Cruise Industry

Captain Kate says industry should replicate Celebrity’s female empowerment efforts

Captain McCue (aka Captain Kate), the upcoming captain of the line’s flagship Celebrity Edge, and a social media influencer in her own right, says the dramatic changes Celebrity Cruises has made to its corporate culture should be embraced by the wider industry.

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Captain Kate McCue, became the first American female to captain a mainstream cruise ship in 2015 when she assumed command of Celebrity Summit at the age of 37. She is now the captain of the Solstice-class Celebrity Equinox, and in September will assume command of Celebrity Edge, the newest ship in the fleet, and the line’s flagship.

In 2015, Captain McCue was the only American female captain in the world, and among just 3% of the cruise line’s bridge staff that were female fleetwide. That average had increased significantly over the years to 22% today (and 30% aboard Celebrity Edge).

Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president of Celebrity Cruises since 2014, has been responsible for much of this change in the line’s corporate culture, although her efforts to support female empowerment extend beyond the cruise industry.

Now its time for other cruise line’s to replicate what she has done, says Captain McCue.

“It is incredibly different. Leaps and bounds,” she told Cruise Critic when asked how the cruise line’s efforts at female empowerment have changed. “We have the most representation of captains, with three of us.”


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“What we need to do is we need to focus on making sure it’s not just a company thing — that what we do at Celebrity is becoming a universal trend in the maritime industry,” she added.

And for Captain McCue, who has 73,000 Instagram followers, making her one of the most ‘influential’ people in the cruise scene on social media (she even has her own Wikipedia page), this means making more young women aware of the opportunities available to them in the maritime world.

“One of the really big things I am focusing on now is to be a voice, because if you don’t know about it you would never pursue it,” she says. “My idea of a cruise ship captain when I was growing up was Captain Stubing on The Love Boat… Because I was given this platform, it’s my responsibility to use it to the fullest advantage and that’s getting the image out there so we can blur those lines for the gender gap.”

Although Captain McCue will only officially assume command of Celebrity Edge in September, she will board the ship in Civitavecchia on August 19th, 2019 for a three-week handover.

“Each ship is special in its own right and even the sister ships are individual. So whatever works on Equinox might not work on Silhouette and vice versa. So finding those nuances, whether its ship handling, or — a lot of times — the itinerary, will drive the environment onboard,” she says of her expectations for Celebrity Edge.

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