In an industry dominated by men, Captain Kate McCue is making waves as America’s first female captain of a mega cruise ship. McCue is a trailblazer and trailblazer in the cruise industry – breaking the gender barrier and proving that women can take on leadership roles just like men.
In 2015, Kate McCue made history when she became captain of the Celebrity Edge at the age of 37. Captain McCue was also the first captain to leave a U.S. port after the pandemic closed, which crippled the cruise industry for 15 months.
Today, Captain McCue is still the only female American captain of a mega-ship.
Born to sail
Growing up, McCue aspired to be a cruise director after taking her first cruise at the age of 12. She clearly remembers how her father supported her aspirations, but encouraged her to dream bigger. He suggested that she could do whatever she wanted, even run the whole ship if that was her dream.
Originally from California, McCue attended the University of the Maritime Academy at California State University. She earned a business administration degree while studying celestial navigation during summer vacation.
While at university, she landed an internship for Chiquita Brands International working on one of their freighters. She helped transport bananas between Ecuador and Los Angeles.
After graduating from the Maritime Academy, she moved to Hawaii to work as a general deckhand on a catamaran. McCue worked hard to gain valuable industry experience while living with his cousins for 6 months.
After his time in Hawaii, McCue applied to cruise lines for almost 9 months before landing a job with Disney Cruise Line. She had an entry-level position as a third officer and mainly sailed around the Caribbean.
In 2003, McCue was offered a second officer position for Royal Caribbean, which allowed him to travel the world. She sailed around Asia, Alaska, Australia, the Middle East and the Mediterranean during her time as a second officer.
McCue was eventually promoted to First Officer in 2004 for Royal Caribbean, which was a huge accomplishment for the sailor.
To further his education, McCue obtained his Navy Captain and Masters Degree in 2009 from the Maritime Institute of Technology and Graduate Studies. This brought her one step closer to her dream, as she was now fully qualified to take command of a ship.
Royal Caribbean promoted Kate to the post of Chief Officer, who is considered a Senior First Officer, and then to the post of Staff Captain. This promotion placed Kate as Royal Caribbean’s second in command in 2011.
Transition to Celebrity Cruises
In 2015, Celebrity Cruises (which is owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises LTD) asked Kate to apply for a captain position. She accepted the coveted position of Commander of the Celebrity Summit in September 2015.
This role solidified her place in the maritime history books as the first female captain of a mega-ship in the United States.
As the ship’s captain, McCue is responsible for navigation, operations, safety and passenger service aboard his ship. She is also in charge of nearly 1,200 onboard crew members, and ensures that passengers obey local laws when moored in foreign ports.
Captain Kate McCue has served as the Commanding Officer of Celebrity Summit, Celebrity Equinox and Celebrity Edge since her first role as Company Captain in 2015.
McCue will be the commanding officer of Celebrity Beyond, the cruise company’s new luxury cruise ship launching in spring 2022.
A pioneer in the industry
Celebrity Cruises praised Kate for being a trailblazer in the cruise industry. The cruise line has publicly acknowledged that McCue provided an opportunity to make significant changes to gender equality within the company.
In a recent press release, Celebrity Cruises said McCue has inspired people around the world, from all walks of life, to pursue their dreams. Celebrity Cruises CEO and President said, “Captain Kate has transcended what it means to be a captain as a voice and example of inclusion, diversity and change. She is constantly thinking about how she can go above and beyond.
McCue has also gained notoriety online, having over 3.5 million followers on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube. Captain Kate gives his followers a glimpse into the life of a cruise ship captain.
Captain McCue also has a notable companion on board, his elf-eared Sphynx cat named Bug Naked. She pushes her cat in a stroller around the boat; the two share a cabin attached to the ship’s main control center.
Passengers aboard Celebrity’s ships will notice that Captain Kate simply has her name tag as “Captain”. She states that others tend to simply call her “Kate” when she had “Captain Kate” on her badge.
McCue told the Washington Post: “It took me 19 years to win this title.”