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What you need to know about Amtrak Viewliner Roomette

Amtrak Viewliner Roomette: What You Need To Know

An Amtrak Viewliner roomette is a comfortable way to view the East Coast of the United States by rail. Roomettes are private accommodations containing everything you need for a day of watching the country roll by, with births for sleeping at night and some storage for your gear.

Viewliner Sleeping Cars contain other accommodations besides having roomettes, for they also contain bedrooms and an accessible room for special needs passengers.

The Lake Shore Limited in Albany.
The Lake Shore Limited in Albany.
Lake Shore Limited
Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited in Albany.

What Amtrak Trains Have Viewliner Equipment?

You can find Viewliner trains on the Eastcoast that go to or leave New Your Penn Station.

Viewliner RoutesDestinations
CardinalNew York Penn – Chicago, IL
CrescentNew York Penn – New Orleans
Lake Shore LimitedNew York Penn/Boston, MA – Chicago, IL
This train splits or comes together in Albany, NY
Silver Meteor/Silver StarNew York Penn – Miami, FL
Palmetto*New York Penn – Savanna, GA
*This train is not an overnight train, so it does not have a sleeper car service.

If you have a roomette for a train not listed above, you need the article on Superliner Roomettes.

Viewliner Sleeper Car Layout

Amtrak Viewliner Sleeper
The layout of an Amtrak Viewliner Sleeper car. Roomettes in blue, bedrooms in orange, and accessible room in mauve.

Viewliner sleepers contain roomettes, bedrooms, and an accessible room. Additionally, they offer coffee/drink stations outside the shower/changing room. The car attendant’s room is the white area on the bottom right of the diagram across from the shower.

There are newer cars with similar layouts but with some updated differences.

What is an Amtrak Viewliner Roomette?

The upper bunk of a Viewliner roomette.
A view of an upper bunk of a Viewliner roomette

Amtrak Viewliner Roomette Size

Roomettes are the smallest of Amtrak accommodations, measuring around 6.5′ by 3.5′; they remind me of RV’s efficient use of a small space.

These rooms are comfortable for one and can be cozy for two. They provide privacy, a shower, changing room access, and complimentary food and beverages.

Amtrak Viewliner Roomette Beds

During the day, two chairs face each other. The two chairs become the lower berth or bed ( 2.3′ by 6.5′), and the second berth pulls down from above (2′ by 6.2′).

The top bunk has safety straps, so you do not roll out at night. The top berth also has a pouch or netting for glasses and phone, or whatever you want within reach of the bed.

Whoever sleeps in the top bed needs to do some easy climbing to get there.

New Viewliner Sleeper Cars

Amtrak Viewliner II Roomette
A view of an Amtrak Viewliner II Roomette

There are new Viewliner Sleeper cars on the system known as Veiwliner II’s. You will know these cars because of the “wood” and burgundy interiors.

Many travelers will notice the most significant change because roomettes no longer have toilets but still have a sink. Room lighting has improved with new LED lighting technology.

These sleeper cars started in service around 2020. I don’t have a new layout or photos of the new Viewliner II cars yet, but I will post them as soon I have some available.

A few things moved in the car.

There are twelve roomettes in the new cars, one of those used by the attendant.

The shower is in the same spot, but the car bathroom is now across from it instead of the car attendant’s room. The coffee station is now towards the middle of the car, next to room 1.

Viewliner Roomette: Power & Lighting

Power

Amtrak Viewliner II Roomette chair
A view of one of the seats in a new Amtrak Viewliner roomette

These sleeper cars were designed and built before our mass use of electronics, so be advised there is only one double wall outlet in the room by the sink.

A simple extension cord will solve this problem for most people and allow you to charge multiple devices simultaneously.

A power pack could help with charging electronics. The newer cars now have an outlet by the sink and the other seat.

Lighting

Lights in the room include ceiling lights, a nightlight, reading, and wall lights. Amtrak is in the process of switching many of these lights over to more efficient LED lights.

The photo shows you the right side (looking into the room) of the heating controls and vent system for air movement. To the right of the heating and vent controls is an area to hang your garments.

Travel tip: the upper bunk has a reading light that works well for mood lighting in conjunction with the nightlight. I often use this light when I head to dinner, so there is some light in the room when I return.

Windows & Doors Of A Viewliner Roomette

View from an Amtrak Viewliner roomette
View from an Amtrak Viewliner roomette

Windows

Viewliners have large windows allowing you to watch the country roll by as you travel. Plus, upper-level windows let in more light and give you a view in the upper bunk. Additionally, windows facing the hallway give your room a more open feel.

All windows have drapes to keep the light out and for privacy.

Doors

Doors are only lockable from the inside, so before leaving your room, make sure you put things out of sight. I have never had an issue, but I try not to leave valuables out when I am not in the roomette.

The newer room’s locks are easier to use than the older ones.

Amtrak Viewliner Sleeper Roomette Storage & Baggage Tips

Baggage area of a Viewliner Bag dorm car
Amtrak has dorm baggage car on some trains; here is a few of the baggage area.

Viewliners offer more storage than their Superliner counterparts, but that doesn’t mean you have room for the “kitchen sink.”

Besides, these rooms have a sink, so you do not have to bring yours.

Roomettes have a place for you to hang garments, and also above the door is ample storage for most travelers.

Packing as light as possible makes your trip better and easier, especially when getting on and off the trains.

Checked Baggage Service

Checked baggage service is available between some stations, but not all, so check while booking or before leaving for your trip to prevent surprises.

If your first station does not have checked service, but your layover and destination stations do, you can check bags at your layover station.

If you want to use this option, check bags at least 45 minutes before departure.

Amtrak Viewliner Roomette Amenities

Comfort Amenities

Besides the sleeping areas and storage, there are more to these small rooms.

Each room has a fold-out table between the two chairs, and the safety card is behind. Rooms come with bottled water, fresh towels, blankets, sheets, and pillows.

Viewliner Roomette Sink
The sink in an Amtrak Viewliner Roomette, below that, is the toilet found under the step.

In the morning, coffee and juice service is available at the coffee station towards the end of the car by the shower. You can also get coffee from the sleeper lounge.

Complimotorty drinks throughout your trip are available in the sleeper lounge for most of your journey, along with your meals. On trains like the Cardinal or Capitol Limited, you may need to remind the cafe car attendant that you are in a sleeper to get your complimentary beverage.

Sink and Toilet

Amtrak has recently rolled out nice new cars. All roomettes still have sinks. Only the older cars have toilets in the room.

If you are traveling alone, often this is not a big deal, but it could be awkward for two.

If the walls of the sleeper car are white, you have a toilet in your car, lift the lid under the sink, and do not have public restrooms in your sleeper car.

New cars have a public bathroom at the end by the door across from the shower unless you are in a dorm baggage car, commonly found on the Cardinal. In that case, the bathroom is in the middle of the sleeper car. Across from it is the shower.

The newer cars have a public restroom but no in-room roomette toilet.

Using the sink is a little different than what you are used to at home, for the dirty water accumulates in the basin and drains out the back when you fold it up into the wall.

The toilet lid and the shelf in front of the folded sink are steps you use with safety handles to climb into the upper berth.

Meals Onboard

Your sleeper car reservation includes all scheduled meals, which means you do not get a meal if you board in the middle of the night.

My Amtrak Flex Dining severed in My Amtrak Viewliner Roomette: Thai Red Curry Street Noodles, with dessert and white wine.
Amtrak Flex Dining: Thai Red Curry Street Noodles, with dessert and white wine

All Veiwliner trains use Amtrak’s flex meals. These are meals that are prepared and heated once ordered. Lunch and dinner come with a salad, roll, and beverage.

You can consume your meals in the sleeper lounge, bring them back to your room, or have them delivered to your room by your attendant.

You are eligible for complimentary adult beverages with dinner (provided you are 21 or older). Other complimentary beverages include soft drinks, juices, hot and cold coffee or tea, and more. More about this later.

On my last few trips (in 2020 through 2022), the attendant suggested I bring my meals to me, with the option of going to the lounge car. Breakfast was either in the room or going to the car. How they offer meals can vary from train to train and how full it is.

Car Attendant

A car attendant (porter) is in every car to help you along the way. The term porter is no longer used to refer to car attendants.

Help You Settle In & What They Can Do For You

Amtrak Viewliner Roomette Hallway
I was looking down the hallway of roomettes on a Viewliner Sleeper Car, looking toward the end of the sleeper car.

The attendant will often greet you when you board the train unless you board late at night; in that case, it could be the conductor or an adjacent car attendant. They will let you know what all the cars’ buttons do and answer any questions.

The attendant will prep your room for day or night, help with luggage (when able) and maintain the sleeper car. They can help bring meals to your room and fill you in on the food procedure for that train.

They will often inform you about meal times and fill you in on everything else you need.

If you need help along your journey, use the call button to alert the attendant you need help.

Remember, the attendant is there to help the whole car, not a personal servant. Because of others in the sleeper car, it may take some time before they can get to you.

During the middle of the night is the attendee’s downtime, so plan accordingly.

If you receive excellent service from the attendant, tipping is appreciated.

Wi-Fi On The Train

Most Viewliner trains do have Wi-Fi. Amtrak Wi-Fi is cellular and not set up for streaming videos or big files, and it can be spotty along the way. The best way to approach Wi-Fi on trains is to plan for unavailability and be happy when it works out for you. If you want movies or shows along your journey, it works best to download them ahead of time.

Getting Around The Train & Where You Can Go

Getting around the train is easy if you remember which direction to go.

Trains are linear, so you may need to walk through a few cars to get the car you need to visit. When walking through the train, ensure you are respectful because others may be sleeping.

Sleeper Lounge

Amtrak Beer
The new meal programs now come with complimentary drinks. My dad and I enjoyed these complimentary beers with our meals onboard the Lake Shore Limited (October 2018)

The sleeper lounges are dining cars now used as a gathering place for sleeper car passengers.

This car has an attendant that can help get you your meals and complimentary soft drinks. Here is a list of drinks available and the cost of alcohol.

Try the lounge if you need to get out of your roomette for a while. Amtrak set this car aside for sleeper car passengers to relax and watch the scenery roll by traveling to their destination. If you need snacks or additional alcohol, check out the next car.

Cafe Car

The cafe car is often the next rail car from the sleeper lounge. The cafe car is where coach passengers can hang out and a place for you to get a few extra snacks or grab something to drink.

Shower & Changing Room

Amtrak Viewliner II shower
Amtrak Viewliner II shower

Taking a shower while traveling down the rails can be necessary, if not fun. There is one shower for all roomette passengers to use.

You can use the shower area to change your clothing if you need extra space to get dressed.

Amtrak provides bar or soft soap, washcloths, and towels. If you need shampoo, hairdryers, or other hair accessories, you will need to pack them.

Soap like Dr. Bronners is a travel’s best friend because it can clean you, work well as a shampoo, and wash your clothing if needed.

The shower room has a place for soiled towels, either in a bin or a red bag. Remember to clean up and grab your belongings before returning to your room.

Can I Request A Room For The “Best View?”

This question comes up a lot on forums. A ticket agent cannot guarantee which way a room faces because sleeper cars run in either direction. Since they run in either direction, Amtrak may put sleeper cars together in whatever order they come into the yard.

The direction your room faces is the luck of the draw; the onboard staff might be able to move you, but this is not guaranteed. For a different view, try the Sightseer Lounge, or for passengers on the City of New Orleans and Auto Train, try the Sleeper Lounge.

How Do I Know What Room I Have?

Amtrak Ticket
A sample of an Amtrak ticket and some personal informant I redacted.

Regardless of how you book your room, Amtrak assigns you a car and room number as soon as your transaction is complete.

Each sleeper car has a number; the ticket example above is 9710. As you walk to the train, look for this number, they are found by the doon and light up.

Sometimes you may walk into a neighboring car to enter yours.

As you would guess, the room number is the roomette you have during your journey.

If you are reserving more than one roomette, you can call Amtrak to see if you can get them near each other.

Where Are Sleeper Cars On The Train?

You can find sleeping cars at the end of the train after the Sleeper Lounge/Dining Car. The Lake Shore Limited has sleeper cars on both ends because the train splits or comes together.

Amtrak Viewliner Roomette: Extras To Consider Packing

I like bringing a few things to make my trip more enjoyable.

Travel bag
My bag was packed, my tickets were ready, and my travel socks!
  • Electronics
    • Extension cord
    • Headphones
    • Chargers and cables
    • A tablet with downloaded entertainment can help buy time at night or if there is a delay.
      • Apps such as Netflix, Disney +, Amazon Prime, or other streaming services allow you to download movies ahead of time to watch them without the internet.
  • Snacks and drinks
    • I bring a reusable bag of snacks to pack the bag away when the snacks are gone.
    • To save on weight, I’ll buy snacks for each way instead for the whole trip and replenish them before heading back.
    • Many big stations, such as Chicago, DC, New York Penn, and more, have food courts and shops that sell snacks.
    • A refillable water bottle is a handy way to stay hydrated and lower your travel footprint.
    •  When writing this article, you can bring your alcohol and consume it in your room. Conductors could remove you at the next stop if you get out of control, regardless of your destination.
  • Sleeping and misc
    • Eyeshades if you are super sensitive to light at night
      • Drapes block a lot of light, but if you are uber-sensitive, these could help.
    • Earplugs, if you need it uber quiet
    • Sleep aides

Viewliner Roomette Etiquette

Basic manners apply when riding in a Viewliner Sleeper, but here are a few points to review.

  • Inside voices are essential; the walls are thin, so be mindful of your neighbors.
  • If you don’t use headphones, keep your electronics at a low volume, especially at night.
  • Treat your car attendant with respect; remember, there is only one for the whole car.
    • Here is more information on tipping on Amtrak trains.
  • Clean up after yourself in common areas. It is the right thing to do and makes things better for staff and fellow passengers.

Viewliner Roomette Wrap-up

Amtrak Viewliner Roomette
Amtrak Viewliner Roomette

Roomettes are my happy place; I have enjoyed thousands of miles in these rooms.

Occasionally I didn’t get the best car attendant, but it was the exception to the rule. I try to get a roomette because of personal space, food, get to use a shower, and get to sleep horizontally. Plus they are often cheaper than a bedroom.

My favorite part of a roomette is that I can stretch out, watch the scenery go by, and listen to something without headphones (providing I keep it at a low volume).

With a sleeper, once onboard, your basic needs are covered. Amtrak offers one free alcoholic beverage per trip and complimentary non-alcoholic drinks for your journey in the Sleeper Car Lounge. This offering is part of the dining program.

Reminder, things can change at any time, I do my best to keep things up to date, but Amtrak can change things without me finding out.

Safe Travels!

Kev

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Kev

Kev has been traveling with Amtrak since 2012, celebrating his tenth year this year. Over those years, he has been on over 700 trains covering over 200,000 miles of rail. Kev enjoys helping others achieve their travel dreams by assisting them with support and information. Kev enjoys making music as an organist.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Henry

    I would suggest that if traveling alone, sleep in the upper bunk and leave the seats as they are below it. Three reasons: your luggage can go on the seats; the view is better from the top bunk, and you sleep on a double thickness of mattress. I always just make my own bed in the top bunk (it’s not that difficult).

  2. Carey

    My recent experience on the SW Chief was that bottom berth seemed more padded because you have the cushion of the seat. The mattresses are thin so even though there are two on the upper berth, it doesn’t amount to the cushioning of the seats on the lower berth. Western Kansas has uber bumpy rails!

    1. Kev

      The Superliner Sleepers, like the Southwest Chief, seem to have different upper berth mattresses than the Eastcoast Viewliners. I rarely use the upper bunk on Superliners. I believe that as the Superliners get rebuilt, they are getting new mattresses, which can help. 🙂

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