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Family room vs 2 roomettes for family of 4

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metcarl

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My husband and I and our two daughters are taking the Empire Builder from Chicago to Whitefish in July.

We've traveled once before on Amtrak, from Chicago to New Orleans and loved it, despite the crappy food, cramped quarters, and lack of cleanliness. My kids can't wait to go again.

On the trip to New Orleans, we had two roomettes which were adequate, but we briefly saw the family room and thought it would allow us a little more room. However, I did not see the sleeping arrangements and am worried that the bunks for the kids might be too short to comfortably sleep in. My 11-year old can sleep anywhere, so I'm not that worried about her, but my 14-yr old has a bit more trouble sleeping. The good thing is that she very short and petite (2nd percentile for her age group at about 4'9"), so it might be ok?

While I'm leaning towards a family room, if all four of us are in the bedroom during the day, I wonder if it will feel more cramped than the two separate roomettes? However, on the train to NOLA we weren't often all four in our rooms at the same time except for overnight.

The price for the roomette is about $2-300 more than 2 roomettes, but not a huge factor for us.
 

Dakota 400

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I'd recommend 2 Roomettes. One across from the other, if possible. Two small children and 2 adults in a Family Room would be OK. Two children as old as yours would probably enjoy having their own room.
 

me_little_me

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If you do decide on two roomettes, be sure to call as they can get you two rooms across from one another so you can talk across and it's easy to move back and forth. Also, the family room is downstairs but most of the roomettes are upstairs which has better views.
 

Maglev

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The lower short berth in the Family Bedroom is 4'9" long, while the upper is 4'7". If these are big enough for your kids, I think the Family Bedroom would be more fun. If you get two Roomettes, you'll be paired off and even across the hall from each other you'd be separated.

I have traveled upstairs and downstairs, and don't find an appreciable difference in the view.
 

Lonestar648

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I have done the two roomettes. My granddaughters really liked the option of a room to themselves, but also getting to have one on one with me. I gave them the option of being in one room or two, they always chose two.
 

jiml

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Aren't there some cars with rooms that have removable partitions to create a larger suite?
I don't know about the newest Viewliners, but this has been a feature on just about every sleeper Amtrak has ever rostered except Slumbercoaches. It just costs a lot of money - minimum 2x bedroom rate, presuming you can get two adjoining in the same price bucket.
 

tgstubbs1

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Mar 3, 2020
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I don't know about the newest Viewliners, but this has been a feature on just about every sleeper Amtrak has ever rostered except Slumbercoaches. It just costs a lot of money - minimum 2x bedroom rate, presuming you can get two adjoining in the same price bucket.
So Bedrooms but not Roomettes?
 
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metcarl

Guest
Honestly, I think both options would work for us - the shorter bunk for my 11-year-old and lower one for my 14-year-old. When I looked at the prices again, the two roomettes are about $450 cheaper, so would be worth doing those instead. Interestingly, getting 3 roomettes is only $48 more than the family room, which we don't really need. The adjoining bedroom are way too expensive.

Now, choosing between upper and lower. We were lower before and enjoyed the privacy and being closer to the bathrooms. The upstairs didn't seem very crowded though, so the one bathroom may not be an issue. People getting on and off at stops overnight or early am was a little loud. Being closer to the luggage storage was nice too on the lower level in case we needed anything from our suitcase. I could probably flip a coin...
 

me_little_me

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Honestly, I think both options would work for us - the shorter bunk for my 11-year-old and lower one for my 14-year-old. When I looked at the prices again, the two roomettes are about $450 cheaper, so would be worth doing those instead. Interestingly, getting 3 roomettes is only $48 more than the family room, which we don't really need. The adjoining bedroom are way too expensive.

Now, choosing between upper and lower. We were lower before and enjoyed the privacy and being closer to the bathrooms. The upstairs didn't seem very crowded though, so the one bathroom may not be an issue. People getting on and off at stops overnight or early am was a little loud. Being closer to the luggage storage was nice too on the lower level in case we needed anything from our suitcase. I could probably flip a coin...
Remember, it is only about 45 feet from the furthest room to the stairs so having to use a downstairs restroom or get to the luggage area isn't exactly a marathon.
 

20th Century Rider

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Like many others I recommend two roomettes... carefully reserved as to be right across from each other. Here are the reasons... if you are traveling with kids you can keep an eye on them while still getting some peace and quiet for yourselves. You are also at a higher viewing level and can can enjoy the scenery better. You can go back and forth to the observation car without traversing the stairs. Caution... never leave minors to go off on their own... for their protection and also that is Amtrak policy. All minors need to be accompanied by adult/legal guardian.

That crowded family room downstairs could cost more than two roomettes... that depends on pricing and pricing buckets at the time you travel.

Have a great trip on the Empire Builder and enjoy beautiful Whitefish! ;)
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