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Guest Maggie's Mom

Newbie travelling on Silver line from FL to DC

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Guest Maggie's Mom
Okay, total Newbee here. I have to take a Silver line train from Deland, FL to Union Station, DC and back in the next week or two. As a mid-60's lady, I've never ridden a train before so I have quite afew questions. I have read all the different topics on your forum and you guys are a wealth of information. Here's some of my questions, hope you can help me out -


1. Weekday or weekend crowds? Would it be stupid to leave DC on a Friday night as opposed to a Saturday night?


2. Is a sleeper really necessary? The difference in cost is $117 and $362. I can usually fall asleep in the recliner but concerned about my laptop bag/purse while sleeping. I assume I have to take my laptop with me every time I go to the bathroom and when I go to eat. Thought I would check my carry-on (one less thing to worry about), is that secure? Not carrying anything valuable but don't want to lose a weeks worth of clothes. Can I charge my laptop at my seat, are there outlets?


3. Are you assigned a seat or do you just grab one. If assigned, what happens if you are next to someone you are not comfortable with? From what I've read, the seats are plenty wide so I shouldn't be cramped.


4. Is there a difference between the Silver Meteor and the Silver Star. Do you prefer one over the other. Star takes about 90 minutes longer. Meteor has a better schedule for my needs.


5. At the Deland, FL station, is there someone there to assist you or check-in your luggage. Have no idea what to do when the train arrives - sounds silly but don't want to get on the wrong train or not be able to check my suitcase.


Appreciate any help (or assurances) you can give me.

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I regularly travel on the Silver Meteor from Orlando and I am a woman in mid 60's. I always travel in a sleeper. I think it is well worth the extra money. On the Silver Meteor, your meals are included with the cost of your sleeper (which would be dinner and possibly breakfast the next morning, if the train is not early into DC). The Silver Star sleeper prices are less, but there is no dining car (only a cafe car) and meals are not included. The Silver Meteor has both a dining car and cafe car.

 

When boarding in Orlando, in coach, the coach attendant likely will assign you a seat. I am not sure if you will be able to change (if you are unhappy with your seatmate), but you could ask. The seats are wide, but there is no arm rest between the seats. I am uncomfortable trying to sleep sitting next to a "stranger." I also have an "issue" with restrooms in coach. Although the attendants usually attempt to keep them clean, some passengers can be slobs. The roomettes on both the Silver Star and Silver Meteor have in room toilets and sinks. They are not enclosed, but I find them convenient. Not every passenger likes the in room toilet.

 

If you travel in coach on the Silver Meteor, you can purchase meals in the dining car or cafe car (or bring food with you).

 

I think the DeLand station is staffed, and if so, you can check luggage. (I will try to verify that DeLand is staffed). There will not be any redcaps to assist you with your luggage. The car attendants usually will assist you and your luggage on board.

 

I do not know about difference in crowds in coach. During the summer, coach is usually crowded with families going to and from Disney.

 

Please feel free to ask more questions.

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Hi Maggie's Mom!

I think you'll enjoy your trip, and hope you let us know how it goes.

 

I will just comment on whether or not to take a sleeper, and in saying "Yes" it will answer your concerns about traveling in a coach seat also. I used to travel in coach overnight when I was a teenager, but now at age 56 I find the comfort and privacy of a sleeper to be necessary. It's really SO much nicer than sitting up in a seat surrounded by strangers!

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Penny, thank you for your replies. I really would like a sleeper for some of the same reasons you stated. I thought I had read somewhere that you cannot lock your door from the outside, only from the inside. Is that correct? Seems kinda dumb if that's true because then you can't secure your stuff if you want to leave the room. Do you check your luggage if you have a sleeper or just take it with you in the room?

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I do not check my luggage, but I travel light. It is true that you cannot lock the doors from the outside, but I have never had a problem. I leave my laptop in my room when going to meals or for a walk. I close the door and curtains. Only sleeper passengers are permitted in the sleeper cars, so I feel that my stuff is secure. I also do not travel with anything that is extremely valuable (like expensive jewelry). I wear a small crossbody purse and "wear" it whenever I leave my room.

 

There is a ledge next to the large seat where my rolling duffle fits perfectly. There is storage space above the hall, but I rarely use it since I am short and do not want to lift anything heavy over my shoulders. Others can chime in as to how much space is in the storage space. Some people store luggage on the top bunk.

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I took a few photos of my room (for a friend) during my last trip a week or so ago. The first photo is of the "smaller" seat that is next to the sink and toilet. The second photo is of the "large" seat. My colorfull roller duffle is to the right of the seat. The thirs photo is of the toilet and sink. The sink pulls out. The toilet cover is used as a step to get into the top bunk (or to store luggage overhead).

 

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Hi Maggie's Mom!

 

I think you'll enjoy your trip, and hope you let us know how it goes.

 

I will just comment on whether or not to take a sleeper, and in saying "Yes" it will answer your concerns about traveling in a coach seat also. I used to travel in coach overnight when I was a teenager, but now at age 56 I find the comfort and privacy of a sleeper to be necessary. It's really SO much nicer than sitting up in a seat surrounded by strangers!

If you can't afford a sleeper in both directions, take it on the return. Once you've tried it, you'll be disappointed in coach. Note that on the Meteor, meals in the diner are included in the price including the high-priced steak. Star no longer includes diner meals and no longer has a diner.

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I travel very light, but if I need to use the space above the room for a piece of luggage that does not fit on the ledge, I've always found the sleeper car attendant (SCA) will be happy to put it up and take it down for me (I am short and am also a lady in my mid-60s).

 

If you've never taken the train before, the sleeper will be less stressful (to many of us, it's extremely relaxing!) than going in coach. You get an SCA who will make up your bed at night, have coffee ready in the morning (at the end of the car), and answer any questions you have--some SCAs are better than others, but the Silvers seem to have excellent ones in general.

 

Someone will come through in the evening to ask you what time you want dinner, and then you just show up at the dining car then and they seat you. Breakfast (if you're lucky and running late and get it) is just show up when you want.

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Naturally, most folk would prefer to have their own private sleeper accomodation, but it can be expensive. I mostly travel in coach, because of the sleeper prices. Please don't worry about theft, it is not a major problem. If you need to go to the bathroom for example, just ask your seat mate or someone else to watch your laptop if you are using it.

 

99.99% of people are just like you, honest and happy to help out.

 

If you are away for longer, put it away in your locked carry on case.

 

Best to assume you will be on a busy train whichever day you travel.

 

Yes, sleepers are great, but there is nothing wrong with coach, although getting much sleep can be problematic. It all depends on the size of your wallet!

 

Ed.

Edited by caravanman

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1. Weekday or weekend crowds? Would it be stupid to leave DC on a Friday night as opposed to a Saturday night?

You probably won't see much difference.

 

 

2. Is a sleeper really necessary? The difference in cost is $117 and $362. I can usually fall asleep in the recliner but concerned about my laptop bag/purse while sleeping. I assume I have to take my laptop with me every time I go to the bathroom and when I go to eat. Thought I would check my carry-on (one less thing to worry about), is that secure? Not carrying anything valuable but don't want to lose a weeks worth of clothes. Can I charge my laptop at my seat, are there outlets?

 

If you can afford it, absolutely go with a sleeper. It's a wonderful and dare I say luxurious way to travel. You get your own room, included meals in the dining car, complimentary coffee and juice, access to a shower if you need it, etc. And there are outlets at every seat and in every room. You won't have an issue with that.

 

3. Are you assigned a seat or do you just grab one. If assigned, what happens if you are next to someone you are not comfortable with? From what I've read, the seats are plenty wide so I shouldn't be cramped.

Varies. They'll usually assign people specific cars based on your destination. Sometimes you'll be directed to a specific seat when you board, but none of that stuff is designed or communicated to you in advance. And the seats are indeed plenty wide, PLENTY of legroom, so I really doubt you'd feel cramped at all.

 

 

4. Is there a difference between the Silver Meteor and the Silver Star. Do you prefer one over the other. Star takes about 90 minutes longer. Meteor has a better schedule for my needs.

 

Big difference - unlike the Meteor, the Silver Star doesn't have a dining car! This means your onboard dining will be limited to the cafe car, which doesn't have table service and has a much more limited menu. Sleepers on the Star are somewhat cheaper than that of the Meteor, because of this, but coach costs the same. I highly recommend you go with the Meteor.

 

 

5. At the Deland, FL station, is there someone there to assist you or check-in your luggage. Have no idea what to do when the train arrives - sounds silly but don't want to get on the wrong train or not be able to check my suitcase.

 

You will get on the right train. Deland is a small station (just two tracks - one in each direction) and they always check passengers' tickets before boarding. You should arrive at the station and check your bag no less than 45 minutes before departure. This is done through the station agent.

 

Hopefully this helps!

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Penny, thank you for your replies. I really would like a sleeper for some of the same reasons you stated. I thought I had read somewhere that you cannot lock your door from the outside, only from the inside. Is that correct? Seems kinda dumb if that's true because then you can't secure your stuff if you want to leave the room. Do you check your luggage if you have a sleeper or just take it with you in the room?

This is correct. I would just recommend you keep valuables out of sight when you leave the room, keep the curtains drawn, and keep the door shut. Only sleeper passengers are allowed in the sleepers, and we have never had anything stolen. You can check your bags if you wish, or bring them into your room. I would note that Roomettes are not very big, so you should probably check any particularly large bags.

Edited by cpotisch

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Guest Maggie's Mom

Wow, thank you everyone for the great replies. I guess I will go with the sleeper. I've adjusted my dates alittle so I can get the sleeper for $364 instead of the $419 that was on my previously scheduled date. Based on my schedule, it appears I will be going up on the Meteor but might be coming back on the Star. Understand I will not get a meal on the Star but the timing is better for that train. If I decide to change my return date, I understand there is no charge to change my return trip, correct?

 

Thanks again for all the great advice.

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So far, I've only traveled coach on the Silvers (Meteor going south and Star going north). It was a single overnight trip between RVR and ORL. However, as others have said, you can't go wrong with a sleeper.

 

Think I might do that next time myself, even if my trip is a single night.

 

The Silver Star doesn't have a diner car, but that doesn't matter a WHOLE lot to me.

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If I decide to change my return date, I understand there is no charge to change my return trip, correct?

Amtrak does not charge a change fee, so if you change your reservation the only cost would be any price difference between your original itinerary and the new one. Just call and ask them to *modify* your reservation. I emphasize the word "modify" because there have been many cases of Amtrak agents getting confused by lack of specificity and attempting to cancel and rebook peoples' reservations, which does incur a fee. If they tell you there is a fee and won't budge, just call back and ask a different agent.

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Wow, thank you everyone for the great replies. I guess I will go with the sleeper. I've adjusted my dates alittle so I can get the sleeper for $364 instead of the $419 that was on my previously scheduled date. Based on my schedule, it appears I will be going up on the Meteor but might be coming back on the Star. Understand I will not get a meal on the Star but the timing is better for that train. If I decide to change my return date, I understand there is no charge to change my return trip, correct?

 

Thanks again for all the great advice.

Good choice for getting a sleeper. You will find plenty of room to store stuff , a couple of hangers and a hook for clothes and as mentioned plenty of storage space across from upper bunk. I travel with small suitcase, backpack and a small cooler. When I travel from DC to WPB on the Star I stock up on a few things at the station prior to boarding.

 

In the first class lounge in DC I grab a few bags of snacks available and put in my backpack or suitcase. I also find something for dinner in the station as there are many places to pick up a salad, sandwich, desert etc that you will find way better than the cafe car offerings. Dont forget salt, pepper,napkins,utensils at whatever place you buy food. So I bring that onboard for dinner. There's a table that pulls out in roomette. I carry a small cooler for drinks and use the ice machine in the lounge to chill.

 

I also carry a Tupperware container and buy a couple of donuts at Dunkin for the morning and get a cup of coffee onboard. Not too healthy but tasty!

 

So just be creative for the return on the Star or use the cafe car if you like the choices. And do bring some earplugs just in case of train noise ,etc.

 

Enjoy.

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In the first class lounge in DC I grab a few bags of snacks available and put in my backpack or suitcase.

This poster referred to the first class lounge in DC. It should be noted that there is a first class lounge in Union Station in Washington DC: "Club Acela."

Sleeper passengers have access to this lounge. Luggage may be stored in a large closet in the lounge. The lounge is located near the baggage area and information desk. Very light snacks (pretzels and goldfish usually) are provided as well as soft drinks, water, cofffee and tea. There are clean restrooms in the lounge also. Sleeper passengers are escorted from the lounge when boarding long distance trains.

 

If you arrive in DC on the Silver Meteor (or Star) and you need a place to rest and relax before checking into your hotel or going elsewhere, you can wait in the Club Acela. To gain access, either ring the doorbell (if working) or knock on the door and you will be buzzed in. You will be required to show one of the attendants your ticket showing that you were/are traveling in sleeper class that day.

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Guest Maggie's Mom

Thanks for the great info on the Club at Union Station. I will definitely have some time to kill before my return trip 'cause I'll get there super early so I don't miss my train. Nice to know that there's a place to relax and get a snack.

 

Do the coach attendants let you know when you are getting close to your departure station. With a 7am arrival time, I don't want to wake up super early for fear of oversleeping?

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Do the coach attendants let you know when you are getting close to your departure station. With a 7am arrival time, I don't want to wake up super early for fear of oversleeping?

If you are in coach, you will not have to worry about oversleeping. If you are in a sleeper, the SCA (sleeping car attendant) will make sure you are awake. You can ask him/her to wake you up at a certain time. The dining car opens at 6:30. Most of the time, the passengers detraining in WAS have enough time to eat breakfast before arriving in WAS. A handfull of times, I have been on the Silver Meteor when it arrived early and I was unable to eat breakfast on the train.

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Thanks for the great info on the Club at Union Station. I will definitely have some time to kill before my return trip 'cause I'll get there super early so I don't miss my train. Nice to know that there's a place to relax and get a snack.

 

Do the coach attendants let you know when you are getting close to your departure station. With a 7am arrival time, I don't want to wake up super early for fear of oversleeping?

Amtrak doesn't want passengers missing their stops any less than you do. They will make sure you are out and about in time for your arrival. :)

Edited by cpotisch

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Do the coach attendants let you know when you are getting close to your departure station. With a 7am arrival time, I don't want to wake up super early for fear of oversleeping?

If you are in coach, you will not have to worry about oversleeping. If you are in a sleeper, the SCA (sleeping car attendant) will make sure you are awake. You can ask him/her to wake you up at a certain time. The dining car opens at 6:30. Most of the time, the passengers detraining in WAS have enough time to eat breakfast before arriving in WAS. A handfull of times, I have been on the Silver Meteor when it arrived early and I was unable to eat breakfast on the train.

 

 

 

I have been wondering if there would be time for breakfast on the train if 98 is close to being on time at Washington. Assuming an on time arrival and the dining car opening at 6:30, can one really be served and eat in that time interval? Or, is one simply gulping food as quickly as one can? I am thinking that with so few staff members preparing and serving the food, and with several people needing to be served, having breakfast prior to an on-time arrival is unrealistic.

 

Usually, what time does the SCA have coffee available?

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I have been wondering if there would be time for breakfast on the train if 98 is close to being on time at Washington. Assuming an on time arrival and the dining car opening at 6:30, can one really be served and eat in that time interval? Or, is one simply gulping food as quickly as one can? I am thinking that with so few staff members preparing and serving the food, and with several people needing to be served, having breakfast prior to an on-time arrival is unrealistic.

 

Usually, what time does the SCA have coffee available?

I do not drink coffee, so I am unsure when the SCA has it ready, but I think it is well before 6:30. I think the dining car crew does a good job getting breakfast to the passengers in 30 minutes or so. If you are de-training in WAS and the train is "on time," I would be ready to go, then be one of the first in the dining car. Some crews will let passengers in around 6:25, others will send you away or make you stand and wait to be seated until 6:30.

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You didn't mention just why you were going to DC. As the resident AutoTrain regular ... if you had to go anywhere (DMV) a car would be helpful...there's no question = AutoTrain. You are just a half hour up I-4 from Sanford. Stretch out in a bedroom with your own bathroom/shower, chair, sofa (hide-a-bed). I just find bedding down (next to) a toilet kinda ickie. Butt then that's not even an option on the AT. NON-stop SFA - to - LOR. Leave Sanford 4PMish, arrive Lorton 8AMish.

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Edited by RichieRich

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