Amtrak Vacations

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What's the difference between Amtrak and Amtrak Vacations? On the phone a rep seemed to say that they are different companies?
I booked a trip through Amtrak Vacations starting from Chicago that goes through SF and LA on the the Coastal Starlight. I've heard that the leg from Denver to Grand Junction, Co has been changed to bus and the 11 train from SF to LA has a leg that will be changed to bus. I should have made my trip by Greyhound??? I have never been on a train before so this will be our first trip and I'm starting to get very disappointed. Does this happen a lot?
 

pennyk

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Amtrak Vacations is a travel agency that books Amtrak travel, hotels, and other trips.

Unfortunately, there was a fire on a bridge that is causing a service interruption of the Coast Starlight. If it is accurate that you will be bused between Denver and Grand Junction, that is quite unfortunate.
Amtrak has a reasonable modification and cancellation policy. My guess is that Amtrak Vacations does not. If I were you, I would try to cancel and possibly book the train yourself when the routes are open. If you are unable to cancel, possibly you could rebook for a later time when you would not be bused. I would argue that you paid for a train and it looks like you will be bused. However, my guess is the fine print of your contract states that they are not responsible.

Hopefully someone else here can give you better (more positive) advice.

PS - in my opinion, the agents at Amtrak Vacations are not very knowledgeable about Amtrak (at least the ones to whom I have spoken). A friend thought he was giving me an Amtrak gift certificate when, in fact, it was an Amtrak Vacations gift certificate. I found them very difficult to deal with (5 years ago).
 

zephyr17

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Amtrak Vacations is a third party travel agency that licenses use of Amtrak's name and puts together packages. They are not a subsidiary or otherwise affiliated with Amtrak.

Penny has pointed out some of the issues with them, including agents ignorant of Amtrak, more restrictive cancellation and modification policies, etc.

My advice, and I think the advice of many here, would be to avoid Amtrak Vacations like the plague and book with Amtrak directly.

Right now the bustitution on the Starlight is only between Klamath Falls and Sacramento. Amtrak is operating stub trains with full service and amenities between Los Angeles and Sacramento and between Seattle and Klamath Falls. If Amtrak Vacations is telling you differently, it is just another demonstration of their lack of actual knowledge about Amtrak.

As to the bustitution on the Zephyr, bustitutions for track work by the host railroad do happen occasionally, and Amtrak has little control over that. I am sorry if you had the bad luck to get caught on one. The Zephyr into Denver and out of Grand Junction will likewise have full service and amenities, though.
 
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Bob Dylan

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What's the difference between Amtrak and Amtrak Vacations? On the phone a rep seemed to say that they are different companies?
I booked a trip through Amtrak Vacations starting from Chicago that goes through SF and LA on the the Coastal Starlight. I've heard that the leg from Denver to Grand Junction, Co has been changed to bus and the 11 train from SF to LA has a leg that will be changed to bus. I should have made my trip by Greyhound??? I have never been on a train before so this will be our first trip and I'm starting to get very disappointed. Does this happen a lot?
Penny's advice is Spot on! Please consider doing what she recommends.

As for the Coast Starlight,(#11 and #14 )most Posts you see mention September as the Month that the Bridge work will.be finished in Northern California.( It's a Union Pacific Project, not Amtrak)

But with Fires popping up all over that part of the Country, one is never sure just when the LD Trains in the West will be affected by
them.

The #11Train is currently operating between Sacramento and LA and Seattle and Klamath Falls, Oregon, the #14 between Klamath Falls and Seattle and LA and Sacramento, so the Overnight Bus Bridge is between Sacramento and Klamath Falls only, so the Zephyr Route,( #5 and # 6 isnt affected by this.

The Bus Bridge between Denver and Grand Junction on I-70( due to Track Work) somewhat follows the Route the Train takes, but with some of the Best Scenery in the US only being viewable from the Train along the Colorado River, this is not ideal.
 

Cal

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I must say you should follow everyone’s advice here.
Does this happen a lot? I’d say no. It’s really bad luck that both are being bustituted right now. Can’t control wildfires and UP had scheduled track work.
 

Willbridge

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It should also be noted that the Denver<>Grand Junction trip by bus on I-70 has been intermittently disrupted by mudslides resulting from last year's fire. The bus detours, which take place in the daytime, are scenic. Nothing matches the rail trip, however, due to the miles where there are no paved highways.

Incidentally, there are no longer Greyhound or Trailways routes that dog the California Zephyr or Coast Starlight as closely as they did at one time. And between Reno and Salt Lake City the GL bus passengers are put on the Zephyr.
 
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Thank you all. I'm sorry I'm getting back so late. Actually, I think everything has worked itself out. My train ride is from Chicago to SLC to SF to LA and finally to Albuquerque. We are really looking forward to it, but it's taking a lot of scheduling on our part because we are visiting each city for several days. I didn't know where the trestle was down, but you have shown me that it is not on my journey. Also, it appears the train does not have a fire problem west of Denver. It looks great. We booked this because we live in Florida and every year we take our RV & volunteer in the cool north at a national Park. Well, for the first time we received no responses to our applications (Covid). So to get away from the heat we decided to try this trip. Turns out it's more expensive than a cruise and takes much more planning on our part. I'm getting too old for this and it will probably be our last hurrah. Again, thanks for the info!!!
 

zephyr17

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Well, mudslides in Glenwood Canyon have closed both the railroad and Interstate 70. Right now the Zephyr has been cancelled west of Denver with no alternate transportation.

The Starlight has now been cancelled south of Sacramento from August 8th to 23rd for bridge maintenance on the Coast Line. Alternative routing can be done via Capitol Corridor, Pacific Surfliner and Thruway bus services.
 
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Bob Dylan

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Thank you all. I'm sorry I'm getting back so late. Actually, I think everything has worked itself out. My train ride is from Chicago to SLC to SF to LA and finally to Albuquerque. We are really looking forward to it, but it's taking a lot of scheduling on our part because we are visiting each city for several days. I didn't know where the trestle was down, but you have shown me that it is not on my journey. Also, it appears the train does not have a fire problem west of Denver. It looks great. We booked this because we live in Florida and every year we take our RV & volunteer in the cool north at a national Park. Well, for the first time we received no responses to our applications (Covid). So to get away from the heat we decided to try this trip. Turns out it's more expensive than a cruise and takes much more planning on our part. I'm getting too old for this and it will probably be our last hurrah. Again, thanks for the info!!!
Enjoy the trip, and please share it with us as you go or upon your return!
 
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zephyr17. Are you trying to make me depressed? Actually, we're not leaving for a week so I hope it will be open by then.
Wait a minute. They cancelled the Starlight from Sacramento to LA? Or between Sacramento to SF?
 

20th Century Rider

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Amtrak Vacations is a burden for the recipient... if something goes wrong with Amtrak's schedule or etc... good luck with getting any kind of compensation. As all have replied here... they are a 3rd party booking agency. I have talked with so many stranded travelers who ended up on the short end of not getting what they paid for.

Add to this that if you were to book everything yourself you would save a considerable amount; their costing is 'padded' so that the actual components don't add up to services paid for. You could save by booking yourself. There is that feeling for so many that 'they are taking care of the details for me.' Amtrak Vacations is perfect for those who can't fend for themselves and want a company to take care of the itinerary. Problem is this... one pays an extra ordinary amount of $$$ so someone else can piece together the trip for them... and give them a nice plastic wallet to hold their tickets... and baggage tags. Really cute! So... you pay and they collect!

If something goes wrong --- it's between you and Amtrak Vacations... and not Amtrak! Also that is why you better have a special insurance policy... and even then, good luck.

You might say that 'Amtrak Vacations are to Amtrak travel... as flex meals are to Amtrak dining!'

Ummm... read the Trip Advisor reviews!

 

zephyr17

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zephyr17. Are you trying to make me depressed? Actually, we're not leaving for a week so I hope it will be open by then.
Wait a minute. They cancelled the Starlight from Sacramento to LA? Or between Sacramento to SF?
Hopefully, the Zephyr will be running again by next week.

The Starlight is cancelled entirely south of Sacramento 8/9-8/23 (actually south of Klamath Falls, since there is no bus bridge those dates). The bridge undergoing maintenance is between San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara. Had it not been for the closure of the line between Sacramento and Klamath Falls, they probably would have detoured the Starlight over Tehachapi if the train would have otherwise been going through.

"Sunday, August 8 through Monday, August 23
Train 11 will operate between Seattle and Klamath Falls. Train 1011 is cancelled August 9 through 23, with no alternate transportation provided between Klamath Falls and Los Angeles.
Train 14 is cancelled between Los Angeles and Seattle. Train 1014 will operate between Klamath Falls and Seattle with no alternate transportation provided between Los Angeles and Klamath Falls."

 
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