July 21 -The Journey Begins
For the first part of our journey, we flew on Alaska Air to Vancouver. At the airport we got Canadian currency and flagged a cab to our hotel, the Radisson Park Inn on Broadway. Nice place. That evening we walked to Granville Island and enjoyed strolling. The hills going down to the water there like San Fran. Steep! We liked Granville and had fish and chips at a local place called Tony’s Oyster and Seafood. The area on our walk was right by the water and very nice.
July 22 – Bon Voyage
We were both very excited to board Holland America’s Westerdam. All the luggage & transfer to get on board and thru customs went well. It was really exciting getting to our state room on the ship. The Bon Voyage from Vancouver was grand. We stood on the top deck and next to us were two couples. We began to chat and the ladies said they were from St. Louis!
Emilie and I dined that night the first night in the main dining room of the ship, and I had shrimp Diablo. She had apple pie and I had crème Brulee’. After dinner we enjoyed the Main Stage entertainment on the ship. When we came back to our room, we watched a beautiful sunset. As we sailed out, everything seemed so quiet and tranquil. Our first experience on a ship. NICE!
July 23 – A Day at Sea
After a good night’s sleep, we woke up for this full day at sea. Had eggs Benedict in the main dining room and enjoyed meeting a wonderful couple from Tasmania! There was a tour group of around 25 folks from Australia. We loved this couple and ran into them throughout our sea/land journey all the way to Anchorage. We walked through the shops and a lovely art gallery. Had lunch with a couple from Toronto. There were afternoon lectures on the upcoming ports of call and then a 5:00 happy hour called “Sip & Savor”. Always looking for a cheap glass of wine, I personally enjoyed this event. The chief sommelier offers a tasting of the appetizer of the day and a glass of his choice red/white for five bucks. Appetizer – incredible! Wine – very, very good.
We ate in the main dining room and this is when we met Ann & Dennis from Rhode Island. I had escargot as an appetizer and they were incredible! I savored every bite! We enjoyed getting to know Ann & Dennis and a great meal. After the show we hit the main stage show which featured Jim Short, the Australian humorist.. Good show! As we turned in, we knew that we’d gain an extra hour of sleep as we cruised onward in the Inland Passage to our first port.
July 24 – Ketchikan, Alaska
It was neat to wake up, look out our veranda and see that we were docked! We came into port at 7AM. Had a nice breakfast and then had an hour to wander around downtown and look at a few shops. Ketchikan is the salmon capitol of the state and they also get lots of rain. They get an average of 180” of rain a season!
We enjoyed wonderful weather our entire trip. It never went over 74 degrees and we walked around Ketchikan in shirt sleeves. After our walk we got the shuttle to take us to our first excursion which was a one hour walk in the rain forest & a trip to the raptor center. Our guide in the rain forest was great!
After we got back to the city we had time to walk historic Creek Street and look inside the shops. We had a late lunch back on the ship with a lovely French couple from Montreal and then sat on the deck in the sun. It was 70 and an incredible day!
I enjoyed Sip ‘n Savor, and Dennis and Ann asked us to join them for dinner. I had crab legs for dinner and after dinner we saw the song & dance troupe again, on the Main Stage. After that we went to the Lincoln Center State to listen to the string quintet play a while. Turned in for sleep after a GREAT day.
July 25 – Juneau, Alaska
Right after breakfast I went to the Crow’s Nest and watched the ship dock. It was incredible to see how the captain came slowly into the dock and literally turned the ship around and had it bumped exactly parallel up to the dock! Our excursion did not leave until 2:00 so we had time to investigate Juneau. We walked for 2 hours and went into the state office building, walked by shops and spent a little time inside the state capitol. We got a great photo outside the capitol of William H. Seward, the guy who got Alaska from the Russians for $7,000,000. Since Emilie and I met 49 years ago in Seward, Nebraska, we enjoyed seeing the man for whom the Alaska and Nebraska sister cities is named.
We had lunch back on the ship and had time to sit on our veranda before our tour. Weather was perfect and 70 degrees! Our 2nd planned port excursion was a trip to Mendenhall Glacier and then a four hour whale watching trip. We only had about an hour at the glacier, but enjoyed seeing it, had a bear sighting and spent some time in the Park Service Visitor Center there.
Retiring to the ship, I had salmon for supper and then we stood on the deck before retiring. Great day! They say Alaska has 50,000 eagles and that 30,000 of them live in Juneau. We saw a number of eagles on our tour and near the ship. They say they are so plentiful in Juneau that the locals call them “crows”.
July 26 – Skagway
Cruising up the Inland Passage is so peaceful. The water is like a lake. We got right off the ship and hopped right onto a van that carried us out of the city and up a winding highway. We ended up in Frasier, British Columbia in Canada which was the 2nd time we needed our passports. Process was simple. Our guide stayed with us all the way and we saw lots of interesting terrain as we came back over the Dead Horse Pass and wound our way back toward Skagway.
About 5 miles north of town, we were dropped off the train with 15 other folks and three guides. The guides were young and friendly and two were EMT trained. The path into the Denver valley was very rugged with lots of roots and rocks. We had to go slow and watch all the time to avoid stumbling. Em & I ended up at the end of the group and before long the rest of our group was out of sight far ahead of us. One of the guides stayed back with us and walked with us; we really appreciated this young man and it felt like we had a personal guide as we walked at our pace.
That night at dinner I had seared kingfish with risotto and it was great. On the Main Stage we saw an incredible illusionist; he put on a phenomenal show! I’d seen this man on TV and he did some super tricks! My favorite was when he makes it snow like crazy on stage.
July 27 – Glacier Bay
This had to be one of the highlights of the cruise! Sailing into the area of the National Park, the water is like a mirror. The scenery is lovely. Tranquility. We had another picture perfect day for weather and just kept saying, “Wow!” The captain got us to four glaciers and at one of them he simply eased up near it, stopped parallel to it, and let the boat sit. For an hour we listened for the cracks and pops and then got our cameras ready. We saw the glacier calving four times and got great photos. The sound of this is really neat! Early that day, we’d picked up about 6 park rangers. They were on board, making presentations, answering questions and talking about what we were seeing. Before the captain turned the ship around 180, we literally sat on our veranda and watched all this happen.
New friends, Dennis and Ann invited us to their room for a glass of wine, and then we dined together in the main dining room. I just had to do it: steak and lobster! I thought the steak was quite good. After dinner we went to the Lincoln Center Stage where a five person string and piano ensemble played some great music.
July 28 – Day at Sea
We had no trouble with seasickness. Traveling thus far was smooth, you had to look out a window to tell we were moving. This was the day I had worried about…crossing the larger Bay of Alaska. This was the ONLY day we had rain and it really didn’t matter much. It was partly sunny most of the afternoon, 55 degrees and mostly calm sea. We stayed busy on the ship and had no motion problems.
July 29 – Disembark Ship in Seward, Alaska & Head North
We woke up early to have breakfast and to prepare to disembark. After breakfast it was fun standing on our veranda and watching the dock crews begin to unload all the luggage from the ship. They have this down to a science!
Our first stop was just south of Anchorage where we walked a bit at the Potter’s Marsh area…a large bird sanctuary. Having passed through Anchorage, we stopped for lunch at a very nice place in Wasilla. I thought that was some little town, but it is a huge bedroom community for Anchorage. On the way up to Denali, we had one more stop at an Iditarod race crossing. There was a small museum and gift shop, and one musher had his team there. Emilie was quite happy to hold one of the puppies.
July 30 – Day in the Denali National Park
We had a wonderful night’s sleep and awoke to another gorgeous morning. It was 54 degrees. Our wonderful travel agent Stacey Hoehne encouraged us to purchase a meal package at Denali. We did that and had a great dinner last night. Breakfast this morning was super! Emilie said it was the best biscuit she’d ever had; also loved the jam. With her eggs she ordered ham and the slab of ham was an inch thick! It has a huge piece, far more than she could eat. I had a splendid pecan waffle with delightful cinnamon vanilla syrup.
They say only about 30% of the tourists get to see Mt. Denali ‘cause of the clouds. It’d say we say the bottom 2/3 of the mountain. We saw one Dall sheep, a bear in the distance with two cubs, a moose with her baby and 14 caribou. Caribou were much more visible and close to the bus when sighted. In fact, when we stopped for a break, two of them walked down a roadway right behind the bathrooms where we were! We got back to the resort late and went straight to bed.
July 31 – Scenic Train from Denali to Anchorage
The train ride was another real highlight of the trip. If Glacier Bay was the high point of the cruise, this ride was the highlight of the land portion of our adventure. Luxury is the best word to describe them! The entire top of the upper seating area is glass to allow viewing. At the front of the car is a full bar. The dining car is beneath the seating area. White table cloths. First class, like on the ship.
There were hours of forested views and lovely lakes, mountains and vistas. We had a great bar tender and an absolutely fantastic guide in our car. She was a 4th grade teacher from Portland. Her ongoing commentary (along with the scenery) made these 8 hours fly by. This young gal was very knowledgeable and had a great sense of humor. She had us laughing almost as often as that humorist on the ship.
To our surprise our Denali meal package included coupons for lunch on the train, dinner that night in Anchorage and breakfast the next morning. Nice surprise, as we thought we’d bought meals only at the resort! Sandwich in that dining car was fun and tasty.
Motor coaches took us from the train station to our hotel in Anchorage, the Westmark, downtown and owned by Holland. Like magic somehow our luggage again made it from our room in Denali to our new room here at the Westmark!
We had dinner in the hotel restaurant. Great service. Food good, but not out of the ordinary. We walked around downtown after supper and ran into Dennis & Ann. We walked about five blocks to a place called Simon & Seafood. We had a night cap and watched evening fall over the bay. The walk back to the hotel was nice, but then we had to say our final good-byes to our lovely, new friends and feel the sun setting on the last day in Alaska.
August 1 – Fly from Anchorage to Seattle
We enjoyed breakfast and there was light rain this morning. A nice motor coach took us to the airport for our 3 ½ hour Alaska Air flight to Seattle. Everything was on time and Meredith and the girls drove us home. Matt spoiled us with a glass of red wine upon our arrival and grilled steaks for us. Tacoma had lovely weather that evening and we sat by their fire pit and enjoyed talking and making s’mores.
August 3 – Home Again. Home Again…
All good things must come to an end and this was the concluding day of our vacation. Great adventure! Many, many memories. We’d taken over 250 photos, so I know we’re going to have a great photo album as well to remember these blessed and fun days! Great to be with family, to make pleasant new friends and to see so much of God’s beautiful creation!
Contact Stacey at 314-439-5700 ext. 128 or send her an email
to being planning an amazing Alaska Adventure!
“I wanted to let you know how thoroughly we enjoyed our Windstar Cruise to the Greek Islands. By the second day the crew knew us by first names. We are always looking for new places to go so I'm shocked that I say 'I would do this same trip again'. We also thoroughly enjoyed the private tour that our Travel Consultant Mickey Gaona arranged for us in Kusadasi. Ephesus was our favorite part of the trip and I know our fabulous tour guide helped to make it memorable. We plan to do another journey with Windstar Cruises very soon.
Thanks for all you do for us!”
Do you have an upcoming celebration and what a unique way to mark the occasion?
Contact Mickey at 314-439-5700 Ext. 260 or email her to start planning an amazing trip!
Clients of Ann Fendelman just returned from a 7-Day Western Caribbean journey with Celebrity Cruises. They came back with fantastic memories, rave reviews, and an engagement!
‘Thank you, Ann, for helping us book this wonderful trip. We had a great time. We got to see many cool places. The cruise ship was great and all of the employees were amazing. The food and the shows were awesome. We will recommend Ann to our family and friends for their next trips. Thank you!’
-Darcy and David
Martie is a new client for Brentwood Travel but a very experienced traveler with over 20 countries under her travel belt. For her next adventure, she was curious to explore river cruising and visited the Brentwood Travel’s Cruise Expo this past January. During her time at the show and meeting with General Manager Susan Hakenjos, she learned that a Viking River Cruise would be a perfect choice.
Martie and her friend Denise embarked on their 15-day journey from Amsterdam to Budapest this past May.
Their journey started with a three-night stay in Amsterdam which Martie highly recommends to give travelers time to adjust to their new location. Their hotel was perfectly located in the city center where she enjoyed visits to the Vincent Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum. Martie and Denise also took a canal tour and visited The Anne Frank House. At the end of the fourth day, they took a quick taxi ride to their boat.
“From the moment we stepped out of the taxi and arrived at our boat, the staff was there to assist in anyway. The crew was ready to help and always pleasant. And this level of excellence service was consistent during the entire voyage."
Martie and Denise choose a balcony suite with two twin beds and felt it was plenty of space. She really appreciated that their room was cleaned three times a day and fresh water was replenished daily. “The boat was beautiful and clean. You just felt you were in luxury.”
The itinerary was well organized and active, and she took part in 12 included excursions that were lead by local guides. When they would arrive back at the boat, the crew would have a list of extra excursions that would be available the following day. An avid art lover and a docent for the St. Louis Art Museum, Martie decided to take part in an excursion about Art and War. Martie recalls “The tour was fascinating and included a tour of a bunker under the city walls."
Martie also had rave things to say about their Program Director David. “David would give a talk every evening about the events for the next day and what we should expect. He had just an amazing attention to every detail.”
In addition to wonderful excursions and amenities on the boat, Martie enjoyed the entertainment that was brought onboard. A piano player was often featured in the afternoon and an accordion player would perform different styles of music including waltz, classical, and contemporary selections. And guest lecturers would also cover a wide range of topics.
In Wurzburg, a glass blower came onboard and Martie couldn’t resist buying a very unique gift. “My daughter loves oil and vinegar on her salads. He had created a bottle which holds both but keeps them separate when pouring. It's like magic!”
Dining on the boat was another highlight for Martie. She enjoyed the free, open seating and the three dining options which included the bar, inside/outside deck, and formal restaurant. There were plenty of food selections to choose and she would often customized her menu between the free choice and fixed menus. “The chef was interactive and joined us several evenings before dinner to discuss the regional aspects of our meal.”
Martie was also a big fan of one of her waiters, Jackson. “He was always there to start my day and quickly learned that I enjoy a cold glass of tomato juice first thing in the morning.”
When clients of Maggie Groene wanted to spend a getaway at the beach, she knew Cancun would be a fantastic choice. Brandon and his roommate Bertin enjoyed 6-nights at the all-inclusive Grand Oasis Sens resort, a beachfront retreat on the Caribbean Sea.
‘I had an amazing time in Mexico! I really enjoyed it and the place was so beautiful and everyone was so kind. Thank you so much for helping us have a great vacation. I know for sure I'll be messaging Maggie soon for the next trip!’
Chris and Terri came to the office looking to fulfill a dream vacation! Brentwood Travel’s Supervisor of Leisure Travel, Stacey Hoehne, put together a trip that fulfilled their desires—a custom trip in New Zealand and a guided tour of Australia. Read their rave review of their journey with Travel 2 in New Zealand and Luxury Gold touring in Australia.
'Our trip was fantastic. Our New Zealand portion of the trip was flawless with limos and buses picking us up at the proper times. Queenstown, Milford Sound, the TSS Earnslaw and Walter's Peak experiences were all great. On our free day, we did the gondola ride to the mountain top and then rode the luge cars down!
The Luxury Gold excursions offered through Insight Vacations during our time in Australia was the best. Our tour director was David and he handled everything. We found him to be very personable and knowledgeable about everything we saw. We had a variety of local guides lined up to offer further insights.
The great barrier reef was well organized for tourists. A high-speed boat picked us up at Port Douglas and took us to an offshore facility (floating barge made for diving) about 70 km out. It offered scuba, snorkel, helmet dives, as well as glass bottomed and submarine dives. Terri did the helmet dive and after that we both snorkeled and did the sub dive. Great fun!
Uluru was certainly a high point on the trip especially seeing it at sunrise and sunset while eating appetizers and drinking wine. The group we were with had only 12 people who we all got to know over the 2 weeks we were together. Dave scheduled a helicopter ride for the 3 of us over Uluru and Kata Tjira.
Our adventure in Sydney adventures was the best! The sailboat cruise around Darling bay provided views of Sydney most people don't often see. We then walked across the Sydney bridge, went to Bondi beach and had dinner at the opera house. Wow!
All the hotel accommodations were excellent with The Langham in Sydney and The George in Christchurch leading the way.
All of us thoroughly enjoyed the trip and would recommend it to others.'
-Chris and Terri
Contact Stacey at 314-439-5700 ext. 128 or email her to start planning your perfect trip to the Land Down Under!
Clients Steve and Patricia D. just returned this past weekend from their Star Clippers cruise and couldn't wait to share amazing pictures with their Travel Consultant Ashley Curry. Their two-week journey on the Royal Clipper whisked them away to several picturesque islands including Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, and the Grenadines.
A voyage on a Star Clippers tall-ship is truly a unique travel experience. Think of it a as yacht-meets-sailboat cruise that’s guaranteed to provide you with luxury, comfort, adventure and indulgence all on the same trip. The 'informal elegance' is perfect for any traveler looking to enjoy the best of the Caribbean!
"Booking our trip to Mexico with Stacey Hoehne was really easy. I gave her a couple dates and a price and she got exactly what we wanted. It was even a little under budget!
We stayed at Secrets Capri in Cancun. We really liked that it was a smaller resort and there was always plenty of space by the pool and on the beach. There was rarely a wait for any restaurants or the bar and all the employees were extremely helpful.
Stacey answered all my questions leading up to our trip and provided valuable information and advice we needed for our first trip to Mexico.'
Contact Stacey at 314-439-5700 ext. 128 or email her and start planning an all-inclusive vacation to paradise!
"Cathy Robinson put together a FABULOUS Alaskan experience for Elaine and me (Bruce).
We did the 11 day Alaskan tour, with four days on land and a seven day Inland Passage cruise on the Coral Princess. Upon arrival in Fairbanks, we were greeted by Princess staff and received our welcome packet. We were surprised by the “Meet Me Onboard” request to send a suitcase ahead to the ship. We did NOT pack a separate bag for this, so we spent a lot of time ‘repacking’ one of our suitcases. That was a minor inconvenience, as the remainder of the trip was trouble free! Our luggage was delivered to our rooms by the time we arrived at the hotels/ship.
The Discovery III riverboat cruise was the best excursion of the trip. The ship was equipped with a great sound system and video monitors, so all onboard could see and hear all narration. There were fascinating bits of information. Iditarod training camp and fishing village info was easy to hear and see. We really enjoyed that.
The Tundra Wilderness Tour was awe inspiring! The vastness of Alaska was prominently displayed and we got to see several species of wildlife – from afar. We also got to see all of Mt. Denali. We joined the 30% club of visitors that got to see the entire mountain top.
The two Princess lodges were beautiful. They were rustic looking and very accommodating. We purchased the on land food package and certainly got our money’s worth. We could order anything on the menus, with no exceptions. All the food tasted great. The bus drivers for excursions were all courteous and explained in detail what we were seeing and some history of the area. Despite the rain, the train ride to Whittier was entertaining and visually stunning.
The Coral Princess was clean and the staff was VERY friendly and again, the food was really delicious. We did purchase the ‘all beverage’ package on the ship and that worked out well. We had no questions on any drink we could order including call drinks.
There was a lot of notice of invo-virus and signs to wash hands frequently. There were Purell hand sanitizers by all restaurants, shops, elevator lobbies and stairwells. However, they were not ‘forcing’ you to sanitize before entering restaurants – especially the buffet (sanitizing was mandatory on other cruise lines we have sailed). We recommend sanitizing hands before and after dining
They brought naturalists on board to discuss what we were seeing in Glacier Bay and as we entered and cruised the Inland Waterway. They were very informative and helped all to view humpback whales, sea otters and Orca killer whales during our journey.
The shore excursion disembarkments were well coordinated. We had no delays leaving or re-entering the ship. The meeting points on shore were well marked. Bus drivers to and from the excursions were informative and very helpful with participants with disabilities, or problems getting on/off the buses.
Our three shore excursions were:
This was our first trip to Alaska and our first time on Princess Cruise Line. We will not hesitate to recommend Brentwood Travel to our friends and we will have them coordinate our next major travel event."
Start planning your Alaska adventure by emailing Cathy or contact her at 314-439-5700 Ext. 114.
The Robbins family recently sailed on Celebrity Equinox to celebrate their son's college graduation, after booking their trip at the 27th Annual Cruise Expo. Their itinerary included stops in Aruba, Curaçao, Bonaire and Grand Cayman. Each island had incredible crystal clear waters, powder-like sand and oh-so flavorful frozen cocktails! Sailing on Celebrity Equinox did not disappoint. "The ship was lovely. It was in perfect condition and had great customer service. Not to mention the food was on a 5-star level" stated Pam Robbins.
Robbins also noted "the last minute follow thru from Stacey was perfect. I loved the extra touches she put into our vacation that I know we'd only get when booking with a travel agent."
The Caribbean is waiting for you!
Contact Stacey via email or call her at 314-439-5700 ext. 128
to book your stateroom.
Brentwood Travel Vacation Experts
In the 60 years since Brentwood Travel was founded in 1957, we've grown into the largest, full-service travel agency in the Greater St. Louis area. No matter what your travel needs may be, our consultants will be able to assist you.