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Around the World on Amtrak, KLM, and HAL

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I always enjoy following along on your adventures - have a wonderful trip!!

 

Smooth Sailing! :) :) :)

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Thanks, Jim. I'm doing what I can about this. I'm reporting your post so as little information as possible will be out there.

 

Roy

 

 

Thats great!! You are welcome Ron

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Carole, I hope you enjoy the Zaandam as much as I have although on this trip Amsterdam will overtake it as my second most traveled HAL ship. Have you been on the long distance trains much? Most of them do not offer wifi. The Cardinal is equipped for wifi and it was good up to Washington, but lost internet soon afterwards.

 

CruiseNH thank you for the feedback. I hope my experience in San Diego is as good as yours.

 

Kazu, I hope you realize my KLM segment is still almost 6 weeks off.

 

RocketMan, sometimes a ship’s Future Cruise Consultant will have information on cruises that are in the development stage but with a general outline before the itinerary is finalized and the cruise is open for booking. You can put down a $100 deposit and be first in line to get a room once the itinerary is available.

 

MaxThrusters, I do most of the planning myself and my Travel Agent keeps me honest and updated on new development and handles most of the details, On this cruise in particular she was invaluable when the Amsterdam went into wet dock and I had to change to the Oosterdam generating an array of hotel changes to get things fixed.

 

Wearesiamese, enjoy that first HA cruise. I look forward to Yokohama.

 

I am about to put up my post for the first day. I talk about running late; we arrived in Indianapolis right on time.

 

Roy

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Day O minus 5, Wednesday September 20,2017, Board Amtrak Cardinal, Baltimore

 

The Oosterdam is at Hubbard Glacier. The Amsterdam is in Kodiak, and the Prinsendam is at sea from Hamburg to Amsterdam.

 

Yesterday evening the Airport Shuttle called and rescheduled my pickup from 7:30 to 7:50. The van actually appeared at 7:45 and we were off with a brief stop to drop a passenger at BWI airport. I would have liked to go to Amtrak’s BWI station but long distance trains do not stop there and I was at Penn Station at 8:45.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/arrival.jpg

 

I touched base with the guy at baggage check and he agreed I could carry all my stuff on board. The big (37#) bag has a zip off annex and without it will fit under one seat. The small (22#) bag fits under the other seat and the annex goes in a recess that extends over the aisle.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/mystuff.jpg

 

I had a practical choice of 2 trains to Chicago. The Capitol Limited is the more direct train but it uses dual level equipment and cannot pass through the tunnels between Washington and New York. I would have needed to take a local train to Washington to catch it. If I had known I would be using Luggage Forward I’d have been fine but the Cardinal, which detours through southwest Virginia was a safer choice.

 

My roomette is TINY. There are 2 seats facing each other and a toilet with minuscule sink on one side. At night the 2 seats will slide together to make 1 bed and an upper berth will slide down from the ceiling. There is a small fold down table between the 2 seats.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/croometteday.jpg

 

The train was pretty close to schedule, about 5 minutes late. Tyree was waiting for me at the door and I was soon settled into my roomette for the short jaunt to Washington, about a 45 minute stop to switch from electric to diesel power.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/washington.jpg

 

Amtrak will sometimes transport private rail cars and we attached one in Washington.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/private.jpg

 

We left Washington right on time, crossing over the Potomac and through mostly agricultural country.

 

Coal mining is pretty nearly a thing of the past but there are still coal trains seen along the route of the Cardinal.

 

Dining cars on Amtrak (and VIA) observe “community seating”, a mandatory table sharing concept. Lunch was not very busy with just 2 of us at a 4-top, me and a guy returning from NY to Indianapolis after a high school reunion. I chose a salad entree. We encountered mid-day track work and were about 20 minutes late leaving Charleston. We remained about 20-30 minutes behind schedule the rest of the day.

 

My dinner was a pasta dish and a lemon tart for desert. I shared the table with a man on very nearly my itinerary. He has not been on a long train trip in over half a century and this was a bucket list item for him after visiting family in Maryland.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/dishes20.jpg

 

I finished dinner before sunset but towards the end there were some nice colors shining over the New River. I plan to be in bed about 9.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/dusk20.jpg

 

Today’s parting shot is a flash back to last year’s Northwest Passage cruise. 13 months and 20 days ago I boarded the Cardinal with a final destination of Bellingham Washington and transferred to an Alaska ferry for Whlittier Alaska. In my planning for that trip I subscribed to bulletins for the Alaska Dot so I could find out when the summer 2016 ferry schedules would be released. This morning’s email had an announcement that the only one of the long distance ferries I had not sailed had just been sold. After over 50 years of faithful service the MV Taku will become a floating hotel in Portland. In my planning for next year’s Alaska/Panama adventure I was thinking of breaking the trip form Vancouver to San Francisco in Portland. I hope the Taku will be ready for service by then. The photo is by Alaska DOT staff member Rebecca Rauf,

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/mvtaku.jpg

 

Roy

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Loving your report.

It has been over 50 years since my mother's sister and I did a long train ride like you are doing (she wouldn't fly).

Love seeing pictures.

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YAY! The adventure has begun.

 

Wouldn't that be something if the new hotel was ready for your trip next year? Fingers crossed for you.

 

Roy, yes I realize KLM is 6 weeks away. Just hoping you will share your thoughts on that part of the trip when it happens.

 

Our flight isn't for a few months yet ;)

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Thanks Roy for the pictures and fond memories of travel on long train rides as a kid. Your adventure is starting and I look forward to more!!!!

Have a wonderful time and San Diego will be sunny and waiting for you.

Denise:)

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Thanks Roy for the pictures and fond memories of travel on long train rides as a kid. Your adventure is starting and I look forward to more!!!!

Have a wonderful time and San Diego will be sunny and waiting for you.

Denise:)

I have a nephew in San Diego and my brother will be flying in from DesMoines for a visit.

 

Roy

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Carole, I hope you enjoy the Zaandam as much as I have although on this trip Amsterdam will overtake it as my second most traveled HAL ship. Have you been on the long distance trains much? Most of them do not offer wifi. The Cardinal is equipped for wifi and it was good up to Washington, but lost internet soon afterwards.

 

Roy

 

Only NYC to Florida [and reverse] and several times on Capitol Limited. That Zaandam cruise will put me in Seattle to take Empire Builder/Capitol Lmtd/'Starving' Star home. I do carry my own hot spot but haven't had to use it on the train yet. I guess that might change.;)

 

I also took the Sunset Limited several times from Florida to the left coast, but of course no one had even heard of WIFI then. That was 2001 before Katrina blew through and tore up the tracks. Amtrak is having discussions with former depots along that line, east of N.O., about restarting that part of the route again.

Edited by Happily@Sea

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RocketMan, sometimes a ship’s Future Cruise Consultant will have information on cruises that are in the development stage but with a general outline before the itinerary is finalized and the cruise is open for booking. You can put down a $100 deposit and be first in line to get a room once the itinerary is available.

 

Roy

I'll speak to my FCC. Thanks.

Nothing definite but doing some planning.

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I am definitely not expecting wifi on the Empire Builder. We have a late night service stop in Minneapolis and I think the station has wifi. I post to the blog by email. I will try to send off a blog post from Minneapolis but likely will not have time to get into Cruise Critic, but in the morning there may well be a post at

 

 

https://solocabinchallenge.wordpress.com/

 

 

Roy

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I am definitely not expecting wifi on the Empire Builder. We have a late night service stop in Minneapolis and I think the station has wifi. I post to the blog by email. I will try to send off a blog post from Minneapolis but likely will not have time to get into Cruise Critic, but in the morning there may well be a post at

 

 

https://solocabinchallenge.wordpress.com/

 

 

Roy

 

 

 

Love your blog thank you

 

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

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Wow. That sure sounds like a challenging journey. We wish you a safe and enjoyable experience. Have already started to follow you on your blog. Thank you for taking us with you.

Edited by boards

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Roy, I always love reading your reports. I even click to open all the pictures!

I'm not generally a fan of food porn, but for some reason the pics of your dinner rolls always make me want one. Now.

 

Thanks for taking us along.

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I always enjoy your blogs, Roy. Will be following along.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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WHat a grand adventure awaits you.....and we who just tag along. Love reading of others opinions and happenings. Thanks for sharing this. I have not read yours before, but will go on a search....obviously you have lots of good reviews and travelogues on CC!

Hope you get nicely rocked to sleep on all your modes of transport. m

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Early arrival in Minot, just got my McDonalds coffee. I hope the photo links are ok; will not take the time to check them. Should be back at the train early but won't take any chances.

 

Day O minus 4, Thursday, September 21, 2017, Chicago, IL

 

The Oosterdam is in Sitka. The Amsterdam is at Hubbard Glacier. The Prinsendam is in Amsterdam.

 

While we ran late most of Wednesday, we were right on time pulling into Indianapolis at 5:15AM. Breakfast was mostly a small order of French Toast. I did not actually see the sun come up but just before sunrise we had some nice color in the sky.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/dawn0921.jpg

 

It was definitely less scenic than the first day but I did get a glimpse of the Chicago Sanitary canal as we passed over. DiI did not actually note our arrival time but at our scheduled time I had just checked into the Metropolitan Lounge.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/canal.jpg

 

Amtrak provides all meals from dinner (supper) tonight until Saturday morning. There was a Panera store 2 blocks from Union Station but when I stopped there it was closed. The indicated one was a kilometer South. The last few days in Baltimore the temperatures have been in the upper 70's so I was surprised to see it was already 80 at 10AM. My walk to Panera had me sweating quite heavily and when I returned to Union Station the reading was 92. I was thankful to have left my jacket at the Metropolitan Lounge; it was hot enough as is.

 

The Metropolitan Lounge is very nice but there are still some rough edges. I decided to check the big bag to leave more space in my room; it turned out the line for baggage check was about 30 minutes. Wifi was horrible both at Panera and in the morning at the Metropolitan Lounge; not good but at least useable in the afternoon.

 

Sleeping car passengers were called to board the 2:15 Empire Builder at 1:45. The train had backed into the station and I am on the second car from the front so somewhat glad to not have the extra 30 pounds to carry. Connie was waiting at the door and directed me up to the upper level, the second roomette back on the port side of the train. The biggest difference from the Cardinal is that the bathroom is down the hall.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/ebroometteday.jpg

 

Soon after we departed (promptly at 2:15) the diner steward came around and I have a 5:30 reservation.

 

As expected there is no wifi on the Empire Builder. When I get on the computer there is not even a signal; on the Cardinal there was always a local signal even when it did not get out to the internet. We were a few minutes early in Milwaukee, and while standing at the station I was able to get a connection to “Greyhound free wifi” long enough to get and beg off responding to an email. I am trying to wrap up this post and hope to send it from Minneapolis where we have a service stop at 10PM. It should work if I am lucky. After that I expect to be entirely off line until Seattle. Any connection I get will be a bonus.

 

At dinner my tablemates were a Brit and 2 ladies headed for Japan on the Volendam. I went for a chicken entree tonight. The Empire Builder is a bit more upscale than is the Cardinal. On the Cardinal we had paper table covers and plastic utensils. On the Empire Builder there were table cloths and silver ware.

 

We crossed the Mississippi about 7:20PM.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/mississippi.jpg

 

We were less than 3 miles from Minneapolis’ beautiful Union Station 20 minutes before our designated arrival time when we encountered several trains in our way, The delay was about 7 minutes and Connie said this was not/ a major service stop and we might be there less than our scheduled 17-minute stop making it foolish to go into the station for wifi. I did get a signal from the wifi but not strong enough for a connection. So close but yet so far. I was in bed shortly after the stop.

 

https://solocabinchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/ebroomettenight.jpg

 

My parting shot comes from news that I’ve only seen in glimpses. I’m not sure what else Maria has done but it certainly has devastated Puerto Rico. Godspeed to the people there and to any other areas in her path. May Key West be spared another hit.

 

Roy

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Enjoy your blog with my coffee this am!!!! The pics are great.

Relax and enjoy the ride!

For me the bathroom down the hall😳!! Guys are different! LOL

Denise:)

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Sounds like a wonderful trip. I love finding people that travel similarly to us - we typically string together cruises, train rides, flights, drives, tours, etc to make longer trips. Looking forward to seeing your updates. Enjoy!

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums

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