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Visiting Unspoiled Lands Takes Time: Cruise to Galapagos and Antarctica

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galapagosMaybe you’ve done the “grand tour” or Europe, cruised the coast of Alaska, and soaked up the sun on beaches from the Caribbean to Hawaii.  Now what?

For a few discerning travelers, nothing beats the allure and mystery of the untouched islands of Galapagos and the frozen-continent of Antarctica.  Two “must sees” for any adventure seeker that wants to check off the ultimate bucket list destinations.

The Galapagos Islands are a province of Ecuador, lying about 600 miles off its coast, and are considered one of the world’s foremost destinations for wildlife-viewing.  Their isolated terrain shelter a diversity of plant and animal species, many found nowhere else.

antarcticaAntarctica is Earth’s southernmost continent, containing the geographic South Pole. With an area of over 5.4 million square miles, it is situated in the Antarctic region of the Southern Hemisphere, almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle.

We have sent quite a few clients on these adventures, but they are not for everyone.  First off, you have to do a lot of planning, at least two or three years in advance, and because these trips sell out fast they are already sold out for 2016!

Secondly, you need to work with travel professionals like us who can tailor your trip to your specifications.  Luxury or rustic?  Are you a full-bore offshore explorer? These destinations are both physically challenging and can take 10+ days to complete. It would be very difficult to book these trips successfully without a knowledgeable professional.

Visit the GALAPAGOS ISLANDS

The creatures that inhabit this famous archipelago are as engaging as they are unique because they don’t fear humans.  Here’s your once in a lifetime opportunity to experience this living museum of natural history.

One option is aboard the Celebrity Xpedition.  This 98-guest mega-yacht sails to the islands seven days a week, 365 days a year.  The knowledgeable crew and Galapagos National Park-certified on-board naturalists all help to preserve this delicate archipelago, while enlightening you to its natural and evolutionary significance. You can also travel to one of the last uninhabited places on Earth in style aboard Silversea Cruises.  You can snorkel with sea lions, hike along lava tunnels, and experience this living museum of natural history while indulging in the unrivaled all-suite comfort and elegant sophistication of these small luxury ships.  All accommodations are spacious, ocean-view suites and most include butler service and private verandas.

Cruise to ANTARCTICA

On board Silversea’s luxury cruise ship the Silver Explorer you can revel in the beauty and overwhelming power of nature as you pass giant prisms of ice riding in an ink-blue sea.  You can take a Zodiac boat to get up close and personal with whales, and walk among elephant seals and penguins, all unafraid of your presence. Hurtigruten Explorer ships also visit Antarctica, and they offer numerous planned and unplanned field landings ashore designed to challenge you mentally and physically, including everything from long hikes, kayaking, and glacier traversing to camping onshore and even multi-day ski expeditions. Quark Expeditions is more affordable and somewhat “rustic,” but not inexpensive.  For over two decades they have been leading polar adventures, including many first-ever passenger voyages to Antarctica, including the circumnavigation of the Antarctic continent.  In February 2014 we planned a fabulous Antarctic cruise for two of our clients aboard a Quark Expedition cruise.  If you would like to see what their trip looked like, click here: Norton and Herb’s Excellent Antarctic Adventure.

So you have many options that include using the Cruise Planners’ layaway plan, which will help you save for these once-in-a-lifetime trips. We will help you pick what’s best for your situation and budget. And our computerized rate alerts advise us in the event prices drop and we always pass those savings on to you.

Sound exciting?  Give us a call now at 631-893-4232 and we will start planning your adventure holiday to the Galapagos Islands or Antarctica for 2017!

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

Korte Travel Long Island Travel Agent located in Babylon, NY

Can You Picture Yourself On A British Open Golf Cruise? Brilliant!

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golf cruisesRecently, we were treated to one of the most exciting British Opens in history at St. Andrews in Scotland.  Jordan Spieth battled to the end in his quest to win his third major and Zach Johnson fought off two other contenders to take home the coveted Claret Jug trophy.

If you wish you had been there, I’m happy to tell you about a unique opportunity to take a luxury cruise, AND attend the final round at the 2016 British Open at Royal Troon in Scotland (or the 2017 British Open in England), AND play famous courses such as Turnberry, Gleneagles and Royal Birkdale.

If golf is your thing, this is the ultimate way to travel the world – and bring your clubs.  For this cruise, world famous Perry Golf is partnering with luxury cruise line Azamara Club Cruises to offer this once-in-a-lifetime golf adventure.  On this trip you’re not schlepping your clubs from place to place.  Everything is done for you, including transporting you and your clubs, tee time reservations, the caddies, meals, final round tickets – you just show up and enjoy.

There’s also plenty to do for non-golfers: fabulous onboard facilities, a wide selection of shore excursions offered at each port, and simply enjoying the beautiful amenities on this luxury liner including 24-hour room service, many options for evening entertainment, first-rate spa services, and daily classes including fitness instruction. With one staff member for every two guests, you’ll love the attentive, personal service.

To make this trip more budget friendly, you can hold your spot with a $500 deposit and then make payments every month, or every other month. Not all travel planners offer that, but we do!  You can also use American Express reward points to bring down the cost.

We can also offer you golf packages on other voyages to Australia and New Zealand, the Mediterranean, and the Baltic Sea, with an outstanding collection of courses including Barnbougle Dunes, Cape Kidnappers, Valderrama, and many others.

The British Open packages sell out quickly, so if this trip is on your bucket list you must act soon.  Give us a call at 631-893-4232 and we’ll reserve your cabin for this luxury cruise! Fore!!

Chris and I are cruising Azamara in November and are looking forward to experience the Azamara Journey. I will be blogging about our experience as we cruise Madeira & the fascinating Canary Islands.

Coming Next Month: Galapagos & Antarctica- 2 “Must Sees” that must be planned ahead.

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

Korte Travel Long Island Travel Agent located in Babylon, NY

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

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

HOLIDAYS ARE OVERRATED

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This article does not focus on the religious meaning behind the holidays. My focus in this article is to share my thoughts as to WHY some people feel blue, sad, depressed, and lonely on or around the holidays. ~rln

I’ll never forget the day my only son, who was 16 at the time, said, “Mom, holidays are overrated!” My son’s comment is really an important one. Why? Because to him holidays felt overrated. At the time, I didn’t understand or even agree with his comment, but now I can say that I get it.

What I’m about to share with you is from my own experience and perspective. I do not pretend to have the answers as to why some people feel depressed, lonely, or sad during the holidays. What I can do is share how I changed the way I celebrate the holidays.

How can the season of merriness, joyfulness, festiveness, happiness, and warmth create so much depression, sadness, and loneliness? In my opinion, one of the main reasons is having enormous expectations. Expecting the day to unfold without a glitch. Expecting to be surrounded by loved ones that behave perfectly. Expecting the day to unfold on a timely schedule.  Expecting to give and receive the perfect gift. Expecting magic. Expecting an illusion.

Background

I was brought up in a home where the holidays like Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, New Years Day, Fourth of July, along with my own birthday, were celebrated on a large “Super Bowl” day scale. Yes, my birthdays and holidays were more than just another day. Those “anointed” days became events with growing expectations. So, not only did I have huge expectations for the day, I spent an inordinate amount of time preparing for the day.

Prior to each birthday and holiday I’d purchase new clothes, new shoes, and even new undies. My hair and make-up had to be picture-perfect too. And the gifts; oh, the gifts. I spent a lot of time shopping for gifts with anticipation and high expectations of pleasing someone else! And, if the person I gave the gift to didn’t respond in a manner that I thought was honestly happy and grateful, my day was literally ruined.

As I grew older, my expectations of the anointed days also grew. Houston, we have a problem. Preparing for any holiday actually taught me how to maintain extensive expectations. Preparing for any holidays also taught me how to NOT live in the present moment. When I look back and think about all of the expectations I had prior to the actual day, no wonder I stopped enjoying the holidays, like I did as a child. For me, holidays became an obligation, instead of a celebration. There was too much pressure – too much pressure to enjoy the day.

In 2006, my son left for college in New York City. It was only then that my perception of what a holiday should feel like to me changed. For me, the change came when I discovered that all expectations lead to unhappiness. If you don’t already know, being happy is a major priority for me. When I began eliminating expectations, I literally became happier. Along with eliminating expectations, I began to feel better about spending time alone. I would have never felt good about spending a holiday alone until I felt good about being alone.

Shortly after I began feeling good about being alone, I also began to shift my perception of “special” occasions, including holidays. Let’s think about it. There are 7.2 billion people living on this planet. Are you telling me that on a particular day I’m supposed to celebrate the way other people are celebrating? Who wrote these holiday rules for me to follow? What if I don’t want to celebrate the holidays the way the “masses” celebrate the holidays? Why do I have to talk to or hang out with family on a specific day? Does that mean I don’t love them? No, it does not. It means that I am living and doing on that day what I’m inspired to do – not what I’m obligated to do. It means that I’m living in the moment, and living in the moment means that I don’t know how I’m going to feel on any particular day, including the holiday, until that day is here.

The one who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The one who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been. ~Albert Einstein

What if I want to spend the holiday meditating? Or, what if I want to spend the holiday to hike, or exercise – by myself? Or, what if I want to spend the holiday reading, watching a movie or writing an article about what a fabulous day I’m having? What about that? If I don’t want to hang out with family or friends, am I supposed to feel bad about it? Not any more. You might argue that my loved ones will be disappointed if I chose to exclude them on such an important day. Honestly, if you claim to love me, then you will love what makes me feel connected to the Universe!

What are you doing for the holidays?

I don’t know about you, but the majority of people I know spend a lot of time asking each other, “What are you going to do for the holidays?” Before my new found freedom, I used to make stuff up because I wasn’t convicted in my convictions.

Now, when anyone asks me what I’m doing on Christmas, New Years Eve, Thanksgiving, etc., I state with renewed conviction … “absolutely nothing”. I usually hear (out of concern), “Would you like to come to my house?” “No thank you,” I respond lovingly. “I’m spending the day alone”…again. People always look confused because I have a huge smile on my face, and I then I add, “I’m looking forward to the day.” The idea that I should be with family or friends and/or attend a ritual function is a man-made concept anyway.

Finally, after all these decades, I’ve eliminated the pressure and expectations that the holidays used to mean. Yes, holidays are special; however, they’re no more special than any other day in my life. That’s why I celebrate each day, every 24 hours.

Twas the Week Before Christmas when . . .

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Twas the week before Christmas when all through the house, office, car…Sheer panic approached with a twinkling from afar.

With packages in a mound still unwrapped, and cooking and cleaning yet still to come, So many activities, I almost feel numb.

Still have to work a part of next week,

And I dread that the house will fill on Friday with hungry people expecting to eat.

Oh my, what is that sound that I hear? The stress in my heartbeat echoing in my ear.

As much as I know all will get done,

I cannot help but feel a little bit numb. Exhaustion is here to stay for a while,

But through it all I will try to bare a smile. For this is a magical time of the year,

And I will try to approach it in good cheer. It will be over too soon, as we all know.

The hours of preparing for moments, and oh! No matter how early we start to prepare,

There’s not enough time.  It just is not fair.

Family times, giving and love, With blessings and peace to all from above.

 

Aging. . . and appreciation

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For Thanksgiving we had the pleasure of spending the day with my husband Jim’s Aunt and Uncle.  Both in their late 80’s, and married 63 years, they have been in failing health recently.  And, not realizing it yesterday, I woke up this morning knowing I learned a valuable lesson from them.

A few years ago I had the pleasure of working in a nursing home.  My goal while I worked there was to help people have a great quality of life.  I always appreciated the residents as people with amazing history.  But, after spending time with our Aunt and Uncle, I realize the residents were only shells of who they once were.  Still functioning, still alive, but not the same.  For the residents in the nursing home we were their caretakers, and they were dependent on us.

So, yesterday, while spending time with them, in our Aunt and Uncle’s home, I realized they were so lucky.  Lucky to have been in such good health for so long, lucky to be together for 63 years.  Lucky to be independent, which is truly a gift. 

And, not that I didn’t see it before, but it became increasingly apparent how finite life is.  In their case, at 87, how many good years are left?  How many more years can they live on their own, cherishing each other and the precious time they have together?

That same question does go for each and every one of us, too — every day is a gift.  Did you ever see the movie, “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas“, when his heart melted and he found appreciation?  That is how I feel.  With this Thanksgiving, I found appreciation.  For my family, for my husband, for my children.  I realize how important it is to recognize their individuality.  So, maybe my kids’ grades aren’t perfect, but they are healthy and happy and pursuing their way in life.  They are their own people, truly individuals, sorta fun to be around, and I am proud of them. 

Life is a learning process.  I feel a little sad that it took this long for the “wakeup call”.  And I appreciate my visit with Jim’s aging relatives to help me along.

Do I expect to relish in this appreciation every day?  I’m sure not — I’m sure things will get me down some days, or the work stress will take precious time away.  But I will strive to stop myself if I become overwhelmed, or exhausted, and reflect on the good things in my life. 

My goal?  To smile.  My desire?  Just to have a nice day.  Every day. 

And, my hope for you, too.

Weekend plans for a recovering Boring-A-Holic

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So, it’s Friday.  People are supposed to have weekend plans on Fridays, right?

I had gotten an invitation for Friday night for a wine and cheese party.  A get-together with old friends.  My husband is going to a retirement party and I’m going to be alone.   I said I probably wouldn’t go.  He’s making me.  After all, I’m supposed to have fun and talk to people.

After that, a friend who has a band is playing in a local bar.  I don’t go to bars.  Ever.  I’m supposed to go out, so I’m going to pop in and listen to him play.  By myself.  Something I’ve never done.

A friend invited me to coffee Saturday morning.  And, on Sunday, we’re supposed to go on a teddy bear run motorcycle ride.  A little cold out, but that should be fun, and rewarding, because the teddy bears are given to children.  On Sunday afternoon we’re going to our cousin’s for an adult only (no kids) Thanksgiving dinner.  More conversation and friendship.

This is kind of amazing.  I rarely have anything nice on my schedule.  My normal weekend is mostly spent at my desk at work, then food shopping, cleaning, and just being tired.  No play.  No fun.  And, on Mondays, I drag myself into the office exhausted because I’ve had no break.  Maybe this upcoming Monday will  be better — at least I’ll have something to talk about “around the water cooler“!

So, where could all these activities come from?  Maybe someone, somewhere, knows I’m trying to become un-boring.   That’s great, because planning fun stuff when I know I should be doing work stuff is difficult.

The weekend is here with the promise of being different from the others.

Time to play.

It is almost that time again…

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It is 4:00 pm- do you know where you are going after work? Come one people we can make it one more hour! Usually this tends to be the longest hour of day but lets all pull together and make the best of it!

I just posted all the Time to Play press releases that have recently been sent out to the media. Our Toys-for-Tots fundraiser is our most important release so far. Every child should be able to open a brand new toy this holiday season. This release was featured on the Madison Square Garden website as well. Please help get the word out. 30% of every “I Helped the Kids Play” t-shirt will go to the NYC Toys-for-Tots Chapter. For more information go to www.timetoplay.com