Women at the helm: Captain Kate McCue

The maritime industry is in a period of transformation as it embraces new technologies, modernises and moves towards a more sustainable future. It is vital that the industry works together to empower women working in shipping in order to execute this transformation and to move beyond it.

The maritime industry is in a period of transformation as it embraces new technologies, modernises and moves towards a more sustainable future. It is vital that the industry works together to empower women working in shipping in order to execute this transformation and to move beyond it.

Here, at Wärtsilä Voyage, we welcome the opportunity to celebrate women in our industry and pave the way to the changes we will see over the coming years to help continue breaking down barriers for a more diverse and inclusive culture in maritime. It is important to highlight the achieved shifts and hail the change makers.

To walk the talk, we sat down for a chat with Kate McCue, the first and only American woman to captain a major cruise ship. Captain Kate took the helm of Celebrity Beyond, Celebrity Cruises' third ship in its industry-transforming Edge Series, that set off on its maiden voyage in April 2022. Hear from Captain Kate about the best part of her job, how she forged her own path in maritime and what advice she would give to younger women just entering the industry or thinking about it.

WV: Can you share a little bit about what it is that you do and what a typical day for you is like?

Captain Kate: The Captain is like the CEO of the ship. My day is centered around the priority of ensuring the health and safety of the over 5000 lives on board the ship. From ensuring safe navigation to delivering the best experience to our guests and crew, all while understanding that no two days are the same. Every day is different: different port, different people and even different weather.

WV: What first sparked your interest in working in the maritime industry?

Captain Kate: When I was 12 years old, my parents took me and my brother on a 4 day cruise to the Bahamas. When we got off the ship, I told my dad that I wanted to be the Cruise Director and plan all the fun events on board the ship. My dad said, "You can do anything you want, including drive the thing". That is where the seed was planted, and after 19 years at sea and a steady progression through the ranks, I was promoted to Captain in 2015.

WV: What advice would you give yourself just starting out?

Captain Kate: The formula for a woman in the cruise industry to succeed is the same as in any industry. Understanding who you are as a person, your priorities, and knowing what you want is key. Surround yourself with diversity, be your authentic self, approachable and vulnerable. Be kind, be supportive, and pay it forward. 

WV: What motivates you every day? Why do you love working in shipping?

Captain Kate: What I love about shipping is the opportunity to travel the world while meeting the most incredible people. The crew, from 72 different nationalities, motivates me every day, and the highlight of my career is watching others succeed and helping them become even better tomorrow than they are today.

 

Image (c) Celebrity Cruises

WV: What advice would you give to younger women just entering the maritime industry today or thinking about it?

Captain Kate: The opportunities are there & I would encourage anyone who wanted to pursue a life at sea to jump in wholeheartedly. Seek out a company that is making conscious efforts to break the bias against any minority in maritime. You don't need to follow in anyone else's footsteps. Forge your own path by bringing your unique personalities and perspectives to every job you do.

 

Written by

Wärtsilä
Wärtsilä

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