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Vermont rail excursion from Portland


shipgeeks
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I saw (and then lost) an article about a scenic rail trip that will be offered as a tour for cruise passengers, from Portland, with a one hour bus ride each way, to link up with the train.  I believe it might be the Green Mountain railway.  Anyone familiar with that rail line?

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3 hours ago, shipgeeks said:

I saw (and then lost) an article about a scenic rail trip that will be offered as a tour for cruise passengers, from Portland, with a one hour bus ride each way, to link up with the train. I believe it might be the Green Mountain railway.

Probably not the Green Mountain Railroad, as that railroad operates in Vermont and would be impracticable as a shore excursion from Portland. More likely it is the Wiscasset, Waterville and Farmington Railway, a narrow gauge line over which excursions are offered on three miles of track. The station and museum, is in Alma, Maine, fifty miles distant from Portland, Maine, about one hour travel time.

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10 hours ago, 1025cruise said:

The only one I read about is the Conway Scenic. 

With that said, there's plenty to do in Portland that I wouldn't spend time on a bus to go to Vermont.

Yes, it's the Conway Scenic Railway.  They say it is a one hour bus ride from Portland, but I've never been able to get to North Conway in less than 1.5 hours.  The entire tour is 8 hours, so I'd say 3 hours of bus ride, and 4 hours of train ride, so the entire Portland port call would be taken up by this.  Haven't done the railway, and not all of the bus route is very scenic.  Conway is a nice area, not sure how much I would stand of a 4 hour train ride, though.  If it is the Mountaineer route, it will go through the White Mountain National Park, which is beautiful, but again, not sure I'd want to spend my entire day sitting in bus or train seats.

 

And, it's New Hampshire, not Vermont.

Edited by chengkp75
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1 hour ago, 1025cruise said:

Yes, I'm aware Conway Scenic is in New Hampshire. Have done that trip a couple of times. Agreed, it's a lovely area, and the train ride is nice, but I wouldn't waste my time in Portland on that excursion.

Sorry, that comment wasn't for you, but the OP.

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Thanks, everyone.  The article said it's "in the planning stages", so I guess we'll learn more in the months or years to come.

I agree, it will have to be pretty good to lure us away from just spending our time on foot in Portland itself.

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3 hours ago, shipgeeks said:

The article said it's "in the planning stages", so I guess we'll learn more in the months or years to come.

Which is it that is in the "planning stages": the tourist railroad itself or the inclusive bus tour from Portland? If it is a new tourist railroad that is in the planning stages, that could be a fascinating development, one that adds to the several tourist railroads that operate throughout New England. But if it is merely a new bus tour package that will visit an already-existing tourist railroad, then it is just a matter of figuring out which railroad. As another has already commented, the Conway Scenic Railroad has a large presence in the area, but it would not be honest to represent it as being only one hour distant. As to the broader question of whether a trip on any of these tourist railroads (including the bus ride there and return) is worthwhile, a substantial factor is whether you are a railroad enthusiast seeking out train rides wherever they might be, or merely seeking a pleasant outing without any particular interest in railroads specifically. Different answers for each of these two distinct cohorts.

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20 hours ago, shipgeeks said:

The article said an existing tourist rail group has acquired (or will be acquiring?) buses to provide a full package for cruise ship visitors to Portland.

I wish I could find that article again!

How sure are you that Vermont was included? Because that would be a VERY long bus ride to get that train ride.

 

I'd do the Wiscasset train option in Alna.  Now *that's* an hour ride from Portland

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20 hours ago, shipgeeks said:

The article said an existing tourist rail group has acquired (or will be acquiring?) buses to provide a full package for cruise ship visitors to Portland.

I wish I could find that article again!

Here's the one I saw:

 

https://www.seatrade-cruise.com/ports-destinations/conway-scenic-railroad-poised-become-iconic-new-england-cruise-excursion

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Thank you!  That article is much more detailed than what I saw, but it has to be the same train.  (I'm embarrassed to have gotten the state wrong.)

My September cruise to Portland was one of the cancelled ones mentioned. I'll be interested to learn more about this before we get there again (although we have yet to do the Casco Bay ferry, and that will be a priority).

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  • 4 weeks later...

Now that we have our next C/NE cruise booked, I can see the excursion.  It is indeed the Conway Scenic Railroad, and of course New Hampshire, not Vermont (I'm still embarrassed).

I admire the planning that went into this, and we do enjoy train travel, especially vintage trains, but we will not be considering this one.

The excursion is 8.5 hours long.  The price is four times the most expensive ship excursion we've ever taken.  The time away from the ship includes shopping (no thanks), and time to explore the village. Just too many factors against it, for us.

Looking forward to another day in Portland!

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Get the 10:30 mail boat run, then walk up Franklin St from the ferry terminal, to Middle St, and have lunch at Duckfat.  All their fries are cooked in, guess what, duckfat.  They have a poutine with duck confit that is to die for (but keep your statins handy!).  Their milkshakes are notable as well.  A half mile walk back up Middle towards the Arena, passing the "Lobsterman statue", turn down Center St for a block to Fore St and you'll find the statue of one of our native sons, director John Ford.  Then take Fore St back towards the ship, which will take you through the heart of the Old Port (Central Provisions, Holy Donut).  Turn down one of the cross streets to get back to Commercial St, and have dinner at one of the fine restaurants along the way back to the ship (I would pass on DeMillo's, it just hasn't kept up with the explosion of great restaurants in Portland).

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I have long weekended in Conway a few times. The area near the train station is a nice area to do some shopping/etc. I've also done the train trip there a couple of times. But, I wouldn't book an excursion from Portland to go to Conway. Too much time on the bus. 

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