After many months of being excited about the Brightline Train starting service from Orlando to Miami, Steve (DOS) and I finally took the train on this route to take an international flight out of Miami. There have been quite a few delays over the months, but the Brightline train started service on the Orlando to Miami route in mid-September of this year. This is a huge milestone in travel from Central to Southern Florida, as the train originates in Orlando with stops in West Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Aventura, and ultimately Miami. The stops are super quick, averaging a couple minutes a piece, and the whole trip takes around 3 and 1/2 hours, which makes it very feasible versus taking a flight or driving, without all the stresses of both.
Today (Monday Nov 13th) is the start of Steve (DOS) and myself’s longest trip together yet. We are first taking the Brightline Train from Orlando to Miami, and spending one night at the Miami Residence Inn by Marriott, near the Miami International Airport. Tomorrow night, we will fly from Miami to Istanbul, and connecting the next day to Athens, where we will stay for 4 nights. We then board Seabourn Cruises for a 34 night repositioning cruise to Singapore with stops in Egypt, transit thru the Suez Canal, UAE (including Dubai), India, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and ending in Singapore with many sea days mixed in between.
We were picked up by a car service at our house in Orlando at 9:30am, and DOS knew ahead of time to order an ultra-large vehicle to accommodate our 4 checked bags, and 4 carry-on bags (between the two of us.)
At the new train station at Orlando International Airport (MCO), which is adjacent to the Terminal C, we were dropped off on the ground level entrance, and easily made our way up to the level 5 Train Station Terminal via the elevator.
The new Brightline Train station at MCO Airport is gigantic, clean, and very modern looking.
We had a quick and easy check-in at the Brightline checked luggage desk, and our check-in agent seemed as excited as us about our trip and our first trip on Brightline. We checked a total of four bags on the train, two of which were complimentary as we had booked Premium Class, and we paid an extra $20 each for the other two checked bags. (Note: we carefully weighed the bags ahead of time at home to make sure they didn’t exceed 50 pound, or there would be an added excess baggage surcharge for those bags. Talk about close, each bag weighed between 48 and 49.5 pounds! LOL!). We carried aboard the other 2 bags a piece, which were smaller, and easily fit in the overhead space aboard the train.
After checking our bags in at the Brightline Station in Orlando, we had an hour and a half to spend in Brightline’s Premium Lounge, a perk having booked in the Business Class cabin. The lounge was a nice and quiet waiting area, and offered complimentary snacks and non-alcoholic snacks, although there was a self service beer tap for a charge; not sure what brand that was served, but it required a credit card. Anyway, it was too early for a brewski, so we had diet Pepsi’s and some breakfast items.
Here is the entrance to the Premium lounge. The lounge goes from almost full to almost empty on an hourly cycle, as most people just arrive a few minutes before their train leaves, not an hour and 45 minutes like we did. (A train leaves roughly every hour or so.)
Just outside the Premium lounge area in the public BrightLine waiting area is a full service Mary-Mary Bar, (unlike the self service one in the Premium Lounge) open to all passengers, and so named after the Florida railroad pioneer Henry Flagler’s, two wives, both coincidently named Mary. There is also a gift shop and sundry area for items you may take aboard.
Like the turnstile area to enter the passenger areas, a ticket or mobile app opens the gates to allow admittance to the waiting area, as well as the Premium Lounge. You must first have your luggage scanned and walk thru the turnstiles, but it is pacemaker safe, as I asked before entering them. You do have your luggage screened, although unlike the airlines there is not a limit on the liquids.
While we were waiting in the Premium Lounge, Steve (DOS) got page via the overhead announcements, and had to return to the check-in counter. Apparently we had a metal shoe horn in one of the checked bags, and they thought it was a knife due to the shape! I don’t know why they questioned a checked bag, but it’s good to know Brightline does X-ray the baggage that is checked.
Our train boarded right on time, approximately 10 minutes before the scheduled departure time of 11:54am. You board via an escalator just outside the Premium Lounge, and it’s a short walk to the Business car cabin. We were in Coach 1, which means the first passenger train car, in the (only) Premium Business Class car.
The Business Car was quite spacious and was configured in a 1 x 2 configuration with plenty of leg room, compared to the standard cars with a 2 x 2 configuration. Our cabin was only about 40% full, so I switched seats once we were underway for the first and longer segment to West Palm Beach, to sit across from DOS. We had originally booked single seats with DOS behind my seat, as the seats facing each other appeared to be a bit cramped for leg room in the train diagram (and did look that way once aboard the train.). So after moving I had a 2 seater to myself, while DOS had the single seat across from me until West Palm Beach, when I moved back to my original seat, as the next train segment to Ft. Lauderdale had those seats occupied.
Overall, the Brightline Train experience was excellent! The train was ultra-clean with comfortable seating, plenty of overhead bin space, individual outlets at each seat, clean restroom at the end of the Business Class cabin, and complimentary snacks and drinks served almost immediately after the train left the station at each stop. On the longest segment, from Orlando to West Palm Beach, the cabin attendant came by several times offering snacks or drinks, and even on the shorter segments in South Florida, she came by at least once during those 15 minute or so trips.
The Brightline travels up to a top speed of 125mph, and we sure zipped by all of these other cars on the freeway. How many times do you get to fly by a cop car without getting a ticket! LOL!
On arrival into Miami, we headed downstairs via escalators, to the small (and not busy) baggage claim area. The baggage delivery was very quick, and we ordered an XL Uber which met us just outside to the left of the Brightline terminal.
As it was around 4:15pm by then, the rush-hour traffic in Miami was quite slow, although we were only 5 miles or so from out hotel at the Residence Inn Miami Airport.
We checked into the hotel, which is part of a Marriott complex of several Marriott-branded hotels including the Residence Inn, Courtyard, Marriott Hotel, and Fairfield Inn, all within walking distance of each other, and only a couple miles from the Miami Airport.
We had a nice one bedroom suite which was quite comfortable for one night or especially for a longer stay, with separate living room area, small dining table, full size fridge and oven, microwave, dishwasher, and plates and utensils. And unusual for a hotel; great lighting! Most hotels are quite dark even with the lights on, but his hotel had lots of lights, from ceiling to table lamps, it made for a more inviting and cheery feeling.
We had dinner next door at the Courtyard Hotel, at the Champion Sports Bar; quite a large bar for a hotel, but it serviced all of the complex Marriott hotels, which you could charge to your respective Marriott Hotel, quite a great marketing concept. DOS and I had a couple appetizers, and I had a couple brewskis while DOS had a couple sodas.
Now it’s 11:15pm, and we’re back in our room anxiously anticipating our trip tomorrow. Hopefully we will have decent internet service along the way, and will post as we are able to. As we will be gone until New Year’s Eve, this will be the longest trip we have done, at nearly seven weeks total! Tomorrow night we fly from Miami to Istanbul on Turkish Airlines (Business Class) and then connect the next day (Wednesday) to our flight to Athens, where we are staying for four nights prior to the Seabourn cruise.
Thanks for following and we hope to catch up remotely along the journey!