I hoped for a romantic train ride down the Mississippi on the Amtrak to New Orleans with luxurious accommodations and food. Was I disappointed? Yes, was it worth it? No. Am I glad I did it? Yes.
Union Station Chicago is interesting, but the Amtrak lounge is the most impressive. I can’t begin to tell you how large it is. This is where I discovered what would be a trend on Amtrak packaged food. No hard liquor was available, but there was an excellent choice of drinks and coffee. The snacks mounted to gummy bear cookies, beef, jerky, and chips.
Amtrak To New Orleans: The Room Itself
We arrived at the train station. It was 18° below Celsius with the windchill, so the lounge was an excellent comfort. Also, when we were ready to load ahead of time with Priority seating, they offered us a cart and “old people.” I discovered that most people are reluctant to take the car as it makes them feel old. But I’m glad we did because it was a long distance, and then we had our luggage. The train car was double-decker, meaning we were upstairs in our private room. I had to carry the two suitcases on a narrow staircase, which I hadn’t expected.
As you can imagine, the room itself was relatively small but manageable. Except for the suitcases, which became a bit of a pain, I couldn’t imagine having a roomette that only had a sink and no bathroom. But I had a long, comfortable bench seat that converted into one of the beds and an additional seat. The tiny bathroom was also a shower, which I can imagine anyone using.
I didn’t realize how small the room was until it was converted into a bedroom. The bottom seat came out, leaving about 6 inches to get by to the sink at the front door. It was quite comfortable with an extra mattress, almost a double. The upstairs bunk I climbed up to was another story; it was close to the ceiling, uncomfortable and almost impossible to get into with the straps to protect you from falling out.
Amtrak To New Orleans: The Ride Itself
I was sadly mistaken to think that the train would be weaving back and forth and the gentle wave motion so that we could drift off to sleep. Instead, it was like a washing board, sometimes jerking and bumping, other times noisy with all the squeaking and bumps.
I don’t think either of us got any sleep, except around 5 o’clock when the train had to stop because the train further up the line had derailed. We didn’t move for two hours, and I think that was my only sleep. My sleeping app says I got one hour and 14 minutes of sleep that night.
Amtrak To New Orleans: The Food
For dinner, they delivered us and bagged the meal we ordered when they came around, this amount to prepackaged food again and a complimentary bottle of wine or beer for dinner. The same thing happened the following day. We approached the car, which doubled as an observation, deck, and dinner. Surprise, surprise, everything was delivered prepackaged.
This time of year, vegetation wasn’t inspiring, and so generally speaking, the train was pretty dull until the last hour as we passed through Louisiana into New Orleans.
This Amtrak trip was supposed to be considered first class, but it didn’t feel that way. I purchased a two-for-one special price for a roomette and then upgraded to a bedroom for an extra $70. The total would have been the same as for round-trip ticket economy from Montreal to New Orleans at the time.