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.”
On June 5, Globus Family of Brands will discontinue the Journeys Club Repeat Traveler Program and replace it with the Welcome Back Credit Program. All passengers who travel in 2019 with the Globus family of brands will receive up to a $250 credit that can be used on a future vacation. This program will be easier for YOU, with no enrollment needed.
Who is eligible to receive Welcome Back Credits?
All travelers booked for 2019 vacations will be eligible for the NEW Welcome Back Credit.
Is there an enrollment or membership required?
No enrollment or membership will be required.
When should I expect to receive my Welcome Back Credits?
All returning Globus family of brands travelers on 2019 vacations will receive their credit amount within a week of their return home.
How long do I have to use the Welcome Back Credit?
Each passenger has two years to book/deposit a vacation using this credit.
On which Globus family of brands products can the credit be redeemed?
The credit applies to all Globus family of brands: Globus, Cosmos, Monograms and Avalon Waterways. There will be some select exceptions to the credit including Escapes by Globus, Monograms City Get-a-ways, and Private Touring.
How will I be able to track my Welcome Home Credits?
Contact your travel consultant who will have access to your client portal which will include a listing of your Welcome Back credits that have been issued and when they expire.
My husband, Alan, and I had traveled to Northern and Western Europe, but have always had Eastern Europe on our bucket list. I know that my heritage is rooted in Germany, while his family tree extends to Czechoslovakia and Hungary from as early as the 16th century. Last August, we took a river cruise in the Bordeaux region of France and met a wonderful group of seasoned travelers, who all told us that the Danube River cruise was one of their favorite trips. I was excited to begin planning our next adventure and knew Avalon Waterways had what we were looking for.
August 19-20, 2017
On Saturday, we boarded a Lufthansa flight to Munich and had a short layover before reaching Budapest on Sunday, where our cruise would be departing from on Tuesday. Upon our arrival, we were greeted outside the baggage claim by an Avalon Waterways representative, who guided us to the shuttle that would be taking us to our hotel. Little did we know, we were arriving on the most celebrated holiday in Hungary, St. Stephen’s Day (similar to our 4th of July)! Traffic was a little crazy but eventually we arrived.
We stayed at the Sofitel Chain Bridge, which was located on the Pest side of Budapest, right on the Danube River. We had a gorgeous view from the room and would absolutely stay there again if we find ourselves in Budapest.
After a quick meeting with our Avalon tour director, Roos (pronounced “Rose”), we walked just a few blocks from our hotel and found a pedestrian area that was filled with restaurants and outdoor seating. We watched a wonderful parade that ended at St. Stephen’s Basilica. We decided to grab a seat for dinner before the crowd dispersed and made our way to the restaurant Aszu, which had a great selection of traditional Hungarian fare and a few more familiar dishes. Both of us ordered the Paprika Chicken and it was delicious.
After dinner, we strolled down the street that followed the river and watched a spectacular fireworks show over the Chain Bridge in celebration of St. Stephen’s Day.
August 21, 2017
Monday morning began with a guided City Tour that touched on Heroes Square and the Dohany Street Synagogue on the Pest side then Buda Castle and Matthias Church on the Buda side. In the afternoon, we went on a culinary tour with 6 other couples. We walked for a total of about three hours, and stopped at a traditional butcher, a wine and cheese shop, and an ice cream parlor.
After the tour we split off from the group and walked across the Chain Bridge back to the “Buda” side to do some more exploring. We walked around the Buda Castle before finding dinner. I was excited to try the traditional Hungarian Goulash (beef stew), which lived up to my expectations. It was a beautiful evening with the “Pest” side of Budapest as the backdrop. It was certainly a photo opportunity!
August 22-23, 2017
Before leaving Budapest later in the afternoon, we took some time to visit the House of Terror. One of the saddest museums and memorials I have ever seen. It is full of exhibits related to the fascist and communist regimes of 20th century Hungary. Certainly something to make you think. What seems so foreign to us is still so fresh in the minds of the people of Hungary.
We met up with 10 other couples for a tour of the countryside that included stops and wine tastings at two different vineyards as well as a gourmet lunch prepared by the owner of the second vineyard. Everything was delicious and everyone in the group was becoming fast friends.
Our home for the next seven days was the Avalon Visionary, a small ship carrying 115 guests on board. Avalon is the only cruise line with beds facing a wall of windows, so we were eager to take advantage of the scenic experience. We sailed all night and through the next day. We took advantage of the outstanding weather and had lunch on the top deck of the ship, while watching the small towns of Hungary and Slovakia pass by. We have already met so many nice people from every corner of the world: Australia, Belize, Canada, Chicago, England, New York, New Zealand, and Texas.
Our day aboard the ship consisted of eating, napping, and learning to waltz! We enjoyed an early dinner before disembarking in Vienna. We went into town for a concert at what used to be the beautiful palace/home of a prominent local family…a perfect evening.
August 24, 2017
The day began with a guided City Tour of Vienna. We drove along the Ring Road, the road that surrounds the Old Town and is built where medieval city fortifications once stood. It has been designated by UNESCO as part of Vienna’s World Heritage Site. The road is lined with some of the most beautiful buildings I think I have ever seen. Among them are the Vienna State Opera, Academy of Fine Arts, Palace of Justice, Parliament, University of Vienna, Vienna Stock Exchange, just to name a few. I wish we had more time to explore here…we will just have to come back!
We took a short walking tour through a quiet part of Old Town and were given about an hour to explore on our own. Not nearly enough time to see it all. The afternoon consisted of a tour of Schonbrunn Palace, the former imperial summer residence, as well as a great history lesson on the life of Queen Maria-Teresa, who ruled Austria for over 40 years and gave birth to 16 children (one of them was Marie Antoinette).
Our ship was docked in port until 10:45 pm so we went into town for dinner. Our tour guide recommended Griechensbeisl (please don’t ask me to pronounce it). We each ordered the filet mignon and a nice glass of Zweigelt. Afterwards we agreed we should probably try to walk off some of that dinner so we made our way back to the ship on foot. After about 30 minutes I realized we must have made a wrong turn…thank goodness for Uber!
Avalon brought a musical duo from Slovakia on board to entertain us tonight. They were fantastic! One is the conductor and the other is the principal violinist for the symphony orchestra in Bratislava. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the performance.
August 25, 2017
Today we woke up in Durnstein. A tiny little town in the Wachau Valley where King Richard I the Lionheart was once held prisoner. One of the gentlemen in our group from England has traced his family tree all the way back to the 12th century and discovered that he is a direct descendent of King Henry II and King Richard I the Lionheart so he was quite excited to see Durnstein.
At 11:00 we set sail for Melk. We found a couple of lounge chairs on the top deck and enjoyed the scenery for the next couple of hours as Roos talked about each of the sites and villages we passed along the way. We docked in Melk at 2:00. We then went on a guided tour of the Melk Abbey. This is another UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a must see. It is a working Benedictine abbey. It contains a private secondary school for 900 children. Next to the Sagrada Famila in Barcelona, the church at the Melk Abbey is one of the most beautiful that I have ever seen.
August 26, 2017
We woke up in a tiny town called Aschach. The only reason for stopping here was to let off the passengers going on optional excursions to Salzburg or Cesky Krumlov. The “Sound of Music” is one of my favorite movies of all time so I lightly twisted Alan’s arm to visit Salzburg and see some of the spots where the movie was filmed. The first stop was in a gorgeous town called Mondsee. There is a lake at the base of the mountains where people were paddle boarding and sailing.
It is a popular holiday spot for locals.
In Mondsee is the famous St. Michael’s church where the wedding scene in the movie was filmed. We then drove to Salzburg. Our guide gave us a short orientation tour and then turned us loose. We took the funicular up to the fortress for an incredible view of the city. Coming back down, we wandered the streets in search of lunch and our souvenir Christmas ornaments before having to return to the bus.
August 27, 2017
Today we woke up in Regensburg, Germany. It is the fourth largest city in Bavaria. Besides the fact that it is the oldest city on the Danube, the three highlights were:
Before dinner, Avalon brought two local ladies on board for a tasting of the local beers. They did a great job but it was a little hard to take them seriously given their cute local costumes and pigtails. The beer was delicious and they made it really fun.
August 28, 2017
Today we are sailing along the part of the Main-Danube canal that has 16 locks in a 106 mile stretch of the waterway. A local university professor came on board to explain to us the whole canal/lock engineering masterpiece. Because of the lock system, we were actually 1000 feet above sea level at our highest point, before we started to gradually descend. He was super interesting.
We arrived in Nuremberg in the afternoon and opted for the City Tour. It is the second largest city in Bavaria and dates back to the 11th century, is notorious as the birth place of the Nazi Party and was the location of many Nazi propaganda rallies. In 1945-1946, after WWII ended, German officials accused of war crimes were brought to trial here in the Nuremberg Trials.
After that, we stopped for a tour of Nuremberg Castle and Old Town. It is storybook pretty. They hold a huge Christmas market here every year that draws over two million visitors!
August 29, 2017
We arrived by bus at the Prague Marriott at noon. The hotel is in a fabulous location…a 5 minute walk to Republic Square where you will find a farmers market, subway stop, shops and restaurants.
At 2:00 we met up with a few others for a guided “Secrets of Prague” tour. Our tour guide was Helena and she was wonderful. She has been giving tours for forty years and has seen much in her lifetime. After a short bus ride, we walked to the Charles Bridge. This city is simply gorgeous. Both sides of the river are full of beautiful architecture and history. She really covered a lot of ground with us so we were comfortable exploring on our own later.
We had dinner at a restaurant on the river. The food was okay but the view was spectacular! The highlight of the evening was walking along the Charles Bridge at night while it was full of pedestrians, musicians and artists.
August 30, 2017
Back on the bus at 8:15 for the Prague City Tour. We saw the castle and the church. We saw the Lennon Wall (a tribute to John Lennon). We went back to Old Town to see the Astronomical Clock.
This afternoon we signed up for the optional tour of Terezin. Helena was our tour guide again today. Terezin is a former military fortress an hour or so outside of Prague. During WWII over 32,000 prisoners (5,000 of them women) passed through here. Many were tortured, executed or sent to concentration camps. A distant relative of Alan’s, Anna Skrainka, was here for 18 months 1944-1945. When the prison was liberated by the allies, Anna walked 700 miles from Terezin to Hamburg. Her granddaughter, Angie Littlefield, has researched the story and is writing a book, Walking With Oma. Helena did such an amazing job of describing the conditions that it just left us with a haunting feeling and overwhelming sadness for those who were held there.
Later in the evening, at the recommendation of our tour director, Heinrich, we had an amazing dinner at a little Italian restaurant about 5 blocks from our hotel. We wandered aimlessly around the busy streets of Old Town until our feet just couldn’t take any more.
August 31, 2017
Today was the first day we could sleep in. Heaven. We grabbed sausages and beer for lunch from a vendor at the farmer’s market before boarding the bus for our last excursion. Helena was our guide once again. She really is wonderful. We drove for about 45 minutes to Melnik to see the castle and do a wine tasting. The village is very pretty and quaint. The castle has been in the Lobkowiczs family for hundreds of years (except for a brief period when it was confiscated by the communist party). The wine was very good and it was the perfect way to end our vacation.
I thought Avalon did a wonderful job. We really liked the hotels in Budapest and Prague. The ship was wonderful. The staff on the ship and the tour guides on the ground were very good. I would encourage anyone thinking about a river cruise to go on this adventure!
Email Julie or give her a call at 314-580-4554
to begin planning your Avalon Waterways cruise and discover the best of Eastern Europe.
Are you looking for a new river cruise experience in Europe? Look no further! Dianna, one of our in-house consultants, just returned from an incredible Viking River Cruise down the Rhone River in France. She and her husband, Bill, cruised on Viking Delling that started in Lyon, France and ended in Arles, France.
Dianna said, "Viking did an amazing job. Everything was well organized. Each night they told you what to expect and they gave you a map of where you were going that day." In addition, she mentioned "someone was always around to answer questions and they all got to know our names."
On board breakfast, lunch and dinner are served in the restaurant or you can enjoy a more casual atmosphere of the Aquavit Terrace, where Dianna especially enjoyed dining. Wine and beer is included with lunch and dinner, and the wines are sourced from various wine regions of France.
Dianna also enjoyed her accommodations in the Veranda A stateroom which had a walk-out balcony. She highly recommends this room, however if you're looking for something a little larger, she also suggests the suites that have both a walk-out balcony and a French balcony.
While sailing the Rhone and Saone Rivers, Dianna and Bill loved the quaint villages they visited. They were impressed by the architecture of the many walled cities, including: Lyon, Vienne, Tournon, Viviers, Avignon and Arles. This was Dianna’s first time cruising with Viking and she said “I would definitely do this itinerary again but in reverse."
In addition to the river cruise, Dianna and her husband spent two pre-cruise nights in Paris at Hotel Esprit Saint Germain, located on the left bank, and two post-cruise nights at the Rubens at the Palace Hotel in London, England.
Monday, March 27 - Tuesday, March 28: Paris, France
Wednesday, March 29 - Friday, March 3: Lyon, France
Saturday, April 1: Vienne, France
Sunday, April 2: Tournon and Viviers, France
Monday, April 3: Avignon, France
Tuesday, April 4: Arles, France
Wednesday, April 5 - Friday, April 7: London, England
To book a Viking River Cruise through France,
please contact Dianna Paridon at 314-439-5700 ext. 108, or send Dianna an Email
How many times have you worked Cruise Expo with Brentwood Travel?
This will be my second year.
How long have you been with Azamara Club Cruises?
One and a half years, since we hired our dedicated sales team.
What made you want to work for Azamara Club Cruises?
Besides having an Azamazing team? LAND! Azamara's focus on LAND and more time in port is what I love most about our unique cruise brand. If I am going to Santorini, I want to stay until 10, 11PM at night, and that is what Azamara offers - longer, stays, more overnights, and night touring. And of course, the great culinary experiences onboard our boutique vessels.
What do you feel is the main thing that sets Azamara Club Cruises apart from your competition?
Absolutely, positively how we stay longer in port and overnight more than any of our competitors. We focus on not only providing a world class experience onboard, but giving you MORE time in destination to experience MORE! This is our primary focus - "Destination Immersion".
Share a memory from one of your favorite trips with Azamara Club Cruises:
So difficult to choose just one, but I have great memories of our "Azamazing Evening" in St. Petersburg Russia. We took all of our guests onboard (about 600 guests) to the historic St. Petersburg Philharmonic for a PRIVATE performance by the St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra. Champagne was flowing, our Captain Carl was present, and Chief Composer Yuri Temirkanov provided the show of a lifetime. Glancing around the audience of Azamara guests and seeing their smiling faces brought home for me what Azamara Club Cruises is about. Experiences. Bespoke, authentic, and localized experiences. And to think that our Azamazing Evenings are complimentary!!!
Describe a client who would be the perfect fit for Azamara Club Cruises:
It's quite easy. ANYONE who enjoys spending longer in port, and those who want to EXPERIENCE the destinations visited. People who like small boutique ships (roughly 680 passengers only), and those who demand the finest in dining and accommodations. If you enjoy casual luxury (no ties or tuxedos!), a remarkable crew experience, and more time for experiences in destination, Azamara is a perfect choice.
Bob's tip for traveling parents:
I always bring a stuffed animal of my daughter's so I can take a photo "In Destination" and send it to her showing where we've been. This was taken at the Lycian ruins at Xanthos, Turkey in 2016 while on an Azamara voyage…taken with an unsuspecting local. ; )
How many times have you worked Cruise Expo with Brentwood Travel?
How long have you been with Viking Cruises?
I started with Viking in 2000 as a chef, then later became a Hotel Manager. Now, I am a Director of Business Development.
What made you want to work for Viking Cruises?
Viking offers great work conditions in a professional team who is determined to become the best in the world! I love feeling valued and appreciated as an employee, while being given the ability to add my own creativity and expertise. Also, it's great to work for a company that embraces modern technology and the latest trends.
What do you feel is the main thing that sets Viking Cruises apart from your competition?
Viking sets itself apart by not trying to be ‘everything to everyone’.
We have innovative and industry-changing ship designs that offer a wide selection of different cabin categories. Every crewmember on board is a Viking employee and trained by our management, and Viking owns and operates all ships (except Mekong and Egypt).
We offer ‘Behind the Scenes’ shore excursions and have limited access to UNESCO world heritage sites. On board, we have award-winning cuisine made fresh with locally sourced ingredients.
Share a memory from one of your favorite trips with Viking Cruises:
My most unforgettable journey was Amsterdam to Vienna in 2001 when I met my wife for the first time on board. Still my very favorite destination - Rhine and Danube
Describe a client who would be the perfect fit for Viking Cruises:
Viking is perfect for the client who is open-minded and curious. Someone who is interested in Europe’s art, music, culture, literature, and culinary world, but also wants to meet the people of the destination.
Ann and Dagmar spent 8 nights on the Rhine in Europe on their Viking River Cruise.
(Click to see full album)
Sue and her husband took a "Blue Danube" Viking River Cruise. (Click to read full article)
How long have you been with AmaWaterways?
What made you want to work for AmaWaterways?
The quality of the product, their reputation in the industry and the fact that they are family owned.
What do you feel is the main thing that sets AmaWaterways apart from your competition?
Our people, our service level, our many tour choices, our culinary signature "Chaine des Rotisseurs”, our wine themed departures and our awards given by Berlitz the travel writers (we received 1-10) out of 310 river ships!
Share a memory from one of your favorite trips with AmaWaterways:
The Christmas Markets - Europe so beautifully decorates and celebrates the traditions of the holiday season with the Castles, Palaces and Abby’s all lit with the colors of the Christmas season.
Describe a client who would be the perfect fit for AmaWaterways:
An ocean cruiser looking for a smaller, more engaging experience. A traveler that has experienced escorted tours, special interest travel, a cultural experience, active traveler (we have biking and hiking tours), empty nester-wanting to share new experiences together…let's just say, any traveler that appreciates a 5 star level of service!
Julie aboard Amadolce for the Taste of Bordeaux itinerary.
(Click to read full article)
How many times have you worked Cruise Expo with Brentwood Travel?
This will be my third year working Cruise Expo.
How long have you been with Uniworld?
I have been with Uniworld for three years.
What made you want to work for Uniworld?
I wanted to work for Uniworld for many years after seeing one of their ships while sailing on a competitor. I then learned as much as I could about Uniworld in hopes that a position would someday become available. Finally after two years – one opened up in Denver and I jumped on the opportunity to apply and was finally hired. Good things are worth the wait!
What do you feel is the main thing that sets Uniworld apart from your competition?
Our service and ships are the best in the industry. Our main belief is "No Detail too small, no request too large." You will see once you board our ships that we take care of every detail and deliver on giving the best service to our guests. Our repeat business is the best in the industry because we meet and exceed expectations.
Share a memory from one of your favorite trips with your company:
This year I sailed with my family on Paris and Normandy aboard the SS Baroness and made many wonderful memories seeing the beautiful cities on the Seine River. My favorite memory from this sailing was the day that we visited the Beaches of Normandy and had an opportunity to walk the beaches and visit the American Memorial and place a wreath honoring our US Soldiers. It was a day I will never forget and that I am thankful to all of our military for their sacrifices during WWII. Our Tour Guide brought history to life and made for a memorable journey.
Describe a client who would be the perfect fit for your product:
The perfect guests for Uniworld would be anyone who wants to sail on the best river cruise line, that is all-inclusive, has an award winning culinary program and offers many tours per day that are included. Once you sail with Uniworld, you will make the decision to return year after year because we exceed your expectations and deliver the best to our guests every day.
"Uniworld took us to a villa in Italy to have a wonderful lunch. We bought wine from the
estate winery and had it shipped back to the states.
A special memory thanks to Uniworld River Cruises. Ravenna, Italy." - Stacey A.
How many times have you worked Cruise Expo with Brentwood Travel?
This is my 2nd Cruise Expo representing Globus and Avalon Waterways, but I participated years ago when I worked for a different vacation company.
How long have you been with the Globus Family of Brands?
About 18 months, but I am celebrating my 20th year in the travel industry in 2016.
What made you want to work for Globus?
I wanted to work for a company that was well respected by travel agents and consumers with a wide range of products. Globus is a very stable company, celebrating 88 years in business. Our company has survived and thrived through many different challenges which speaks to me on how we handle challenges both internally and externally.
What do you feel is the main thing that sets Globus apart from your competition?
We bring a level of experience that is second to none. Our world-wide offices are ready and very able to handle anything that is presented.
Share a memory from one of your favorite trips with your company:
My favorite memory from traveling with Avalon was the day we went to the Normandy Landing Beaches. The day prior, a historian visited the ship and reviewed the history of D-Day. She did an amazing job but when I actually walked on the beach, stepped into bunkers and imagined what happened all those years before it gave me chills. Then we went to the cemetery for a service and some time to pay our respects. It was very humbling. I will always hold this memory dear.
Describe a client who would be the perfect fit for one of Globus' products (Globus, Monograms, Cosmos and Avalon Waterways)?
It really depends on which product line you are traveling with….for example, Globus is great for couples traveling alone or with other friends. The mix of structure and free time allows guests to reconnect and have a great time without needing to plan every second of the trip. Monograms is great for honeymooners, families or couples looking for a more relaxed itinerary with more free time to explore. Yet, we handle the details of hotel accommodations, half day touring, breakfast daily and local hosting. Avalon, is perfect for first time European travelers that are seeking a new adventure. Guests love to unpack once, while exploring multiple countries with great amenities and inclusions.
Cathy and her sister-in-law, Jeannene, went on an
Essential Holland and Belgium Avalon Waterways cruise!
Cathy and her sister-in-law, Jeannene, experienced their first Avalon Waterways river cruise back in June. Their eight day itinerary, Essential Holland and Belgium, took them from Brussels to Amsterdam. Enjoy their photo album below!
For more information about Avalon Waterways, email Cathy or
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.