Grandluxe Rail Journeys formerly American Orient Express

United States Travel Blog

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Our experience on the Grandluxe train (formerly American Orient Express) was very bad. We took the National Parks of the West tour in May. Our trip cost over $12,000 and was not a pleasurable one.

We started in Albuquerque at a very unorganized and long check-in at the hotel. There were tours of Albuquerque available but for some reason we were not given the papers with the information about the tour. It was only after we arrived that we were told that they were going to be filming an infomercial during the trip that they hoped would be shown on the travel channel among others. We were NOT happy about this but at that point we did not have much choice. We were told that it would not interfere with our trip. They lied. There presence was intrusive and caused delays in our getting around. For example, the day we were to go to the Grand Canyon, we had to wait to board our motor coaches because they were filming their actors detraining. We were constantly being run out of the common cars to avoid them. Another example is described below which occurred after one of our off-train trips.

As for the train experience, here are quotes from Grandluxe website, followed by our experience:

"Enjoy fine dining and beautiful vistas in comfortable luxury aboard our classic, restored, private railcars." Our trip was anything but luxurious. We traveled across the Mojave dessert and most of the trip with no air conditioning. Our Classic Presidential Suite was dirty, my husband's bed smelled like vomit, and the toilet was broken. The dome car was most often unavailable due to meals served there, and the observation car was full every time we went there. The train was overcrowded and appeared to be understaffed. The club car had no air conditioning.

Except for about an hour on the first day the train did not travel at all during the day. There was no scenery to watch until five days after we boarded. That was the day we traveled across the desert. It was cooler in the vestibules between the cars that it was inside.

"Personal service by rail car attendant"- One of the key points of the advertised trip is luxury service. We received no personal service by a rail car attendant. If we wanted ice or a cold soda, we had to try to find it ourselves and most often could not find any available - even when it was stifling hot. We were given warm bottles of water every day. We used the same bed linens all week. Our car attendant was unresponsive if we used the call button.

Every side trip during our train time was rushed. We only were allowed a couple of hours at the Grand Canyon. The charge for a for a gentle, dry, float trip down the Glen Canyon was an extra $500.00. What we received was a van traveling 85 mph across the desert and a stop at the Navajo trading post (an advertised part of the trip) in which we were told to go to the bathroom and come right back. Train staff also told the tour guides to hurry the trip down the river and we ended up soaking wet. That would not have mattered except that when we arrived back late in the evening we were dropped off away from the train where we were now wet, chilled, and needed a restroom. Only then did they made arrangements to have us picked up. When we finally boarded and tried to make our way through the train to our sleeping car, we were told we had to wait because they were filming their infomercial.

The infomercial was a running joke on the train because it did not depict our trip very well. At one point they were filming the actors strolling across the train depot in Lamy hand in hand. The only problem was that we were all on the train watching because we were not allowed to detrain at all in Lamy.

The dinner meals on the train were good. Breakfasts, lunches, and meals off of the train were not. We were given a wine and cheese tasting at Cafe Terigo in Park City that was very nice.

When we attempted to communicate with the company about our complaints following the trip we received no response.

I would never recommend this trip to anyone.

Our trip aboard the Grand Luxe (formerly American Orient Express) was a very big and expensive disappointment. Our trip cost over $12,000 and, in my opinion, was nothing like it was described on their website. Our trip was not luxurious in any way and really was not much of a train ride since the train traveled mostly at night.

Our Classic Presidential Suite was dirty, my husbands bed smelled like vomit and our linens were not changed all week.

The air conditioning was not working most of the trip and it was very hot and stuffy. We were given bottles of warm water in our suite every day, but forget about a cold soda.

The dinners on board the train were very good, but breakfasts and meals off the train were local cheap diner fare.

All of the side trips, some of which cost extra, were rushed and seemed to be unorganized.

They decided to film us during the trip (without telling us until after we checked in) so, to avoid the camera, we spent most of the time on the train in our tiny, hot, smelly suite staring out the window of our parked train.

We tried to contact the company following the trip concerning our complaints, but they did not give us the courtesy of a reply.

I would never recommend this trip or train to anyone.

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