History Aboard

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Miller’s story of his early days as a ship buff is echoed by other members of the society. Tom Cassidy claims his interest started by age seven when he and his family saw a relative off on the United States . By the time Cassidy was nine and making crossings with his parents on such ships as the Îie de France and the Liberté , he was hooked. He would check the newspapers to see what ships were in port and, list in hand, go visit as many as four in a day.

Brad Hatry was aboard the Crystal Symphony with his wife, Marilyn, whom he had met in 1981 on the Rotterdam . They were accompanied by their five-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, who proudly told me she was on her thirteenth cruise. Hatry, too, remembers believing as a boy “that no one else could have these interests.” Since such passions were born in the last era of the great liners, most of the society’s members are now in their fifties or older. But, Hatry tells me, “we’re starting gradually to get a younger crowd, and I can’t think why.” He cites “young Tom Rinaldi,” who, for his high school graduation present, begged his parents to take him on the final westbound voyage of the Rotterdam , which is generally considered the last of the grandes dames of the Atlantic run as well as one of the first ships built for both two-class transatlantic crossings and one-class cruising. Now all the Rinaldis are avid members of the World Ship Society. “In this case Tom got his parents involved, rather than the other way around,” says Hatry.

—Carla Davidson TO PLAN A TRIP