Rollin' On the Rhine River


Chris and I were lucky to be among a group of Cruise Planner agents who were invited to take a Viking River Cruise. As the trip fell on Chris’ birthday and around our 38th anniversary, it was extra special for us. The cruise began in Basel, Switzerland and continued through the Alsace region of France, Germany and Amsterdam. Along the way, the ship docked in cities and towns that had a delightful, old-world European charm. Since we were conveniently docked near city centers, we spent our free time, after pre-planned excursions, walking through quaint, historic streets and enjoying what the cities have to offer. The pace of European life is slower than what we are normally used to and made for a very relaxing vacation.

11-20-2013 11-14-47 AMOne of our favorite excursions came on the last day of our itinerary to a site that was on my bucket list. On a beautiful sunny day we visited Amsterdam’s Kinderdijk Windmills, a Unesco World Heritage site, and toured one of the many spectacular and serene windmills, which have been operating since the 1700s.

Our ship was the Viking Rinda. It is one of the new beautifully-designed Longships with a sleek, modern, Scandinavian feel. Although the cabins are somewhat smaller than most ocean-going cruise ships, they are designed for maximum efficiency. We stayed in a French Balcony Stateroom with a sliding glass door that could be opened on nice days and were able to enjoy the passing views from the comfort of our cabin.

Whether dining or relaxing on deck, there is an intimate atmosphere on board the ship. We were among about 180 passengers and this low passenger count enabled everyone to socialize easily and get to know one another. We were well taken care of by the friendly and energetic staff. In fact, due to the high staff to passenger ratio, we felt downright pampered. All the meals were excellent; freshly prepared with local ingredients, portion-controlled and presented like works of art. The chef carefully catered to individual passengers’ dietary concerns.

If you have an anniversary, birthday or any other special occasion coming up, or if you would simply like to relax and feel pampered, Chris & I would welcome the opportunity to explore River Cruising as a possibility for your next vacation.  We can recommend small nuances to your vacation preparations. For example, deciding on which side of the ship to book your stateroom that would allow for the best views for your itinerary. We can also help you decipher the best route, ship destination and itinerary to fit your travel budget. We can communicate any dietary restrictions or preferences to the cruise line, on your behalf. We can also share with you the benefit of our travel experience regarding cultural customs and differences to make your cruise a relaxing, interesting and memorable experience.  Whether you choose a river cruise or another vacation option, we can guide you through the myriad of choices and help make your next vacation unique.

If River Cruising, seems like it might be your kind of get-away, please give us a call at (631) 893-4232 or email:


Toll Free: (631) 893-4232 ~ 866-81-KORTE (56783)
Local: 631-893-4232

Babylon, NY 11702

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page

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The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.  ~Saint Augustine

Travel changes everything!  When you travel, you broaden your horizons.  You open your mind to new experiences and you are never truly the same.

Before I had the opportunity to travel, I was quite a shy person.  The more I traveled and interacted with people and other cultures, the more confidence I gained.  I am now able to converse easily with people in a social or business setting.  Travel makes you “interesting” and people want to share their own travel “stories” with you.  Travel has universal appeal.   Ask anyone, “Where have you traveled?” and “Where would you like to travel?”  You will always get an emotional response and amazingly, answering the question will transport a person right back to that time and that place.  Most people have a travel bucket-list, and how interesting would it be to get this discussion going in your next network business meeting or family gathering?

Travel helped me to become a better business person!  With the confidence I gained, came a level of success which I believe go hand-in-hand.   An article in Psychology Today magazine, referencing a study done on travel showed “those who traveled tended to show an increase in Openness to Experience, Agreeableness (which reflects a need to get along with other people) and Emotional Stability relative to those who did not travel.”  Even if you don’t travel often, I know it can help you, if you open yourself up to the experience.

Travel smart and plan something out of the ordinary.  Visit another culture and immerse yourself in that experience and you will be educated!  I am not talking about a Bear Grylls, Man vs. Wild, type of adventure. Just get away from the average day-to-day and you will be rewarded with an experience that strips away blinders and fills your heart.

So, are you ready to open the book and turn a page?

Contact us so we can make your bucket list dreams a reality (631) 893-4232


Toll Free: (631) 893-4232 ~ 866-81-KORTE (56783)
Local: 631-893-4232

Babylon, NY 11702

Mariner’s club: An Extra-ordinary Way to Travel

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AX_MarinersClubLogoDid you ever wonder how some people come back from a vacation and they’ve had amazing, even rare opportunities to go “behind-the-scenes.” Maybe they had an exclusive tour of a renowned vineyard, a luncheon at a private villa on the Italian Riviera or an exclusive tour of a rainforest? They may be American Express® Mariner Club Members.

Chris and I recently completed a course to become American Express® Mariner Club Hosts. We have the ability to offer our clients special American Express® Mariner Club Cruises with benefits. The Mariners Club is an exclusive, complimentary, hosted cruise program exclusive to American Express Travel. By partnering with some of the world’s premier cruise lines, the Mariner Club can bring you a truly unforgettable cruise experience.

All Mariner Club cruises are staffed with knowledgeable Mariner Club Hosts like ourselves. You would literally be cruising with an experienced travel consultant, who can smooth out any wrinkles and enhance your travel experience. Benefits that you will experience:

You will be accompanied by Mariner Club’s gracious hosts who are there to help. They’ll share tips for your itinerary, welcome you to parties just for Mariner Club guests and accompany you on your complimentary Mariner Club shore side event. As experienced travelers, your Mariner Club Hosts know just how to make sure your journey is exactly what you want and more.
You will consult with your Mariner host for expert advice on the “unique shore-side events“and privileged access to some of the world’s most exciting destinations. Mariner Club shore side events will show you exotic sites few people get to see. Rare opportunities like these are what can turn a trip into an experience of a lifetime.
You will gather with new friends for conversation at private sunset cocktail parties. It’s a great way to relax and get to know your gracious hosts and other like-minded travelers.
These are just some of the valuable benefits you can enjoy as a guest of the American Express Mariner Club. Simply call us at (631) 893-4232 or email and ask for the Mariner Club when booking your cruise. Then prepare yourself to enjoy these complimentary privileges as you cruise. Here is a list of just a few of the Mariner Club cruises coming up the next few months.

Upcoming Cruises include:

11/26/13 Azamara Club 12 Days to Caribbean

12/8/13 Azamara Club 12 Days to Caribbean

12/9/13 Crystal Cruises 12 Days to South America

12/18/13 Holland America Line 21 Days to Cape Horn

12/18/13 Holland America Line 17 Days to Panama Canal

12/20/13 Holland America Line 15 Days to Panama Canal

12/20/13 Celebrity Cruises 10 Days to Caribbean

12/22/13 Celebrity Cruises 12 Days to Australia & New Zealand

1/5/14 Celebrity Cruises 14 Days to Cape Horn

1/8/14 Holland America Line 21 Days to Cape Horn

1/20/14 Celebrity Cruises 14 Days to Australia & New Zealand

1/21/14 Azamara Club 13 Days to Southeast Asia

2/10/14 Celebrity Cruises 11 Days to Caribbean

2/14/14 Holland America Line 30 Days to South Pacific

2/16/14 Holland America Line 14 Days to Australia & New Zealand

2/17/14 Azamara Club 14 Days to Orient Asia

2/19/14 Holland America Line 13 Days to Cape Horn

3/4/14 Azamara Club 12 Days to Panama Canal

3/12/14 Crystal Cruises 14 Days to Southeast Asia

3/30/14 Holland America 15 Days to Panama Canal

4/6/14 Uniworld Boutique River Cruise 9 Days to European Rivers

4/9/14 Uniworld Boutique River Cruise 7 Days to European Rivers

4/11/14 Azamara Club 11 Days to Mediterranean


Toll Free: (631) 893-4232 ~ 866-81-KORTE (56783)
Local: 631-893-4232

Babylon, NY 11702

Sheila and Chris Korte: After unexpected career changes, we wanted to fulfill our dreams of owning a business.

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(Article Featuring Sheila & Chris Korte from Cruise Planners Franchise Magazine August 2013)The Korte’s Story – Sheila and Chris Korte met in the Army and have been together ever since. With a love for travel and an entrepreneurial spirit, Sheila found the turn-key opportunity she was looking for. Cruise Planners-American Express Travel instantly helped grow her business with its marketing programs, technology, and business development support. Chris even retired and joined her to make what is now a 100% veteran owned-and-operated franchise.

After Chris left the Army, he worked as a civilian air traffic controller while Sheila managed their young family and worked towards and completed an Associates degree in Business. Chris changed careers after he lost his job in the controller’s strike in 1981. He successfully worked as a broker on Wall Street for over 30 years. Sheila was hired by the FAA and worked for 17 years as an Air Traffic Controller. Her career path took a turn after a bad car accident. No longer able work as a controller due to injuries, she decided to fulfill her dreams to complete her college degree in Travel & Tourism with a Marketing Minor.

Sheila initially worked for a travel consortium and then for a travel supplier. Not content in those jobs, she kept searching for a new path, wanting to own her own business. While waiting for her car to be serviced and looking through old magazines on a rack her eye was drawn to a bright green Cruise Planners ad. Both Sheila and Chris agreed that this might be just what she’d been searching for to achieve her dream of working independently in the travel business. Sheila called Cruise Planners the very next day. Within a few days, she was a proud owner of her very own Cruise Planners-American Express franchise.

Chris retired in 2012 from his Wall Street career to join Sheila and has given it an extra boost with his sales and work experience. With hard work, love of travel and people, Cruise Planners has grown to a perfect business for them. They can work while on the road traveling or at their cozy home office. Working with Cruise Planners allows them the flexibility to be able to see their grandchildren regularly and to travel and check off those destinations on their bucket lists. As long as they have a phone, Wifi device & a laptop, Chris and Sheila are able to work their business most anywhere.

Call KorteTravel for any travel advice, they would love to hear from you!  (631) 893-4232 or email them at


Toll Free: (631) 893-4232 ~ 866-81-KORTE (56783)
Local: 631-893-4232

Babylon, NY 11702

Let Us Help You Dream and Plan Your Bucket List Destination for 2014!

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Korte TravelWhere Are You Going For Vacation Next Year? I know that most of you might just be returning you’re your summer vacation, but let’s dream together… Next year, will you be cruising down the River Seine in Paris, eating pasta in Italy, exploring the Galapagos Islands, walking on the Great Wall of China, or experiencing the Aurora Borealis in Alaska…

Will your next vacation be an experience?  Will you be traveling to a destination on your travel  bucket list?   

Why Not???  

What if we take the time now to explore the possibilities with you, instead of you being hurried and pressured to decide on a vacation later?

Let’s think outside of the box…  Let’s think of your next trip as an experience.  If we use some creativity, with budgets, time frames, and Cruise Planners/American Express discounts, I know that we can check off at least one special destination off of your bucket list. 

Please answer this question…

“It’s my life-long dream to go to/on……………for vacation”

I am working with a client who spent all her vacations, year after year, going to the same destination to be with family.  This year she decided to break out and allow us to plan a round-the-world cruise for 2015.  We are in the process of mapping it out with her and she is having a ball in the dreaming and planning stage.  By the time this stage is complete, she will be ready for the adventure of a lifetime.  That’s the type of experience we would like to share with you.  We can give you the benefit of our experience about routes and destinations, including what is best travel time and how to best use the discounts we can get through Cruise Planners/American Express Travel. 

Chris and I were lucky to check off two destinations from our bucket list this year.  New Zealand & Sydney, Australia, both lived up to their exciting reputations. We had a wonderful trip and were able to climb the Sydney Harbor Bridge, something  that we always dreamed of doing. 

We would like to help you have that type of fulfilling and exciting adventure and make your vacation dreams come true.  

Give us a call or email us soon, so we can start to help you dream and plan your bucket list destination for 2014!  

Sheila & Chris Korte @ 866-81-KORTE (56783)  Korte Travel Online


Toll Free: (631) 893-4232 ~ 866-81-KORTE (56783)
Local: 631-893-4232

Babylon, NY 11702


New Zealand: Modern city combines with the raw power of nature

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What comes to mind when I say New Zealand?682_4465232749298_1747826053_n  smaller

Having just returned from New Zealand, I will tell you what words I would use…

  • Sunshine,
  • Nature,
  • Warm, friendly people,
  • Cosmopolitan cities,
  • and Scenic Beauty!

We had such an amazing trip. Thank you to the folks at Air New Zealand who provided the air and Tourism New Zealand, our hosts for the 5 day land portion of our trip. We won this trip in a Cruise Planners contest and they took us on an amazing journey!

We added on a cruise to our itinerary, because we didn’t want to go so far without taking advantage of all there was to see. The cruise gave us a more detailed touring of New Zealand and a couple of bonus days in Australia. Next time, I would add a couple more days in beautiful Sydney and the Great Barrier Reef. You really need 3-4 weeks to see New Zealand and Australia.

On the trip, I had every intention on blogging (not bragging) about the trip on a regular basis. We were so busy on sightseeing excursions, that I didn’t have a moment to sit and write about it. I also found that the cost of using wifi was expensive. One fact that you must know about New Zealand before you go (spoiler alert!), it’s very expensive to buy goods and services there. My advice would be to prepay or budget for excursions and dining out. A tube of suntan lotion was $15US. We don’t feel that this should stop you from going, just be aware of this and plan accordingly.

If you are staying in Auckland, we recommend the SkyCity Hotel. It’s a fantastic hotel and we highly recommend experiencing the revolving Orbit Restaurant at sunset. The dining room rotates once every hour, providing a truly unique experience and amazing 360-degree views of Auckland City. Auckland reminded Chris and I of Newport, Rhode Island. The view was truly spectacular.

The modern city combines with the raw power of nature in New Zealand – the remoteness, the wildness and the peace. As seen in Milford Sound & Doubtful Sound on the South Island. Once described by author, Rudyard Kipling as the ‘eighth wonder of the world’. Sheer cliffs rise vertically upward from the ocean. They are absolutely breathtaking! We couldn’t compare it to any scenery that we’ve seen before. There is nothing like it in the US. Guidebooks say Milford Sound & Doubtful Sound are similar to the fiords of Norway.

If you consider yourself a traveler, or want to be, then this is the ultimate once in a lifetime experience for you. If New Zealand is in your future or it’s on your bucket list, call us @ (631) 893-4232 so we can use our experience to guide you and to get you the most out of your vacation dollars. Korte Travel Online


Toll Free: (631) 893-4232 ~ 866-81-KORTE (56783)
Local: 631-893-4232

Babylon, NY 11702

There truly is a vacation for every personality, just like there is “a lid for every pot”.


My goal, for the immediate future of my travel posts with “Time To Play” is to share some bucket-list, over-the-top, dreamvacation choices and to also explore some budget, closer to home alternatives. I would love to hear feedback and exchange ideas with you.

Korte Travel Online



I want to thank Doreen for inviting me to be share my insights about travel with her “Time to Play” audience.

Since this is my first post, I’ll start with a short introduction. I’m Sheila Korte, and my husband, Chris and I own a Cruise Planners/American Express Travel Franchise on Long Island. This is a second career for both of us and everyday, we feel that we have found our calling and are doing exactly what we most love to do, plan and TAKE vacations. Everyday we share our joy of travel with our clients and assist in helping to make their “travel dreams” come true.

Chris & I are both Baby Boomers and the way that we Play and Enjoy life the most, at this stage of our lives, is to travel as much as our schedules allow. The word, TRAVEL, usually makes me smile because it conjures up wonderful memories. I can replay in my mind some of the snapshots of the wonderful vacations, cruises, and relaxing getaways that my family and I have taken and can instantly be transported back to some of those exotic locales. Love of travel is contagious and I really enjoy sharing my excitement and joy of our travel experiences with clients.

Now that I’ve shared a little about the joy I feel when it comes to travel, I would like to communicate  about what the thought process should be prior to settling on a vacation destination. Some thought should be given to the personality traits of the travelers and what sort of everyday experiences “Light Up” the prospective travelers. For example, if he or she is an adrenaline junkie who needs to be constantly stimulated, then a spa vacation most likely wouldn’t be the best choice.

The adrenaline junkie might enjoy a vacation to the jungles or rain forest of Costa Rica or S. Africa, with excursions of zip lining or bungee jumping included in the itinerary, depending upon the travel budget, of course. A more sedate traveler might enjoy a steam boat cruise up the Mississippi River or a river cruise on one of the breathtaking European Rivers.

Korte Travel Online


Toll Free: (631) 893-4232 ~ 866-81-KORTE (56783)
Local: 631-893-4232

Babylon, NY 11702



Travel and happiness: As I said in my first article, those words go together, kind of like peanut butter & jelly. For my second post on Time To Play website I’m going to give you a couple tips that will help make the planning process much easier and help you get to the happiness part of your vacation with less hassle and in less time. It’s like the old saying, “Leave the driving to us”. To have a near flawless vacation experience “Leave the Planning to your travel agent”.

Do you usually call your travel agent to assist with the planning? Most people don’t because they think it will cost them more money. That is a myth. Using a travel agent can actually save you money. Travel agents have relationships with travel suppliers and we can usually get a much better price then most people can by “trolling” the Internet. Your agent receives continuous training to keep them up to date on how best to assist their clients. On a complicated itinerary there might be an additional fee for the consultation with an agent, but the value you will receive will outweigh any fee that might be charged. Also, if something goes wrong and you’ve booked with a website, who are you going to call if you run into problems? If you’ve booked with an agent you will have a liaison in your corner that will work to get most difficult situations resolved.

So next time you are thinking of getting away and you’re not quite sure where, when or how you will get there, pick up the phone and call your local travel agent. Remember I said I was going to give you a couple of tips on how to get to the HAPPINESS part of your vacation in the most-timely fashion? Well, here goes:


The tip is worth repeating to guarantee the most unique and inspiring vacation experience. After all who wants to take a boring, humdrum vacation. We all want something different and the best way to achieve the ultimate vacation is to:

Call Your Travel Agent!

My husband, Chris and I are certified, bonded and insured agents and we would be glad to give you a hand. We’re both veterans and we own and operate a Cruise Planners/American Express Travel Franchise right here on Long Island. Thanks to the Internet we can service clients nationwide.

Here’s our contact info. – 631-893-4232.

We’re waiting for your call! Happy Travels!


Toll Free: (631) 893-4232 ~ 866-81-KORTE (56783)
Local: 631-893-4232

Babylon, NY 11702




Travel is intoxicating, the more you do, the more you want to do. My husband, Chris & I were able to test this theory recently by traveling for nearly a month. We were in a period of transition, we had sold our house, city apartment and Chris recently retired. We thought this summer would be the perfect time to take two, back-to-back cruises in Europe. After exploring several options we were able to seamlessly blend two cruises together with no lag time. The first was a Uniworld River Cruise of the Rhine and Main Rivers in Germany. The second was a Princess Cruise of the British Isles (England, Channel Islands, Ireland, Scotland and Northern France).

What an amazing adventure! The only complaint I had for the entire trip is that the weather in Prague and Germany was uncomfortably hot (mid 90’s) for most of our visit. The second half of our trip was the complete opposite. It was cloudy and cool with max temps around 70. The British Isles trip we experienced very little rain and calm seas. This is highly unusual in North Sea locales. A couple of highlights from our summer vacation that Chris and I enjoyed the most were:

1. On the last day of the Rhine cruise we enjoyed the views of the beautiful castles on either side of the Rhine river. On this 50 mile stretch of the Rhine there were over 40 ancient and picturesque castles.  It was the most gorgeous day. There were so many castles you didn’t know whether to turn your head to the left or right. We were served authentic German fare with beautiful music playing in the background. Our last day on the Rhine was perfection.

2. One of the most memorable highlights of our Princess Cruise happened on our last day also. We had the choice of going to Paris or Normandy. We had visited Paris several times on other trips and we were very eager to visit Normandy and Omaha Beach. It was a unique, worthwhile and memorable experience. Omaha Beach & the memorial area are beautiful and spiritual. It was very moving to see all of the evenly spaced, identical white, marble crosses, Stars of David & monuments. There are over 10,000 troops buried there. It’s worth the long bus ride from the port and it’s a good chance to visit one of the most critical battlefields of World War 11. Chris & I are both veterans, and visiting Omaha Beach had a lot of special meaning to us.

3. I was going to only share two memories of our summer vacation, but then I remembered how much we enjoyed Dublin. After a long bus ride from the Dublin port we arrived at Blarney Castle where the famous Blarney Stone is located. We waited in line for over an hour traversing these uneven stone stairs to get to the top where the stone is perched. I had no idea what to expect while waiting in line and when I witnessed the people in front of me kissing the stone, I almost took off running. I think it’s one of those crazy, touristy things that you need to do only once. You need to see the pictures to understand how crazy this is. These guys at the top of the castle are literally holding your feet, as you are balanced over a hole in the floor. I was practically upside down & when I kissed the stone. If you are in the area and have the time I think it’s a fun thing to do and the pictures are pretty cool. The myth of the stone is that if you kiss it you will have the gift of gab afterwards. My gab hasn’t changed and you can bet that I immediately visited the restroom to wash my face.

The beginning of this column mentioned that travel is intoxicating.  I find that the more opportunity you get to explore highways, byways & ports of the world, the more that you want to travel.

On this trip we were gone nearly a month. Even though I have always thought that I couldn’t get enough of traveling, when all is said and done, 25 days, for us is a bit long to be away from home.

Next time we will try to limit our vacations to two or three weeks.

So what’s on your bucket list?Where do you want to go next? How long will your next vacation be? Let’s start a conversation.

Click on the “ask Sheila a question” and share. I look forward to hearing from you!

Happy Travels!

Sheila Korte, Korte Travel Online

Pic #1 & #2 #3 Castles on the Rhine #4 Chris & Sheila enjoying a perfect day in Germany.

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Perfect Day!


Right before kissing the Blarney Stone


Mid Kiss!


Omaha Beach Memorial

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Toll Free: (631) 893-4232 ~ 866-81-KORTE (56783)
Local: 631-893-4232

Babylon, NY 11702