Travel Consultants Maggie Groene & Rachel Madigan recently returned from sailing Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Vista. The two enjoyed their time aboard and in Costa Maya and Cozumel. They enjoyed the delicious food, friendly staff and beautiful views. Keep reading for a recap of their trip and their tips for first-time cruisers.
Every part of the check-in process went smoothly. They did not have any issues and were quickly checked in and on the ship. Maggie and Rachel spent the day exploring Galveston, Texas, before boarding the ship. This trip was Rachel’s first time cruising. Her first impression of Carnival Vista was that the ship was very large, but upon boarding, she did not feel overwhelmed by the size. One of the first things they saw upon boarding was the atrium, which featured a Dreamscape funnel with various images projected onto it throughout the entire trip.
ENTERTAINMENT AND ACTIVITIES
There was never a moment where entertainment was not at their fingertips, day or night. On the ship there were pools, a water park, IMAX theatre, spas, performances and much more. They loved going to comedy shows at night and taking a trip to the spa during the day.
There were over 30 different dining options on the ship. Maggie and Rachel dined mostly in the main dining area. The menus in the main dining areas changed daily, so they were able to try a variety of meals throughout the trip and never get bored of the food on board. Their favorite restaurant was Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse. Some of their favorite foods on the ship were the chocolate lava cake and 24/7 pizza.
Carnival Vista offered several bars on board for their 21+ guests. One of Maggie and Rachel's favorites was RedFrog Pub & Brewery, the ship's on board brewery. At RedFrog they tried the craft brews that were made right on the ship and enjoyed the live music and pub games. Alchemy Bar was another favorite spot of theirs for drinks. They made specialty cocktails that were as delicious as they were beautiful.
The amazing Carnival Vista staff stood out to Maggie and Rachel. They made them feel comfortable as soon as they stepped on the ship and felt taken care of every minute of their trip. Their room steward, the main dining staff, and the entertainment staff were very friendly and provided personable service to every guest. They loved getting a different towel animal in their room every day and collected them throughout their trip. Rachel even brought one back home with her!
When they weren't enjoying themselves on the ship, they spent time on beautiful beaches. They spent a day snorkeling in Costa Maya, and saw sea turtles! They also purchased day passes to Secrets Aura Cozumel to enjoy the many pools and beautiful views at the resort.
MAGGIE AND RACHEL'S TIPS FOR FIRST-TIME CRUISERS
1. Purchase a drink package
Opting for a drink package versus paying for drinks individually will save you money in the long run for your trip. These packages give you the option for unlimited soda, beer, wine, spirits, and more depending on the package you decide to purchase.
2. Book a balcony room
Balcony rooms give you the option to get fresh air and enjoy a view of the water without having to leave your room. Rachel felt that for her first time cruising, the balcony room was a great option that make her feel the most comfortable.
3. Download the Carnival Hub app
This was a game changer for Maggie and Rachel’s trip. If you plan on sailing with Carnival, make sure to download this app! They were able to view their daily itineraries, menus, entertainment and even get pizza delivered to them anywhere on the ship all from their phones! You can also use the app before your cruise to book shore excursions, schedule dining reservations and schedule spa treatments.
4. Pack for formal/themed nights
Make sure to check your itinerary while packing to make sure you bring the proper attire for any themed or formal nights.
5. Bring certain items to avoid heavy on-board costs
Be sure to pack items such as sunscreen, seasickness remedies (bands, pills, or patches), and the allotted number of approved beverages to keep in your room. These items can have high prices on board, so you can save money by picking up and packing these items before your trip.
Interested in sailing the Western Caribbean on Carnival Vista?
"Egypt was a bucket list destination for me. When I saw the Pyramids for the first time, I remember feeling extremely lucky to be able to witness them in person and very grateful that my job was allowing me to travel the world and see so much that most people won’t see in a lifetime. This stop made me appreciate the life that was being built around me at a young age. The people I was meeting and the experiences I was having were truly amazing. "
"My love for Norway started when I worked for Regent Seven Seas Cruises and we used to hike the destinations of almost every port we stopped at. The natural springs running down the mountains and being able to hold your bottle up to the water and drink straight from it made this land feel so pure and untouched. I felt at peace in Norway. I used to take hikes with my Grandad and still have a love for it today, so the pure beauty of Norway made me feel closer to him. The type of peace I felt there was something I haven’t felt anywhere else since and that was 10 years ago!"
Jen Ramig (Travel Consultant)
"A trip that changed my life is for the active individual (it was tough but beautiful). I wrote this on the train leaving for Barcelona after this amazing hike with my brothers and sisters:
I'm sitting on the train heading to Barcelona. I am looking into the distance, wondering if I can see The Camino De Santiago that we just hiked. In Chile. I wonder if my fellow Peregrinos (pilgrims) are staring into the horizon thinking the same. Heavy tears fall down my cheeks, but why? Is it a release of something? The weight of my pack is no longer a struggle, but I still feel the weight on my back and shoulders. I think it is to remind me that, we carry so many burdens every day. My sore legs, ankles and feet remind me that I am stronger than I think. I walked with a heavy bag up a mountain, wow, I did that. My heavy heart makes me feel the love for my family, what I left on the Camino and the love I have waiting for me at home. The smell of my clothes is the remnants of the sweat and layers of dirt from the Camino. I want to keep walking, get questions answered and feel nothing but the pain of my muscles. The sound of my shoes on the gravel, walking the steps of past pilgrims and the beautiful countryside. Adios Camino, I will be back again.
Reading this still makes me cry and brings me right back. I plan on going back. I am not finished, it has forever changed me."
Click through the slideshow below to see more of Jen's photos from The Camino De Santiago hike in Chile.
Stacey Hoehne (Supervisor of Leisure Travel)
“In 2015 I quit my job and took off on a 4.5 month adventure in Southeast Asia with my best friend. I came home from this journey with my eyes opened to new cultures. When I returned back to the U.S., I knew that I wanted to have a job where I could travel more and encourage others to have similar experiences. This is what led me to Brentwood Travel!”
Ready for your own transformative travel experience?
Contact us today!
(314) 439-5700 or Email Us
Travel Consultant Carrie Fry recently had two clients return from an amazing 22-day tour of Europe! Client Karrie M. and her mom Paula started their travels with C.I.E's Irish & British Focus 11-Day Tour and continued to the Netherlands with The Dutchman and then finished in Zurich to join Cosmo's Scenic Switzerland by Train tour.
Read their rave review below!
"Our trip was amazing!
The C.I.E. small group tour was a good start for Mom. There was only 10 of us in the group which made it easy to get to know each other on a short trip. Everyone was on time, it was easy to get in and out of attractions, the tour guide Pat was extra knowledgeable about many things and talked about the area , the history of Ireland, and cricket.
I had purchased underground tickets before we left for London. Especially with being in London for three days, it made navigating through London so much faster than bus and cheaper than other modes of transportation. The underground is also really easy to use!"
"Holland was beautiful. We were able to catch the end of the tulips being in the fields and see the stripes of color!
Switzerland was amazing and I think everything Mom had in mind of Switzerland. It is really expensive and we purchased several meals from the grocery store and the tour guide Flo was aware of this and would always let us know where the grocery stores were located.
Both tours were very good. I am glad we took the train from London to Amsterdam. The security was easier to get through and we didn’t have to be there as early. The table on the train made the journey more comfortable and let both mom and I to have a window seat. I didn’t mind riding backwards. I’m glad we flew to Zurich, especially with the amount of train traveling we did later."
"Carrie did an amazing job of putting everything together for us. It was a once in a lifetime trip and one my mom never thought would actually be done. There are a few trips I would like to do closer. Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, Prince Edward Island, etc. When the time comes, I would love Carrie's help!! It will be a year or two, but hopefully not too long."
- Clients Karrie M. and her mom Paula
After a $50 million-plus makeover, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Joy was ready for her U.S. Inaugural cruise out of Vancouver. On Friday, April 26th Travel Consultant Christine Hakenjos and her fiance Joe boarded this beautiful ship at the Vancouver cruise port to begin their three days at sea. Christine had nothing but great things to say about Norwegian Joy!
The check in process was extremely easy and efficient. A lot of the crew members were working the lines and after about 15 minutes, we were off with our key cards and onto the ship!
Our first impression of the ship was it's very clean, very new, and that it felt like modern luxury. The darker tones and dark wood finishing gave off a very luxurious feel and the ship felt like it had the space of one of the bigger ships, yet we were not overwhelmed by people since her guest capacity size is only 3,800. We made our way to our well-acquainted Ocean View Balcony stateroom and we were pleasantly surprised by the size of the room, bathroom and balcony.
The entertainment on board was spectacular! One evening was saw the musical Footloose and another evening we saw Elements which reminded me a lot of Cirque Du Soleil. Both AMAZING shows held in the Joy Theater. The Social Comedy and Night Club feature two stand-up comedians and later in the evening a DJ spins tracks until late at night. There is also a Beatles cover band that plays at The Cavern Club and The District Brew House has live musicians playing almost every night and features 50 different bottled beers and 24 draft beers on tap. Joe really enjoyed the beers on tap at The District Brew House!
The activities on the ship were endless! The most talked about activity on board was easily the thrilling two-level Race Track. Which was KILLER. There is also Laser Tag which is both indoor and outdoor and boy was it cool to play laser tag at night, in the middle of the ocean under the stars! On the top deck there is a 5-hole Mini Golf course which is beautiful on a sunny day with views of the ocean and is suitable for all ages. The Mandara Spa & Salon is stunning and has a wide variety of services to choose from.
In addition, there is the Aqua Park featuring a double loop water slide over the side of the ship, a Kids’ Aqua Park, the Pulse Fitness Center with beautiful views and brand new gym equipment, the Splash Academy for the kiddos, the Entourage Teen Club for the teenagers, and of course the Casino and many great shops to purchase some souvenirs in.
Our favorite activity on board was hands down the Galaxy Pavilion. As you walk in to the Galaxy Pavilion, it feels as if you are walking into a futuristic space ship. This room reminded me a lot of an arcade but everything was virtual reality. My fiance's favorite part (probably of the entire ship) was easily the Formula One Race Car Simulator. Norwegian Cruise Line purchased a REAL Formula One race car and replaced the engine with a computer system to allow for the car to be converted into a simulator. With three huge screens in front, and the real steering wheel in hand, my fiance felt as if he was truly driving this race car which has been a dream of his for as long as I’ve known him. Needless to say, we could have spent hours in there!
With every cruise fare comes five complimentary dining restaurants. The Manhattan Room, Savor Restaurant, and Taste Restaurant are the ship's three main dining rooms. Garden Café is another complimentary dining venue but it is the buffet option and The Local is a 24-hour eatery and bar lounge/restaurant.
One of our favorite meals was at Savor where I enjoyed some of THE best lamb shanks I have ever eaten and Joe enjoyed beautiful lobster tails.
There are also nine specialty dining restaurants that are either a flat cover charge or a la carte. Ocean Blue for seafood lovers, Teppanyaki for an authentic Japanese hibachi experience, American Diner for a slice of Americana, Cagney’s Steakhouse for the steak lovers, Food Republic to enjoy foods and cultures from around the globe, La Cucina for an Italian flavor, Le Bistro for French cuisine, Q for some Texan BBQ and live music, and good ole’ Starbucks for your favorite latte.
Another favorite meal of ours was at Q, the specialty Texan BBQ restaurant. Joe said that Q had some of the best jalapeno cornbread he has ever had and I fell head over heels for the deviled eggs as well as the banana pudding and the bread pudding for dessert!
Everything we ate on board was SO delicious, you really can't go wrong anywhere you eat!
BARS & LOUNGES
All the bars and lounges were beautiful and each bartender on staff was extremely professional and made the most delicious drinks. I couldn’t have enough of the mojitos! There are a total of 15 different clubs and lounges, but by far my favorites were the Observation Lounge and Spice H20. The Observation Lounge is located at the very front of the ship and features full-service bar offerings, one of two of the Starbucks on board, and AMAZING 180-degree panoramic views of the ocean. Spice H20 is an adults-only lounge with a large hot tub and beautiful bar located at the very back of the ship.
Hidden at the top of the ship is The Haven. The Haven features the most luxurious, well-appointment suites on the entire ship. These include penthouse suites, family villas (some with multiple bedrooms), connecting stateroom suites, courtyard penthouses, all with very large balconies.
With 24-hour butler service, concierge service, private restaurants, private lounges (including their own private Observation Lounge), and a private sundeck, Haven guests never have to leave The Haven if they don't want to!
The WiFi on board was efficient and fast. There are two options available for purchase. The first option is just for regular internet browsing, emailing and messaging. The upgraded option is for streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, etc. Both worked like a charm and were easy to purchase once in our stateroom!
Overall, ship was absolutely stunning, the food was so delicious, the staterooms were beautiful, and the staff on board were absolutely amazing. I can’t wait to sail on Norwegian Joy again and hopefully soon!
Interested in enjoying this ultimate joyride for yourself?
Contact Christine Hakenjos to book your next cruise on Norwegian Joy today!
(314) 439-5700 ext. 134 or email her.
Gorgeous sunsets, beautiful beaches, lively cities, and welcoming people are just a few reasons to love Mexico; yet some people are still hesitant to travel here because of negative news coverage. What we want to say is – don’t buy it. Mexico is nothing to be afraid of. They have their issues just like anywhere else in the world, you just have to be smart!
For many of our clients, Mexico is one of their favorite places in the world. Here at Brentwood Travel, we feel there’s a lot more to love about Mexico than there is to fear and getting there from St. Louis has never been easier!
To show how much we love Mexico, we've compiled our favorite photos from our travels to Mexico and what we love most about this beautiful country!
"I have been visiting Mexico since I first honeymooned there back in the 60’s. I’ve spent time in Acapulco and then charming Puerto Vallarta, with its cobblestone streets, both on the Pacific west coast. Then I started visiting the white sand beaches in the Cancun/Riviera Maya area on the Caribbean side of Mexico back in the 80’s. I have brought my children on several wonderful family vacations to all these destinations in Mexico as well! Not only did we bask in the sunshine on beautiful beaches, but we visited the famed Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza and learned much about the history of the people of Mexico. I’ve also visited other areas while on cruises to Mexico. Last year, we went for a week’s stay to Cabo San Lucas on the west coast which is now one of my favorite visits to date. Today we are so fortunate to have nonstop charters from St. Louis and many other cities into Cancun, Cabo and on occasion other places in Mexico. The country offers an array of fantastic beautiful resorts, many of which are all inclusive. These are great because you can choose the resort that fits your lifestyle and pocketbook. For those who like to dine around in a destination, that option is also still available – again at many different price points!
The Mexican people are kind, service oriented and extremely welcoming. They actually speak English, overall, better than most other beach destinations and the country offers everything to fit your interests from outdoor activities to historical and educational opportunities. Shopping is fun and affordable in Mexico and there are many cultural opportunities throughout the country as well.
Every country has some challenges, but I feel safer in Mexico than in many U.S cities. Don’t buy into any of the negative hype about Mexico. Just as you would anywhere you go, you must be aware of your surroundings, but overall this is a destination I highly recommend. I have even taken my grandchildren to various destinations in Mexico on several occasions and they are the most precious things I have!"
"My family of 10 recently celebrated our anniversary in Riviera Maya, Mexico. We stayed at the Iberostar Paraiso Maya and it was wonderful and the staff could not have been better! The kids participated in basket ball, volleyball, soccer and other pool and beach games. We had dinners in 3 of the specialty restaurants and I am pretty sure the kids depleted the supply of ice cream each day! We have taken the family before and look forward to the next time. Safe, comfortable and relaxing."
"I’ve been to Los Cabos twice and Riviera Maya once. I’m headed back to Riviera Maya this fall for a friends Destination Wedding! I love traveling to Mexico for the great service, fun culture, and easy nonstop flights from STL! I particularly love taking excursions like this catamaran cruise to the Arch of Cabo San Lucas."
"My favorite destination in Mexico is Iberostar Paraíso del Mar in Riviera Maya. I traveled to this resort with Funjet Vacations and my trip was incredible. The included transfers made it so easy to get to and from the airport without having to stress on vacation. The whole complex was just breathtaking and I felt completely separated from society, almost like we were in our own world. The customer service we received was unreal during our week-long stay and I just couldn’t get enough of the beach, pools and cocktails. I would recommend Mexico as a destination to anyone because of its beauty and relaxing atmosphere. I can’t wait for the chance to go back!"
"I love Mexico for the convenient non-stop flights, no time change, great beaches, and the fact that there is a lot of choices for different types of hotels for all types of people!"
"I love traveling to Cancun and Riviera Maya in Mexico! The nonstop flights from STL make it perfect for a quick getaway. The people are so friendly and welcoming, the food is great, and the beaches are beautiful!"
"Mexico has beautiful beaches and WONDERFUL all-inclusive resorts. Traveling to Mexico is easy with nonstop flights out of Saint Louis and I have never felt unsafe during my time there. The resorts I have stayed at had wonderful security both on the property and the beaches. There is so much to do and see in Mexico! We went on a 9-hour ATV tour while in Cozumel and had a chance to tour a tequila distillery, a nature reserve, and see some Mayan ruins and meet a true Mayan – all in one tour! The beaches are beautiful, the animals are adorable, and there is nothing quite like enjoying some chips and guacamole with a margarita in hand while sitting on the beach with family!"
"You could say I love Mexico because I know they will take great care of me when I am hesitant to try to foods or restaurants. The people, service and flavors are a great escape from our everyday."
"I can give 5 reasons why I love Mexico!
- The tequila tastes better in Mexico
- Your money goes a long way in Mexico
- It's a great destination for families
- The nonstop flights from STL and many other cities are extremely convenient
- Mexico is full of adventurous activities and cultural places to explore!"
Interested in traveling to Mexico?
Have questions or concerns you'd like to address?
Contact us! We'd love to help!
(314) 439-5700 or Email Us
Notre-Dame de Paris (also called Notre Dame Cathedral) is one of the most famous Gothic cathedrals of the Middle Ages and is one of Paris’ most popular attractions. The idea for the cathedral was conceived in 1160 by bishop of Paris, Maurice de Sully and in 1163, the foundation was finally laid by Pope Alexander III. The choir, western façade and the nave were completed by 1250 with the porches, chapels and other amazing embellishments added over the following 100 years.
Unfortunately, a major fire erupted at the cathedral in Paris on Monday, April 15th, devastating large parts of the 856-year-old church. The cathedral was undergoing renovations and has suffered colossal damages. While the cause of the fire is still unclear, French President Emmanuel Macron has promised Parisians that they will “rebuild this cathedral together” and over $700 million has already been donated for the project.
All of us here at Brentwood Travel have heavy hearts as Notre-Dame de Paris has touched so many of our lives. We look back on the fond memories we have had at the cathedral and in Paris by reminiscing on the photos and videos below.
Watch the videos below by Supervisor of Marketing Missi Wilson from outside Notre-Dame de Paris as well as inside during Mass one Sunday:
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Our thoughts are with the people of France.
Spring is officially here in St. Louis and we are just loving all the beautiful colors blooming around town.
Here are just a few of our photos from our favorite springtime travels!
Waimea Valley in Oahu, Hawaii
Supervisor of Leisure Travel Stacy Hoehne
Senior Travel Consultant Dianna Paridon
Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain
Travel Consultant Maggie Groene
Tulip Time Festival in Pella, Iowa
Supervisor of Marketing Missi Wilson
Travel Consultant Cheryl Hegger
Ready to plan your next springtime getaway?
Call us at (314) 439-5700 or email us today to start planning!
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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.
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