Kate McCue: Ahoy, Madam Captain!

February 2 - On The Dot
FIRST THOUGHT: Women at the Helm

Do you ever get tired of staying silent when you hear stereotypical jokes? For instance, the flabbergasting statement that women can’t drive. Most of us roll our eyes, spout off how clean our driving records are and move on. But sometimes, those little things can have a negative effect on us.

If you’re often told that, as a blonde, you’re ditzy, or that because you’re a young woman, you can’t hold a top-level business position, maybe you start internalizing such comments and thinking others are right about you. Well, ladies, I am here to tell you they’re not!

Today, let’s resolve to not let others define us. You are the captain of your own ship!


In 1988, the International Maritime Organization created its Strategy on the Integration of Women in the Maritime Sector. It’s essentially a way for the IMO—a specialized agency of the United Nations—to address the gender imbalance in the maritime and shipping industries. The program provides educational opportunities for women, particularly those in developing nations, so they can find fulfilling careers at sea.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Kate McCue, Captain at Celebrity Cruises

Today’s Woman to Watch is breaking some serious ground at sea. Her name is Captain Kate McCue, and in her really cool job, she helms the ship. In fact, Kate is the first American woman ever to captain a mega-ship. As a captain for Celebrity Cruises, she’s responsible for a 965-foot-long ship that weighs a cool 91,000 tons.

Kate’s ship carries nearly 3,000 passengers, including guests and crew, and sails to exotic locales throughout the Southern Caribbean, as well as to Canada and New England. It’s the ultimate luxurious experience, offering such amenities as a rejuvenating spa, a super cool ice-topped martini bar, an innovative magic show, tons of top-notch dining experiences and much more.

Given her experience and amazing drive, Kate is perfect for her captain job. And it all began when Kate was just 12 years old and her family took a cruise to the Bahamas—a trip she remembers as the most special vacation of her young life. When she told her dad she wanted to be the cruise director so she could plan the fun events, he responded that she could do that and more, like even getting behind the wheel! From that point on, Kate was hooked and knew cruising was her destiny.

But reaching that destiny meant a ton of hard work and time spent gaining experience, efforts Kate was more than willing to make. She’s been in the shipping and cruise-ship business since 2000, working for a variety of companies, including Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean Cruises and Maersk. And she even holds a third-mate unlimited U.S. Coast Guard license, which means this bona-fide trailblazer is qualified to sail anything from a tug boat to a super tanker.

In addition to her dedication to her career, Kate also credits her success to the support of other women. Back in 2007, Kate worked with a Swedish captain who was the first woman to be promoted to captain in the cruise industry, and she served as a wonderful role model and mentor for Kate. And it was Celebrity Cruises’ CEO and president Lisa Lutoff-Perlo who hired Kate for her current gig.

When at sea, Kate likes to start her day by working out and taking an hour-long stroll around the ship’s perimeter. She says she wants to be a more public captain, making sure she is visible to guests and crew members. After all, a little girl might see her strolling on the ship’s rooftop terrace and think, “Hey, I want to be like her when I grow up!”


Kate McCue embodies this quote from strong-willed writer Ayn Rand, who said:

“The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who’s going to stop me?”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.

To learn more about our conversation, check us out at OnTheDotWoman.com and talk to us @OnTheDotWoman on Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to hear your voice.

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