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Korte Travel “Top Ten” Tips for a Safe Vacation

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images (1)Your vacation should be stress free and provide you with memories that will last a lifetime.

You don’t want those memories to include the time you were scammed. Unfortunately, there may be unscrupulous people who will try to take advantage of unsuspecting travelers.

It’s not just pickpockets anymore. The crooks have gone high tech, and you need to know how to protect yourself. Here are some tips that Chris and I learned from our years of traveling:

  1. Don’t use open Wi-Fi in a hotel, café, or on board ship – especially for banking and other private information that hackers can easily see since you have already let them through the first security wall.
  2. In Europe, all credit cards come with built in chips that offer more security than the magnetic strips commonly used on American cards. American Express will now issue you a chip card for free (if you ask for it). Some Visa and MasterCards are also moving to chips.
  3. Set up you credit cards and bank accounts for email updates on account activity. Watch out for charges and debits that you don’t recognize so you can catch fraudulent activity – and nip it in the bud.
  4. Believe it or not, crooks are using RFID readers that enable them to “grab” your credit card information (even newer passport info) just by standing next to you! I carry an RFID-protected wallet and shoulder bag that blocks these readers. They’re available on Magellan’s and Travel Smith, and your bank should also have credit card size envelopes that will protect your card.
  5. ATMs for cash are everywhere these days – even in grocery stores. I personally won’t use an ATM unless it’s in a bank, because crooks can attach readers to ATMs that don’t look any different to the naked eye. In Cape Town, South Africa, we tried to use an ATM that wouldn’t accept our card. Right away, a woman was there who wanted Chris to hand her our card because “she wanted to help.” We got very suspicious, started yelling and a guard called the police. The woman jumped in a car, and the bad guys even drove through a barricade to get out of there quickly.
  6. In the airport, get down to baggage claim as soon as possible so you’re there when your bags hit the turnstile. People have been arrested for grabbing unattended luggage and leaving the airport.
  7. Don’t put valuables in your checked luggage. Baggage handlers are notorious for stealing anything of value from luggage.
  8. Put valuables in your carry on – BUT – the overheads may get full and the attendants may want you to check your carry on. Don’t bring your best jewelry with you and be ready to open your carry on to quickly remove valuables like a jewelry pouch and laptop. I also keep a small luggage lock in my carry on pocket to lock the bag if it has to be checked.
  9. Don’t allow someone to separate you from your valuables. Last year, we went to an upscale Caribbean resort with other travel agents. As soon as we checked in, the management wanted us to tour the resort. They told us to leave all our luggage and they would take it to our rooms. Only a few of us demanded that the manager lock our bags in his office. Sure enough, the luggage of one of the agents was delivered to the wrong room – that guest claimed he never saw it. Management actually waited for him to leave his room, and found the missing bag under his bed.
  10. Know where you’re going. Every city in the world has its “shady” areas and you don’t want to go wandering into a bad situation. The Frommer and Fodor guide books are great sources of information on where to walk, and your hotel can also update you on safest areas.

Follow these tips, use common sense and keep your “travel radar” on. Like a deal that seems too good to be true, if a situation seems to feel strange, go with your instincts.

Keep safe, and happy traveling! For questions or help with your travel planning call us at (631) 893-4232 or email Sheila or Chris at skorte@cruiseplanners.com 

CHRIS & SHEILA KORTE, ACC
skorte@cruiseplanners.com
Winners of Best of Long Island Travel Agency 2014

www.kortetravel.com

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

Babylon, NY 11702

In Praise of America

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As you know, Chris and I have the “travel bug” and we just love to grab our bags and go.  While we certainly have enjoyed our recent overseas excursions, including our trips to Europe and South America, I want to remind you that our great country offers an incredible number of places to visit and experiences to share with family and friends that are close to home. Here are just a few that we are personally excited about:

GlacierBayALASKA: Cruising the coast of Alaska is simply breathtaking.  Our recent Alaska cruise was on a Holland America ship and it was very special because of the size of the ship and the itinerary.  The smaller cruise ship enabled the Captain to take us closer to the wonders that Mother Nature offers including Alaska’s majestic fjords.  Having had the experience, Chris and I can help you explore a wide array of land and sea journeys that combine the wonder of cruising by glistening glaciers and the chance to venture inland to places like Denali National Park to see moose, caribou, and grizzlies in their natural environment. The best time to go is late May through September, so start planning your trip now so you can check Alaska off of your bucket list for next year. Also, most cruise lines currently have the Alaska itineraries on sale now.

downloadMISSISSIPPI AND OHIO RIVERS: Chris and I are excited about our upcoming American Steamboat River Cruise in September.  We will “step back in time” and experience river travel from the days of Mark Twain aboard the magnificent Queen of the Mississippi, a modern and luxurious paddlewheel ship.  We’ll travel from Cincinnati, Ohio to St. Louis, Missouri, with stops at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, Cave-in-rock State Park, and the River Heritage Museum.  We’re looking forward to this opportunity to take in the beauty and history of the mighty Mississippi.

New England Fall CruisesNEW ENGLAND: In October we will be boarding the incredible Queen Mary 2 for a 12-day cruise from New York up to Quebec, Canada, with stops in Newport, Boston, Bar Harbor, St. John and Halifax.  The Queen Mary 2 is Cunards’ flagship and one of the most magnificent ocean liners ever built.  She offers an amazing amount of space on board and an array of state-of-the-art facilities including a 3D movie theater, planetarium, and a Canyon Ranch Spa.  Combine that with the beautiful fall season in New England as the trees burst into colors and we can’t wait!

We are so fortunate to have so many beautiful places to visit that are virtually in our own backyard.  For many of our clients, vacationing in the 50 states is comfortable and gives them a feeling of safety, security and appreciation for the beauty of this country.

And while Chris and I are cruise experts, we plan more than just cruises.  We can help you plan all kinds of vacations.  Don’t forget that when you work with a travel agent, not only do you get access to our experience and knowledge of where to go and how to get there, you also often get bonus perks that hotels and cruise lines only offer to the clients of professional travel agents.  Give us a call and let us help you plan your next adventure. Korte Travel  (631) 893-4232  skorte@cruiseplanners.com

Chris & Sheila (2)

CHRIS & SHEILA KORTE, ACC
skorte@cruiseplanners.com
Winners of Best of Long Island Travel Agency 2014

www.kortetravel.com

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

Babylon, NY 11702

I've Seen the Future…

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I have been traveling non-stop for the past few months as opportunities were awarded to me that I just couldn’t turn down.  And you know how much I love to travel!!  These incredible trips have all been true learning experiences.  One of the benefits of being an experienced traveler is that I have a lot of practical experience to offer my clients.  I think of the trips as “research” in order to help my clients get the most from their vacation dollars.  But believe me, no one has to twist my arm!

One of the tips I can pass on to my clients is to consider the “timing” or calendar when booking a vacation.  A recent trip I was on happened to coincide with local May Day Celebrations.  May Day falls on May 1st and is an ancient spring festival and usually treated as a public holiday in many cultures.  This meant that the city center in Budapest that we were supposed to be exploring was completely shut down to traffic and we could not get into that city to see any sites.  Banks, attractions and shops were closed.  It was very disappointing and in the future I will make it a priority to advise all my clients to be aware of this type of “calendar” event.

I’ve also been noticing a very exciting technology trend that is showing up on cruises and specifically on my Scenic River Cruise trip to Europe.  You are given a GPS-activated “Tailor-made” device which allows you to independently listen to directions and commentary whenever you’d like.  A Scenic Tailor-made app can be downloaded for free on your Smartphone, or you can take one of their pre-loaded devices.  This is truly touring at your own pace.  Complimentary electrical-assisted bicycles are available which include special mounts to hold your personal GPS-guided tour system.  I was very impressed by the freedom this entitles you and my other travelers felt this was at times a vast improvement over using conventional local tour guides.  And one more note about the Scenic River Cruise, the food was outstanding!  You really needed to use those bikes after the wonderful meals they provide to you.

When I started to write travelblogs about my trips, it was really to help me remember my own experiences and memories.  But as I write this latest travelblog, I realize how happy it makes me to pass on good information and hopefully some of the passion I feel as a traveler.  Travel is our life and excellent customer service is our strength.  Give Chris and myself, at Cruise Planners American Express, a call to find out the latest travel deals and weigh in with your best travel tip on our comment section or on our FaceBook page.  I might just use it in my next travelblog! Happy Travels!!!  Call us at (631) 893-4232 for any of your travel needs or email to skorte@cruiseplanners.com

CHRIS & SHEILA KORTE, ACC
skorte@cruiseplanners.com
Winners of Best of Long Island Travel Agency 2014

www.kortetravel.com

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

Babylon, NY 11702

Weigh in to the unofficial Cruise Planners/American Express client poll

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I came across a New York Times list of 52 Places to Go in 2014.  It ‘s stunningly accented with photos and video from the 52 locations.  It reminded me of those wonderful places that I’ve been to.

11-20-2013 11-14-47 AMI’ve been to Capetown, South Africa, Scotland, England, New Zealand, Switzerland, Athens, Australia, Germany, Africa, Northern CA, Downtown Atlanta, Tennessee, Los Angeles, Croatia, Denmark, Italy and the Vatican, Holland, Sweden, China, and Niagara Falls,  among other places.

Take a look at the list and see how many you have been or want to travel to, and email me the results.  I would also love to speak to you about which destinations you’ve been and I will add it to my website.

So here it goes, the unofficial Cruise Planners American Express client poll:

·         How many of the 52 places named in the NYT’s article have you been to?

·         What destination tops your list of where you’d most like to go?

The outcome of the poll will be announced on my FaceBook page on May 15th.

CHRIS & SHEILA KORTE, ACC
skorte@cruiseplanners.com
Winners of Best of Long Island Travel Agency 2014

www.kortetravel.com

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

Babylon, NY 11702

Meet Dr. Joseph Burke, another “Best of Long Island” Award Winner

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As many of you know, we were honored this year with the “Best of Long Island Award” for best travel agency and we thank you again for your support.

Chris and I were able to meet and greet many of the other winners at a dinner to celebrate the honor.  At our display table, we offered visitors a chance to win a travel gift basket, and the lucky winner was Dr. Joseph Burke of Cherrywood Footcare Group at 2791 Jerusalem Avenue in North Bellmore.

photo (9) Dr. Burke with Sheila and Chris KorteChris and I stopped by Dr. Burke’s office to deliver the gift basket and we had an opportunity to chat with him about his practice.  Right away, we realized this doctor is a knowledgeable, caring and approachable professional. 

“We’ve been in business for 27 years as the Cherrywood Foot Care Group, as we started in the Cherrywood shopping center,” Dr. Burke told us.

“Then, about five years ago, I bought a building in North Bellmore and we created a state-of-the art facility.  Soon after, we began winning the Best of Long Island award for Best Podiatry office and now it’s been four consecutive years.  We’re very thankful to our patients for helping us set this unprecedented record.”

“We treat everything from a simple issues to major reconstructive surgery of the foot, plus heel pain, diabetic foot care and more.  Today, we have four podiatrists working at the office,” Dr. Burke said.

“We are board certified in podiatric surgery, and I’m also board certified in primary podiatric medicine and orthopedics.  We have an operating room in the office where we do minor procedures, and more major surgeries are performed at two of the local hospitals, St. Josephs and North Shore at Syosset.

“It was great meeting Chris and Sheila of Korte Travel and the other Best of Long Island award winners.  You can tell that all the winner are like us, in that they really care about their businesses and clients,” Dr. Burke added.

And if you are considering a trip this year, don’t forget that you’ll probably be walking around and seeing all the sights.  If you do have any foot problems, you might want to give Dr. Burke a call before you travel at 516-826-9000.

CHRIS & SHEILA KORTE, ACC

www.kortetravel.com

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

Babylon, NY 11702

My Multi-generational Experience at Disney

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Disney MagicI just finished the Disney Agent Education Program a few weeks ago.  This involved a 2 day stay at Walt Disney World resorts in Orlando, and then transferring to the Disney “Magic”, where we set sail for a 3 day cruise to Nassau, Bahamas and Castaway Cay, Disney’s own island.

I was skeptical at first that I would find the Disney experience any different than my last visit when my children were little.  But, I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised; the Disney organization has upgraded the parks, added the cruise segment and is constantly working to add new rides and attractions.  It truly was a special experience and I have to say it was magical.  I witnessed first-hand how a Disney vacation can bring a family together.  There were moms and dads, children and lots of grandparents really enjoying themselves and making special memories that will last a lifetime.  One such memory will stay with me; I saw the Disney “Princesses”, arrive to meet with a group of little girls, each dressed in princess costumes.   The little girls excitedly and with no fear, ran straight to the Princesses and into a big group hug.  It was very special and it brought tears to the adult’s eyes who witnessed it.

The cruise portion is available without the park experience, for those who prefer all the amenities of a luxurious cruise along with Disney themes for the little ones.  Yes, I said luxurious!  The feeling on the Disney Magic was not campy or cartoony, but gave me a sense that I was stepping back in time to the early days of luxury steam ship sailing.  If you choose to combine the park and cruise, you leave from Cape Canaveral, which is only a 1 hour bus ride from the park.  You can choose a 3, 4, or 5 night cruise to destinations that vary depending on the length. Interestingly, the Disney ships transition to Europe and the west coast for the summer and they offer longer cruises to many faraway ports including Europe, Canada and Alaska!  There were quite a number of adults on the cruise without children and I spoke to a few who told me that they love the Disney experience and felt that they get good value for their money with a Disney cruise.  Yes, there are lots of areas on the ship that were adult only and weren’t swamped with kids. We enjoyed a lovely, multi-course meal at Palo, a specialty-dining restaurant onboard and there were also several lounges where we “adult” beverages were served.

If you choose to just go to Walt Disney World, my advice would be to stay “on property”.  I learned that the special perks include book fast+ passes and rides, access to dining plans, easy transportation, free parking and extra “magic hours”; hours added before the park opening or after park closing, when only guests staying at a Disney resort are allowed to enjoy the rides – or technically be in the park.  The transfers to and from the airports are also included and I must say that I was very impressed that my luggage was picked up and transferred everywhere it needed to go without any issues!

I now have the familiarity with the Disney products to speak from experience. If you’re looking for a special and unique, multigenerational and fun experience, I would recommend Disney cruise and park vacations.  I am very excited to help my clients, who might be considering a Disney vacation, to pick out the one that would suit them best! Give us a call if you would like to learn more about experiencing a Disney vacation.   (631) 893-4232

CHRIS & SHEILA KORTE, ACC

www.kortetravel.com

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

Babylon, NY 11702

 

Thanks to You, Korte Travel Named 2014 Best of Long Island Travel Agency

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Wow!  The new year is starting off great!

Chris and I just found out that Korte Travel has been named “2014 Best of Long Island Travel Agency” in the ninth-annual Bethpage Best of LI poll conducted by the Long Island Press … and we couldn’t have done it without YOU!

We would like to extend a big thank you to all of our clients who voted for Korte Travel.  We are very honored that so many of our loyal clients not only took the time to nominate us, but followed-up by voting for us during the three months that voting was open at the end of 2013.

On top of that award, you may have read that I recently achieved Accredited Cruise Counselor certification by completing a comprehensive program of cruise training and product instruction that puts me in an elite group of cruise planning professionals.

From planning a short cruise in the Caribbean to a dream cruise around the world, I have the skills and experience to advise you on how to select a cruise line, where you should – and shouldn’t go, and how to save money.  For more information, please give us a call at (631) 893-4232, or email:skorte@cruiseplanners.com.  Let’s go cruising!

CHRIS & SHEILA KORTE, ACC

www.kortetravel.com

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

Babylon, NY 11702

You're Just In Time for WAVE Season!

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Just in time for wave season, Sheila Korte of Korte Travel receives an Accredited Cruise Counselor designation.

Wave Season is the time of year (January – March) that you can pick up fantastic cruise deals including possible free upgrades, onboard credits and other perks!  Many cruise lines offer sales during this time, and Korte Travel can help you take advantage of these promotions to get a great deal on your next cruise vacation.

Sheila of Korte Travel, has been designated as a Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Cruise Counselor after recently completing the organization’s Certification requirements.  Sheila is now recognized within the cruise industry as an Accredited Cruise Counselor (ACC).

Sheila Korte achieved Cruise Counselor Certification by completing a comprehensive program of cruise sailing training and product instruction, delivered through a combination of extensive classroom training and personal cruise experience.  CLIA’s Certification program graduates are widely recognized as the foremost cruise vacation experts among American travel agents.

Korte Travel is one of the more than 16,000 North American travel agency members of CLIA.  According to CLIA statistics the overwhelming majority of travelers – about 90% – book their cruise through a travel agency and for good reason – travel agents understand the products they recommend and excel in finding the perfect cruise to match their clients’ needs, lifestyle and budget.

About Korte Travel
Sheila and Chris Korte of Korte Travel are Cruise Planners/American Express franchise owners and travel agents. They have traveled the world for over 20 years and proudly served their country in the U.S. Army.  They use all of their personal travel experience to provide full-service cruise and vacation planning for individuals, veterans and families.  For more information, please visit Korte Travel atwww.KorteTravel.com or call 631-893-4232.

CHRIS & SHEILA KORTE, ACC

www.kortetravel.com

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

Babylon, NY 11702

 

Escaping the winter doldrums

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To avoid some of the cold weather this winter, Chris and I are going away where it’s summer!  Right now it’s summer in the Southern Hemisphere.  We are going to bask in sixteen days of summer, while enjoying a cruise around South America.  This is definitely checking off one of our travel bucket-list destinations.

group at cape of good hopeHot travel designations during Northern Hemisphere’s winter are New Zealand, Australia, the South Pacific (Tahiti and Bora Bora) Central America (Panama and Costa Rica), and South America.  Some of these places also have excellent “Adventure Tours” like a zip line or hiking experiences.

Exploring exotic topography and cultures, we are starting our New Year’s South American Cruise in Argentina, traveling to Uruguay and around Cape Horn in Chile. I am excited about seeing the Chilean fjords, because I have been to fjords in Norway and New Zealand. The beauty, tranquility and majesty of that experience are unparalleled.  And, I will have had that experience on 3 continents!

I have traveled to the most southern point of Africa (Cape of Good Hope), the most northern point in Europe (North Cape, Norway) and now the most southern point in South America (Cape Horn).  Greenland is next!  (Click here for a list of extreme points on earth)

We are so excited about this trip to South America and cruising from point to point.  We are looking forward to relaxing on-board the ship, taking in the sights of the European inspired cities and the culture of the native peoples and maybe even taking a Tango lesson!

Think about planning a winter to summer vacation!  We can help inspire you. please give us a call at (631) 893-4232 or email: skorte@cruiseplanners.com  www.kortetravel.com

Have a happy and healthy Holiday Season!

CHRIS & SHEILA KORTE, ACC

www.kortetravel.com

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

Babylon, NY 11702

Rollin' On the Rhine River

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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: skorte@cruiseplanners.com

CHRIS & SHEILA KORTE, ACC

www.kortetravel.com

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

Babylon, NY 11702