I took a road trip of a different sort last week: I let someone else do the driving. I was headed to Orlando, and as much as I enjoy a leisurely drive, I’ve tired of the sameness along Florida’s Turnpike and the long drive home when I’m weary.
My driver? Red Coach, a luxury motorcoach that has been running to select cities out of Orlando for a little more than a year and a half. I caught the bus at the Fort Lauderdale airport; a little more than 3 ½ hours later, I was in Orlando. My cost: $50 one way.
What makes it a luxury bus is that it has only 27 seats, two seats on one side of the aisle, a single seat on the other. There is lots of leg and elbow room, free Wi-Fi and an electrical outlet so I could listen to music, read my iBook, take notes and periodically check my e-mail without running down the battery of my iPad. There are no prohibitions against taking liquids on the bus, so I packed a bottle of water and a snack. There’s a tiny restroom at the back, no sink or running water, with anti-bacterial foam instead.
The bus was only about one-third full, so we all had our choice of seats (although we reserved specific seats when we made our reservation).
Definitely more comfortable than a coach seat on an airplane or Greyhound – not to mention a nicer ambiance. Price for the same trip on Greyhound: $32 to $72.
My complaint: "The Great Outdoors" was playing on small overhead screens, and even though I had U2 turned up as loud as I could take it through my earbuds, it wasn’t enough to block the sound of John Candy screaming as he fell off his water skis. Next time I’ll bring noise-blocking headphones.
Red Coach travels to Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, Orlando, West Palm Beach, Fort Pierce, Naples, Ocala, Tallahassee and Gainesville. In Orlando, the ride ended at the Red Coach station near the airport, with free shuttle service to the airport.
Would I take it again? You bet.