Lower Fares on Amtrak Sleeping Cars to Florida and New York

Boarding the Amtrak Silver Star to New York City.
Boarding the Amtrak Silver Meteor to New York City.

Now there’s a less expensive option to travel overnight to and from Florida.

If you’ve never taken an overnight sleeper aboard Amtrak between New York and Miami, you are missing one of the most interesting, fun and relaxing ways to travel along the eastern seaboard.  But for many, the price of a compartment on Amtrak sleeping cars to Florida is too steep. To make it more affordable, Amtrak has initiated a pilot program to address that issue. How?

Say “Goodbye” to the dining car on the Silver Star.

Amtrak Café Lounge Car
Amtrak Café Lounge Car.  Photo: FlyerTalk.com

Starting July 1, 2015 through the end of January 2016, the Amtrak Silver Star (Trains 91 and 92) which runs between Miami and New York City via Tampa, Orlando, Washington DC and Columbia SC, will lose the dining car. Because the complimentary meals for first class sleeping car passengers was included into the fare, prices for a sleeper were usually high. Cost prohibitive for many.

Amtrak Roomette at night. There's an upper bunk, too. Aboard Amtrak sleeping cars to Florida.
Amtrak Roomette at night. There’s an upper bunk, too. Pretty cozy, huh.

Instead of the full service dining car, the Silver Star will continue to have their traditional Café/Lounge car, available to all passengers whether in coach or sleeping cars.

Café/Lounge Car Menu.

Amtrak Café/Lounge Car Menu
Amtrak Café/Lounge Car Menu

The savings for a sleeper on the Silver Star without the dining car runs about 25% to 28% of the original cost. This translates to about $140 lower for a deluxe bedroom and $65 less for a roomette.  I did a few random price checks and it seemed even lower than those numbers. But you will have to pay for your meals.

Usually ultra-expensive, now without meals included, the Deluxe Bedroom is much more affordable. Aboard Amtrak sleeping cars to Florida.
Usually expensive, now without meals included, the Deluxe Bedroom is much more affordable.

Passengers who choose a bedroom or roomette aboard the Silver Star will continue to receive complimentary bottled water, coffee, juice and of course, turn-down service at bedtime.  Silver Star guests can also ask their car attendant for room service (from the Café/Lounge Car) free of charge.

Silver Meteor will keep the Dining Car

Amtrak Silver Meteor Dining Car.
Amtrak Silver Meteor Dining Car.

For those who choose to spend a little more for their accommodations, the Silver Meteor will continue to operate the dining car as always and meals will still be included in the cost of the accommodation fare.  The Silver Meteor follows much of the same track as the Silver Star, but doesn’t veer west between Miami and Tampa.  Instead, the train travels up the east side of Florida until the tracks slowly head westward towards Orlando and onto Jacksonville, Savannah and Washington, DC to New York City.

Dinner in the diner will only be available aboard the Silver Meteor starting July 1, 2015.
Dinner in the diner will only be available aboard the Silver Meteor starting July 1, 2015.

Only passengers on the Silver Star are affected by this pilot program.  If this new concept enables more people to stretch out and sleep in comfort on their journey, then it’s a good thing.  As long as the Silver Meteor keeps the dining car, the tradition of dinner in the diner (plus breakfast and lunch, too) will attract those who love the experience and don’t mind paying a little more for it.

There’s something special about full-service dining aboard Amtrak. You meet new people at a community-seating table, watch America’s spectacular scenery roll by or simply pass the time until you reach your destination.  For me, Amtrak sleeping cars to Florida, with or without a dining car, sure beats flying any day.  It’s 20-ish hours to decompress from the workaday world.

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21 thoughts on “Lower Fares on Amtrak Sleeping Cars to Florida and New York”

  • I am not a good flyer so I opt for the train. I love both the Silver Star and Silver Meteor. I prefer the Meteor. I take a roomette and love the comfort and convenience of being a able to nap or take in the scenery. The Silver Star fit my schedule because of the early departure but has no dining car. The snack Bar is OK but I am not a fan. Having the roomette gives you Coffee and Juice included. Since I leave out of Penn Station in NY I purchase from one of their many many food shops and bring it aboard. There is a 25 min stop over in DC where you can also depart and get food. I go as far as Winter Park (beautiful little station). My return trip is the Silver Meteor which includes the two meals Dinner and Breakfast. The food is very good not gourmet but good. It is my understanding that the newer roomettes will no long have the in room toilet, but that’s OK because it will give to a bigger lower birth ( I sleep on top because the bed is wider). If you ever traveled Auto Train their roomettes do not have private bathroom. You wear a robe at night if you need to use the usually clean bathroom. There is one in each sleeper car as well as larger ones through out the train. Deluxe Sleeper still have private bathroom and shower but if you travel alone the roomette is perfect. I have traveled many times on these trains and yes sometimes there are delays weather, accidents etc (not on the train) but usually one or two hour delays are made up at night and arrival is close to schedule. I love the train so if you aren’t in a super hurry try it you may like or love it. Just remember those deicing sprays they put on the airplane wings as it waits to take off in the winter, not so if you are n the ground.

  • Hi Bashith,
    My best advice would be for you to contact Amtrak at 1-800-USA-RAIL. You would have to connect to Canada’s VIA Rail to get to Toronto. As far as meals, yes, you can bring your own food onboard. Have a good trip!
    Sherry

  • Hiii Sherry
    A truly excellent write up.thoroughly enjoyed as it was just what the dr ordered for me.
    I am from srilanka ….travelling to Florida in Aug and would LOVE to take a train to Toronto.
    What would be the best ticket option for a couple with a17yr old son. ..is out a room or just 3 seats.
    Also …i have issues with regards halal meals. Hence am i allowed to bring my food overboard.
    Your suggestions. Commnts with be much appreciated

  • Hi Sharon and thanks for your terrific email. It’s so nice to receive positive comments post-Amtrak. I’m glad everything went well and that the meals were so good. Keep spreading the word! Happy travels!

    Sherry

  • Hi Sandy,

    Thanks for your email. You could easily begin your train adventure from Boston. Maybe even spend an overnight in NYC before your train to Florida. For three women, if it is affordable, I’d recommend each getting their own roomette. Or two could share a bedroom and then the third in a roomette and everyone could gather in the bedroom compartment – in addition to the long sofa, there’s also a chair. The bedroom has a private en suite bathroom complete with a shower. The roomette has a sink but the toilet is exposed to the roomette so there isn’t privacy unless the other person goes out into the corridor while the other uses the “facilities”.

    Your friend who “doesn’t get around that well” might enquire about the wheel-chair accessible bedroom which has handrails in the en suite bathroom. Also, it’s can be a one-, two- or three-car walk to the dining car (meals are included) but there are handrails between cars and you and your other friend can assist, too.

    I hope this info is helpful and the three of you have a wonderful time.

    Sherry

  • Christmas 2016 was my first ride on Amtrak, in a Viewliner roomette aboard The Crescent from Atlanta to Philadelphia & back,and I just repeated the trip Christmas 2017. I loved it! The 15 hours of relaxation after hectic holiday prep and being well taken care of throughout by the sleeping car & station attendants is marvelous. In regards to the dinners & breakfasts I enjoyed in my roomette, kudoes to the chefs! I’ve had much more expensive meals that were not nearly as yummy, so I hope Amtrak never does away with meals & room service on the Crescent. Well worth the fare price. As soon as Amtrak posts fares for December 27, 2018 and January 2, 2019 I’m booking next Christmas’s trip

  • Hi Sherry. I was just looking into train travel from Boston to Marco Island, as a senior friend of mine has determined that she doesn’t want to fly anymore. We are a party of 3 women, looking to travel in Oct 2018. Wondering what advice you might have regarding this travel, and what train line we would take for this. Would going from NY or further south be better than Boston? I don’t mind driving a ways, but as I am the only driver in the group, I think the train would be a nice alternative. Also, wondering how the restroom situation is on the sleeper cars, as my friend also doesn’t get around that well, and she is a bit concerned about that. Thanks for any advice you can offer. ~ Sandy

  • Hi Bella,

    Great questions! I’ll start by saying that yes, Amtrak has one wheelchair accessible stateroom in each accommodations car. Major staffed stations also have a wheelchair lift machine to get on/off the train. However, getting from car to car, for example…going from your sleeping accommodations to the dining car or if there is an observation car, would be impossible in a wheelchair, motorized or not. The coupling between cars is still rather “primitive” unlike European trains and the unevenness and jiggling would make it impossible. Also, the corridors in the sleeping cars would, I think, be too narrow. But there is a solution. Your room attendant will gladly take your dining orders and deliver room service to you.

    On the westbound trains that connect Chicago to the West Coast (California, Oregon and Washington), these are double-decker trains and the accessible accommodation is on the lower level. The dining and observation areas are located on the upper level making it impossible to access by wheelchair. But again, room service is your solution.

    On all long-haul trains, the accessible compartment has its own bathroom facilities within the room, so there’s no need to leave.

    Yes, you can travel from New York to LA. First, with a connection in Chicago – NY to Chicago via the Cardinal or Lake Shore Limited trains. Then you can choose the Southwest Chief or Texas Eagle direct to Los Angeles. Or from New York you can ride the Crescent to New Orleans. From there, connect change to the three-times a week Sunset Limited which runs from New Orleans to LA.

    On your return, it’s a little more involved since the once upon a time Sunset Limited doesn’t operate any more between New Orleans and Jacksonville, Florida. You can return on any of the two trains (try a different one for the return!) to Chicago, then connect back to New York and connect yet again in New York to Miami. Keep in mind that on the New York to Miami run, only the Silver Meteor has a dining car. The other train, the Silver Star, only has a snack bar. But on either train, your car attendant can bring room service to you.

    It sounds like you’re planning a great cross-country adventure! We have other cross-country trains, too, but the two I mentioned are direct to Los Angeles. Please contact Amtrak directly by phone to help with the planning of your trip (unless you are using a travel agent). You need to make them aware when you make your reservation if you will need the motorized lift to board the train, as the station attendant will have to plan ahead to assist you.

    If the reservation agent at Amtrak doesn’t seem to know all the steps needed to help you to plan your trip, feel free to ask to speak with a supervisor who will be knowledgeable to set everything in place. You can find their contact information on their website: Amtrak.com. When you phone Amtrak (1-800-USA-RAIL / 1-800-872-7245) and hear the recording from “Julie” – keep saying the word “Agent”. Eventually you’ll be connected to a real person, lol!

    I hope my information is helpful. Have a wonderful train adventure! Thank you for your email.
    Sherry

  • Hi Sherry

    Thank you for the article. Really informative.

    My husband and I would like to do a train trip fron New York to Miami next year Aprl. We will be coming from South Africa.

    My questions are as follows:
    As a disabled person using a motorised wheelchair, would like to know if the train and rooms are accessible?.
    Is there a train trip to LA from New York and LA to Florida or Miami?

    Will really appreciate your response

  • Hi Leanne,
    Unfortunately, sleeping accommodations on Amtrak are expensive and cost-prohibitive for many. Your best bet would be to reserve two seats together, if that is possible. Floor space isn’t possible as it would be a real safety hazard. A small duvet and your own pillow may make traveling overnight in coach less disruptive and more comfortable. Since sleeping accommodations are so limited and often sold out months in advance, the chance for a last minute bargain is next to impossible. Even once onboard, upgrades are done by computer and if available, it’s sold at the going rate, which is usually very high at the last minute.

    All of the long-haul routes going west are incredibly scenic. Have a terrific trip, whatever you choose to do.

    Sherry

  • Hi Sherry,

    I want to try the train for a long distance trip in the U.S. But I am going to travel solo so the option with a bed can be really expensive for me. I was wondering if I got a coach, can I possibly find a way to lay down comfortably, i.e. using multiple seats, or find somewhere on a certain cart with more floor space (planning to bring a sleeping bag) ?

    Is the last minute upgrade to a sleeping room a lot cheaper than book it directly?

    What are the lines with the best sceneries/ diversities that you would recommend taking the train?

    Thanks!

  • If you don’t eat that hot dog right away out of the microwave it gets real hard, so you have to start eating it on your way back to your seat which can be dangerous being that the train is moving left and right, but it can be a great way to meet some one as long as they don’t try to eat your hot dog.

  • Hi Debra,
    Thank you for reading my article. I hope I can put your mind at ease. From your comment, I think you are trying to book your Amtrak reservation online. There is an option to request “Round-trip” and the button to check for that is located in two places. The first is on the Amtrak.com home page and the Round-trip button is located right next to the One Way button, in the gray colored bar in the middle of the page. But it is not always easy to see so please look carefully. The request for Round-trip is also located on the second page that you are taken to, after you input your travel information on the home page and click Find Trains.

    If you are still having a problem, you can phone Amtrak at 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245). When the recording begins and you hear, “Hi This is Julie” simply start repeating “Agent” – give Julie a chance to question what you’ve said and repeat “Agent”. Julie will say, “I think you want to speak with an Agent. Is that correct?” Repeat “Agent” or say yes. Either way you will soon be connected to an Amtrak agent and then you can make your reservation over the phone. You will also have the opportunity to reserve your sleeping compartment, if you want.

    When you arrive at Penn Station, you can ask your train conductor or sleeping car attendant to request Red Cap assistance (please tip the Red Cap man), and he will take you and your luggage upstairs to the taxi queue. Well worth the $5 or so to get you to the taxis, especially at a train station that is unfamiliar to you.

    I hope this is helpful. Have a wonderful trip with your daughter.
    Sherry

  • This will be my first Amtrak trip from Florida to New York. However, I don’t understand the scheduling. I click on round trip…it shows the departure time and day, but doesn’t show the return trip? Also the price of the one way is the same for the round trip…is this accurate?

    This will be a trip with my 16 year old daughter for her birthday. I hate to fly…just so scared..I can’t do it. But I love trains. But I am scared I will get to New York City (only been there one time in my teens) and get scared I am going to be stranded in New York because there is no departure times for this train trip.

  • Hi Sylvia,
    So nice to read your positive email about train travel! I totally agree…and I haven’t been on a plane in 25 years! Thanks for reading and leaving your comment! Sherry

  • Son and family in NJ and us in FL. Just drove back – 20 exhausting hours, so next time (even if husband’s arm needs twisting) it’s the train. We already crossed Australia and Canada by train and even though he won’t admit it, we loved it.) We live in Europe in the summer and the French TGV bullet train is brilliant. Flying has become horrendous, with all the hours wasted by security checks and the cramped conditions on board so give me a train any day.

  • Hi Laverne,
    Thank you for your comment and kind words. Lucky you to be able to have traveled the IC with your great grandfather. Enjoy your next train journey!

  • Thanks. Just started reading your blog. Love it. I have been riding trains since I was 3 years old (61 now). My great grandfather worked for the Illinois Central Railroad and we had rail passes for regular journeys from Illinois to Mississippi on the passenger train. So for me, it is nostalgic. Thanks for the update on the dining car. I plan to travel from Virginia to Florida (en sleeper of course) in late August.

  • I am planning my first Amtrak trip this summer and all the information was extremely helpful. Thanks!

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