America, Life of adventure, Travel

NYC To New Orleans – The Amtrak Way

A small break from writing up about our experiences travelling and housesitting in Turkey. Let’s head back to late September 2016, this is when our first experience with Amtrak started and ended.

The seats are filling up

we are on our way to a new destination.

We may sit beside you all of this journey,

Or we may sit elsewhere, never knowing you.

But if fate should make us sit by your side,

Let’s be pleasant travellers; 

it’s such a short ride

New York to New Orleans was anything other than short!.  Though life is, and this is the reason why we like to get out of our comfort zone and just go for it.

The other reason we decided on a train ride and not a flight is that the airfare from New York was too outrageously costly, so being lovers of trains a train journey from New York to Orleans sounded like an excellent travel adventure.

Little did we know:

  • The Amtrak train [named The Crescent] runs on freight tracks – this means it is a very rough ride, shaking and being thrown side by side in parts of the journey.
  • Every intersection there was a loud, and I mean LOUD hoots.  Or rather good in daylight hours, at 2 am not so much!
  • First-class seats DO NOT EXIST, well they do, though not the type of First Class most people and us are familiar with on trains.  Believe me, when we asked if we were in the first-class section, the conductor just laughed.  Then we knew we were in for a roughly 30-hour trip!
  • It takes over 36 hours – yes we knew this before taking on this journey, we imagined those long hours to be in comfortable reclining chairs, it was supposed to be FIRST CLASS.
  • Food is basic and tasteless as in plastic bags.  Another option if hungrier is to spend more receive a good selection of food that tastes wholesome, you could go for a sit-down affair – we brought our own!  Overpriced food is not uncommon on train journeys, as we had only a short time in New Orleans we chose to bring snacks and avoid upset stomachs.

Open all hours

We have heard that the trains going across the state are more luxurious. Is this because there are fewer ‘poorer areas’ with more people prepared to pay more for their train travel, I am not sure.  Though why they would make the train journey so uncomfortable to an area that needs more tourism astounded us!!   There is no reason for the train down to New Orleans to be so austere.  As it was undoubtedly well patronised.  With research, the standard has declined since Southern Railway finished running this service from Washington to New Orleans.

Not all about the trip was cynical.  There are indeed always a few positives if you look hard enough.

Here are a few real highlights from this travel experience.

  • Chatting to locals, most were so surprised to hear we were from New Zealand, such a long way from home, they reckoned.  So many faces that seemed to me to have untold stories etched on their faces!!
  • Kind and friendly staff, which allowed us to refill our coffee from the cabin coffee dispenser for free as the cafeteria was closed, I could’ve hugged her!  Actually, the second time around I did!
  • Sights along the way, seeing things we would not do so if we had flown.  The housing in some areas was an eye-opener!
  • We can survive any type of travel after doing this one, and we still enjoy train travel.
  • We learnt that we can sleep anywhere if really tired and still function reasonably well!

Now comes the big questions,

would we recommend this train journey?

And would we do it again?


do we regret it?


I had initially decided not to publish this post then this morning I read Liesbet’s latest write up about their train journey using Amtrak.  Then I thought, “Why not, and why not let more people know about it!”.

For more information about another long train journey, go and visit Liesbet and read all about their trip.  It is an informative one! – 

NYC to New Orleans - The Amtrack Way



36 thoughts on “NYC To New Orleans – The Amtrak Way”

  1. Eek I think that’s a journey to avoid, although loved each of the cities. We’d, (years ago, my ex hubby & myself) actually driven from Florida to California & back , New Orleans being one of the many stops. It was one of my favourite places. Now that was a big adventurous journey. I’m glad you posted this Suzanne, it’s good to show the bad as well as the good side to travelling. I’ll pop over to Liesbets post too 😊. Love the end: No to recommending, no to doing it again & no to regretting it 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sam, Your trip sounded much more fun. A journey of high expectations, a less learned!! You must know me by now, I am a straight shooter from way back 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought your post was worth sharing! I think your information source is correct. Disappointing that the service down south is so poor. The train itself is rather old, what is worse is that it’s on freight lines which makes the ride feel like you are at sea, you would’ve felt at home 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s actually one thing I forgot to mention in my post, that it was a rickety ride, just like yours. You were tossed from left to right when walking in the aisles and sometimes, we couldn’t even type on our computers and I got a tad nauseous. We passed a lot of freight trains. Luckily, we sat in the back of the train, so the honking didn’t bother us too much. Ironically, from the house sit we did prior to this journey, we could hear trains honk day and night. They have to do this at every railway crossing in the US!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Well, that is excellent that our posts have complimented each other. As yours was certainly more detailed and mostly during the day whereas our one was during the night. It certainly has not put us off going on further train trips, just not in America 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  2. When I saw your post come into my inbox, I though “Wow, what a coincidence!” 🙂 I’m glad you shared it with your readers. As some of them said: it is good to share pros and cons of our experiences. Just like you, we were quite disappointed at times, but we enjoyed not having to drive! Just like you, I answer no on all those accounts as well!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very good info! I’ve not traveled by Amtrak, but I’ve heard plenty of horror stories, and yours does not inspire newfound confidence. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on New Orleans, assuming I’m not simply missing a prior post. I have been a few times, the last being with my wife a couple of years before the tragic events of Hurricane Katrina.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am so glad you posted this! I really love long train journeys so I might have considered it if we were in the area…36 hours of uncomfortable madness does not sound pleasant though. The trains I took in India in the 1990s sound better than that!

    Did they have long stops so you could at least get out and stretch your legs?

    p.s. I am sure you mentioned you’d been to Japan – what did you think of their trains? It must seem like heaven after that journey!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad it was of use to you Josy 🙂 Yes, the trains in India would be luxury! Slight exaggeration! Stretching the legs was done the aisle. We have only seen Tokyo so far, no Japanese train experience.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha Somethings just need to be experienced to ensure you will never doubt you can cope with anything life throws at you 🌞😎

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Thank you for sharing this! I’ve often wondered what a train ride across the country would be like. I’m sure all experiences are different, but you’ve given me things to look for if we ever decide to make the trip. Having hoped all over Europe while in college, I think you’re right that the US could learn a lot from the wonderful train service abroad.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post, Suzanne. I think it’s always important to share the good and the bad so folks are fully informed when they make their own travel arrangements. I saw a sleeper train when in America and thought it might be fun to travel across the US by train, I’d re-think that now and maybe only do smaller trips via rail link.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hey, Shelley don’t let our experience put you off. Sadly I think the train service around the South is the worst in America. America could learn something from Europe’s train service!!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I Amtraked NY –> Seattle on my own, there and back. Month in the middle with a friend. I’d do it again. Planned a trip with Neil, then Isla happened, ha! Maybe the three of us next time.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I have heard that the standard of carriages and basically everything is a higher standard. NY to Seattle would be an enjoyable trip! Yes, definitely take Isla it would be a fun trip!


  8. Oh my, what an experience! We used Amtrak from New York to Boston, luckily it was just a half day journey with no issues at all! We’ll do our first relatively long train ride in Canada so I’ll be aware of the hints and tips given by both you and Liesbet!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. We would have loved to have gone to Boston, just not enough time. Train trip in Canada will be a wonderful and very scenic one. Have fun planning it Em, actually, sometimes the planning can be as much fun as the trip. The build up 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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