Stacey Acree, Senior Vice President, and Dagmar Morrison, Travel Consultant, both started their summer with a voyage on Celebrity Solstice to Alaska. In this blog, Stacey shares amazing pictures of the landscape and stories of checking off bucket-list items during her Alaska adventure.
My family and I spent our first week of school break journeying to Alaska on Celebrity Solstice. Our journey began in Seattle and we lucked out with picture perfect weather as we journeyed to the 49th State.
Our trip included many highlights including the immense ice formations of Hubbard Glacier, as well as visits to popular ports such as Skagway and Ketchikan. We also visited Juneau, the only U.S. state capital that's not accessible by car and beautiful Victoria, British Columbia.
The trip began with a chartered Salmon Fishing Boat and you could practically touch the eagles flying around the boat. We even saw humpback whales and dolphins. My son Ryan caught a salmon which was not quite big enough to ship back to the US, but the experience will stay with him for a lifetime.
Juneau was our day of adventure. We were picked up in a helicopter and whisked off to meet the Iditarod dogs who live high on the glacier. Some of the fastest sled dogs from the team were our guides for the day as they whisked us off on a sled ride around the glaciers. UNBELIEVABLE!!!
Our pilot then took us to a glacier where it felt like we were the only people on earth. It was spectacular and we even drank the freshest water from the bright blue glacier on top of the mountain.
In Skagway we went zip lining and I have to admit…I am afraid of heights! I overcame my trepidation by having our fearless guides talk me through the adventure. By the end, I was zipping down with no problem and the scenery from high above was breathtaking.
In Victoria we visited the jaw dropping Butchart Gardens. The roses had the most wonderful smell EVER. It's a spectacular excursion and a must visit for any family trip.
Our Celebrity Solstice cruise had excellent food especially in the specialty dining options with the best Kobe Burger, sushi and gyoza. There was also plenty of homemade ice cream and snacks at the coffee shop. I also took advantage of classes in the gym and the view from the window was a screen of mountains while you sailed.
There were plenty of activities for all ages and at all times. The entertainment was alive with Cirque de Soleil like shows. There was also a glass blowing studio with live demonstrations and a lawn club where they had movies daily. We also enjoyed the martini bar with displays on dry ice that are true pieces of art.
Our cruise on the Celebrity Solstice was a trip to remember. A special shout out to Alesander and Silva who went out of their way to 'adopt' our family and make us feel extra special. Also to Matthew Scheer, Market Sales Manager at Celebrity, who sent us off in style with a souvenir bag of lots of goodies!
Ready for your own Alaska adventure or to sail off on a Celebrity cruise?
Contact Stacey at 314-439-5700 Ext. 102 or
Dagmar at 314-439-5700 Ext. 104 to book your next trip.
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Aulani…Aulani simply saying the name which in Hawaiian means “the place that speaks for the great ones” or “messenger of a chief”; it makes me want to go back. The resort is located on the island of O’ahu and only twenty-five minutes from Honolulu International Airport.
When you enter the property it is lush with beautiful trees. The friendly Aloha spirit is felt the minute you step out of your car. Women and men are given beautiful Lei. Children have their own welcoming gift of a Menehune necklace (Menehune are shy mischievous people of Hawaiian Islands that are gifted and magical).
What really opens your eyes and makes you say “wow” is the lobby. It is a tall entry way with Polynesian style of architecture. Your eyes look at the pictures telling a story of the people and the land. Then you are drawn to the ocean in the distance while looking at the Waikolohe Valley (the name of the recreation area) in the foreground.
The resort has 351 guest rooms including 16 suites and 481 multi-bedroom suites. My family and I stayed in an Island Garden View with two queen-size beds. We had a beautiful view of the garden, mountains and a partial view of the ocean. The resort is large, but it is easy to navigate. Every evening the daily ‘IWA (schedule) is available for the next day. It lists activities for the ‘Ohana (family), Keiki (children) and ‘Opio (youth 13-17years old).
We started our morning with a 6:30am stretch class by the ocean. It was a perfect way to start the day and the classes change each day. We had breakfast at ‘Ama’Ama which is an oceanfront restaurant open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food was fantastic! It is one of two restaurants on property that reservations are highly recommended. The other restaurant is called Makahiki named after the annual Hawaiian festival celebrating the season of bounty. The service is buffet style and they are opened for breakfast with Disney characters and dinner.
The ‘Olelo Room a lounge open for bar fare in the evening. I thought the concept for the lounge was brilliant. Everything has a word on it. For example the word ‘Noho’ was written on the top of the chairs; since it is the Hawaiian word for ‘chair’. The whole lounge is meant to be interactive for the guests to speak with the cast and to learn about the Hawaiian language and culture.
Truly the greatest kids club is the wonderful Aunty’s Beach House. Throughout the day they have activities for children. Some require sign up because space is limited. You can arrange to have your children eat lunch or dinner based on availability and for an additional fee. Aunty’s Beach House has something for every child's interest. Plenty of rooms with different crafts, a movie room that looks dark and stormy so you want to sit and watch the movie, and a big jungle gym in the backyard to run around.
There is even more to do in the Waikolohe Valley. There are two water slides, one of them is called Tubestone Curl. It empties out into the lazy river so you can relax and let the river move you. The resort also has three pools. One is an infinitely pool that looks out to the stunning ocean. If you swim underwater you can hear whale sounds. There is a larger pool where they do activities as well as an adult only pool. Another unique aspect of the resort is the Rainbow Reef. This is a live reef with incredible aquatic life. The cast makes sure it is kept pristine and have you follow special guidelines when entering.
The beach is wonderful, complimentary boogie boards and snorkels are available. Since it is a lagoon it is easy for young children to play in the water. Paddleboards are available for an additional fee. I have been wanting to paddleboard for awhile and it was fantastic! Quite the workout. The lagoon is shared with the neighboring Four Seasons Resort O’ahu at Ko Olina. The Luau called KA WA’A is definitely a must see. It is right on property and as of now performed twice a week. They offer pre-show activities and the buffet highlights Hawaiian cuisine.
The Laniwai Spa is stunning. It is the only spa on O’ahu to offer Kula Wai an outdoor hydrotherapy garden. This is another example of bringing Hawaiian rituals and beliefs into the setting. The signature treatment is the traditional Hawaiian Lomilomi. This massage technique is passed down from generation to generation. The Laniwai offers many different spa treatments. My family and I were having such a wonderful time at the resort, we only left one night for dinner to a restaurant across the street at Ko’Olina Station.
I really enjoyed being at Aulani for several reasons. Here are my top five:
1. The Aloha spirit of warmth and inclusion is felt the minute you arrive till you depart.
2. The Hawaiian stories and history are woven into the fabric of the resort.
3. Aunty’s Beach House was fantastic place for the children. They kept asking to go back!
4. The resort has many activities. Golf at the top rated Ko Olina Golf Club can be arranged.
5. It is a wonderful place for a family, multi-generational as well as couples to vacation.
I could go on for pages about all the fantastic activities and feel about the resort. Our
experience did exactly what we wanted which was much needed relaxation, new experiences
and fun. I look forward to our next vacation to Aulani - A Disney Resort and Spa. Next time will
explore all the wonder O’ahu has to offer.
Dana has more travel advice to share and recently completed the
Hawaii Destination Specialist Program. Contact her today to book your next trip.
I just returned from my vacation on beautiful Anna Marie Island, FL., just south of St Petersburg. Anna Marie is a quiet destination to enjoy white powdery sand beaches, amazing restaurants that overlook the ocean, shopping in some locally owned boutiques, and the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen.
The weather is consistently 78 degrees year round, and the homes are painted bright cheerful colors with beautiful landscaping, most have private pools. The beaches are walking distance from any home on the island and the waves are perfect for paddle boarding or windsurfing. We rented bicycles for the week and rode to the popular local "Dips Ice Cream" each evening after watching the sunset on the beach.
The Sandbar restaurant is a local favorite with fresh seafood and vegetables grown on their own farm, with a large patio for outdoor seating right on the beach as well as indoor seating. The stuffed shrimp was delicious and so is the stuffed grouper.
The Starfish company is a small ala-carte dockside restaurant with dining on picnic tables on the pier. They don’t open until 11:30 am because they catch all of their fish in the mornings and prepare them fried, grilled, or blackened. The fish tacos are the best I’ve ever eaten and homemade hush puppies that would make my grandma proud. They have charters that sail across the bay and to the Gulf for a 2 hour tour. If you dine there, make note they only accept cash.
We had lunch at Mr. Bones BBQ and I was hesitant since St Louis has some of the best BBQ in the country, but they were impressive and had the most amazing rub on the ribs and pork.
Anna Marie Island is someplace I would definitely return to for my vacation, it was so relaxing, and it's only an hour and 15 minutes from Tampa Airport.
To book a trip to Anna Marie Island, email Leigh or call her at 314-439-5700 x131
"Stephanie and her team set up the most amazing trip to Italy for our family. Our son was studying abroad and Stephanie made sure all connections and details were covered to meet our son. All of the tours and hotels were excellent. The guides she arranged were very knowledgeable. Even with the taxis on strike in Rome for a day it was all taken care. We couldn't have asked for a better family vacation. From our family a huge thank you for going above and beyond.
You're the best.
The Bahlinger Family."
Originally posted by Norwegian Cruise Line
Written by Evelyn Frank
This January, I made the executive decision that my family and I were going to take a Caribbean cruise onboard the Norwegian Getaway! This was a major decision because we are the parents of a toddler and this was going to be our first family cruise. The Caribbean seemed like a safe and fun option, and the trip included family favorites such as beautiful Caribbean beaches, great food, and a kiddie splash pool area! Read on for my tips on how to make cruising with your toddler a breeze.
WHAT TO BRING WHEN CRUISING WITH TODDLERS
The success of this trip required a great deal of research and preparation. Those of you who have toddlers understand why. My son is three years old; he naps, wakes up around 7am, and has a tolerance right at sea level. Needless to say, packing well before hand is key. Here are some items that I brought on my 7-day cruise that were very helpful:
WHERE TODDLERS CAN PLAY
Norwegian Getaway, as with other ships in Norwegian’s fleet, offer a complimentary youth program for toddlers at Splash Academy. On the first day of your cruise, register your child in the “Guppies” group. Make the transition easier and accompany your child for small periods of time until they are used to it and enjoy going to Splash Academy.
Other toddler activities outside of Splash Academy are the Kid’s Aqua Park (which includes a slide if your child is over 40 inches tall), the toddler ropes course, the mini golf course, and the arcade. If you plan to partake in water activities with your toddler make sure they are potty trained, as swim diapers are not allowed in the Kid’s Aqua Park. Try your best to do this by the time you cruise. Make sure to check your Freestyle Daily for other great activities such as the Sail Away Party.
EVEN WHEN ON A CRUISE, STICK TO YOUR TODDLER'S SCHEDULE
I know you are on vacation, but if your child thrives on a schedule, keep it. This will help avoid tantrums and will keep everyone relaxed and rested. What really helped with our family cruise was pre-scheduling dinners. If your child is like mine and eats at a designated time, make sure you plan ahead. Early dinner times usually sell out first, so if you need to eat early, log into MyNCL and make your dinner reservations prior to sailing. If you can't keep the time, you can always call and reschedule once onboard or just head over to the grab and go cruise buffet, the Garden Cafe. This will help you work in a nice dinner around your toddler’s normal routine. I would also advise bringing a stroller. After a long day of activities our son fell asleep a few times at dinner and during our after dinner stroll on The Waterfront.
TIP: Avoid a cover charge at the specialty restaurants by ordering for your child from the complimentary kids menu (0-12 years old).
In summary, Norwegian Getaway and Caribbean Cruises are great choices for families cruising with a toddler. There is plenty for your child to do and great family friendly ports to go to. Remember that a little bit of planning will take you a long way! Bon Voyage!
I’d been searching for somewhere to bring my family on vacation before the summer was over, but nothing seemed quite right. A little while ago, someone came in to visit the office from JMak Hospitality, a company that has a catalog of luxury, boutique hotels around the world. I was flipping through their brochure and saw Caribbean, France, Turks and Caicos… and Missouri? I reached out for more information, and the owners let me know that they’d love for my family to come and try out their resort.
It was 4.5 hours from us here in St. Louis, near Tablerock Lake, about an hour from Springfield, MO. Once you get there, you really aren’t able to leave. The closest anything is an hour away. However, that wasn’t really an issue once we got to the resort.
Stonewater Cove is an all-inclusive property made up of 25 upscale cabins in the woods. Our room was stocked with all sorts of amenities, and had a huge bathtub and a rainfall showerhead with three different spouts. We had one bedroom for my husband and I, a sofa bed for one of my sons, and they brought in a blow-up mattress for my other one.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all included, and they have a fabulous menu for all three. No joke, our breakfast in the morning came with an appetizer! Their chef came from National Geographic tours and made incredible food. They do have a kid’s menu with safer options like chicken fingers, steak, burgers, and adults were allowed to order from that menu if they wanted to. We definitely did not go hungry – there were times when we were like, “do I have to eat again?” However, it was so good every time that the food was definitely a highlight of the trip.
There are some included activities such as kayaking and fishing, and you basically get to help yourself. They have all the bait, poles, oars, etc. out so you can go grab whatever you want. There are some activities that are an additional cost, but they were so worth it for us because in addition to knee-boarding, tubing, fishing… they taught my sons how to waterski!
There’s a lake that you can swim in with a deck, so it was like a pool. There are waterfalls all around the resort – the landscaping all around the property was so beautiful. They even have a spa on site (I had to check it out, of course!). It was in a treehouse, and instead of being in a dark room it was in a natural, pretty place with views all around.
It was just such a neat alternative for a family vacation – I thought of it like an upscale family camp. We would be around the campfire at night and they would come and bring us trays of ingredients to make s’mores.
The clientele there ranged from little kids to teenagers to couples celebrating anniversaries. The people there work so hard, it was almost like being on a cruise ship. We had a fabulous trip and would definitely go back!
Even if you get along with your in-laws, there might be some times when you just need to keep your distance from them. If you and your spouse are thinking about planning a vacation, use this guide to figure out if you should invite the in-laws or just go on your own:
If you have not had many chances to see them throughout the year, a vacation gives your family the perfect opportunity to reconnect. Your in-laws are also great additions if you have kids and you want them to spend some time with their grandparents. Splitting the cost of a group trip also helps you save some money on your vacation.
If you know that you want to take a different kind of vacation than they would, though, it might be best to go on your own. A solo vacation gives you and your spouse the chance to reconnect with each other to strengthen your marriage.
No matter how you want to travel, Brentwood Travel can help you plan the trip of your dreams. Our all-inclusive packages and cruise deals make it easy to plan a grand vacation. Call (314) 439-5700 to get started.
Brentwood Travel Vacation Experts
In the 63 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.