Bedroom A or Bedroom B?
(Monday, May 21–We are about to embark on The American Queen, a large paddlewheel riverboat that will take us down the Mississippi from Memphis to New Orleans. Unfortunately, I have no idea if there will be internet access during our journey, whether sporadic or not at all. Anticipating the latter, I will post the following now, since it relates to our recent train rides, and will hope for opportunities for additional posts along the way.)
Well, as always, there are no simple answers. In response to inquiries I have been recommending Bedroom A in the Superliner sleepers. That was based on a couple of earlier trips when my wife and I were in one of the other bedrooms. (There are a total of five in Superliner sleeping cars.)
Removable partitions separate Bedrooms B and C and also Bedrooms D and E so Amtrak can turn two bedrooms into one large suite for families. But even when those partitions were in place, there was very little soundproofing and we could easily hear conversations in the adjoining bedroom–even those spoken at a lower-than-normal level.
The partition between Bedroom A and Bedroom B, however, is permanent and does a much better job of providing some privacy. The room is a little smaller because of the extra space required for people in the corridor turning the corner before moving through the vestibule into the next car.
However when you’re starting with a layout that is already very tight, “a little smaller” makes a very big difference. It was, frankly, easier to move around Bedroom B on the City of New Orleans than it was in Bedroom A on the Zephyr. Furthermore, the en suite toilet in Bedroom A is smaller than the toilets in the other bedrooms. And when you’re standard is small, “smaller” is REALLY small!
Bottom line: Next time around, when my wife is traveling with me and we want one of the bedrooms, we’ll avoid Bedroom A.
There is another option, however: consider two roomettes instead of one bedroom. The one big negative to that–a deal-breaker for my wife and of little consequence to me–is that the lavatory facilities are “down the hall” when you’re in a roomette. But there are definite advantages, however. First, you each have some privacy when you want it. Second, no one has to climb up into the claustrophobic upper berth. And third, if you specify being across the corridor from each other when you book, you’ll be able to see out of both sides of the train. That’s a big plus because its common in the very scenic areas to have nothing but a wall of rock or trees on one side of the train while a gorgeous vista is out there on the other side.
Furthermore, although fares vary considerably, the two roomettes will probably be bit cheaper than the one bedroom. Personally, that’s the way I would go.
My family of 4 spent a total of 3 weeks on Amtrak a few years ago. Itinerary was ALB-CHI-DEN-SFR-PDX-Minn-CHI-ALB. We used the double roomette strategy and it worked out great. On one leg the reservations did not have the roomettes directly across but the car attendant fixed it quickly. We actually had coach seats for the Minn-CHI leg but when the ticket agent at the station saw our itinerary and checked availability he was able to get us two with no notice and very very little additional cost. I call it Amtrak magic. Just a wordy way of saying double roomette can be a great option.