Being train buffs, we couldn't resist the GSMR on our trip to the National Park. Also being fans of all things Art Deco, we had no choice but to book the first-class Silver Meteor. The only trip available the day we went was the Tuckasegee River Excursion, which may not be quite as scenic as the Nantahala Gorge, but it does include a stop in the quaint (if touristy) Dillsboro.
First-class passengers have the run of the train, so after the excellent, if early, lunch, we spent some time in the fabulously restored club car and passed through the bar car with its evocative tiled counter and the second-class dining car; we were as thrilled with the train as with the scenery, including the marble sink and counter and bronze fittings in the first-class restroom.
Dillsboro is the expected mix of historic, craftsy, and touristy. I found the perfect pair of earrings and our friend from England was thrilled with the "authentic American" souvenirs.
We returned to the train to find huge slabs of chocolate fudge mousse cake at each place; a bit more than I cared for, but most people devoured it. And, of course, coffee was available to wash it down.
As first-class passengers, we did receive a free travel mug that we could refill with any non-alcoholic beverage of our choice throughout the entire ride, and a free souvenir tote bag. As noted by some other reviewers, they do spend a good 15 minutes hawking the book and CD, and push it at every other opportunity. I might have been more inclined to purchase it if there were a discount for first-class passengers; I'd gladly have swapped the tote bag for a discount on the book.