If this is the same trip I can highly recommend it. We travelled from Lucerne to Fluelen by boat... read more
We took the William Tell to Weggis and picked up the cog railway to Mt Rigi there. A great trip... read more
The time went so fast on this trip. Food was not very good on the boat as expected, but the scenery on the boat and train were stunning. The guide was not as attentive to our section of the train I don't even think she knew we were part of the tour. The spiral tunnels were so cool!
We travelled by boat from Lucerne to Fluellen and were delighted by the experience. We had a refreshment voucher which we used to pay for breakfast. We were allocated a table in the First Class Salon which was ours for the duration of the journey. Food and drink were good and the service excellent. We chose to spend much of the journey outside on the First Class reserved area from where we could watch the beauty of the lake.
At Fluellen we transferred to a "Panoramic" train. Unfortunately we were directed to an excursion train (despite having our tickets checked three times) and it was only because two other travellers objected to us having the same reserved seats that we narrowly avoided being treated to a close inspection of the soon to be opened new Gotthard Tunnel!
Fortunately the "Express" train was late and we made it to an adjoining platform to complete our journey. Some signage for the William Tell Express would have been useful here!
A very zealous lady (who had originally directed us to the tunnel excursion train) regularly pointed out "features of interest" to us. She appeared to be an employee of the Swiss Railway but I'm not sure what her function was.
We had intended to purchase some light refreshments but this proved to be very difficult (impossible actually) because as the trolley reached our seats it moved out of the carriage to allow the ticket inspector to get by. Although we, and others, tried to catch up with it in the next carriage it disappeared into the ether and was never seen again!
For some inexplicable reason the train ran very late and those who were transferring to Lugano and beyond were told that they would not make their connections. Goodness knows what happened to them!
Truly a journey of extremes - the sublime lake paddleboat and the ridiculous train . This was not a cheap trip and should have been of a consistently high standard. Someone needs to get a grip!
This was a highlight of our trip to Switzerland. The journey is spectacular for both its scenery and its engineering marvels. Well worth the slightly extra time to travel between Lugano (Bellinzano) and Lucerne.
On this trip to Switzerland, we did three of the panoramic train rides: William Tell Express, Glacier Express, and Bernia Express, and I booked the 1st class panorama window train cars on all 3. I do think there are external factors out of one’s control that can make or break the train ride. The first factor is weather and the second quantity and quality of the fellow passengers. Here is how the 3 train rides compared:
William Tell Express (from Locarno to Lucerne) was probably my favorite, due to the scenery, comfort and train attendant. This one worked a little differently than the Glacier Express and Bernia Express in that there was one 1st class Panorama train car in with the regular train where we had our reserved seats. However, other regular 1st class passengers sat in the car, although we were the only ones who had booked the “William Tell Express” in 1st class for the journey. So we had our own personal train attendant/tour guide who explained the sights along the train route. There was plenty of room to move around despite the other passengers, and the attendant would let us know which side the best upcoming view would be on. It was also very scenic (several waterfalls, tunnels, bridges) and I also thoroughly enjoyed the boat portion from Fluelen to Luzern. Although the boat started to get more crowded the closer we got to Lucerne.
The Glacier Express was the most comfortable. We were not crowded in our train car and there was a table between the 4 seats. They provide headphones and there is a little ding when there is something to listen too. My husband thought this was the best one due to the comfort and the weather.
Bernia Express probably was the most scenic; we actually saw a glacier on this one. However, we did not have as good as weather and could not see the tops of the mountains. The train was not as comfortable. There was no table between the 4 seats, just a small shelf to put a few items on. The journey we did was completely packed, so there was a stranger sitting with us in our 4 seats and a French couple right across from us who talked the whole time. There were no luggage racks at the end of the train car or overhead luggage racks, so the train aisles were packed with luggage. There were no headphones and the announcements of items of interest were made in German and then English over the speakers. There were regular train cars for the whole journey, so one could see the same scenery just without paying the Bernia Express supplement and having panorama windows.
So I think like a lot of things, it just comes down to personal preferences and luck on which train ride is the best. If there had been other "William Tell Express" passengers on the train with us, we wouldn't have received such personal attention and might have had a different experience.
Note – When the new Gotthard tunnels goes into service in December 2016, all the regular trains will use the new tunnel and no longer climb up the mountain and go thru the old tunnel built in the 1880’s. So starting in 2017, the William Tell Express will become the Gotthard Panorama Express, be its own train like the Glacier Express, and continue to go the scenic route up the mountain thru the old tunnel.
WE took this train because we were also going to Lake Como in Italy. But having done the trip, I would have rather just taken the regular train and not the William Tell Express. However, having said that ...I would like to try one of the other two scenic trains...people say those trips are terrific.
We had already booked regular train travel from Lucerne to Locarno, but hearing of the William Tell Express decided to upgrade. I was a little sceptical of the price premium, but in retrospect, taking into account the food vouchers for the boat and the souvenir penknife, you're not really paying too much for the panoramic coach and the commentary. The commentary not only covers the scenery, but also the great feat of 19th century engineering. I wonder about the economics of this line now that the Gotthard base tunnels are complete. Perhaps the days of the William Tell Express are numbered.
The old steamboat is another experience of bygone engineering, but if you just want to look at the scenery, the more modern ships on the route are more comfortable.