I’m about to embark on a 10-night ‘Magical Caribbean’ cruise aboard Costa Atlantica, an Italian cruise line that’s in the North American market seasonally. During the cruise we are scheduled to hit Key West, Grand Turk, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Honduras, and Cozumel.
Since the sailing leaves out of Miami and I live in Jacksonville, Florida, I had to make my way to Miami, so I decided to give Amtrak a try. The fare from Jacksonville-Miami was $59 for a coach-class ticket. I could’ve gotten a sleeper cart for like $100 more (bunk, sitting area, and toilet area) but it wasn’t all that long of a ride. The Amtrak Silver Meteor 97 train was scheduled to arrive into Miami at 6:50pm.
I got to the Amtrak train station in Jacksonville an hour early. Since I booked online, the check in was flawless and the agents were very helpful. They gave me my ticket, checked my bag and said the train would be arriving early. Once the train arrived the conductor checked our tickets, photo ID, and told us what cart to get into.
When I boarded the coach cart, it wasn’t at all what I was expected. It was very spacious with plenty of leg room, dual plugs, a pillow, and a reclining chair. The only difference between the train and flying first class is the in cabin dining service. That’s exactly what the comfort level reminded me of. Big seats and dual bathrooms in the back.
Well pulled out of Jacksonville at 9:48 am and headed west then southbound. We made a couple stops like Palatka, Orlando, Kissimmee, and then over to the east coast of Florida like Delray, West Palm, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood and then Miami. Miami is where the train terminates.
About two hours after we left Jacksonville an attendant came by asking for lunch reservation in the dining cart. There was only one time for dining and that was noon, so I opted in and tried it out. The dining cart has about 10 four-seat tables and every table was filled. So I sat with three folks from all over the US. The fare is your basic cafeteria type food: Burgers, sandwiches, soup, and salad. Beverages are served separate and in cans, minus the unsweetened tea. There was also a lounger cart with booths and plugs.
People were getting off and boarding at every stop and the staff was very helpful when it came to assisting passengers with questions. We arrived right on time into Miami. I picked up my checked baggage and went on my way. In the future I will carry my bag on, I didn’t think there was enough space to do that but there was plenty of space on the racks above.
If you want to get to your destination comfortable and relaxed without all the hassle of driving or air travel, a train is the way to go. Just make sure you have plenty of time. The train from Jacksonville to Miami took eight-hours. It takes almost six-hours to drive to Miami so that ride wasn’t all the bad. I don’t have to worry about parking, port parking charges, gas, and wear and tear on my car. The terminal is about a 20-minute ride from the cruise port of Miami. My guess would be about a $25-30 cab ride to the port or they have public transportation.
If you’re taking the train into Fort Lauderdale, the train station is about a 10-minute ride from Port Everglades (depending on traffic).
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