WASHINGTON -- The American Orient Express is renowned as one of the
most elegant trains in the U.S., but it is also gaining quite a
reputation as a television celebrity.
For instance, a British television crew will be filming on the
train in May. In 1998, filmmaker John Grant brought his cameras
aboard to film the American Orient Express as it journeyed into the
Rockies and Yellowstone.
The program was such a hit that Grant decided to film the train
again, this time highlighting one of the rail line's most popular
journeys: the Antebellum South. The show will air this summer.
"Antebellum is a route the company has been operating for about
five years," said Peter Boese, American Orient Express' vice
president of sales and marketing.
The excursion departs from Washington and travels to Richmond,
Va.; Charleston, S.C.; Savannah, Ga., and St. Augustine, Fla.,
before winding up in New Orleans.
Among the highlights are visits to Monticello, Thomas
Jefferson's estate; Charleston's Drayton Hall, considered a fine
example of Georgian-Palladian architecture, and the historic
Owens-Thomas House in Savannah.
Boese said the Antebellum program has proven to be so popular
that next year the company is going to offer four Civil War
"They have really taken off with the group market," he said. "We
have a lot of organizations that are buying into the theme,
including the Smithsonian Institution and the History Channel."
The Antebellum South is one of several programs offered by the
American Orient Express.
Others include:The Great Transcontinental Rail Journey: Highlights Washington;
Charleston; Savannah; New Orleans; San Antonio; Santa Fe, N.M.;
Grand Canyon National Park, and Los Angeles.National Parks of the West: Visits Yellowstone, Grand Teton,
Bryce Canyon, Zion and Grand Canyon.Great Trans-Canada Rail Journey: Departs from Vancouver and
visits Jasper, Alberta; Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; Winnipeg,
Manitoba; Ottawa, Ontario, and Montreal.
Most of the American Orient Express' journeys are six-night
plans, Boese said.
"From a customer-satisfaction standpoint, as well as from a
price point, that combination works for us," he said. "We have two
longer programs, our Trans-Canada, which is an eight-night, and
Transcontinental, which is a nine-night, but they are epic journeys
across the continent."
One of the key attractions to American Orient Express is the
train itself. Powered in the U.S. by Amtrak locomotives and
Canadian National engines in Canada, the train features restored
blue and gold cars from the Streamliner era of the 1940s and
Accented in mahogany and brass, they encompass 16 cars in all,
including two dining carriages, two lounge carriages and an
observation car, with the balance made up of sleeper carriages.
Sleeper car accommodations include a single sleeper; vintage
Pullman with upper and lower berths and a full-size couch; parlor
suites with two lower berths, an upper berth, a full couch and a
sofa, and presidential suites with two lower berths, two single
sofas and a private shower.
In all, the train accommodates up to 100 passengers. The dining
cars feature open seating and a taste of local cuisine.
"Our chef incorporates regional cuisine with a lot of the old
rail menus," Boese said. "So, he might take a dish from the old
Santa Fe Super Chief that was developed by a chef back in the 1940s
and add it to the menu. On the Antebellum, he might have a creole
or cajun dish. So we usually have four different main courses each
Add to that a piano lounge, some jazz and a few pop tunes, and
it is easy to see why the American Orient Express has become quite
the star with passengers and television viewers.
American Orient Express
Phone: (888) 759-3944 or (630) 663-4550.