Oh - where to start with this one. This train is the perfect train that Amtrak can convert into a "hotel on wheels." But they've not continued this opportunity. The train used to operate with 2 Viewliners. Then it was reduced to 1 Viewliner sleeper - and finally none!
As far as I know, there was always a NEC train offering sleeper car service from Washington DC to Boston - during the Amtrak years etc. It was only in 2003 (as Warrington was leaving and Gunn was taking the helm) or so that the Viewliner sleeping car was pulled off of #66/67.
Amtrak suffered a number of train wrecks involving Superliner trainsets, so some shuffling had to be done. The Cardinal lost its Superliners and gained single level equipment with #66/67 (aka the Federal, Night Owl, Twilight Shoreliner) losing its sleeper.
Although I never took it, I was around when they had the "Executive Sleeper" waiting for this train at New York Penn Station. As I recall, you could board the sleeper at New York Penn Station around 9:00 p.m. and when the train came through at 2 or 3 a.m., the "Executive Sleeper" was hooked on to the consist and people were taken away to Washington DC or Boston.
If Amtrak wanted to restore Viewliners to the NEC (#66/67) I think they could. At a given time, there were no more than roughly 40 (out of 50) Viewliners in service at a given time. Granted, Amtrak was stretched to the limit with its Viewliners at one time - with the Superliner wrecks, Viewliner winter problems etc. But some Superliners have been repaired and all the Viewliners are back in service - or in overhaul/maintenance program. But now one has to consider that Amtrak has decided to retire the Heritage Dorm Crew Cars and put the crew in the Viewliners, rather than freeing the Viewliners up for revenue space. In addition, schedules have been adjusted that there are no longer same day turns at Sunnyside, that could free up a trainset (i.e. the Silver Meteor). Silver Meteor was inbound to NYC around 10:00 a.m. and then would be turned and depart outbound from NYC at 7:00 p.m. Now the outbound departure is at 3:00 p.m., thus eliminating a same day turn and necessitating an extra single level trainset with at least TWO Viewliners.
The overnight sleeper market was there from Washington DC to Boston. The couple of times I took the service, the sleeper was full. And the price was comparable to that of Acela First Class, only you just got a room and snack/refreshments - not the full meal service in Acela Express First Class. So if the sleeper service was a drain - you might as well consider Acela Express First Class a drain too.
Then there's the issue that the NEC overnight Viewliner was interchanged with the Lake Shore's Boston section Viewliner for eventual servicing to Florida. Amtrak could certainly add and subtract a deadheaded Viewliner at Washington DC for serving in Florida.
There's nothing more that strikes a nerve with me than (1) the Cardinal not operating with Superliner equipment terminating in Washington DC - with its extra capacity in coach and sleeper especially and (2) no overnight sleeping car service on the NEC.