Amtrak Vacations vs Discover Corps - Tour Companies Compared
Compare details and see what other travelers are saying.
Overall — 3
Value — 3.0
Guide — 3.3
Activities — 3.1
Lodging — 3.6
Transportation — 2.7
Meals — 3.1
Overall — 4.5
Value — 4.5
Guide — 4.5
Activities — 4.5
Lodging — 4.5
Transportation — 4.5
Meals — 4.5
1.0 December 2018
Does Not Recommend
The cars were last rehabbed in the 1980s. The rooms are dirty, the facilities filthy. Forget the "chef inspired" cuisine. It no longer exists. Instead, you get vending machine microwaved food not fit for humans. The restrooms and showers are indescribably filthy. I've seen prisons that were cleaner. They go through the Rockies at night (can't see anything) and remove the observation car when you hit the Cascades at daylight. Don't waste your money. For what Amtrak charges for a room and how they describe the food, etc, you'd think it's a cruise ship on rails. It most definitely is not. It’s ridiculous to suggest a “wine paring” with vending machine food haphazardly microwaved and served on plastic plates. Google “Amtrak cardboard” and read the story where Amtrak handed passengers a cardboard box to poop in. You can’t make this stuff up.Read more
I read many of the other reviews that rated it higher. In many cases, the review was older—in some cases 10 years old. In other cases, the review was for a short trip or people who sat/slept in coach which is much cheaper. I get that a short trip or paying only for coach and bringing your own food could be fun. What isn’t fun is the brochures that tout “chef inspired cuisine” which no longer exists, the conditions of the cars, the filthy bathrooms and showers, etc. compared to the description of what you’ll get on an Amtrak Vacation and the price which is about what you’d pay for a cruise. There is no comparison. Amtrak is a terrible vacation experience.
While still aboard the train, I wondered why Amtrak was still selling the trip as a Vacation Package yet the cars were is such bad shape, there were no cleaners on board, the food looked like it used to be good but was now terrible. Why? The answer is Acela. That’s the high speed modern train service between Washington and NYC. Because Acela is frequented by politicians, lawyers, finance types and the media, Acela gets all the gravy. There’s no money left for the rest of the system. Fine. But they shouldn’t keep selling a service they haven’t been able to deliver in years.
Tour Amtrak Vacations Company Reviews
3.0 November 2018
Will never book with Amtrak Vacations ever again....
Didn't give me the right information from the get-go. I had to call several times with issues with my vouchers and tickets. Didn't get a break down of the cost of what I was paying for when I booked my trip, and I think they cheated me more money than the trip was worth. The last hotel they booked for me was ghetto as hell and I got BED BUGS!!!Read more
Tour Amtrak Vacations Company Reviews
3.0 September 2018
Does Not Recommend
Avoid Amtrak VacationsAmtrak Vacations, Inc. let me tell you what a deplorable vacation we had on Amtrak. We scheduled a National Park Amtrak vacation June 2017 to travel July 2018. We were very excited to take this trip. Everyone knows that when you travel with Amtrak there will be delays because Amtrak does not own the tracks. The first part of the trip from Chicago to Salt Lake and the visit to Yellowstone were wonderful. From Salt Lake to Emeryville, CA they ran out of food and we only had a choice of hamburger or hot dog. Certainly not a deal breaker but at least poor planning on Amtrak's part. When we arrived in San Francisco and tried to check into our hotel we were told our reservation had been cancelled by Amtrak Vacations. The next day I was able to correct this after spending almost an hour on the phone with Amtrak Vacations. We waited for the bus to pick us up for our Yosemite tour and were told that the tour bus had already left even though we were where Amtrak Vacations told us where to pick up the bus and we were at this correct spot 35 minutes early. No trip to Yosemite for us. When we left Glacier National Park we had a two hour delay. The conductor made an announcement that several passingers needed to be put up in a hotel in Milwaukee because of the delay . These passengers were traveling on the same connecting train that we were. We questioned the conductor as to why were we not included with those passengers since we're were on the same connecting train. He assured us that we would make our connection. . . . ? How is that possible, of course it was not possible. We received no help from the customer service agent in Chicago. That particular day Chicago had two concerts,the Alzeheimers Conference, 50 years of Special Olympics and a Cubs vs. Card ball game. Needless to say there were no rental cars at either airport and the least expensive hotel cost $378 plus cab fare. We paid $799 for travel interruption insurance and were told today they would pay us $214 for the claim that we filed for $640. What a scam. Moral of the story AVOID Amtrak Vacations.Read more
5.0 November 2018
Japan Cultural Odyssey
We really enjoyed our Discover Corps tour and can't wait to return to Japan. My wife and I took the Discover Corps cultural trip to Japan (Started in Tokyo-then a bullet train to Kyoto & more local trains to Osaka). The transportation system works well and no cars were ever needed. We were completely taken care of from booking and then thru the process. Adrienne did a great job of informing us of all the details-no planning required. Our guides in Japan, Aki and Miwa, were very knowledgeable local people & made sure we were having a unforgettable time! The cultural experience in Japan was terrific. Great mix of excitement; watching Sumo and participating in Kendo. The food was wonderful plus we were able to participate in sushi making!Read more
Tour Discover Corps Company Reviews
5.0 July 2018
We lived in the African bush for 10 days. Accommodations were wonderful - tents with nice furniture and attached bathrooms. Plenty of hot water! Food was delicious and quite sophisticated. But the best were the wildlife experiences led by an extremely knowledgeable and personable guide. All the staff were kind and professional.Read more
5.0 July 2017
This trip was really superb, starting with the folks like Alex in the San Diego office to our tour guide in Havana, Orelvis (a perfect gentleman if there ever was one--and he seemed to know absolutely EVERYTHING about Havana), and our driver, Boris (who was an extremely safe driver, and the SUV that was our transportation was a practically new Honda), and our friendly hostess at the casa particular (B&B).Read more
But at breakfast at the casa particular, keep in mind the CDC guidelines for healthy travel: cook it, boil it, peel it (yourself) or FORGET IT. So the bowl of fruit and the fruit juices? Pass them up in favor of coffee and toast. I know that sounds boring, but after I got home, I ended up in the hospital emergency room for dehydration due to e-coli--my fault for not following the CDC guidelines.
Also, to get up to my room at the casa particular, I had to climb a narrow, curved marble staircase--I took extra care not to fall either on the way up or on the way down.
The activities and attractions were first rate (but you must keep in mind that you're on "Cuban time," and not everything runs like a Swiss train). From the Hemingway house to the canon ceremony (which I loved even though it was a substitution for another event that was unexpectedly closed) to the jazz club (again, we went to one jazz club that for some reason didn't work out, but no problem--Orelvis took us to another jazz club recommended by his supervisor in Havana) to the art museum to the Malecon to the outdoor terrace at the Hotel Nacional and more, it was amazing how much we saw of Havana in about 72 hours.
There were only four people on the trip, and that was both a good thing and a bad thing--good because each of us received a great deal of attention from Orelvis and bad because two of the four didn't want to follow the itinerary and often went off on their own and then kept the rest of us waiting for them to return (highly frustrating--finally Boris said, "the schedule is the schedule," and we stopped catering to them). One of them spoke fluent Spanish--good for her--but I did wish that Orelvis had curtailed the lengthy conversations that she initiated with him, which the rest of us could not understand.
Two of my favorite activities were ones that I arranged myself: attending the world-class ballet at the gorgeously restored el Gran Teatro and then taking a yellow 1950 Chevrolet convertible with an Italian driver, who was an absolute hoot, back to the casa particular.
And the food at the private restaurants known as paladars was first rate. We even had lunch at one that Anthony Bourdain recently featured on his CNN travel show "Parts Unknown."
Just a small word of caution: sometimes there wasn't enough bottled water in the SUV in which we were riding, especially when we were dropped off at the casa particular at night. Make sure that you have plenty of bottled water with you at all times. (The CDC even recommends that you brush your teeth with bottled water.)
I also wish I had brought another pair of shoes with me because with all of the walking in the heat of the Cuban sun, my feet swelled. Fortunately, I had brought some Band-Aids with me, which helped cushion the sore spots.
I highly recommend this trip--to my way of thinking, it's much better than taking a cruise ship that only docks in Havana for one or two nights--and the "Havana Weekend Getaway" is the most popular trip to Cuba that is offered by Discover Corps, as I learned from Orelvis.
|Tours||2 Trips||28 Trips|
|Average Trip Price Per Day||$ 304||$ 399|
|Operator Type||Group Tour Operator||Group Tour Operator|
|Size||Local Specialist||Global Operator|
|Headquarters||Beverly, Massachusetts, United States||San Diego, California|
|Solo Friendly||N/A||No single supplement|
Since 1971, Amtrak has operated railway services throughout the contiguous United States, with more than 300 trains traveling on 21,300 miles of track each day.
What Makes Amtrak Vacations Stand Out?
There’s something about a rail journey that connects one to the past, while feeling distinctly futuristic.
As you explore the United States and Canada with Amtrak, the expansiveness of the landscape will awe and inspire. Especially as you relax into the pace of rail, which let’s face it, is much slower when compared to grabbing a flight. But that’s part of the fun.
Amtrak Vacations aims to show people North America, and creating lasting memories through journeys that incorporate scenic landscape views, excellent service, and inclusive packages.
They offer a lot of variety when it comes to duration, price, and destination. Whether you’re looking for a quick getaway or a longer more leisurely vacation, you can be sure to have an amazing journey.
Who Will Enjoy Traveling with Amtrak Vacations?
Rail journeys are appealing to a wide range of travelers. The ease and comfortability makes this mode of travel very popular among families, older groups, and those with limited mobility. A large part of taking a rail journey is the opportunity to sit back and relax, watching stunning scenery go by. So these trips are ideal for travelers wanting something scenic and easy, with a few options here and there to get out and explore the landscape on foot.
Amtrak specializes in easy, inclusive travel packages - including accommodations, meals, and of course your transportation. This is a great option for travelers seeking some flexibility in each destination when it comes to sightseeing and activities, but want the stability of having some key logistics taken care of.
These journeys cover North America, and more specifically United States and Canada. Those who travel with Amtrak are largely US and Canadian Citizens on cross country trips. That said, it can also be an attractive way to cover a lot of ground for international travelers. However note that some of the time off the train will be to your own devices, without a guide, so if language barrier is an issue be sure to keep this mind.
Amtrak Vacations are available in North America on Amtrak railways, and through connections to boats, ferries, and motorways.
You can travel in many different directions and there is a large variety of durations available. Some of the most popular Amtrak Vacations are through national parks. Currently they offer rail journeys through Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Crater Lake National Park, Glacier National Park, the Grand Canyon, Grand Tetons, Rocky Mountains, Yellowstone, and Yosemite.
In addition, Amtrak covers all major geographical regions of the United States and Canada, including most major cities.
A journey with Amtrak Vacations can be done on a budget, or more luxury. With several dining options, and accommodation options on board, such as deluxe sleeper cars, there’s something to be found for everyone. They provide excellent customer service and a knowledgeable staff available for any and all questions throughout your trip.
Amtrak offers a few different types of rail vacation packages:
Rail Getaways - These quick jaunts are great for a weekend getaway, solo or with a few friends or family members. Get to know a specific region and enjoy taking some time off the train to explore.
Independent Journeys - Multi city vacations ideal for those who are looking for an adventure, and a lot of independent choice when it comes to activities and sightseeing.
Round Trip - Fairly self explanatory, these can be long or short trips. Different routes aren’t taken, so you will be seeing double. But for some travelers this is a great way to pass the same sites and maybe explore some in more depth than you did going the opposite direction.
National Parks - As stated above, national park visits are one of the most popular Amtrak Vacation packages available. The incredible scenery envelopes you and there are many opportunities to disembark and explore. These journeys are especially memorable for the opportunity to stay at hotels within the park itself - and feel truly a part of the incredible nature.
Rail and Sail - These trips are a unique way to make your journey to the cruise ship about more than just getting from point A to point B. Every component, land, sea, and rail becomes something special.
Coast to Coast - Really get into the landscape and enjoy the rhythm of what it means to really embrace slow travel. Coast to coast trips with Amtrak typically last between 15 and 17 days, and are a great way to feel the true spirit of rail travel.
Family Adventures - These journeys are great for family bonding, and really take into consideration activities that kids will enjoy. This definitely includes a theme park visit or two! Learning and educational excursions also take center stage, as the incredibly expansive US or Canada comes to life.
Why Choose a Trip With Amtrak Vacations?
Rail travel is like taking a ride through history. The implementation of the railroad had such an enormous effect on exploration as well as making connection between the coasts easier that ever before.
When you travel with Amtrak Vacations, the adventure begins the minute you step on board. And the train journey itself is a large part of the experience.
Amtrak offers many ways to relax, including spacious cabins and seats, spectacular views, and a unique dining experience. Amtrak aims to transform travelers’ state of mind as they pass through the natural beauty outside.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. I have a local Amtrak station near me. Can I begin and/or end my tour there?
Yes! Tours with Amtrak vacations can be started or finished at any one of the 300 Amtrak stations covering the USA and Canada. And most itineraries can be taken in reverse order, for your convenience.
2. Do you include sightseeing in the itinerary?
Yes, sightseeing excursions are included in all of the itineraries with Amtrak vacations. You do have the option to add on additional sightseeing activities. These are available for an upgrade fee.
3. Do the sleeper cars have private facilities?
Amtrak has two levels of sleeper car: “Roomettes” and “Bedrooms”.
The Roomettes are ideal for one or two passengers, and are a good option for budget travelers - sinks and bathrooms are shared, though there are multiple to a car. They feature reclining seats that form a bed, on opposite sides of the large viewing windows.
Bedroom setups are great for couples or those wanting a more exclusive travel experience. They feature a private sink, toilet, and shower.
4. Are meals included?
Yes, all meals are included in the inclusive packages offered by Amtrak. There are varying levels of dining available, from luxurious private service to a more cafeteria level experience.
Amtrak is able to accommodate most dietary needs and restrictions if given proper notice. They recommend 72 hours notice at least.
5. How much luggage can I bring?
Amtrak requires that each passenger bring no more than 2 large pieces of luggage, not exceeding 50 lbs.
6. When should I arrive at the train station?
It is recommended to arrive at least 30 minutes before you train departs. If you require special assistance, Amtrak requests that you allow for more than 30 minutes to ensure you reach your departure.
San Diego based tour company Discover Corps is a leader in the rapidly growing field of volunteer vacations. Operating since 2004, Discovery Corps trips average one to two weeks and focus on volunteering either with children and schools or with animals and wildlife conservation.
What Makes Discover Corps Stand Out?
They are focused on providing travel experiences with a wider humanitarian purpose - and help you put your tourism dollars to good use on the ground. The world of “voluntourism” is a sticky area, and has been met with some criticism over the years, so traveling with a reputable and transparent company has become super important.
With Discover Corps, volunteering, responsible tourism, and giving back to local communities is their entire brand - not just a buzzword on the “about us” page. So for those travelers who truly want to make their vacation about volunteering first and tourism second, Discover Corps is a great choice.
Discover Corps trips are all inclusive, and while volunteering is the primary focus, sightseeing and cultural activities are also included. Their trips are very popular among families, friend groups, and solo travelers.
Who Will Enjoy Traveling With Discover Corps?
These tours are best suited to travelers who want to have a humanitarian focus on their next trip. And if this idea is new to you, but you are interested in getting involved, Discover Corp is a great way to start.
The average age on a Discover Corps trip is 45-65 except in summer, when families with children as young as 10 are welcome on “family friendly” trips.
Wildlife lovers as well will love the opportunities available on Discover Corps Nature & Wildlife conservation tours. You’ll have a chance to get up close to some amazing species, learn about their habitats, and get to participate in various initiatives designed to protect these habitats.
Discover Corp travels around the world, in rural villages, beach locations, and rainforests. Popular destinations are primarily in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
Discover Corps Travel Style
Their all-inclusive trips combine light volunteer projects with sightseeing and cultural immersion. They also offer support while you’re on site – from building classrooms to improving water systems to creating eco-friendly homes. The ideas come from the local communities themselves, and local staff plan everything in advance.
Why Choose a Tour With Discover Corps?
If you’re the kind of person who likes being actionable and getting involved with protecting threatened cultures, wildlife, and contributing to growing communities in need of schools and homes, then Discover Corps would be a great choice.
Volunteer vacations are one of the best ways to get to know the local people on a different level than many tour companies provide. Rather than simply enjoying a meal at a local restaurant, you’re out in the neighborhoods meeting everyday people.
“Traveling with a purpose” might seem like a thrown around phrase these days, but it is the entire philosophy around every Discovery Corps trips. So when you join one of their tours, you’ll be surrounded by guides and other travelers for whom this isn’t a buzzword - it’s an important and meaningful mission.