Author Archives: David Kriso

About David Kriso

David Kriso has been a travel writer since August 2011. He is a contributing writer for both of his hometown's newspapers, The Gazette, and The Observer. His articles focus on cruise and railroad travel. David is also published online at ProwsEdge.com, a cruise magazine based in Vancouver, Canada and at Amtrak's story site, Whistlestop.Amtrak.com. David also writes for the publication Examiner.com. On Examiner.com, he writes about cruise and rail travel. David is a long-time train traveler, avid cruiser, and a Disney traveler since age 4.

Dear President Trump: End the airline baggage fee madness!

Air travel cannot get any more challenging. Airline passengers are being forced to pay for use of the overhead compartment.

As we have already heard and read, the airlines have imposed new baggage fees. This time, it’s in regards to carry-on baggage. Flying is growing more and more impossible by the year. The airlines keep finding more ways to inconvenience passengers. No more hot meals in coach class, a fee to check in baggage at the ticket counter, and paying for meals are the latest of the airlines’ tactics. Now, using the overhead compartments is no longer free. Un-be-lieveable! Will the airlines ever stop making passengers tighten their seat belts? It’s time that the airlines listen to its passengers. Could now be the time to get the law on their side? I took the time to write a letter to President Trump in regards to this growing mayhem. With this letter, hopefully the American public will see significant change. It’s with great anticipation that President Trump will take swift action. With this letter on the President’s desk, and swift action taken, the airlines will have a heart someday.

Below is the letter addressed to President Trump:

President Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20002

December 7, 2017

Dear Mr. President:

Let me first say that it is a privilege having the opportunity to write to you for the first time. I have written to President George W. Bush on two occasions. He responded both times.

I am a published travel writer and travel lecturer based in northern New Jersey. My web site is DEKTravelJournal.com. Recently, I did one of my travel presentations at a library in Alexandria, VA. It was the very first time lecturing outside the Tri-State area. It was a great experience.

Mr. President, I am writing to you with regards to a growing problem. The problem lies within our country’s airline industry. Airlines just keep finding new ways to make passengers more uncomfortable; uncomfortable with the entire process of just getting from point A to point B, and in both directions. I recently read and heard that American Airlines and United Airlines are now charging passengers for the use of the overhead compartments. Mr. President, this is hideous, truly hideous. Can’t the airlines find some other reasonable way to make money, other than harass passengers? Will the airlines ever have a heart?

Passengers already pay to check their luggage at the ticket counter and at curbside check-in. Enough is enough! My brother and I are flying to Orlando in April, and we usually travel light. Each of us carry one small suitcase per person, along with a carry-on bag over our shoulders. Each little suitcase fits the overhead bin perfectly, no problems. Now, we have to pay??!! The only bags we can carry on now without paying a fee is our smaller carry-on bags that will have to fit underneath the seats in front of us. Will they fit? Doubtfully! Sir, this nonsense has gone far enough. It is becoming clear and convincing that passengers have barely any rights at all.

Sir, you’ve been a businessman for a long time. Your ideas for our country’s businesses make a whole lot of sense. What airlines should do is charge a fee for passengers who carry on over-sized baggage which they ASSUME will fit the overhead compartment. They often attempt to squeeze their monster-size carry-on bags in the overhead compartments, hogging the room from other passengers. Totally inconsiderate, right? They hold up the passengers who are boarding the same flight. They should be charged the fee, not everyone!!! It’s not fair to charge everyone, sir. What wrong have the passengers done? Only the passengers who attempt to carry aboard large carry-on bags which they assume will fit, when they know it won’t fit, should pay a penalty. Often, they disregard the flight crews’ advice to gate check their bags. This is what SHOULD be done. In addition to that, they should be charged the baggage check-in fee. That’s the right way it should be done. Would you agree with me, sir?

Airline passengers’ rights are being flat-out violated. This cannot get out of hand. This nonsense must stop NOW, FOR ALL-TIME SAKE. Airline passengers deserve the right to travel peacefully and at their leisure. Amtrak allows up to two carry-on bags per person, excluding personal items (ex. laptops and purses). They allow up for four checked pieces of luggage, with the first two being free. The additional two pieces are twenty dollars each. Now, that’s fair!

Please be sure that the appropriate people get on top of this issue. I am seriously wondering if Congress can weigh in on this situation. Mr. President, I urge you and/or Congress to look into this growing problem. Can the airlines’ rampant baggage fees be struck down? Airlines cannot take advantage of passengers anymore. They cannot make them pay for every step of their travels. Airline passengers have given up more than enough over the years, including hot meals in coach class. They’re even subjected to a rigorous security screening process. Making the passengers pay for the use of the overhead compartments is over-the-top abusive. The holiday season is already in high gear. This is the wrong time for airlines to be taking advantage of passengers. Airline passengers can no longer shell out one fee on top of another. For all-time sake, the greed must end. It’s time for the airlines “to make the skies friendly again”.

Thank you for your attention in this matter, sir, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Merry Christmas to you sir, Melania, and your entire family.

Sincerely,

David Kriso

Will it fit? Here, a passenger tries to fit an over-size carry-on bag in the overhead compartment. Airlines are beginning to charge passengers a fee for using the overhead bin. But, everyone?

With this letter having been sent to the President, it is with great anticipation and hope that the airline industry would finally come its senses. Hopefully with President Trump’s intervention, the airlines can go back to the drawing board and find a reasonable way to treat passengers fairly. Whose bright idea was it to impose a fee for stowing carry-on baggage? The overhead compartments are supposed to be and meant to be free. The airlines, including American and United, have to learn to be transparent. They can no longer do what they want and turn a deaf ear to passengers. Airline passengers are tired of paying excessive fees. Once the madness comes to an end, we can all finally sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight.

St. Maarten/Martin: The driving forces behind a Caribbean jewel

St. Maarten/St. Martin is part dutch and part French. It is primarily driven by tourism.

Everyone has visited the Caribbean island of St. Maarten/Martin. It is the only island shared by two European countries. St. Maarten/Martin is shared by France and the Netherlands. Whether visited by airplane or cruise ship, St. Maarten/Martin welcomes visitors by the millions. The beaches, the shopping, the wide range of dining choices, and friendly locals put St. Maarten/Martin atop the list of the great Caribbean destinations. While St. Maarten/Martin continues to impressively recover from Hurricane Irma, tourists are beginning to make their way back to the island. Beaches are starting to look beautiful again. More importantly, the duty-free retail stores are opening up one by one. So, what are the driving forces behind St. Maarten/Martin? What is the secret to this island being so resilient and so popular? Most of all, what makes St. Maarten/Martin so unique as opposed to her Caribbean counterparts? It comes down to three great iconic locations.

3) Maho Bay, an aviation fan’s paradise: Every major Caribbean island has a well-run airport. Many of them are fed by air traffic out of U.S. cities including New York, Newark, Charlotte, Atlanta, and Miami. Princess Juliana International Airport is among the great tourism magnets on St. Maarten/Martin. Princess Juliana International Airport is located on the Dutch side, in Maho Bay. Every day, in the height of the afternoon, flights from every major airline are taking off and landing. At Maho Bay, beach goers can’t get enough of the incoming and outgoing air traffic. Cameras are rolling, capturing every aircraft coming and going. The air traffic is experienced each and every passing hour, without warning. Maho Bay has a smorgasbord of hotels along the edge of the beach, facing the airport runway. The airplanes are approximately one hundred feet above the water before touching down. When the airplanes land, beach goers wave hoping the passengers on board wave back.  It’s even believed that the ladies on the beach take off their bikini tops off and flash their breasts at the planes. Young women have also been seen mooning the planes while landing. Maho Bay is the place to be. Maho Bay is the welcoming mat for beach goers and aviation fans like.

St. Maarten’s Maho Bay is a must-visit. The Princess Juliana International Airport runway is less than one hundred feet from the beach.

2) Phillipsburg, the cruise ship capital of the Caribbean: Despite the heavy damage done by Hurricane Irma, the cruise industry is once again running full speed ahead. The cruise ship pier in Phillipsburg is the busiest cruise pier in the Caribbean. It has two long piers. Both piers together accommodate up to nine cruise ships at one time. That includes Royal Caribbean’s massive Oasis, Allure, Harmony of The Seas. Each of these monster vessels hold six thousand guests. Aside from Royal Caribbean’s Oasis class ships, Princess, Disney, Celebrity, and Carnival sail into St. Maarten/Martin on a weekly basis. Just beyond the pier, cruise ship passengers help themselves to a wide assortment of duty-free shops. From clothing, to jewelry, to every day necessities, the Phillipsburg pier is buzzing with activity. It is the gateway to island fun and adventure. Even those staying on island pause to watch the cruise ship action. It is a daily show not to be missed. Phillipsburg provides plenty of people watching and cruise ship watching for everyone. It’s among the great hot spots that St. Maarten/Martin is well-known for. Cruising anytime soon? Phillipsburg is truly an experience that “floats anyone’s boat”.

During the high season, the Philipsburg cruise ship pier is buzzing, with up to nine ships per day.

1) Orient Beach, the nude beach goer’s dream-come-true: Everyone’s been to a nude beach in their lifetime. There’s no need to be bashful. The New Jersey Shore is home to Sandy Hook’s famous Gunnison Beach. Miami Beach is home to Haulover Beach, the nude beach in near the Broward County border. In San Diego, tourists and locals flock to Blacks Beach in nearby La Jolla. On St. Maarten/Martin, tourists (including cruise ship passengers), flock to Orient Beach. Orient Beach is approximately twenty minutes from the Phillipsburg cruise ship pier. It is the most famous nude beach in the Caribbean. Orient Beach is viewed as being among the busiest nude beaches in the world.  Young adults, couples, and families visit Orient Beach on a daily basis. The ocean is as calm and enjoyable as ever. The salt water cannot be enjoyed more than at Orient Beach. It is where the naturist lifestyle is experienced for the first time. After being coupled up on board, cruise ship passengers don’t mind stripping down, stretching out, and going for a refreshing dip in the ocean. Orient Beach is where sand castles, refreshing Caribbean cocktails, and sun tan lotion paint the perfect picture. Whether playing paddle ball, going snorkeling, or just letting the ocean waves work their magic, Orient Beach provides unique opportunities for everyone. It is the nude beach that provides the warmest of welcomes. The nude beach is one of the healthiest of destinations anyone can appreciate. With body shaming now a thing of the past, Orient Beach is the perfect place to try on that much beloved birthday suit.

With its crystal blue waters painting the perfect backdrop, Orient Beach is the perfect nude beach getaway for St. Maarten/Martin visitors.

St. Maarten/Martin, is the perfect Caribbean getaway, the home to great vacation experiences, and a perfect hideout for the traveling bug. There is indeed so much for a vibrant island to make it the ultimate getaway. From a commercial aviation fan’s paradise, to a cruise ship hot spot, to a nude beach that welcomes everyone to enjoy her crystal blue ocean water, St. Maarten/Martin is the jewel of the Caribbean. Maho Bay, Phillipsburg, and Orient Beach are the top three go-to locations for the would-be traveler. From commercial jets landing, to cruise ships dropping anchor, to nude beach goers colliding with calm and gentle breeze, there is no island destination in the world that provides all of these experiences at the same time. What drives St. Maarten/Martin? It’s the heart of every traveler….the aviation fan, the avid cruiser, and the free-spirited nude beach goer. St. Maarten/Martin is the Caribbean’s impression of heaven, in three-fold.      

“Jamaica: One island…one love…one heart” comin’ soon mon!

Totally immersed by nature and romance, Jamaica is the premier destination for young adults and families.

The Western Caribbean is regarded as the most visited region during the winter and summer months. The Western Caribbean is home to glistening water, pristine beaches, and gentle breezes. The Western Caribbean has it all. The Western Caribbean is home to great destinations including Panama, Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, and Cozumel. The Western Caribbean is home to one of the greatest island treasures, Jamaica. Jamaica is home to reggae beats, adult fun, and cultural roots that extend as far back as the time of Christopher Columbus. All of these great attributes are coming together in a new travel lecture entitled “Jamaica: One island…one love…one heart”. It will be a lecture which will make everyone “feel alright”.

Jamaica is regarded as a bilingual country, with two major languages. The official language is Jamaican Standard English (JSE) or Standard Jamaican English (SJE), which is used in all domains of public life, including government, the legal system, the media, and education.However, the primary spoken language is an English-based creole called Jamaican Patois (Patwa).

The city of Ocho Rios, on the northwestern end of the island, welcomes cruise passengers by the millions.

Of all the great cities on Jamaica, Ocho Rios is the most bustling. It is teaming with tourism. Ocho Rios, Spanish for “Eight Rivers”, is a town in the parish of Saint Ann on the north coast of Jamaica. Just outside the city, travelers and residents can visit Columbus Park, where  Christopher Columbus supposedly first came on land, and see maritime artifacts and Spanish colonial buildings. It was once a fishing village but now caters to tourists. It is well known for the filming of “Dr. No”, the very first James Bond film. Ocho Rios was also the primary filming location for the horror sequel “Piranha II: The Spawning”.

For the young at heart, Negril is the perfect place to enjoy a day in the sun and surf. Negril is a small but widely dispersed beach resort town located across two Jamaican parishes, Westmoreland and Hanover. Like Ocho Rios, Negril is located on the northwestern shore of Jamaica. It is among the most visited resort towns in the Western Caribbean. For years, the beach in Negril has been rated as one of the best in the world by many travel magazines. The beach’s length is the stuff of legends; the two bays (Bloody Bay to the north, and Long Bay to the south) comprise the Seven Mile Beach.  The beach is less than seven miles in length, with Bloody Bay being around two miles, and Long Bay being just under five miles. Bloody Bay is home to the large, all-inclusive resorts, and Long Bay has all-inclusives and smaller, family-run hotels. Negril is the primary hot spot for young adult fun seekers. Amidst the family-fun hotels and all-inclusive adult resorts is famous Rick’s Cafe. Here, young visitors love to jump the cliff and enjoy the crystal blue waters of the Caribbean. Rick’s Cafe is a well-known attraction for college kids on spring break. Oh does that get interesting! A friendly note for those who wish to go cliff jumping, swim wear is encouraged!

For the young at heart, and for the utmost adventurous, cliff jumping at Rick’s Cafe in Negril is the perfect way to take in the crystal blue water.

Jamaica has inspired great movies in years past. Among the legendary films was “The Harder They Come” (circa 1970s) starring the Jamaican music legend Jimmy Cliff. In 1988, Tom Cruise starred in the hit movie “Cocktail”, co-starring Elizabeth Shue. In 1993, the Disney comedy “Cool Runnings” captured the hearts of Jamaicans and sports fans alike. The film is  based on the true story of Jamaica’s first bobsled team trying to make it in the Winter Olympics. 

If anyone wants to know which musician is best associated with Jamaica, it’s the legendary late Bob Marley. Born Robert Nesta Marley on February 6th, 1945, he was a Jamaican singer, songwriter and musician who became an international icon. Starting out in 1963 with the group “The Wailers”, he forged a distinctive songwriting and vocal style that would later resonate with audiences worldwide.

Known for his hit songs “The harder they come” and “I can see clearly now”, Jimmy Cliff is among Jamaica’s great musical legends.

With the sun, surf, and rich history, Jamaica is an island with everything to offer. Jamaica is among the most vibrant of all Western Caribbean destinations. The music of Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff still keep the reggae beats pumping. If adult couples wish to enjoy the peace and tranquility with the caressing ocean breeze, Jamaica surrounds them with the romance and luscious island flavors. Feeling adventurous? Cliff jumping at Rick’s Cafe in Negril is the perfect activity to let the mind and body go. Ocho Rios, the tourism capital of Jamaica, welcomes all visitors from all over. Jamaica is the island that keeps the Western Caribbean beat in tune. On the island of Jamaica, there are no problems…just situations. “Jamaica: One island…one love…one heart” is will be complete by December 31st.

Hurricane strong: No doubting Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten/Martin

Puerto Rico is one of the Caribbean’s most legendary destinations. In Old San Juan, Castillo Felipe del Morro sits proudly at harbor entrance.

Fall 2017 has been one of the most active hurricane seasons in recent memory. Three destructive hurricanes hit the Caribbean in one month. Each of these three hurricanes reeked havoc on the Caribbean. Hurricanes Irma and  Maria did the most damage. Both hurricanes registered at category 5. The U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and St. Maarten/Martin sustained heavy damage. On Puerto Rico and St. Maarten/Martin, the hurricane damage was extremely heavy. The damage was heavy enough that both islands looked unrecognizable. St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. also sustained significant damage. The level of damage put doubt in the minds of travelers, suggesting that these island destinations won’t see tourist traffic for a long period of time. Surprising news has arisen that these islands will be ready for tourism again by year’s end. When they say “Count your blessings”, it’s not a joke. It’s the truth.

Puerto Rico hasn’t been hit by a hurricane in nearly a century. It is desperately in need of tourism traffic of all types. The island’s infrastructure is merely in ruins. Almost everywhere anyone can look, there is debris lying around. Left and right, there are houses and businesses torn apart. It rips at anyone’s heart to see island residents seeking out shelter and supplies. The port of San Juan, in Old San Juan, is showing signs of improvement. San Juan is a very popular embarkation port as well as being a port-of-call. The three most popular attractions on Puerto Rico are El Yunche Rainforest, the Bacardi Rum Factory, and Castillo Felipe del Morro. Castillo Felipe del Morro is located on the mouth of the San Juan harbor channel. It is visited by millions. The Bacardi Rum Factory is the second most visited attraction on Puerto Rico. Luis Munoz Marin referred to the factory as the “Cathedral of Rum”. Puerto Rico in Spanish means “rich port”. Puerto Rico is without a doubt an island rich in beauty, rich in color, and rich in culture. “Rich” is embedded in the island’s name. No hurricane can change that.

The Marriott Frenchman’s Reef sits on the mouth of St. Thomas Harbor. The view arriving cruise ships is a picture worth a thousand words.

The U.S. Virgin Islands are located thirty miles southeast of Puerto Rico. The islands of St. Thomas and St. John took the most damage from both Hurricanes Irma and Maria. St. Croix, the largest of the three islands, sustained moderate damage. St. Thomas sees the most tourist traffic. Anyone visiting St. John must take a ferry from St. Thomas. The cruise lines offer shore excursions to St. John from St. Thomas. St. Thomas has two cruise piers, Havensight and Crown Bay. Havensight is the largest of the two. Crown Bay is on the west side of Hassel Island, which forms a border between St. Thomas Harbor and Crown Bay. It handles Princess, Holland America, and Royal Caribbean’s Oasis class ships. Magen’s Bay is the most popular beach on St. Thomas. It is located on the island’s north shore. Hurricanes can disrupt the hustle and bustle, but they don’t disrupt the foundation of the island’s resolve. St. Thomas is an island of resilience. The waters will be bluer. The island will be welcoming cruise passengers and tourists sooner than expected.

Remarkably, the infamous sign for Orient Bay’s nude beach survived Hurricane Irma. The beach will be looking “presentable” again soon.

St. Maarten/Martin is located east of the U.S. Virgin Islands. St. Maarten/Martin is nicknamed “The Friendly Island”. St. Maarten/Martin is the only island shared by two European countries. It is part Dutch and part French. There is almost no distinction which side receives the most tourist attention. Phillipsburg is home to the St. Maarten/Martin cruise ship pier. The two long concrete piers can accommodate up to nine cruise ships at one time. The town of Marigot, on the French side, is ideal for shopping. Maho Bay, on the Dutch Side, is home to Princess Julianna International Airport. There, the runway is just one hundred feet from the beach. The jets are just one hundred feet above the water as they make their final approach to the runway. On the northeast shore, on the French side, is famous Orient Bay. Orient Beach is the largest clothing-optional beach in the Caribbean. The clothing-optional side of the beach is shared with the nudist resort, Club Orient. It has been rated with five stars by Trip Advisor. The resort was completely torn apart by Hurricane Irma. Orient Bay visitors can rest assured. Orient Bay will be “presentable” in no time.

Royal Caribbean’s Allure of The Seas is one of the three largest cruise ships in the world, carrying over six thousand guests. St. Thomas and St. Maarten are ports-of-call for all three ships.

The Caribbean is the go-to region for all winter travelers. Whether by plane or cruise ship, it is a region that is always pulsing with tourism. The Caribbean is a region which no hurricane can shake. The islands of Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten/Martin were merely paralyzed by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. In just hours, they became “Paradise Lost”. With a pleasant breeze and the sun shining brightly, the recovery process is well underway. By year’s end, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten/Martin will once again be back in action. The duty-free shops will be overflowing with shoppers. The beaches will be crowded with sun worshipers. Further, the cruise piers will be teaming with cruise ship activity. Hurricanes can rev up to whatever speed Mother Nature dictates, but they can never shake the spirits of these three great island destinations. These islands are hurricane strong. These three islands were built with resurrection power. No storm can shake these islands’ calm.

 

Inside track: The Amtrak passengers’ checklist

Traveling by train can’t be a more safer way to travel this fall. Here, an Amtrak Northeast Regional train prepares to depart from Washington, DC’s Union Station.

Traveling on Amtrak is the best traveling experience anyone can have. Amtrak’s on board atmosphere without-a-doubt beats that of the airlines. There’s plenty of leg room, the on board dining is not to be missed, and the scenery makes every trip worthwhile. With the fall season underway, the leaves will soon be changing. Seeing the leaves ablaze in their orange, yellow, and red make every Amtrak journey a memorable one. Before boarding any Amtrak train, it’s paramount to pay attention to the passengers’ checklist. What is the passengers’ checklist? It is five simple steps for Amtrak passengers to follow on any journey. Whether intercity or long-distance, being prepared always makes the journey one to truly enjoy. What are the steps? See the checklist below.

5) Reservations: The Amtrak passengers’ checklist cannot start without making reservations. Before any journey begins, all passengers must make reservations. All Amtrak trains are reserved. Reservations can be made online at Amtrak.com or via phone at 1-800-USA-RAIL (872-7245). When reservations are made, passengers will be given their reservation codes. If making reservations via phone, it’s a must to remember the agent’s name. The agent will do his/her very best to provide a positive experience for all passengers. When the phone call is complete, passengers should remember to thank the agent for his/her assistance and professionalism.

Amtrak’s Quik Trak kiosks are available at all major stations. Passengers use their credit cards as their ID.

4) Obtaining tickets: The passengers’ checklist continues with the ticket issuing process. Upon the completion of the reservation transaction, the reservations agent will have provided to the passenger a reservation code. Amtrak passengers must write the number down. The next step on the passengers’ checklist is to obtain their tickets. Amtrak passengers can obtain their tickets via mail, email, at the station ticket window, or at one of the Quik Trak kiosks.

Quik Trak kiosks are available at all major Amtrak stations. Passengers obtain their tickets by using the credit card they used to purchase their tickets. The credit card acts as their identification. At the station window, passengers must provide valid photo ID for obtaining their tickets.

Via email, passengers must go to the email message and download their tickets. The ticket printouts will have both train numbers listed, with a QR code shown at the top corner. Passengers must not misplace the printout. A crew member will scan the QR code, both going and returning. If passengers wish to have their tickets mailed to their home, they must make their reservations a minimum of ten days or more before traveling.

3) Using the Amtrak mobile app: What would the passengers’ checklist be without mobile technology? All aboard the Amtrak mobile app! With mobile technology, Amtrak passengers have their train journey at their fingertips. With Amtrak’s mobile app, Amtrak passengers can do a handful of things. Amtrak passengers can track their train’s status, look up schedule information, or even change a reservation. It’s easy, right? Downloading the Amtrak mobile app takes only a few moments. Once downloaded, Amtrak passengers have America’s railroad at their fingertips. The Amtrak mobile app is not just a key part of a journey. The Amtrak mobile app is a must-have for all Amtrak passengers. Without-a-doubt, it’s a must-do on the passengers’ checklist. With a tap of the app, a riding the rails is moments away.

Checking schedules and a train’s status can’t be easier without the Amtrak mobile app. It is America’s railroad at their fingertips.

2) Be at the station “on-time”: Winding down the passengers’ checklist, there is no better way to have a pleasant train journey than being on-time. All Amtrak journeys start successfully when passengers arrive at the station on-time. If traveling short distance (ex. Northeast Regional) Amtrak passengers should arrive at the station thirty minutes prior to departure. If traveling on a long-distance train (ex. Lake Shore Limited), passengers should arrive at the station one hour prior to departure. This allows passengers time to check-in luggage, if applicable.

Once on the track platform, passengers are then directed to the proper boarding location. On Northeast Regional trains, the quiet car and business car are the last two cars of the train. On long-distance trains, the train staff will show passengers to their assigned sleeping car berths. Being on-time is a key huge part of Amtrak’s tradition. It is how passenger train travel was meant to be. Arriving at the station on-time ensures all Amtrak passengers a safe and pleasant traveling experience.

1) Respect fellow passengers and crew: The passengers’ checklist concludes with the golden rule. Safely aboard, all passengers can sit back and relax. Before getting comfortable, passengers must at all times respect the on board environment. All Amtrak passengers are encouraged to do two things. All Amtrak passengers must respect their fellow passengers and the crew. Respect begins in the quiet car. Those passengers riding in the quiet car must set their cell phones to vibrate or silent. Secondly, they must keep their voices down. Lastly, they must keep their conversations short. Even in coach class, business class, the dining car, and sleeping cars, cell phones should be kept on silent or vibrate.

Aside from respecting one another, passengers should show a great deal of respect towards the train crew. The crew’s responsibility is getting the train to its destination on-time and safely. The safety of the passengers is their responsibility, too. That being said, all Amtrak passengers are to kindly return the favor. Amtrak passengers are responsible for acting safely on board. All Amtrak trains are non-smoking. Passengers are to use handrails when walking in between the cars. No running is allowed on board at any time. Amtrak values safety at the very top of their list. No Amtrak train arrives on-time without the enforcement of safety. A little bit of respect travels a long distance.

While on board, passengers must respect their fellow passengers and the train’s crew. Here, a conductor is doing a routine seat check.

Riding on Amtrak is among the greatest traveling experiences. Whether traveling short or long-distance, the journey should always be one to write home about. No Amtrak journey should ever be complete without plenty of good words shared. More importantly, no Amtrak journey goes successfully without following the five-step passengers’ checklist. All Amtrak passengers should successfully purchase their tickets via phone or online. Passengers should obtain their tickets by one of the methods discussed. Thirdly, passengers are encouraged to use the Amtrak mobile app to check their train’s status. When proceeding to the station, passengers should arrive on-time. The most crucial step of the passengers’ checklist is to respect fellow passengers and the crew. Every Amtrak journey is a shared journey. If passengers carry out their responsibility, the crew can safely carry out theirs. This is why Amtrak has printed on its trains, “A safe team on-time”.

 

Sailing day pitfalls: The top 5 avoidable mistakes

There is nothing worse than missing the ship. Guests must always arrive at the cruise terminal on time.

Cruising is the greatest vacation experience anyone can have. Every cruise line provides a unique on board atmosphere, ranging from dining, to entertainment, to shore excursions, and staterooms with all the comforts of home. Whether it is a seven, ten, or fourteen-day adventure, the fun is non-stop. Every cruise kicks off on sailing day. Sailing day is day one. Sure, it’s great to be excited about sailing day. However, it’s vital for guests to make sure they have all of their ducks in order. Amidst the excitement, guests tend to make a handful of mistakes. They can be mistakes that could greatly affect the outcome of their cruise. Here are the top five sailing day pitfalls which guests must avoid:

5) Misjudging sailing time: When it comes to sailing day, it is paramount for guests to arrive at the cruise terminal on time. Guests should not want to miss all the great activities that await once they’re on board (buffet lunch, having drinks poolside, etc.). Boarding normally begins at 11 am. Once on board, guests have all the time to unwind. What are the pitfalls? Often, guests push their arrival to the very last hour of the day. It is one of the most avoidable pitfalls. Pier security is directed to shut the terminal doors within an hour prior to the ship’s departure. If the ship’s departure is at 4 pm, guests should arrive no later than 3 pm. Guests have been turned away for arriving too late. Guests leave their homes for the pier and then get caught in traffic along the way. Unfortunately, that doesn’t help their chances. It doesn’t matter how much money they spent on such a long-awaited vacation. Guests should never wait til the final hour. The ship will sail without them, regardless of circumstances. Of all sailing pitfalls, it is one not worth facing. On-time is the best time!

Cruise passengers worry excessively about packing the right items on a cruise. Travel documents should be packed in carry-on baggage.

4) Luggage concerns: Of all the things guests worry about on a cruise, it’s their luggage. Honestly, it is the one element they worry too much about. Guests should pack in their luggage all of the key essentials, excluding their travel documents. Packing travel documents in luggage is a no-no. That’s true! If the weather forecast is supposed to be hot and humid, guests should be prepared for it. Guests should not show up in a sports jacket and tie, or some outfit that’s going to make them feel uncomfortable. Guests should always have a change of clothing in their carry-on baggage. That way, in case their luggage hasn’t yet arrived at their stateroom, they should not feel forced to bow out of the sailing day excitement. None of these matters should get in the way on sailing day. Worrying about luggage should be immaterial. Being prepared for the weather is always #1.

3) Gratuities: Gratuities always come to question when booking a cruise. Guests are always concerned about tipping on board. Gratuities should not have to be a monster issue. They should not be. Not prepaying gratuities is among the unexpected pitfalls faced by cruisers. When booking a cruise, guests should always ask the cruise line reservations agent or their travel agent if they can prepay their gratuities. If yes, it’s the right call. Cruise lines normally charge $12.00 per day for gratuities and $16.00 for guests in suites. Once the gratuities are prepaid, there’s no need to add a tip when signing room charge receipts. Plus, it saves the guests money on their on board charge account. The best way is to prepay!

Gratuities should be the least of all guests’ worries. Prepaying gratuities makes life a whole lot easier.

2) Repositioning cruises: Repositioning cruises are a lot of fun. They are actually the cheapest of all cruises. What are repositioning cruises? They’re one-way sailings from one major port concluding at another. They take place particularly when the seasons change. There is one major pitfall that guests face when going on repositioning cruises. On repositioning cruises, guests mistakenly drive to the cruise port, thinking they’re on a round-trip voyage. It makes anyone wonder “What in the world are they thinking?”. It happens often. It creates a hardship for the guests trying to retrieve their car. Further, this pitfall results in the guests trying to devise a grandiose plan on when and how they’ll be able to pick up their car. When booking a cruise, guests should make the effort of researching the cruise itinerary first before committing, A repositioning cruise is just as fun as any other cruise. Doing proper research makes a big difference. It is the key difference between a memorable sailing day and a vacation hardship in the making. A repositioning cruise should be the ship’s transition from one port to another, not one obstacle on top of another.

Repositioning cruises are fun and offer plenty of fun. Warning: guests MUST NOT drive to the cruise terminal.

1) Documentation: To this very point in time, guests still encounter multiple pitfalls regarding documentation. Documentation is the #1 step to a successful sailing day. Documentation is the bread and butter of a cruise. It is needed for not just embarkation, but also for re-entry into the country. What pitfalls have guests faced regarding documentation? The pitfalls range from simple faults like leaving passports at home. The middle-of-the-road faults include packing travel documents in their luggage. The most serious matters include failing to obtain the more important documents, including visas, parental consent letters, and medical letters. Medical letters mainly pertain to pregnant guests. Once guests book their cruise, they get too comfortable with looking forward to their trip. Guests MUST research what documentation they’ll need for their cruise, especially concerning minors, visas, and medical issues. Failure to have the proper documentation will result in their denial of boarding.

Inadequate documentation is the #1 of all sailing day pitfalls. All guests are responsible for having the proper documentation for sailing day.

A cruise: it’s the ultimate vacation experience. Cruises offer merely everything under the sun, including good times had by all. Before going on a cruise, guests must be aware of the pitfalls. Multiple mistakes are made. One day, there will be a cruise which all guests will do everything properly prior to sailing day. Wishful thinking, right? It is imperative that guests pay attention to the pitfalls and make the right choices before suffering the consequences. Guests must arrive at the cruise terminal on time. They should allow themselves the opportunity to unwind. Guests must exercise caution when packing their luggage for the reasons previously mentioned. They should prepay their gratuities. When going on repositioning cruises, they SHOULD NOT drive to the pier. All guests must bring along the appropriate documentation for boarding. Failing to avoid sailing day pitfalls results in the hopes of a long-anticipated cruise being dashed. Avoiding frequent pitfalls does more than assuring guests a pleasurable cruise experience. Avoiding pitfalls assures guests a memorable sailing day.

Amtrak Fall destinations: Something to be-leaf in

Amtrak’;s summer repairs at Penn Station are officially complete. Here, track workers complete repairs to one of the main tracks, as a train emerges from the Hudson River tunnel.

Wow, what a summer! Understatement, right? The temporary cancellations didn’t cause that much of a disruption. According to most riders, the summer went rather smoothly. With the summer repairs at New York Penn  Station over, it’s time to focus on the good times that lay ahead. With shiny new rails in place, Amtrak’s trains will continue to roll. It’s time to celebrate this memorable feat with great travel ideas. With more than twenty-one routes in forty-three states, there’s no better time to make ‘tracks’ this fall. Further, it’s the right time to show some appreciation for Amtrak’s dedication to keeping passengers safe on the rails. Here are the five top Fall destinations to consider:

5)New Orleans: From July 10th to September 1st, Amtrak’s Crescent (New York-New Orleans) was temporarily operating between Washington, DC and New Orleans. With the Crescent returning to its normal schedule on September 2nd, it’s time for Amtrak travelers to celebrate Mardi Gras year-round all over again. Passengers can feel the Cajun beat from New York to New Orleans without disruption. Football fans can catch the Saints at the Superdome. In New Orleans, it’s party time all the time. The craw fish, alligator meat, and the great deep south flavors await. Passengers can grab their ticket and beads! On the Crescent, the Cajun beat is non-stop. Of all Fall destinations, New Orleans is truly a city to “Fall” for.

P-40 locomotive #701 leads an Empire Service train home from Niagara Falls.

4) Niagara Falls: Of all Amtrak Fall destinations, Niagara Falls is among the most family-oriented and above all, the most romantic. Amtrak travelers can escape the hustle and bustle of the New York metropolitan area for one of the most picturesque places on earth. From the “Maid of The Mist”, to strolling across the Rainbow Bridge, to experiencing the Niagara Falls Canada Whirlpool Aero Car, Amtrak presents Fall travelers with a ticket for the journey of a lifetime. The journey from New York City to Niagara Falls is a journey not to be missed. From departing cavernous Penn Station, to gliding along the city’s west side, to cruising beneath Riverside Park through the Overbuild Tunnel, and speeding along the mighty Hudson River, who would not want to pass up a train ride, a train ride to write home about? Niagara Falls is without-a-doubt, a must-do for all Amtrak Fall travelers. Travelers should forget about  their barrels and let Amtrak take them to the edge of the excitement and experience the power of the falls.

Twilight Shoreliner train #67 arrives at historic Williamsburg Station.

3) Williamsburg, VA: Do you hear the hoofs of Clydesdales? During the Fall. there is no better place to visit than the great state of Virginia. Williamsburg is one of the most romantic and the most charming towns in Virginia. Is is one of the great Fall destinations which speaks to the hearts of all train travelers.

Williamsburg is the home of Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Gardens-Europe. Busch Gardens-Europe is home to the iconic Budweiser Clydesdales. There, visitors can see them up close. At Colonial Williamsburg, visitors can experience colonial life in the most authentic of surroundings. It is where history comes alive. At both of these quintessential points of interest, the Fall atmosphere can’t be more intimate. In Williamsburg, there are tons of hotels within minutes of the Amtrak’s Williamsburg station. Who said Virginia was for lovers? Virginia is for Amtrak travelers, too.

2) Boston: Boston, the City of Kind Hearts, is the one destination that was never affected by the summer cancellations. Of all Fall destinations, Boston speaks to the “heaht” of every Amtrak traveler. That says a lot for city known as Beantown. Visitors should be wary of the Boston accent. It is so thick, one can cut it with a “fawk”.

Completed in 1898, Boston’s South Station is the oldest terminal on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor.

When Fall arrives, Boston’s sports atmosphere is in full swing. The New England Patriots will be defending their historic Super Bowl championship. The Red Sox will be going for their sixth World Series title. With so such energy in the air, Boston is the perfect Fall destination. Passengers will step off their train at historic South Station. From there, they can visit the Seaport  District, enjoy a bowl of fresh clam chowder, and mingle with the friendly city locals. Music lovers can head to Symphony Hall to tune in to the sounds of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Boston Pops. Rock music fans can pay a visit to 1325 Commonwealth Avenue, the former residence of Aerosmith.

Once the World Series is over, the seasons will change again. It will be game-on for Boston’s two other beloved teams, the Bruins and the Celtics. The Celtics will be in pursuit of their eighteenth NBA championship. The Boston Bruins will be pursuing their seventh Stanley Cup in franchise history. In Boston, Amtrak travelers aren’t just part of history. They are part of the revolution.

1) Washington, DC: Our nation’s capital was significantly affected by the summer cancellations. As of September 2nd, the trains will be running on a normal daily schedule. New York-Washington service will be fully restored. There is no better city to experience Fall colors than in Washington, DC.

Washington, DC is the gem of all Fall destinations. Passengers will exit their train at the glorious Union Station. It’s not just a train station, it’s a feast for the eyes. At Union Station, passengers can hop aboard the Metro subway to visit the National Mall and the Smithsonian museums. The Washington Monument, World War II Memorial, and Lincoln Memorial are just a short walking distance away.

Built in 1907, Washington, DC’s Union Station was constructed to be both a railroad terminal and a monument in one.

Speaking of Fall destinations, visitors can head to Six  Flags America in nearby Largo, MD. Six Flags hosts its annual Fright Fest, blending the “spirit” of Halloween into its theme parks. Amtrak will have passengers “screaming” down the rails to be a part of an engaging Fall experience.

Washington, DC is not just a city of museums and monuments. It’s a city for all seasons. Come Fall, it is game-on for the NFL’s Redskins, the NHL’s Capitals, and NBA’s Wizards. It’s easy to understand why Washington, DC is a destination of ‘monumental’ proportions.

Fall is the right time to ride the rails. With the hot and humid summer coming to an end, the train schedule is returning to normal. It’s time to return to the pastime all travelers enjoy. Fall time is train time. Amtrak’s great Fall destinations are calling to avid train travelers.

Fall time means train time. Here, a Amtrak’s Fall Foliage Express crosses the 115 year-old Rockville Bridge over the Susquehanna River near Marysville, PA.

Fall destinations are the reason why the train is the way to go. The Crescent will be returning to full service from New York to New Orleans. The Empire Route will be returning to a normal schedule out of Penn Station. Last, but not least, Amtrak’s Northeast Regional trains will be once again thundering up and down the tracks between New York and Washington, DC. Fall foliage cannot be experienced better than through the windows of a train. On any of Amtrak’s east coast routes, Fall scenery is always a feast for the eyes. In an old Amtrak commercial one can remember the jingle, “There’s something about a train that’s magic.”. That’s Fall!

 

“Boston: History beyond freedom’s trail” is complete!

There are than a dozen U.S. cities well rooted in history. There are cities well known for sailing, contemporary architecture, cultural diversity, and their sports traditions. We must not forget that there are cities well known for their distinctive accents. The one city that captures the traveler’s imagination in all of these categories is Boston. Boston was one of a handful of cities that shaped our country’s history. We can be sure of that. Boston is known for much more than massacres, tea parties, and witchcraft trials. This new lecture, set to debut in August 2017, will take would-be travelers “beyond freedom’s trail”.

Costing the city a record 14.6 billion dollars. the Central Artery/Tunnel Project (a.k.a The Big Big), was the most expensive engineering project in United States history.

When traveling to Boston, it’s easy to take the train or simply drive. Boston is also a popular port-of-call for cruise ships during the Summer and Fall months. Boston is a city home to thousands upon thousands of commuters. By bus, trolley, train, or subway, Bostonians use them all. The one event in Boston’s history, which Bostonians are happy for its completion, is the Central Artery/Tunnel Project. Bostonians referred to it as “The Big Dig”.

“The Big Dig” was the most complex and most costly engineering project in United States history. “The Big Dig” began in the year 1982. The plan was to alleviate the traffic headaches caused by the elevated highways knifing through the city’s central area. “The Big Dig” included tunnels under Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor leading into South Station. Also included was the construction of the Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge over the Charles River. Lastly, “The Big Dig” dictated the relocation of commuter trolley lines. “The Big Dig” cost a record-shattering 14.6 billion dollars. For the worst part, “The Big Dig” caused Bostonians and commuters alike, hours of construction traffic. “The Big Dig” was complete by late 2006. It’ is a pleasure to see Bostonians sleeping easy these days.

Built in 1928, the legendary Boston Garden was the home of the Celtics and Bruins.

Boston is well-known for its sports history. New York is referred to as the mecca of the sports world. Boston’s sports history is rooted much deeper than New York. Two of the most iconic sports facilities in Boston’s history are Boston Garden and Fenway Park. The Boston Celtics started playing at Boston Garden in 1957, and won 16 NBA championships during the Garden’s era. The Boston Garden, completed in 1928, had a few home disadvantages. The Boston Bruins’ hockey rink was undersized as opposed to the standard dimensions. The Boston Garden was also built without air conditioning, making every basketball and hockey match-up an uphill challenge. Boston Garden closed its doors for the final time in the Spring of 1995, making way for a new era in Celtics and Bruins history. The TD Garden (f.k.a Fleet Center), became the new home. Boston Garden was demolished in the Spring of 1998.

Fenway Park has been historic home of the Boston Red Sox since April 1912.

Fenway Park was built in April 1912. Home to the Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park was the site of only one World Series Championship celebration. It was the 2013 World Series Championship over the St. Louis Cardinals. It was once the home of the New England Patriots. When Fenway Park was completed, the stadium never made headlines as opposed to an ocean liner that sank that same month.

Boston’s historic South Station is Amtrak’s terminal, home to more than 40 trains arriving and departing on a daily basis.

Boston still has the most intriguing transportation system. Aside from having the oldest subway system in the United States (the T), Boston’s two railroad stations have their own stories to tell. Boston’s South Station is the most breathtaking. North Station was torn down in 1927, to make room for Boston Garden. South Station is Amtrak’s terminal, and serves the MBTA. In its hay day, South Station was the busiest railroad station in the country, handling up to three hundred trains a day. Today it is still busy, handling Amtrak’s Northeast Regional trains, Acela Express, and the Lake Shore Limited (New York/Boston-Chicago). Circa 1940, the station had a shed, covering the station platforms. The shed was later destroyed by fire. The whole terminal was feared to be completely demolished. The famous front facade of South Station was saved. South Station today serves as Boston’s railroad gateway. Today, South Station is a historic city landmark.

Held every April, the Boston Marathon welcomes runners from all over the world.

Every November, all eyes are on New York City for the New York City Marathon. Every April, the Boston Athletics Association hosts the Boston Marathon. The Boston Marathon begins in Boston suburb of Ashland, MA. The route cuts eastward through the suburbs of Natick, Wellesley, Brookline, Newton, and concluding in downtown Boston on Boylston Street. Ever since the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, the race’s popularity has grown tremendously. No city’s marathon has welcomed more runners than Boston. The Boston Marathon has welcomed runners from all over the world, including those with disabilities. With regards to sports, Boston is among the candidate cities for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games.

A treat for all travelers alike, Boston is at the very “heaht” of New England.

Boston is more than just a popular city for travelers from all around the world. It is a city that is constantly evolving. Boston is the city that welcomes ideas, traditions, cultures, and leaders from all over the world. Ever since the Boston Marathon bombing, Boston has been a city for the strong and courageous. Ultimately, Boston is a city that stands at the heart or “haht” of New England. Boston is where our country’s history “stahted” and it is where history “chahges” on.

Lost treasures: The 3 well-missed cruise ship events

Every cruise vacation comes with forever cherished memories. Here, travel writer David Kriso enjoys his time on the flow rider on board the Oasis of The Seas.

No one can say that cruising is no fun. Everyone who comes home from their cruise vacation always have plenty to share. They brag about who stuffed themselves, who won the jackpot in bingo, who won big in the casino, and who spent the most in duty-free shopping. The list goes on and on. In the years past, things have changed. Cruise ships have evolved. New on board experiences have been added. Unfortunately, there are some on board experiences which have long disappeared. It’s these kinds of events which longtime cruisers remember to this very day. Many avid cruisers speak highly of them, and reminisce about the level of excitement drawn by them. Here’s the top three missed cruise ship events. They’re gone, but not forgotten.

Paired with the belly-flop competition, the Mr. Sexy Legs competition was a favorite poolside event for all ladies on board.

3. Mr. Sexy Legs Competition: Everyone’s heard the expression, “What happens on board, stays on board!”. There are so many fun poolside events held on board cruise ships. There’s bar games, swimming pool volleyball tournaments, and the belly-flop competition. The Mr. Sexy Legs competition is the one event which many young cruisers miss very much. The Mr. Sexy Legs competition was one of the most anticipated events on board ship. It was the second most favorite to the belly-flop competition. It was one competition which signaled to all ladies on board to get their cameras rolling. How did the competition go? Eight contestants danced before a panel of female judges (who are guests). They were allowed to make body contact, make crazy gestures, and so on. There was never any nudity. Third place was awarded to Mr. Chicken Legs. Second place was awarded to Mr. Hairy Legs. Then, there was first place-self-explanatory. To all men on board, anyone being crowned Mr. Sexy Legs was a happening. Not long ago, the event was done away with. Well, so we think! On most cruise lines, it’s been combined with “The World’s Sexiest Man” competition. If anyone’s ever participated in this competition, they should without-a-doubt savor the moment.

Without the cruise director and the staff, no cruise vacation would be possible. Here, the cruise staff performs the legendary show, “Fountains”.

2. Fountains: On every cruise, guests love a good show. Who doesn’t? There are headliner shows, special guest comedians, and Broadway musicals. There was one show which guests got a huge laugh out of. It was the show that starred the cruise director and his/her staff. It was called “Fountains”. How did “Fountains” go? “Fountains” would to start out very quiet, with the music starting. Depending which cruise line “Fountains” was featured on, the stage effects were always unpredictable, and gave the show that guessing feeling. Then, the performers processed on to the stage, wearing togas and laurel wreathes. Each performer carried a metal jug of water. Often times, the show was set to the music of Enya. How appropriate, no?

In “Fountains”, there was never enough anticipation. The guests laughed non-stop.

In “Fountains” the action would continue to build. The audience’s anticipation also began to build. Each of the performers would start drinking the water and filling up their mouths. Like fountains, they started squirting each other and the cruise director. Each and every time, the performers would get into different formations on stage. Just like those fancy fountains in a city park, they drank more water and squirted each other on cue. It was too funny. No one knew who was going to squirt who next, and how, and in what manner? “Fountains” was like a fountain in a European city impersonated by circus clowns. This iconic show sadly disappeared from the cruise ship stage. It wasn’t disliked by anyone. Unfortunately, it was discontinued for sanitary reasons. If anyone has seen this show before, let the memory live on forever.

Surrounded by so much mouth-watering food at all angles, the midnight buffet was the holiest of events on board.

1. The midnight buffet: Everyone has been on a cruise and heard the funny question, “What time is the midnight buffet”? That question still lives on to this day. The midnight buffet was once the most anticipated event on any cruise ship. Everyone looked forward to it. Dinner in the main dining room was never enough. The midnight buffet was looked to by guests as being the holiest of holidays on board. There were dazzling ice sculptures, handcrafted fruit platters, all-you-can-eat shrimp, all-you-can-eat crab legs, all-you-can-eat cold cuts, all-you-can-eat grilled meats, and best of all…all-you-can-eat dessert. One can imagine how much food anyone can consume in one night. One can imagine why they would hold a belly-flop competition on board. Unfortunately, the midnight buffet was done away with. Any food not consumed (meat, fruits, vegetables, etc), had to be disposed of. Nothing is saved on board a cruise ship. If a major buffet event is held, it would be some major event such as a wedding or a ship’s inaugural celebration. If anyone’s ever been to the midnight buffet before, he/she should savor the memory, and the mouth-watering aftertaste. Long live the taste buds!

Despite the popularity of the “Mr. Sexy Legs” competition, it was no match for the belly-flop competition.

Every cruise vacation has plenty to talk and brag about. Every cruise vacation features great shows, fun contests on the open decks, and exciting evening events. Everyone has something fun and amazing to talk about when they return home from their cruise. However, there are a handful of great on board events which avid cruisers will truly miss. They were events which they often looked forward to, and events they were always anticipating the moment they stepped on board. Guests would even ask the cruise staff when those events will be taking place. “Mr. Sexy Legs”, “Fountains”, and the midnight buffet will be sorely missed. They were the events that got the crowd going. As we all know, times do change. Things happen for a reason. “Mr. Sexy Legs”, “Fountains”, and the midnight buffet are gone, but will never be forgotten. If any cruisers out there have footage of these events on their cruise DVD, they should play them on repeat. It’s too easy to believe when they say “Great moments last forever”.

NY Penn Station: At its heart, Amtrak keeps on chugging

All of Amtrak’s Acela trains will continue to run on a normal schedule. The Acela can travel at speeds up to 150 mph. (Photo taken in Kingston, RI)

Passenger train travel is a vital part of intercity daily life in the northeastern United States. Amtrak operates up to one hundred trains per day up and down its bustling Northeast Corridor. In addition, it offers daily service from New York City to the cities of Albany, Buffalo, Niagara Falls. Amtrak’s Empire route also handles trains headed to Montreal, Toronto, Chicago, and Rutland, VT. New York City’s Penn Station is the origin and termination point for all of these routes. July 10th, 2017, Amtrak will be temporarily cancelling a handful of trains to allow track improvements to be made at Penn Station. Passengers should not be discouraged by these cancellations. Amtrak strongly values the safety of its passengers and employees. What trains will be cancelled? Will they positively or negatively affect passengers’ views of the carrier? It’s best to understand that Amtrak wants to keep daily business on ‘track’.

Three daily Northeast Regional trains will be temporarily cancelled. Here, Northeast Regional train #185, arrives at Newark Penn Station.

Between July 10th and September 1st, 2017, Amtrak will be temporarily cancelling certain trains to alleviate congestion at Penn Station, while track improvements are in progress. Amtrak will be temporarily cancelling three daily New York City-Washington, DC Northeast Regional trains. Amtrak’s Keystone route from New York City to Harrisburg will be slightly affected.  Three weekday round-trips will start and end in Philadelphia. One weekday round-trip will start and end in Newark, NJ. Service between Philadelphia and Harrisburg will operate as scheduled. No announcement has been made regarding Amtrak’s Empire route. A decision will be announced soon.

Amtrak’s Crescent, a daily long-distance run between New York City and New Orleans, will also be operating on a modified schedule. The Crescent will run daily between Washington, DC and New Orleans. Passengers traveling to and from destinations north of Washington, DC will be able to connect to other services.

Spanning the Hackensack River between Secaucus and Kearny, NJ, Portal Bridge handles up to two hundred trains per day, Amtrak and NJ Transit combined.

Schedules are up to date. Anyone with a trip already booked on affected routes has been contacted. Additional work will last through approximately June 2018, with most of it occurring on weekends to minimize the impact on service. Amtrak continues to make progress on the construction of the new Moynihan Station, across from the current Penn Station. Amtrak also plans to replace the 107 year-old Portal Bridge between Secaucus and Kearny, NJ. The current bridge has a two-track right-of-way. The new bridge will have a four-track right-of-way.

Amtrak Northeast Regional train #178 prepares to depart Newark Penn Station for New York Penn Station.

Despite temporary cancellations, Amtrak will continue make ‘tracks’. Travelers, both business and pleasure, rely on Amtrak more than ever before. New York City is the mecca of northeast railroad travel. With a handful of scheduled trains to be briefly affected, life on the rails will keep rolling. The Northeast Corridor is the busiest passenger railroad in the United States. In the coming year, passenger volume is projected to rise even further. In recent years, Amtrak has broken ridership records and will continue to do so. Amtrak’s temporary cancellations are necessary for the company to improve its infrastructure. Furthermore, these improvements are key to Amtrak’s reliability. Without them, Amtrak cannot move forward. These cancellations, along with the needed improvements, are a tribute to the perseverance of Amtrak’s dedicated and talented employees. No journey on the rails would be possible without them. Despite upcoming cancellations and mandatory track improvements at Penn Station, Amtrak keeps on chugging along.