Amtrak Vacations vs St Hilda Sea Adventures - Tour Companies Compared

Compare details and see what other travelers are saying.

Rating Breakdown
Overall — 3.5
Value — 3.4
Guide — 4.0
Activities — 3.6
Lodging — 4.0
Transportation — 3.4
Meals — 4.0
Overall — 5
Value — 4.9
Guide — 4.9
Activities — 4.9
Lodging — 4.9
Transportation — 4.9
Meals — 4.9
Recent Reviews

Avoid Amtrak Vacations

3.0 September 2018
W
Does Not Recommend
  • Value 2.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 2.0
  • Meals 5.0
  • Activities 3.0
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.
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worst ever

1.0 March 2018
B
Does Not Recommend
  • Value 1.0
  • Guide 1.0
  • Activities 1.0
  • Lodging 1.0
  • Transportation 1.0
  • Meals 1.0
I'm not the kind of person who sits around and writes negative reviews. But after the multiple horrendous experiences I've had with Amtrak Vacations, I actually googled around until I could find somewhere to write about how badly run this business is. The customer service reps are all very nice. But it is the most poorly managed company I've ever encountered. (I received a $300 Amtrak Vacations gift card, so the reason I've continued booking with them for a few trips was in order to use up the amount on the card.) Prepare for a long phone call when you book--my longest was 53 minutes. They will put you on hold while they speak to people from accounting to check the amount on your card. (Why do I get the feeling that nobody there is sitting in front of a computer?) They will transfer you back and forth from "reservations" to "guest services". You may or may not get the emails they say they'll send with your ticket information. (I find I receive about 50% of the ones promised to me.) They will make errors refunding money to your card. And never ever call on a Saturday. The last straw that led to me writing this review was the 25 minutes I just spent, waiting to talk to a rep. She said that the business only has 3 employees on the phones Saturday to handle all the calls that come in. In short, don't use this company. Book online with regular Amtrak and save yourself the hassle.
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Tour Amtrak Vacations Company Reviews

The Only Way To Go

5.0 August 2015
GO
Recommends
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
This is the only way to go-no driving-just sit back and enjoy

Tour Amtrak Vacations Company Reviews

Life-changing and enjoyable!

5.0 October 2017
A
Recommends
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
This is a holiday gave me a chance to slow down, and take the time to feel part of the natural world: the sun, to notice the hook-beaked oyster catchers and families of rare seals, to enjoy the wonderful food, the sunshine, scudding clouds, waves lapping and the feeling of being held safely by the St Hilda whilst being at the mercy of winds, tides and waves. It was fun to share tasks with fellow passengers and to laugh. I haven't laughed so much for years. And I loved seeing beautiful coastal parts of Scotland for the first time from the sea, gaining the chance to wonder at the histories and cultures that have flourished, been lost and yet live on in the remote, unusual places where we moored. I discovered my sea-legs, but I found much more - the pleasure of a little bit of distance from land, the new perspectives it gives and sheer joy of experiencing the sea, and its role in revealing new dreams and uncovering old ones. All this was in the company of knowledgeable crew - sea-farers who made the whole cruise delightful from start to finish and easy-peasy for a land-lubber like myself.
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A Delight

5.0 October 2017
A
Recommends
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
This was a fantastic holiday - there is something magical about being in a ship, relying on wind and waves, seeing beautiful scenery, eating lovely food, helping sail the ship and enjoying the experience with a group of witty, friendly, knowledgeable people.
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It's fascinating to be on a slow journey

5.0 October 2017
A
Recommends
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
This holiday was like no other: it was stepping into another world where the wind, sun and sea mattered because our lives were held by the ship and these big elemental forces. It was a realm of sea faring lore, laughter and fun, where the elements - water, wind and tides - mattered and shaped and influenced our journey. It's easy to laugh on a ship because you are sharing the camaraderie of crew and ocean and somehow the sea is lighter than the land. Instead you have the myths and stories of sea and mysteries of the deep - Moby Dick, Jonah, Noah's Ark and Ring of Bright Water! It's fascinating to be on a slow journey with time to reflect and to be looking at the strange, populated and then depopulated, fought over Scottish coastal landscape from a new perspectives. It's fun to work with the charming, witty, friendly skippers and fellow crew hauling anchors and sails. But, most of all, it's a joy to be on, and in, and feeling the elemental ocean. I felt safe and found my sea-legs, but I also stumbled into a new world, one that enriches and ignites dreams.
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Tour St Hilda Sea Adventures Company Reviews

Tours 2 Trips 8 Trips
Average Trip Price Per Day $ 304 $ 166
Operator Type Group Tour Operator Small Ship & Expedition Cruise Line
Size Local Specialist Local Specialist
Trip Types
  • Group Tours
  • Independent / Self-Guided Packages
  • Private Guided Trips
  • Small Ship & Expedition Cruises
  • Custom Itineraries
Service Level Standard Standard
Regions
  • North America
  • Rivers & Seas
  • Europe
Known For
  • 50+
  • 18 - 35
  • Solo & Singles Travel
  • Adventure
  • Train & Rail
  • 50+
  • 18 - 35
  • Solo & Singles Travel
  • Eco Travel
  • Adventure
  • Sailing
Headquarters Beverly, Massachusetts, United States Oban, Scotland
Year Established 1972 N/A
Solo Friendly N/A Good for singles
Tour Languages English N/A
Top Trips
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    About Amtrak Vacations

    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?

    train track through national park

    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.

    Top Destinations

    Glacier national park with Amtrak

    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.

    Travel Style

    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.

    City stop in Chicago Amtrak vacation

    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.

    About St Hilda Sea Adventures

    St. Hilda Sea Adventures provide the unique experience to see Scotland from the sea. They offer many activities and private excursions - a perfect travel experience for families, older travellers, and small multi-gen groups.

    What Makes Them Stand Out?

    Taking only up to 11 guests (6 on St Hilda and 11 on Seahorse II), their tours are incredibly unique, as you cruise aboard a classic ex-tall ship (St Hilda) or a proper small ship (Seahorse II). Activities include sailing, swimming, sea kayaking, paddle boarding, fishing, rock pooling, and lobster potting. Or, you can simply choose to just relax and watch the spectacular wildlife and scenery float by.

    Who Travels With Them?

    All ages and all types enjoy traveling with St. Hilda Sea Adventures. Families, couples, and solo passengers are all welcome. Passengers can choose to do as much or as little as they like. This is a great trip for young kids to enjoy as well, for the thrill of hoisting the sails like a true sailor.

    Where Do They Operate?

    The West Coast of Scotland is where they specialize, the Outer and Inner Hebrides specifically. Such a niche focus is a huge positive for those interested in getting a unique view of this part of the world.

    Why Travel With Them?

    Their Scottish cruises give you the opportunity to see extraordinary wildlife and to cruise aboard a small ship with skipper and chef and a small group of passengers. All food is included, and there are many opportunities for interesting excursions. Some excursions are included in the price however, you can also arrange excursions based on your interests. These are not included but allow for a wonderful amount of personalization to your travel experience with St. Hilda Sea Adventures.

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