Ode to a Viewliner Roomette.
Amtrak long-distance trains are equipped with either Viewliner and Superliner sleeping cars. Both types offer roomettes, bedrooms and a wheelchair accessible bedroom; Superliners also have a Family Bedroom that will accommodate two adults and two small children.
Viewliner sleepers are found on overnight trains on Eastern routes: the Lake Shore Limited, the Cardinal, the Crescent and the two Florida trains: the Silver Meteor and the Silver Star. All other long-distance trains use Superliner equipment.
Personally, I really like the Viewliner roomettes and, in fact, I’d like to see more of the long-distance trains with Viewliner equipment. Mainly I like the convenience of having a toilet and wash basin in the room and I love having a window for the upper berth in the roomettes.
In fact, I always ask the car attendant to make up the upper berth for me in a Viewliner roomette because of that window. For one thing, unlike the upper berth in the Superliner roomettes, that window means I have no problem with claustrophobia. You don’t have to close the curtains at night, either, because you’re high enough so people boarding during the night from station platforms can’t look in that upper window. And in the morning, there’s room down below to maneuver when you’re getting dressed.
The only problem with the Viewliner roomette—at least for me—comes when I’m traveling with my wife because I get kicked out of the room whenever she needs to use the “facilities”. Truthfully, I find that entirely reasonable and it’s the main reason I get two roomettes across the corridor from each other when we travel together. With that arrangement, we each get some privacy when we want it, we can see out of both sides of the train. Prices fluctuate, of course, but I’ve found that quite often, the cost for two roomettes is about the same as for one of the big bedrooms. Sometimes it’s a bit more, but it can also be a bit less.
I travel light, with just that one small suitcase plus a tote bag for my laptop, camera, medications, and a few odds and ends. There’s very little room for luggage in either the Viewliner or the Superliner roomettes, but in the Superliner, there’s a step that’s used by whoever has to climb up into the upper berth. It’s just wide enough to hold my small suitcase very nicely. Getting into the upper berth in a Viewliner roomette is a bit more awkward, but certainly doable, even for a creaky old guy like me.
Either way—Superliner or Viewliner—if you’re on a long-distance train and traveling overnight, or even on a long daytime trip, my best advice is to pay the extra to travel in a sleeping car if you can afford it . . . even if you can’t. You get privacy when you want it; you get a real bed to sleep in at night; you get dining car meals included in your fare; and, if you’re traveling on the Coast Starlight, you get access to the Pacific Parlour Car. It’s the way train travel was meant to be!