The Amtrak Cascades train leaves from the main Pacific Central Station in Vancouver, BC in Canada. We are doing a first hop to Seattle and then a second hop to Portlandon the Amtrak Cascades. You could take the Amtrak Cascades train further south, but we are picking up a car to head to the coast road down into California
Amtrak Cascades checkin at the train station in Vancouver was quick and relatively painless. While we went thru passport control in Vancouver, the train was stopped again at the border for customs agents to come on board and check documents.
While the carry on baggage limits were generous and might have allowed us to keep our bigger bags with us, we took advantage of the baggage check and kept only our small rolly bags with us. Baggage pickup in Seattle was inside the station and the wait was reasonable enough to not act as a deterrent for the second leg of our train trip.
When we saw the food onboard the Amtrak Cascades, we really wished we had taken the hint to go to Tim Hortons before boarding in Vancouver. Most of the food is pre-packaged and plastic wrapped. Having been spoiled with good coffee in Vancouver, the train coffee was undrinkable. The young guys found no issues with the bottled beer. There is strict enforcement of not carrying fruit into the US, so we had to throw away a bag of apples (that probably came from the US originally). Unfortunately, my protein bars were in the bag I checked. The dining car had seating if you wanted a break from your seat. On our second trip, we planned ahead and brought food with us.
The wifi onboard the Amtrak Cascades was a nice surprise, letting us catch up on mail and tweets, if not continue downloading my movie. The overhead monitors displayed the progress on the route, although they were not showing the 300 km per hour speeds we got used to on trains in Europe.
We had considered business class but found the coach seats to be comfortable. Next time I will be more careful and pick a seat not at the pillar which blocked half our view and on the water side for a better view. The nice thing about train travel is that you can easily get up and move around. Most passengers were respectful of others, keeping conversations quiet and headphones on.
Overall, both legs of our Amtrak Cascades train travel were great and we would definitely do it again. Compared to train travel in Canada, the fares were really inexpensive and beat driving for the first two days of our 5 week trek down the west coast. We will definitely consider this again! Already looking into train passes for a longer cross country trip another year.
Have you travelled the west coast on Amtrak Cascades?