Cynthia Neu McCluskey is Coordinator and Co-Founder of the Fun&FitnessTravelClub. She's a former newspaper and television reporter, TV news anchor and bureau chief who was based in El Paso, TX; Washington, DC; and Moscow, Russia for 33 years prior to creating this new concept for fitness cruises.

Cynthia reported for the El Paso Times 10 years. She also wrote radio editorials for Fred Hervey in El Paso during the '70s and 80s. Fred Hervey was founder and creator of the Circle K Corporation. By the late 1980s, before CNN existed, Cynthia planned with El Paso's NBC TV News anchor Peter Heinlein to establish a television news bureau in Washington, D.C. that would satellite news reports back to TV stations out west covering issues important to America's western cities. Cynthia also became a local CBS TV News anchor. Soon afterward she and Peter left their local TV jobs to partner with Mr. Hervey in creating Sun World Satellite TV News based in Washington, D.C. Within 10 years their independently owned and operated TV news bureau on Capital Hill broadcast daily reports back to 365 ABC, NBC and CBS TV affiliates across the Southwest. Peter Heinlein later joined the Voice Of America. By 1990 Cynthia was on her way to the Soviet Union to open a second TV News bureau in Moscow as a result of President Reagan's "People To People" exchange. She sent back TV reports via satellite on Soviet matters affecting western cities in the USA. Oil and military issues were major news stories in Russia then as they are today. President Gorbachav's Soviet government permitted Ms. Neu to report from Moscow because the Sun World Corporation agreed to print in English, and distribute in the USA, the first ever free speech Soviet newspaper. That brave new weekly underground newspaper was published in Moscow and named Nezavisamaya Gazetta or Independent Newspaper. It advocated Russia be democratic and independent and allow free press, free speech and free enterprise for all citizens.

It became world famous in August 1991 as...."the first media ever to rally Russians to bring down Communism," reported the Wall Street Journal Aug. 21, 1991 on its front page. That 26 inch news story described the "late night heroic deeds led by Russia's only Independent Newspaper." When military tanks rolled into Moscow after midnight Aug. 19, 1991, determined to destroy any free press in Russia, Nezavisamaya Gazetta was the only media working courageously to print and distribute itself throughout the city until dawn calling out for Russians to stand up and defeat Communism. It is still today being published in Moscow as a weekly newspaper. When working with the Russians in Moscow, trying to help it develop advertising, Cynthia learned about the cruise industry. It happened when 600 workers at GasProm in Siberia asked her to organize cruises for them. She reluctantly agreed to organize their cruises, having never been on one herself, only to find out how much fun they were! Later, upon returning to the USA, she met Jim Seeley who was a travel agent working part time teaching her and her classmates early morning water aerobics exercises. When she told Jim about having organized cruises for Russians they decided that together they would offer fitness cruises to their friends and his students. They decided to name their idea the Fun&FitnessTravelClub "Jim taught me about water aerobics and travel agencies," says Cynthia. "I showed him how we could promote fitness cruises by using the media. On our first cruise we had 23 guests. Today we have 4000 club member nationwide who cruise with us in various group sizes nearly every month. Every day Jim and I say our prayers of thanks. We cannot believe how lucky we are!"

Cynthia is a 1975 graduate of the University of Texas at El Paso where she attended on journalism scholarships and grants. She was married to the late Ron McCluskey, an El Paso attorney, who also served as Chief of Staff in Washington, D.C. to the late Congresswoman Gladys Noon Spellman of Maryland. Cynthia and Ron's son, Patrick McCluskey, lives in Austin, TX with his wife Shannon and their three children: Bryan, Grace and Paula.

Shortly after creating the Fun&FitnessTravelClub Cynthia became certified by Aquatic Alliance International (AAI). Today Cynthia is also certified by the Arthritis Foundation and is a Red Cross Certified Water Safety Instructor who teaches adults and preschool children how to swim. She is a member of AEA. Spring Hill, where she teaches, was named Best RECenter in the nation in 2006. That same year Fairfax County Park Authority was named America's Best Park Authority. Within a few more months Fun&FitnessTravelClub was named Royal Caribbean's number #1 Business Partner in the Mid-Atlantic states of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and Washington, D.C. In 2008 and 2013 Cynthia was named a Top Aquatics Instructor at Spring Hill RECenter. And in both 2011 and 2012 she and Jim were honored by Royal Caribbean for increasing their agency's cruise sales 214% in one year!

 

Jim Seeley, who is Program Director and Co-Founder of the Fun&FitnessTravelClub, is also a certified water fitness instructor and pool guard trainer in Fairfax County, VA where he's been employed more than 20 years. He specializes in water aerobics, yoga and tai chi. Jim's been certified by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), Aerobics Fitness Association of America (AFAA), Aquatic Exercise Association (AEA), American Aerobics Association International (AAAI), the Arthritis Foundation and the American Red Cross. He's taught fitness classes in nine Fairfax County Recreation Centers in Virginia.

"My exercise philosophy comes from a song I heard as a child," says Jim. " ' A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.' We've been blessed with club members who agree with this philosophy. We strive to make all our fitness cruises fun and they are! With the travel club growing we've added more fun activities.....like ball room dancing and Zumba."

As Program Director for Fun&Fitness, Jim oversees 360 certified water exercise teachers who qualify to take their students on fitness cruises. Fun&FitnessTravelClub is a registered trade mark with at least 4000 club members nationwide. While the travel club has grown and gained in popularity, so has Jim. For 5 years he's actively promoted the Ms. Virginia Senior America Pageant. He's been invited by pageant officials to serve as its Master of Ceremonies a number of times. Click here to watch a slide show of pictures from a Ms. Virginia Senior America Pageant. "Incredible," is how Jim describes the pageant's participants. "Marvelous," he says. "The most beautiful thing about all the candidates is how they smile. And I love a woman who smiles."

Jim is a 1986 graduate of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA. He is fluent in Spanish, having worked 7 years in customer service for American Airlines in Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Miami. Jim is single, but keeps very busy with his parents, 10 brothers and sisters and their families. In 2005 he began producing and hosting a new TV show he created for Cox Cable TV in Fairfax County. His bi-weekly show is "Forever Young." Guests are members of the Fun&FitnessTravelClub, as well as other popular retirees in the Washington, DC metro area, who promote good health and social activities for active seniors. His TV show has been a top rated program in both Fairfax and Arlington Counties in Virginia and in Montgomery County in Maryland.

During the past 15 years, while escorting fitness cruises, Jim has become an expert on the design and history of cruise ships. He shares his knowledge with guests by taking them on walking tours on each ship the first day a new cruise begins. "This makes it easier for our guests to find their way around the ship," he says. "No other travel agency adds this touch. It's part of our promise to take you on a cruise with us and not just send you out on one by yourself."

Jim and Cynthia are co-founders of Ventures in Travel, (DBA) the Fun&FitnessTravelClub. Ventures in Travel is a subsidiary of Ventures in Video, Inc., in Falls Church, VA where the company has been in business more than 30 years. It is owned and operated by Michael Williams of McLean, VA. The club's Fitness Host Coordinator is Barb Batson of Nashville, TN. Webmaster is Evan Hambrick of Sterling, VA.

Fairfax County Park Authority, where both Jim Seeley and Cynthia Neu McCluskey teach water exercise classes, was named Best Park Authority in the nation in 2006. And their travel agency has since been named by Royal Caribbean as its #1 Business Partner in the mid-Atlantic states of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and Washington, D.C. The award winning Fun&FitnessTravelClub was given this honor above 104 other travel agencies on the East Coast. In 2011 the travel club was honored again by Royal Caribbean for its outstanding sales record on the East Coast increasing cruise sales more than 214% in one year.

"Our philosophy is clear," says Jim. "The best time to travel is during difficult economic times. It's when cruise selection is best and prices are lowest. Our business succeeds because our prices are competitive, our service superior and our product is excellent. We can say this truthfully because of the popularity of our hometown Fitness Hosts, and because of the capability of our Fitness Host Coordinator Barb Batson in Nashville. Most of all we say this because when club members return home from a cruise with us they look tanned, toned and rested. Our proof is that nearly 100% of our club members are repeat cruisers. You too can cruise with us and return home looking like a million dollars.... without spending anywhere near that. We promise."

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The Story of Travel
Travel
by Cynthia Neu McCluskey
Scenes from the video

Fun&FitnessTravelClub was born out of pure luck. It began in 1998 when Cynthia Neu McCluskey was taking Jim Seeley's (both shown top) water aerobics classes in McLean, Virginia. The whole class became very disappointed when they learned their recreation center was closing that August for construction work. Cynthia, who'd never cruised, knew if enough friends formed a group to go on a cruise one of them could cruise for free. She thought it would be fun to invite all her water aerobics classmates on a cruise that summer when their pool was closed. Her classmates loved the idea! And Jim agreed to go along too so he could teach them water exercises on board ship. Cynthia and Jim were looking forward to having a fun cruise with their classmates. Little did they know what was about to happen.

Their fitness cruise that August in 1998 was a huge success! After they returned from the Caribbean Islands students from other local recreation centers in Fairfax County called Cynthia asking why they had not been invited to go on the cruise. When Jim learned about the calls he insisted he and Cynthia organize another cruise because he did not want to hurt the feelings of his students at other recreation centers. Still more students in Virginia kept calling Cynthia asking for more fitness cruises. So it occurred to her that other water aerobics teachers around the country would also have students who would want to take fitness cruises. She and Jim decided to share their idea with AEA's magazine AKWA. They wrote their own personal story and provided photos of their first fitness cruise. They offered other water aerobics teachers around the country the same opportunity to take their hometown students on water fitness cruises too. Hundreds of calls came from readers of that one AKWA story 16 years ago! Today thousands of club members and hundreds of AEA certified teachers have cruised with the top award winning Fun&FitnessTravelClub based in McLean, VA. "We began in 1998 cruising twice a year with 23 guests in a group. Now we cruise every month, sometimes with 230 guests in one group." says Cynthia. "We love it! Our guests love it. Your students will love it too. We are proof the free enterprise in America is ' working out' just fine!"

This page last updated: June 26, 2014