View Full Version : AMTRAK to Orlando, too risky?

03-28-2006, 08:31 AM
I am thinking of taking AMTRAK from Richmond VA to Orlando for my next cruise. The train will arrive at the train station at about 10AM. I estimate it will take at least one hour of driving to get to the port. The on-time performace of AMTRAK on this route is not very good, only 18% for Feb, 2006. Am I taking too big of a risk? Thanks!

03-28-2006, 08:44 AM
I can't speak to the port timing, but as an FYI - my mother often takes the AMtrak from Jacksonville, and ALWAYS seems to arrive at least 1 to 2 hours late...we never care, bcs we just hang out at the pool waiting for her. And, bear in mind she is only coming from Jacksonville.

But, its a really nice cheap way to go - why don't you arrive a day or two early and stay somewhere?

03-28-2006, 09:03 AM
DON'T DO IT!!!!!!!!! PLEASE!!!!! Seriously, Amtrak is NOT the way to get someplace when you need to be there by a certain time. Here is my trip report from June. The construction is still going on.

We expected delays of 1-3 hours after tracking the trains for a month before our trip. We NEVER expected to be stuck on the train for an extra 7 hours though. Our trip down to Kissimmee was a nightmare. When we boarded in Rocky Mount, NC we moved a small way then stopped...for almost an hour...while they connected a private car to the back of the train. By the time I was able to go to sleep we were in SC and I found out after waking up that we hadn't moved in 1 1/2 hours. They had to stop every 2 miles to get out & manually check/adjust the switches. This is due to the maintenance work that is going on Monday - Thursday. We were very lucky that the kids behaved very well & actually slept most of the night...and both took a nap on their own Monday afternoon. The conductors were calling it the Silver Snail when they made the announcements. We were SO glad to get off the train when it finally got to Kissimmee!!!!

Be sure that you take LOTS of snacks & drinks with you. Also, they don't take CCs at the snack/food bar so make sure that you have cash. We talked to other families when waiting to return home and got similar experiences...but much worse compared to ours. One family got there 5 hours late the day before we did on Saturday so they arrived at 2 pm. They were renting a car from Hertz but found out when they got there that the office closes at 1 pm on Saturdays & they were stuck! A taxi took them to the time share that they were staying at and while she took the kids to the bathroom, her DH signed for another rental car that cost 3xs what she was suppose to get at Hertz. They also had to take a taxi back to the train station so they had an extra 400 in expenses just from that.

Another family was on the Wednesday night train. They arrived 10 hours late. By the time the train hit FL the food area was out of ice, water, and most of the food. Someone called the company & they loaded up the supplies in JAX and handed out boxed meals to everyone on the train. Most of the people were out of money at that point since they weren't prepared for the delays.

Now, we took the train back on Saturday arriving Sunday. It was 2 1/2 hours late leaving the station but made up an hour on the way home & that train didn't stop long for anything. That part of the trip was much better, but we had also brought more food onboard with us.

We have used Amtrak on the same route to go to & from DC to see DH. He has used it to come home for quick visits on the weekend. It has ALWAYS been at least 2 hours late. Two weeks ago the train was 3 1/2 hours late getting to Alexandria from Rocky Mount, NC. We used it to go to WDW if FL & it messed up our day. I would hate to see someone depending on it to get to the ship.

Remember, the frieght lines own the tracks & Amtrak just uses them. They have no control over the work being done. The train also waits off on a side track to allow a frieght train to go by. They have the right of way. :( Two weeks ago we got a call from Amtrak that the tracks would be closed inbetween RM & RICH so they had to switch to buses. There wasn't a spot for DH to get back to DC! He called later that weekend & did get a seat but what a major PIA.

03-28-2006, 09:05 AM
How did you find the on-time record for that route?

03-28-2006, 09:10 AM
We have taken the regular train and the auto-train and while we enjoy train travel, I would NEVER take it if I was worried about time. We have been early and we have been four hours late. Plus, you are stuck on the train, you can't get off.

Once you arrive in Orlando, you have to wait for your luggage, which takes longer than an airplane and then you have the hour + drive to the port.

Its me, but I wouldn't do it, I would be too nervous and wouldn't be able to relax.

03-28-2006, 09:11 AM
You can track it on the home page under train status. They only show the past 5 days but we tracked it for the month before our trip to get an idea of how it went. I always track the train here & back to DC when DH is on it.

03-28-2006, 09:38 AM
Yes, you are taking too big of a risk. Don't do it.

I actually love train travel! But, only if I don't have a time restriction. I've travelled the route you are looking at more times than I can count and I can tell you to plan on arriving late and possibly very late. If you can travel Amtrak the day before, go for it and enjoy a nice evening in Cocoa Beach. Otherwise, back to the drawing board!

03-28-2006, 09:38 AM
I agree 100% with the previous posters....do not use Amtrak if you need to be somewhere on time.

The few times we've taken the Auto Train it has arrived anywhere from 1 to 5 hours late to Sanford.

Because I've never had to be a specific place at a specific time, it's never been a huge issue. However, I would NEVER use the Auto Train to arrive in Florida pre-cruise unless I arrived the day prior to the cruise.

03-28-2006, 09:39 AM
I agree 100% with Lisa. If you're talking about taking it the morning of the cruise, especially - you'd be lucky to make the boat!

We took Amtrack once from Tampa to Kissimmee, only because ds was infatuated with trains from about 18 mos to almost 5 years old. That was just an afternoon trip for fun. We were delayed leaving Tampa FIVE HOURS!! And everyone in the station was irritated because that was a long time but no one was surprised. Everyone I talked to who had ever taken it before said it's almost always late, you just have to expect it. I think the two hours is the average that you should count on. But it's so unreliable that you'd have to be prepared to wait as long as we did (or even longer) and you'd just never make it to the ship.

03-28-2006, 09:46 AM
BTW, if you do take the train the day before so it isn't stressful, book into Kissimmee instead of Orlando. The station is smaller and you get your luggage right on the platform after they take it off the train. The main benefit is on the return trip. ;) Not many people book thru Kissimmee so you can get seats together without a problem. There are always more people boarding at Orlando so it is more hectic & you don't always get to sit where you would like.

03-28-2006, 10:35 AM
I love the train! I have taken more than 60 trips, up and down the east coast and from Miami to Montreal. However, I would not take the train if I had to be on a ship the day of my arrival. I'd go the day before. It's way too risky since you'd have to get to the port in a timely manner.

03-28-2006, 10:48 AM
Here is the beginning of our Disney wedding recaps posted on the trip reports
(we took Amtrak - BIG mistake!)

May 2-3

Well, it didn’t start out as we had planned (does it ever, though?) – We chose Amtrak because we needed to bring a good bit of our wedding things with us. We departed Union Station in DC on time at 4:35pm on May 2. Our train should have arrived in Orlando at 11:44am on May 3. But that isn’t what was meant to be, apparently (NOTE TO SELF – DO NOT TAKE AMTRAK!) I guess I knew it was bad when we got on the train and they told Ken and I (and many others) that they always overbook the train by 10% because many people don’t show, but wouldn’t you know EVERYONE showed this time??? Yup, no seats for us! Ken and I stood outside of the smoking car (neither of us smoke) from DC to Richmond, and the train was an hour late getting to Richmond. Finally, we reach Richmond, VA and get seats. At that time, we were thinking “If this is the worst that is going to happen then we shouldn’t complain.” We spoke too soon…

Due to bad weather, all of the train crossing signals were out through both North and South Carolina forcing the train to travel 25 mph through BOTH states. I mean, CARS WERE PASSING US. Well, of course this was making us late. Several times in the middle of the night we were at a standstill. Sometime on May 3 (remember we were supposed to get there at 11:44AM, right?) we came to a stop right on the tracks in a Podunk town in South Carolina. After a half hour, the conductor gets on the loudspeaker and announces that he cannot work anymore because his 12 hour shift is over but he just called someone to replace him for the remainder of the trip. Bad news though – the new guy is driving from Jacksonville, Florida (from Fl, through Georgia, and still further to the town we were at in South Carolina). Did I mention that the train had run out of water by this point so we didn’t have use of bathrooms??? Well, it just so happened that the place we stopped at was just a half mile from a volunteer fire dept that had a bathroom. We literally went car-by-car and walked the half mile each way to use the bathroom. Four hours later (starting to feel a little like Gilligan’s Island, isn’t it?) we finally start moving slowly again and are on our way. Because the train also ran out of food, we were told they would buy some food and give us a complimentary dinner. I mean, we haven’t eaten since the day before so we were hungry. We got to our next station and I guess they miscounted. Remember when I said we didn’t get a seat in the beginning? Well, when we finally got our seat it was in the last train. This is important because when they were calling everyone to get food, they went in order of trains. Because we were the last train, they had run out of food by the time our train was called. Not exactly a great start to our Disney vacation/wedding! We finally arrived at the train station and got a Mears van to the Boardwalk. We arrived at 1:15AM on May 4th – 13 ½ hours late! We were definitely ready for some Disney magic! It didn’t take long for us to get some of that magic, either! There was one person working the check-in counter – her name was Marlene but she was a fairy Godmother to us – she handed us our room key and we started off to find our room – it turned out that she had upgraded us to the concierge level! As soon as we put our things down and got our badly needed showers (and checked out the cool view from our balcony!) we were off to sleep – around 2:30am.

Buddy Bear
03-28-2006, 11:26 AM
We have taken the AmTrak Auto Train which leaves from Lorton, Va at 4:00 PM and goes non-stop to Sanford, Fl arriving around 8:30 AM the next day. I don't know about it being late since we were on-time the day we took the train, but since it isn't supposed to stop anywhere along the way it you would think it shouldn't be an issue. :confused3 BTW....There are numerous car services that can pick you up at Sanford and take you to the port.


03-28-2006, 12:13 PM
I love the train, and I've been stranded for what could have been two days by planes (I transfered to a bus to make it one day).

However, I would never rely on AMTRAK to get me to Orlando in time for a cruise--even if I planned to arrive a couple of days early.

During my last attempt to take an AMTRAK trip, I booked a ticket for Feb. 9th, 2006. They called late on the 8th to tell me that the train had been cancelled. They rebooked me for the 10th with assurances that this train would go through as scheduled. On the 9th, they called to say that this second train had been cancelled. However, by this point, 2 trains full of people had been rescheduled and the earliest they could get me through was the 23rd!! By this point you could have missed multiple cruises. (Plus, I have yet to get the refund I was promised.)

Good luck planning.

03-28-2006, 01:59 PM
It seems like some things never change...a couple of years ago my mom and I were delayed 9, that's right, NINE hours leaving out of Richmond to Fla.
Still gives me the shivers when I think about it. Train as an experience in itself? You bet... Train as transportation? No thanks.
Definately would go with a different mode of transportation, but do what will work best for you! :)

03-28-2006, 03:18 PM
If you weren't on a deadline, it might be OK, but I'd never recommend Amtrak for transportation before a cruise...unless you were scheduled to get there the day before.

We took a business trip to Jacksonville, FL and took a weekend side trip to Disney. We had air tickets back out of JAX so we decided to take Amtrak from Kissimmee to JAX on Sunday to get to the airport. We would have arrived in JAX four hours before our flight was scheduled to leave. Well, Amtrak was so late that we missed our flight in JAX and had to ride the train the entire way from FL to Philadelphia with two small children, no toys, extra diapers, clothes, etc. Everything was packed in a bag UNDER the train and they wouldn't let us get to it at a stop. We thought we were only going to JAX! Well, Amtrak was so rude to us, they wouldn't even give us a blanket for the kids - and it was their delay that caused us to miss our flight. Well, they would have given us a blanket, but they wanted to charge us $20 for it. Never again, Amtrak. No wonder they're in such financial trouble. They're not reliable!

03-28-2006, 11:51 PM
Just say NO! I can't speak for Amtrak's record for punctuality on the East Coast but on the West Coast they get an F-.

My best experience on Amtrak got us to our destination 2 1/2 hours late and my worst experience got us there 5+ hours late! Just too risky.

I realize that things can go wrong on flights as well, but at least you have options. On the train you only have one set of tracks to depend on so if the train in front of you derails you are stuck with zero options.

03-28-2006, 11:57 PM
I have to agree with most the posters,not on a dead line.my mom only goes amtrack and won't fly.on her last trip to nyc to see me and family the train was 10 hrs late.Then a week later i flew to wdw YAY!She hopped on the train again to meet us there and was 12 hrs late getting there.I would say if you plan do it make it so you could arrive in orlando a day or two early.Thats the only was i would take amtrack.Good luck and have fun!

03-29-2006, 06:57 AM
Thank you all for your valuable input. Taking the train is still an option for me, but I will do it at least one day early. Thanks again!

03-29-2006, 10:21 AM
I wouldn’t do it. Of course the schedules and times are dependant on where you are leaving but I priced a trip real quick to compare. For my family of four to do the trip for our upcoming 3 day in Feb the cost would be about $650 cheaper than flying. However the leg down would have an 11 hour layover in between trains going down for a total travel time of 26.5 hours IF the train gets there on time. I can drive that twice in that time. Most times I have looked at Amtrak it isn’t that much cheaper than flying and often takes longer than driving. I wouldn’t consider it. The reliability and timeliness is too big of an issue unless you can afford to leave a couple days early and get back a couple of days after the trip.

03-29-2006, 04:43 PM
DW is legally blind. She prefers the train. When we were planning our honeymoon cruise in December, she thought about taking the train. Then she thought about all of the delays she ran into just for trips from Pittsburgh to Philly or to DC. DW is not normally someone who watches the clock - two hours late for her would not be a big deal. However, she told me to book a flight.

From what she says, if you're not in a hurry to get someplace, can afford delays, and aren't a type A who sweats delays, Amtrak can be nice. Otherwise - fly!

03-30-2006, 01:52 PM

Just my opinion, but I wouldn't reccomend it if your cruising. My family from New Orleans took Amtrak one time to come down for our annual family Christmas get together a few years ago. Luckliy, we were just doing Disney and not cruising becuse their train came into the Orlando station over three hours late. We had a towncar picking them up and thank goodness the company was very fleixable, cause that towncar had to come back to the station after the time we actually had them booked for. We just had dinner reservations that night at our Disney resort, so that was no problem for Disney to cancel, but I would have been freaking out if we were suppose to go on the Disney cruise instead. Amtrak didn't do anything, but apologized and said the train was late leaving from California. I would not trust getting to the port on time with them even if Amtrak is scheduled to arrive early. The only thing you could do to possiably safe guard yourself if you need to take the train, is to come in a day early and then you'll have to get a hotel and that will be an added expense.
Personally, I would fly in instead if your going to Port Canveral.

03-30-2006, 03:33 PM
I would not do it unless you were arriving a day or two before your cruise. I enjoy Amtrak, but you can expect huge delays (as in hours) since they are the norm and not the exception.

03-30-2006, 04:22 PM
I am thinking of taking AMTRAK from Richmond VA to Orlando for my next cruise. The train will arrive at the train station at about 10AM. I estimate it will take at least one hour of driving to get to the port. The on-time performace of AMTRAK on this route is not very good, only 18% for Feb, 2006. Am I taking too big of a risk? Thanks!

My mom often takes Amtrak from Northern Virginia to our home in North Carolina. It has never, ever been on time, not even once, in our experience.

I'd never take Amtrak anywhere I need to be at a certain time (with the exception of the DC to NYC route, they actually seem to care about that one).