CLUB 44 . . How it all came about!
("A bona fide Globetrotter, Andy Capi gives us a bit of history")

 

     Having participated in twelve of CLUB 44's fifteen cruise-tours," Sherrill and I are highly qualified to comment on the globetrotting meanderings of this unique Cornell class activity . . . We joined this happy group on its second outing - the cruise-tour to Alaska - and haven’t regretted a moment ever since . . Yes, the two of us have one regret: we missed taking the first boatride . . Here’s the how and why of CLUB 44, the class’ travel arm:

     In early 1991, Dotty and Art Kesten were invited by some Ft. Worth friends to join them on a Cunard Princess cruise of the Western Mediterranean - Morocco, the Canary Islands, Gibraltar, etc. - and viewed a Cunard cruise brochure provided by their local travel agent . .

     The two had been to Morocco and southern Spain some years before and begged off taking that particular voyage with a group of their military friends. They were intrigued, however, by an Eastern Mediterranean Cunard cruise that was described in the same Cunard brochure, one that cruised from Venice to Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, and the Greek Islands.

     On further inquiry, the Kestens learned that if they could form a minimum 10-member group, each group member would be offered a substantial pre-cruise discount (25%) in addition to the customary Cunard "early enrollment bonus" of $500 per person. This reduced the member’s total tab of the cruise package - with its then free round-trip air option - to a most attractive total cost, and Dotty and Art decided to take action by creating "CLUB 44."

     As President of our Cornell Class of '44 at the time, Dotty arbitrarily added the "Classic Mediterranean Cruise" as a 1991 Class of 1944 activity (a non-Reunion year), and many of our classmates shortly thereafter expressed their interest in joining our newly-formed Class of ’44 tour group on its initial May, 1991 cruise. . .

One major glitch . .

     Saddam Hussein did his thing in 1991 and when our armed forces encountered him in the Gulf, the U.S. contracted with Cunard to lease the Princess vessel on which we were to sail for six-months as a "Rest & Recreation Vessel" for our in-country troops.

     Cunard had to cancel our first CLUB 44 cruise, but gave each of us a $ 1,000 "credit" against a future Cunard cruise, and all of us then waited until 1992 for the cruise line to re-schedule the Princess in the Eastern Mediterranean once again. By May, ’92, most of the original "sign-ups" were still interested; many because the $1,000 cancellation "credit" would further reduce their travel costs.

     With a bit more promotion on Art’s part on the obvious advantages of joining a qualifying group of classmates, CLUB 44 wound up with an initial tour group of 36 individuals . . The three dozen turned out to be a very compatible and congenial travel group - the "chemistry" was just fine - and all wound up having a great time globetrotting at a remarkably low cost! . .

     The Eastern Mediterranean behind us, the way had been set for our future assemblies on the high seas and in many far off places, and some 11 years later almost 700 of us did see a good part of this world, globetrotting with CLUB 44 . . Many who enjoyed the camaraderie of the outings brought along their non-Cornell friends; others brought their children; still others brought their significant others . .

     Recidivism? . . That’s for sure! . . Almost a third of those who have traveled with CLUB 44 have taken part in three or more of the CLUB’s 15 cruise-tours, a very solid indication of the good times they have obviously enjoyed in traveling in each other’s company.

Andy Capi,
, AB 44, MD46
 
 
 
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