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Party of 12 on LD train. Logistics, Specials?


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#1 Texan Eagle

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 04:30 PM

I am going to be in a big group of friends, 12 of us to be specific, riding City of New Orleans end to end. We have booked 6 roomettes between us, and some are adjacent, some others are scattered across a car or two cars. 

 

This is my first time taking Amtrak in a party of more than 4. I am here to get ideas and tips from anyone of you who has done Amtrak journeys with such a large group. Will the SCAs be able to "reassign" roomettes at the start to get us closer together? Do they like big groups or will we be an annoyance? How would dining car seating work for a party of 12 if we don't want to get split up between multiple tables? Anything else I should know?



#2 KmH

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 06:01 PM

I don't think TA-SC(s) will move other passengers from their reserved roomettes to accommodate your group's desire to be closer together.

 

Each TA-SC will have their own regard about larger groups, and I suspect TA-SCs don't often have to large groups on their train.

 

By the same token the LSA-Dining Car will have their own regard about larger groups.

LSAs stagger dinner reservations. They don't schedule 12 passengers at the same time so the arrival of diners is spread out.

 

Have a nice trip and leave generous gratuities.


Edited by KmH, 19 March 2017 - 06:03 PM.

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#3 seat38a

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 06:20 PM

I am going to be in a big group of friends, 12 of us to be specific, riding City of New Orleans end to end. We have booked 6 roomettes between us, and some are adjacent, some others are scattered across a car or two cars. 

 

This is my first time taking Amtrak in a party of more than 4. I am here to get ideas and tips from anyone of you who has done Amtrak journeys with such a large group. Will the SCAs be able to "reassign" roomettes at the start to get us closer together? Do they like big groups or will we be an annoyance? How would dining car seating work for a party of 12 if we don't want to get split up between multiple tables? Anything else I should know?

I think letting the dining car staff know that you are one big party will make the difference and will probably accommodate all of you at once. Staggered seating is done to allow the dining car staff dine to process a certain number of tables before a new group comes in and can be served. In the case where all 12 in your group is in the same party, they will probably allow you all to sit at the same seating. While 12 does sound like a lot but it is only 3 tables in the dining car to accommodate your whole party. Leave a generous gratuities ONLY if service warrants it. After my last trip on the Southwest Chief, my attitude towards tipping, especially in the dining car has done a complete 180.



#4 ehbowen

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 07:35 PM

In 2006 we took a Big Family Trip from Houston to Los Angeles (round trip) with five adults and six kids (ages 1-13 at the time) in four Roomettes and the Family Bedroom. We were fortunate enough to get all roomettes fairly close together as reserved (4-7 outbound, 6-9 returning).

 

The dining car staff was willing enough to seat and serve us as a single large group if we asked, but we quickly discovered that trying to converse between tables with such a large group on a moving train isn't exactly rewarding and, on our own initiative, chose to break up into groups of 3 or 4. I suspect that you will find the same. The only real disappointment (other than being 6 hours late into Los Angeles, on the old schedule) was that there was no Sightseer Lounge either way, as they had been pulled for conversion into Cross Country Cafes.


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#5 jebr

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 09:10 PM

It's extremely unlikely an SCA will let you move into a roomette other than the one you're ticketed in. If you haven't yet, I'd suggest calling Amtrak and seeing if they can move your group into rooms closer together. It may not be possible, but the best way to find out is to call and ask.



#6 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 09:21 PM

Have a nice trip and leave generous gratuities.


If you really have to drag tips into this discussion why not simply say "tip as appropriate based on the service received?"

We've got provisions and lots of beer. The key word is survival on the new frontier. 


#7 Tennessee Traveler

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 09:42 PM

Since you mentioned you will be on the City of New Orleans, there is only one regular sleeping car so all roomettes would be in that car or the crew transition car(usually only overflow).  I doubt that after you board there will be any relocating of the roomettes. Best thing to do is check your e-tickets(PDF form) for car number.  Everyone should be in the same car number unless assigned to the transition sleeper.  Incidentally these two cars are adjacent to one another.  If you are in same car roomettes 2-10 are all together upstairs and 11-14 are downstairs so you should be close together no matter which roomette you are in.  One suggestion:  If your group like loud hanging out please do that in the Sightseer Lounge Car which will be second car behind the sleeper with the dining car in between.  Conversation and hanging out visiting across the aisle in the sleeper will be heard and experienced by all the other passengers in that car and, yes, it can be annoying especially at night.  I had the privilege to have six guys celebrating a bachelor party ride in my sleeper from Oceola, Iowa, to Denver, CO. in January.  Being a solo 75 year old(who has worked with youth all my adult life) I simply introduced myself and chatted long enough to learn about there going to Denver for the weekend to celebrate with the groom to be his bachelor party.  As usual, when you communicate with young adult men you establish a connection and earn respect.  Somewhere after 10 pm I fell fast asleep in my roomette 3 which was surrounded by the guys rooms and never noticed or heard anything.  Maybe it's just my nature, but I enjoyed their brief company.  I said all this to just suggest that you be good company to the other passengers in your car.

 

Since the CONO dining car service is limited there is no chef so ONE person does all the seating, taking orders, preparing and serving the meals.  And only one end of the dining car on the CONO is used as dining car and the other end is the cafe lounge.  So, heads up advice, LET THE SCA AND DINING SERVER KNOW of your desire for all 12 of your group to be in the same setting for meals.  In fact, the only meal that may offer reservations either direction would be dinner northbound.  Breakfast and lunch are usually first come first served.  The dining car is made up of tables for four.  Only four can be together at each table.

 

If you are wanting to rearrange your roomette assignments, NOW is the time to CALL and request availability to get all the room together as others may already have reserved specific roomettes and its too late to claim any already assigned roomettes.  


Edited by Tennessee Traveler, 19 March 2017 - 10:05 PM.


#8 Railroad Bill

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 09:56 PM

I helped organize our model railroad club trip to Denver last year. A group of 15 including three married couples and 9 other single old men.. We made arrangements to stay together for our dinner meals on the Cap and CZ but mostly just went up together for breakfast and lunch as members felt like getting together. The dining car staff set us up together for the same seating for dinner.

I tried to get our group into the same sleeper but did not work out for such a large group. But we did have some rooms in close proximity and I went back and forth between cars making sure everyone was o.k. The SCAs knew we were together and did not have a problem with me moving between cars. But we mostly met in the lounge car for our conversations.

We had a great time and did not disturb other passengers, who in some cases, were interested in our hobby and our planned trips to railroad museums and railfanning in Wyoming and Colorado.


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#9 Texan Eagle

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 10:32 PM

Since you mentioned you will be on the City of New Orleans, there is only one regular sleeping car so all roomettes would be in that car or the crew transition car(usually only overflow). 

 

Wow this is news to me. Is there really only one sleeper on CONO? What is the complete train composition?

 

Does CONO get a proper Sightseer Lounge or "Cafe Lounge" without wraparound windows? (I experienced the "fake lounge" on Texas Eagle last week and it was not fun)

 

Does CONO not having a chef onboard mean all dinner and breakfast entrees are frozen and microwaved? Or do they make anything at all fresh onboard?



#10 the_traveler

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 10:44 PM

Most items on ALL Amtrak trains are pre-prepared and reheated in a convection oven. The only items that are prepared on board are things like omelettes and steaks that require a grill. AFAIK, the chef has not returned to the CONO.
Take it easy .......

Take the train instead and enjoy the ride!

The view is much better at 3 feet than it is at 30,000 feet!

#11 Lonestar648

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 10:51 PM

Since you are a group over 8, I would suggest contacting Amtrak Customer Service to advise them of your group.  They may want to list this on the manifest for the SCA, Conductor, LSA, so they are aware.


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#12 Tennessee Traveler

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 10:53 PM

Since you asked, the current CONO composition is one engine, sometimes a baggage car but not always, transition crew car, SLEEPER, dining/cafe car, sightseer lounge, coach, coach, coach.  I am not sure what you are referring to as a fake lounge but the sightseer lounge car does have window that wrap up and near the center ceiling but not all the way(same as on all the LD  Superliner trains).  The diner/cafe car is a separate car.  The Texas Eagle should have the regular NON-FAKE Sightseer Lounge also so I am not sure what you are referring to. The regular sightseer lounges have chairs facing the windows on a little more than half of the car and then tables at one end.  

 

They do not make anything fresh on board.  They do serve in addition to the reheated(could use convection oven instead of microwave) food, salads and fresh fruits and cold cereal.  You can find the menu on Amtrak.com for ALL the trains.  Here is the NORTHBOUND MENU and here is the SOUTHBOUND MENU.  And here is the page with all the menus shown ALL MENUS.


Edited by Tennessee Traveler, 19 March 2017 - 10:56 PM.


#13 ehbowen

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 11:07 PM

The Texas Eagle should have the regular NON-FAKE Sightseer Lounge also so I am not sure what you are referring to.

 

I believe he is referring to the misbegotten "Cross-Country Cafes" which were rebuilt from dining cars with a kitchen downstairs, diner seating at one end, and a small lounge-cafe at the other end. The idea was to retire the Sightseer Lounges and save money by combining the diner and lounge into just one car. They were operating on the Texas Eagle on my last trip, and as the Eagle and the CONO used to share consists (not sure if they still do) they may have operated on the City as well. However, in my experience the Texas Eagle normally runs with two of them, one used as half of a regular diner with the conductor and crew camping out in the lounge end, and the other used as the train's lounge/cafe with cafe patrons spilling over into the car's diner seats. Nobody seems to really like them. So much for cost savings....


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#14 Texan Eagle

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 11:21 PM

 

The Texas Eagle should have the regular NON-FAKE Sightseer Lounge also so I am not sure what you are referring to.

 

I believe he is referring to the misbegotten "Cross-Country Cafes" which were rebuilt from dining cars with a kitchen downstairs, diner seating at one end, and a small lounge-cafe at the other end. The idea was to retire the Sightseer Lounges and save money by combining the diner and lounge into just one car. They were operating on the Texas Eagle on my last trip, and as the Eagle and the CONO used to share consists (not sure if they still do) they may have operated on the City as well. However, in my experience the Texas Eagle normally runs with two of them, one used as half of a regular diner with the conductor and crew camping out in the lounge end, and the other used as the train's lounge/cafe with cafe patrons spilling over into the car's diner seats. Nobody seems to really like them. So much for cost savings....

 

 

Yes, this is exactly what I am referring to. There were TWO "Cross-Country Cafes"- one of them being used as half diner, half staff seating/random storage, and other one as the cafe (which usually is on lower level of SSL) and "lounge" seating for passengers. I don't see how that gives them any cost savings over keeping a proper SSL and a Diner, but oh well...



#15 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 12:24 AM

It only saves money if they combine the SSL and Diner into a single CCC that operates as a combined SSL/Diner.

We've got provisions and lots of beer. The key word is survival on the new frontier. 


#16 Maverickstation

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 04:22 AM

 

Does CONO not having a chef onboard mean all dinner and breakfast entrees are frozen and microwaved? Or do they make anything at all fresh onboard?

 

 

The CONO has no chef, and a very limited "heat and eat" menu, for the Southbound trip I would recommend having an early dinner in Chicago beforehand.

 

https://www.amtrak.c...Menu-111516.pdf


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#17 Seaboard92

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 08:08 AM

The other option depending on your group would be to charter a private car. Which serves all your food, your transportation, and your hotel in New Orleans or Chicago.

An estimated price on Amtrak charges would be 5,137 for the Amtrak portion. Parking at NOLA for three nights would be 489. Car rental and staffing vary based on car. But if you are interested in getting a full quote for this shoot me a message and I'll make it happen. Back in the private cars you can be as loud as you like, eat what you want to eat, and have a fabulous time.

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#18 Tennessee Traveler

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 01:20 PM

As for sharing equipment, the CONO and Texas Eagle no longer share complete sets of equipment and the CONO does indeed have the regular Sightseer Lounge.  I have not ridden the Texas Eagle in several years so am not aware of the use of the Cafe Lounge Car as a replacement for the SSL.  

 

The reason I said no longer share COMPLETE sets of equipment is that Amtrak does indeed move the sleepers and probably coaches off of other LD routes among the various routes.  I have traveled on the CONO when the car number had not been changed - 631 in my case and I know that number was from the California Zephyr.  Seems when cars come from the maintenance facilities they may go to a different route than from which they came.



#19 Bob Dylan

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 05:19 PM

The Texas Eagles USUALLY have a Sight Seer Lounge in the consists, but on some days a CCC is subsituted giving it 2 of these orphans! 😣
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