Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > United States
Reload this Page >

Need opinions on Amtrak (Silverstar) from Orlando to Washington DC

Need opinions on Amtrak (Silverstar) from Orlando to Washington DC

Old Mar 3rd, 2004, 09:13 AM
  #1  
binky1095
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Need opinions on Amtrak (Silverstar) from Orlando to Washington DC

Am I crazy to have booked this for me, my mom, and 8 yr old daughter?

It's an overnight and I have reserved coach seats and plenty o' benadryl for bedtime for us all!

Thought it would be fun and different for daughter, but now question my sanity! Would appreciate any input on this train: cleanliness, food (not expecting much there), activities etc. This is our first train trip and plan on packing games, books, portable dvd player etc.

TIA!
 
Old Mar 3rd, 2004, 12:53 PM
  #2  
binky1095
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
ttt
 
Old Mar 3rd, 2004, 12:55 PM
  #3  
GoTravel
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
I don't know about that particular train but I would highly suggest getting a sleeping car.

Trains aren't the cleanest form of transportation.

I don't suggest drugging yourself in order to sleep on the train.
 
Old Mar 3rd, 2004, 12:55 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 515
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
As the mom of an almost 8 year old boy, I think it sounds like a lot of fun!
reneeinva is offline  
Old Mar 3rd, 2004, 02:32 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 757
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
DH & I took it in Aug. last year (to Jacksonville, Fl-same train) It was clean, good ac, food good. Bring earplugs and a walkman.a pillow, too.

We are going to Richmond, VA in Oct. but in a sleeper. My sister has done this 6 time with no problems, just late sometimes.

Go to Trainweb.com-they have a forum there and are alot of help.
maryann is offline  
Old Mar 3rd, 2004, 02:48 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 23,073
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You and your daughter maybe, but your mom? Regardless of age, I don't see how she could enjoy a coach seat.

Hope you have a nice hotel in DC to "recover" from the train trip, and you don't have important meetings you need to get to on time.

Like othes said, the sane thing to do is to get a sleeper.
rkkwan is offline  
Old Mar 3rd, 2004, 02:53 PM
  #7  
GoTravel
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
I'm just a little worried about binky wanting to drug the family to sleep.

It isn't smart to not be aware of your surroundings in a situation like that.

Also, coach seats are not reserved so there is a chance they could end up not sitting together.
 
Old Mar 3rd, 2004, 03:31 PM
  #8  
Cassandra
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
How do you feel about trying to sleep in a LazEBoy recliner, which wiggles and shakes and stops and starts, surrounded by the same people you might see around you in a movie theater (some of them TALK during the "feature")?

I'm crazy about trains, love them passionately, but you pretty much have to be under 35 and a good sleeper to really tolerate the over-night in coach. I did it in my youth, but I could always pretty much count on catching up on sleep the next day, and I didn't have a child with me.

And yes, you DO want to think about not being so zonked that you wouldn't know it if someone came by and lifted your pocket book or carry-on luggage or DVD player or....

Otherwise, no, the food is far from memorable (bring your own to augment or replace the on-board stuff), and yes, it's otherwise kinda fun.

Look into: 1. whether they still have business class, which guarantees you a seat and some extras, and is likely to put you in a car that's not between the cafe car and the other cars (with passengers coming through constantly). You don't get more room or better seats, but it's a little more comfortable, quiet, etc. Some of those cars (and maybe some other coach cars now) have over-head TV with movies, cartoons, etc. Warning: Bring earphones because they don't supply them.

The train will start clean. By the time you arrive, the bathrooms will be seriously funky.

If you have the $, definitely buy a compartment -- actually more fun than coach IMHO although you don't have the TVs, and much easier sleeping, more secure, etc.
 
Old Mar 3rd, 2004, 04:23 PM
  #9  
binky1095
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Thanks everyone! You've convinced me (I think it was the funky bathrooms) so I'm checking into a sleeper. My mom has travelled via Amtrak, and loves it, but has not done an overnight.

Maryann: Did you get a sleeper for your trip or did you ride coach?

GoTravel & Cassandra: the benadryl was a joke, hence the

Thanks again everyone
 
Old Mar 3rd, 2004, 04:44 PM
  #10  
GoTravel
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
You will love the sleeper. There is nothing like being lulled asleep by the rocking motion of the train.
 
Old Mar 3rd, 2004, 05:26 PM
  #11  
binky1095
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Thanks GoT

Never mind Maryann! I just reread your post and see that my question was answered

Binky
 
Old Mar 3rd, 2004, 06:21 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 646
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
If you can afford a sleeper, I say you should go for it - you will be much more comfortable. When I was growing up, we used to take an overnight train at least twice a year to visit my grandparents. Sometimes we had a bedroom, sometimes we had "roomettes", and sometimes we had sleeping berths. I just remember thinking that those train trips were so much fun, and I loved going to sleep being rocked by the motion of the train and hearing the clickity clack noises the train made. I looked forward to the train rides as much as I did to the rest of the vacation.

Two years ago I accompanied a large group of high school students (chorus) on a trip from Boston to Orlando and back (we changed trains in NYC). It was about 30 hours on the train, in coach, each way - although on the return we got off in Richmond and went to Virginia Beach for a couple of days for a choral competition, so that was at least broken up a bit - but we did have an overnight both ways.

I was kind of dreading it, but it turned out to be a really fun trip. Our seats in coach reclined, and had a footrest that came up, so it wasn't too uncomfortable. I brought my own fleece blanket, and stuck extra pillows under my back. I brought a neck pillow, earplugs, and a sleepmask to cover my eyes. I also got my doctor to prescribe some Ambien for me - others have questioned using drugs, and I think that something like benadryl would make you too groggy, but Ambien works well in a situation like this because it doesn't really knock you out, it just makes it easier to sleep, and you can wake up and function if you have to (at least, that's been my experience). (However, if you have a sleeper with a real bed, you won't need anything like that.) I won't claim to have had a perfectly restful sleep, but it really wasn't too bad. I'm not under 35, either , I was almost 49 at the time. I just approached it as an adventure. I suppose that if you're the kind of person who enjoys camping, you might not mind this kind of travel, but if you prefer a luxury hotel, it's probably not for you.

I know you've already decided to get a sleeper, and I do think that's the right choice if you don't think it's too expensive, but I include that information for anyone else reading this thread who's interested in doing an overnight train trip.

I got a lot of knitting done, and a little bit of reading - I found it much too interesting looking out the window at the ever-changing scenery to spend much time with my book. You definitely see a different perspective of the towns and countryside from a train than you do from a highway - lots of backyards, for instance. I found it endlessly fascinating, and I bet you will, too.

As someone else said, the food's not exciting, but not inedible, either. It is a good idea to pack some of your own food to supplement what you can get on the train. It's a far cry from what I remember from my youth, of dining cars with linen tablecloths, real silver, and sit-down service where you ordered off of a menu (am I really dating myself here?).

I think your daughter will really love this trip, and may remember the train journey as one of the highlights when she's older. I suggest bringing a map along, so you can keep track of approximately where you are, and how many states you've gone through. Have a wonderful time!
Sara is offline  
Old Mar 3rd, 2004, 06:27 PM
  #13  
GoTravel
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Take a cooler with you. Of course my redneck family always takes a cooler full of beer on the train.

Throw some sandwiches, fruit, and sodas in the cooler. Train food is yuck.
 
Old Mar 3rd, 2004, 06:35 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 127
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Dont worry! Get a sleeper and enjoy .
Havent traveled this train,but have plenty of other AMTRAKS
dont know if it was mentioned but the food is included with a sleeper also.
I have had some great meals on board and cant remember a bad one.
I have taken each of my grandchildren on a trip to the Rockys and they still talk about it

halbo49 is offline  
Old Mar 3rd, 2004, 06:58 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,268
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I recently did the Washington-New Orleans sleeper: 25 hours! It certainly was a long trip but I found the time flew! I too brought a few books (and yes, knitting ), but found that like Sara, I spent most of my time looking out the window to admire the diversity of the landscapes. For meals (of which I was eligible for four!), I was seated with other passengers, which really allowed me to meet a cross-section of people from the southeast USA (not to mention a not insignificant number of foreign travellers, who I believe like to ride the train to get a feel for the changing North American landscape).

It was a great experience, one that I will treasure in my memories and believe it or not, would happily do again! I felt I got to know America just a little better that trip!

Bon voyage! DAN
Daniel_Williams is offline  
Old Mar 4th, 2004, 08:52 AM
  #16  
Cassandra
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Have a great trip -- I'm envious. BTW, I believe buying a roommette or a bedroom entitles you to all meals (ask), which may not mean gourmet food but means you have to carry on less of your own. I'm a great fan of craisins and cashews for such trips.

 
Old Mar 5th, 2004, 12:56 PM
  #17  
binky1095
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Awesome info here guys. Thanks so much. Unfortunately the sleepers are sold out! I'm so glad you posted Sara as it makes me feel much better about coach. I'm certainly not going in unprepared, thanks to you all. I have realistic expectations of the whole thing and will just approach it as an adventure and figure one night won't kill us. We'll have a week in DC to recover and a very laid back schedule. I figured it can't possibly be worse than a red-eye on an airplane in coach. Those are truly MISERABLE! I do worry about my mom. She's in her 60's but a pretty tough broad. My daughter is beside herself w/ excitement, and it's pretty infectious. We'll all just plan on rolling w/ the punches.

GoT~LOL! Actually, you've reminded me to add wine to the cooler, you know, those little four packs w/ screw top? (*insert "thumbs up!" icon)

Pillows, blankets, sleepmask(thumbs up here too) snacks, WINE, and all the other essentials. Think I got it.

I'm still going to check everyday for sleeper availability, just in case....
 
Old Mar 5th, 2004, 01:32 PM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,107
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
If you don't get the sleeper: On your return trip, consider getting tickets from BALTIMORE to Orlando if you can, or if you've already got tickets (I've seen some GREAT railsales between FL and DC) think about paying for Balt-DC tickets.

I suggest this because typically a lot of people get off the train at DC, but it takes awhile for awaiting passengers to board, and you can use this time to find better seating. I'll often travel a bit out of the way (eg: Alexandria to NY, Stamford to DC) to do this.
rb_travelerxATyahoo is offline  
Old Mar 5th, 2004, 01:37 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,107
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Let me clarify "a lot of people get off in DC" -- I mean that is the end of their trip. Some people (temporarily) get off the train to walk, or get food, etc. Don't grab their seats!
rb_travelerxATyahoo is offline  
Old Mar 5th, 2004, 04:11 PM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 127
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Dont want to bust your bubble but alcohol can only be consumed in sleepers,the dining car,or the snack bar.it cant be consumed in coach
halbo49 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information