canada) to NYC, stayed in NYC one night and boarded a train to Savannah the next morning. While only a snack bar was available, it was relatively pleasant until the evening when washrooms were sadly neglected by staff. Following the advice of many bloggers, I had brought a small cooler and my own lunch and dinner. I can see from your description that a roomette provides better comfort and dining options. I am not at all fond of flying and as a senior female traveling solo, the train is my favourite. Thank you for sharing your experience. Michèle, Hull, Québec, Canada

  35. Sara Ward says

    Enjoyed reading your travel log very much. And the pictures were sensational. As an aside, I also appreciated your grammar…plural subject with a plural verb…at last! I share you love of trains (for the scenery and ability to get up and walk around). I travelled from San Francisco to New York via train in the 90s, and I liked everything about it…and I didn’t have a sleeper or roomette (older now, I wouldn’t do that again). Keep writing…you have a gift. God bless. Sara

  36. Peter says

    Hi Sherry,

    I love trains and I loved reading your report. Beautifully written with warmth and humor. I am Australian and try and travel on trains at least once every trip. I am looking at travelling Orlando to New York in December. Last month I did the Adirondak train from New York to Montreal. I really enjoyed the trip. Then did Via from Montreal to Toronto. I have also done the short NYC to DC run.

  37. Chris Gunter says

    Thanks for all the great advice. I’m drive a over the road truck driver. So kicking back and letting someone else do the driving is a homerun for us. That steak in ur article looked pretty good too. I’m sure we’ll have some more questions before we go. Definitely will be hitting u up with some more advice. Thks Chris

  38. Cruise Maven (Sherry Laskin) says

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for your nice comment. In regards to tipping, it’s customary to tip your room attendant $10-$20 per room, depending upon the level of service, for example…if you ordered dinner in your compartment it’s your room attendant’s job to take the order, pick it up and deliver it to you. In that case, I’d definitely go with $20. Since your meals are including with First Class, I recommend: $2.00 pp at breakfast, $3-4.00 per person at lunch and $5.00 pp at dinner. These are just guidelines and reflect an 18-20% tip should you have had to pay for the same meals. For your room attendant, it’s customary to hand him or her your tip as you depart the train at your destination.

    Hope this is helpful. Enjoy the journey and cheers!

    Sherry

  39. Chris says

    Really liked your youtube video from Florida to NYC. We’re planning on going on our first amtrak trip this fall. Orlando to NYC. My question was on tipping. Do you tip one person or individually per day. I’m not cheap having worked for tips back in the day. Just wanted to do it right. Appreciate ur advice. And will be making Martinis in ur name. :-)

  40. Cruise Maven (Sherry Laskin) says

    Hi Christina,

    Thanks for reading the article. You’ll have a fine time on the train to NYC. Travel light and for convenience, pack a separate overnight bag (or keep what you’ll need for the train trip separate) and it’ll be a breeze. Save room at dinner because the desserts are great!

    Happy travels.

    Sherry

  41. Christina Brown says

    Hey
    I came across your article while deciding on whether to
    take the train or bus for my trip to Miami from
    New York. This article if very descriptive and your story is
    sweet. Hopefully you can offer me some advice as this would be my
    first time traveling on Amtrak and I’m slightly nervous lol

  42. Cruise Maven (Sherry Laskin) says

    Hi Carol,

    Thank you for reading my stories. I totally agree. Definitely a roomette up the east coast and a bedroom going west…anywhere west! Save travels and thanks again!

    Sherry

  43. Carol B says

    Sherry, I enjoyed your train accounts both to LA and NYC. We take the train all the time and with the two of us we are partial to the roomette each. For FL to NYC and the bedroom going to LA.
    I always tell people it is like singing “America the Beautiful” traveling westward on the train. You get to see the beautiful country in which we live. I love coming in to D.C. and watching all the symbols of or country from the train. I am fascinated by the Winter Park station in FL.To me it looks like a quaint little town.
    People are always amazed that one can go from the East Coast to HI without flying.
    Continue to enjoy your travels.
    Carol B

  44. Cruise Maven (Sherry Laskin) says

    Hi Denise,

    No special deal. It was a one-way ticket so it was just about half of what you were quoted for a round-trip. Have a wonderful time.

    Sherry

  45. Denise says

    Hello, It looks like you had a wonderful trip. I am planning my trip to NYC from Jacksonville, fl with my two children. It will b a first for them. However the price are just for me and my son round trip approximately $800-starting in Charlotte nc- I can’t include my daughter online -have to do it over the phone-. How did you get this low fare considering it was starting in Fl? Did you have a special deal?

    Thanks a lot for sharing!

  46. Cruise Maven (Sherry Laskin) says

    Hi Bill,

    Thanks for your kind comments. I totally agree about train travel!

    Sherry

  47. says

    Lovely photos and interesting travelogue! My wife and I took the Zephyr year before last and plan a trip on the Empire Builder this summer. Also rode the Silver Star a few years back. Train travel is the best!

  48. says

    Great tip about taking the photos while travelling backwards to minimise the glare. And a lovely travelogue too – train journeys are definitely high on my favourites list.

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