Amtrak Vacations trip

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Joined
Jun 14, 2021
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9
Location
Florida
I booked an Amtrak vacation running 27 days starting in Chicago on the 10th of Aug 2021. We went from Chicago to Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Yosemite NP, LA, Grand Canyon, and Albuquerque with several days lodging at each city. I booked it through Amtrak Vacations, a separate Amtrak company. Amtrak Vacations handles the reservations and planning for an Amtrak vacation. They booked my rail trips, the hotels and rental cars at the cities that I had a stopover. They even booked sidetrips that were tours not connected to Amtrak.

I will never book anything through Amtrak Vacations again because the original person I dealt with appeared not to be concerned with helping me get the service that would most benefit me. Instead he insisted that the train was filling up fast and the reservation needed to be done in a hurry. He appeared to only be interested in selling me as many packages as quickly as possible. As I reduced the cost of the quality of the cars & excursions he did not argue much but did not offer any suggestions on conserving time or money. The trip would have been great for a middle aged person, but not senior citizens like we are. I would not do this again because it was too hectic. We ended up having arrivals at 11:30pm and 3:40 am at dark Amtrak stations; departures at 3 am, 4:25 am, 4:30 am and 6:55 am requiring us to be up a couple of hours earlier because we had to get our own transportation to the departure point. (I did not get rental cars at most cities – the public transportation was always great. I spent the first 2 days figuring out schedules, etc and the next 2 days confidently using the equipment. And everybody was helpful) Additionally, this forced us to eat a meal shortly before going to bed which caused some discomfort.

My biggest complaint is that I never received from Amtrak a reason for the detour from Denver to Grand Junction, CO missing the Rockies by train. I heard that it was track maintenance that caused the detour. If so, then they probably knew about it before I booked. That means that they essentially lied to me to get my money and not giving me any option to decide if I wanted to change my reservation. Additionally, they charged me bedroom prices even though I was transported identically to the coach passengers who paid less than I did. (I sent a letter to Amtrak asking for a refund)

All in all I would not recommend booking a vacation through Amtrak Vacations. Now that the trip is over it's apparent that I should have booked it through Amtrak (not Vacations) by booking each segment separately and adding in tours that met my timeline, rental cars that were located near my hotel, and other transportation. Another deficiency was that they only booked through Avis and I had to pick up the car at a far off location in town. Some rental car agencies deliver for free while others had offices located closer to my hotel.

Now the good parts. Getting on & off the trains was a breeze. They took care of our luggage and provided guidance to our room. The bedroom was great, there was plenty of space for the 2 of us, but not for 3. All the rooms we had were clean including the windows. At night we were always offered extra blankets so that we never got cold. The people assigned to assist us in our rooms were friendly, efficient and very helpful, meeting all our needs. In the bedroom we got unlimited water. The food was wonderful – all meals were great! The dining car had table cloths and the meals even included wonderful desserts. The train didn't rock too much and there was no click clack sound. Most of the trip was smooth and relatively quiet. There were some segments where the track caused increased noise, but that was not overwhelming. The walls vibrated and sometimes caused a lot of banging noise. I solved that by inserting small plastic bottles or clothes between the walls which stopped all that noise.

The mattresses were thin but I found them to be comfortable. At stops, people got on & off, but in our bedroom I did not hear anything. On two segments we traveled by coach, not bedroom. The seats were wide with a lot of room front to back. We bought something to eat in the Cafe. (Do not get the pizza as it was not fully cooked in the center and I had a later reaction). The egg sandwiches were fine.
 

FrensicPic

Engineer
Joined
Jan 15, 2012
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LAX
I've never used Amtrak Vacations (I do all my own booking) so won't comment on that.
As Amtrak and Amtrak Vacations surely have some kind of "agreement", I would suggest you send comments to both entities.
I'm sure Amtrak would be interested in customer reports (good or bad) about how Amtrak Vacations is operating.
Amtrak is allowing the vacations entity to use the Amtrak name.
 

Michigan Mom

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 28, 2012
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MI
I've always wondered about those vacations packages... your report confirms exactly what I perceived the disadvantages to be. Thanks for sharing.
 

flitcraft

Conductor
Joined
Jan 10, 2018
Messages
1,068
I'm glad you enjoyed the train part of the vacation, but it sounds like Amtrak Vacations is an utter fail of a company. Thanks for the head's up on that, and if you ever want to do another vacation by train, I would suggest posting here for advice. There are lots of helpful people here with extensive Amtrak travel experience who can make suggestions that will help you choose the options best for you.
 

Dakota 400

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Mar 5, 2014
Messages
3,158
Many years ago, we booked the Palmer House through Amtrak Vacations because the price was better than booking directly with the hotel or through Hilton. All worked well at that time. But, there may now be different management in place.
 

pennyk

50 year Amtrak Rider
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I worked with Amtrak Vacations a while ago (only because I received an Amtrak Vacations gift certificate from a friend who thought it was Amtrak). I found that representatives with whom I communicated lacked knowledge about Amtrak. It was a frustrating experience that I hope not to repeat. Also, I believe, as most travel agencies, they were not open on weekends or evenings.
 

Cal

Foamer
Joined
Jan 23, 2021
Messages
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Socal
My biggest complaint is that I never received from Amtrak a reason for the detour from Denver to Grand Junction, CO missing the Rockies by train. I heard that it was track maintenance that caused the detour. If so, then they probably knew about it before I booked. That means that they essentially lied to me to get my money and not giving me any option to decide if I wanted to change my reservation. Additionally, they charged me bedroom prices even though I was transported identically to the coach passengers who paid less than I did. (I sent a letter to Amtrak asking for a refund)
I believe that you were booked when Glenwood Canyon (Right?) was closed due to mudslides.
 

jiml

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Feb 27, 2019
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Somewhere in Southern Ontario
I believe Amtrak Vacations and several of the similar airline sites are run by a third-party company - possibly Expedia (not 100% sure) - and agents have similar issues with lack of knowledge of the company they represent. However, like @Dakota 400 pointed out, there are sometimes deals to be found.
 
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