Cruise Ship Captain Turns a Missed Port into an Educational Experience

Popular Celebrity Cruises captain Kate McCue offers an insightful explanation of why the cruise ship skipped a port of call.

Many people will have been on a cruise where the Captain has been forced to cancel a call to port. However, many people will also have experienced that the information which was provided as to why the port was cancelled was lacking. 

Captain Kate McCue, the well-known Captain of Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Beyond, is one of the most accessible and knowledgeable Captains in the cruise industry. However, how she explained why Celebrity Boyond missed a call to Antigua has taken this to a new level. 

Captain Kate Is Back Onboard Celebrity Beyond

Anyone who follows Captain Kate McCue on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube knows that she is no stranger to posting about daily life onboard her ships. She has now started doing a new series of posts on her social media called the Captain’s Daily Log, in which she explains where the vessel is, what’s happening onboard, and how things work onboard. 

The series started on January 19, 2024, when Captain McCue just came back from her vacation, and explained what happens on sign-on day. 

However, perhaps the most interesting episode of her Captain’s Log came in on day 7, when she explained what decisions and deliberation she, the bridge team, and the local pilot went through when Celebrity Beyond could not visit Antigua on January 25 due to local weather conditions. 

Call Cancelled For Celebrity Beyond

Celebrity Beyond set sail from Fort Lauderdale on January 25, 2024, on a 10-night Caribbean cruise where she first visited St. Maarten, followed by St. Lucia, Barbados, and due to visit Antigua on January 25. However, as Captain McCue explains in the video posted on TikTok and YouTube, that call did not go as planned.

Captain Kate McCue: “Today we were supposed to be in Antigua. The weather forecast was calling for northeasterly winds 25 to 30 knots, but as we made our approach, it was more 35 to 40 with gusts of 45 knots, that’s around 52 mph. Docking a ship in a port is one thing, taking it through a narrow channel is another.”

The approach to Antigua is notoriously tricky and involves a tight turn when coming into port preceded by the passage of a narrow channel. You can watch the video below:

“Under normal circumstances, we would pick up the pilot, proceed down the middle of the channel at around 8 knots, decreasing our speed as we approach the Turning Basin, swing the bow to port, and back in alongside the pier. However, when you have wind, it will affect the vessel’s heading at different speeds, we call this crab angle,” Captain McCue continued.

Read Also: How to Become a Cruise Ship Captain

Crab angle, in simple terms, is when the ship is trying to move straight forward (its heading), but the wind is pushing it sideways. As a result, the ship moves along a path that is at an angle to the direction it’s pointing. This angled path is the actual course over the ground, and the angle between this path and the ship’s heading is the crab angle.

Provisioning Clarity On Difficult Decisions

In the context of Captain Kate McCue’s decision-making process aboard Celebrity Beyond, understanding and managing the crab angle was crucial. High winds can create a significant crab angle, making it challenging to navigate narrow channels and dock safely. 

If the crab angle is too large, it could lead to navigational difficulties, potentially putting the ship, its passengers, and crew at risk.

For us, the maximum crab angle today is 13°, anything above that and we’ll end up sitting on the seabed. My plan was to slow down and see how much crab angle we got as we approached the pilot station because if we proceeded all the way to the pilot pickup point, it would be too late to turn back.”

“We were already setting 10°, so I decided to do a donut into Safe Water where we assess the situation, and we requested the pilot to come further out to the ship so that we could bring them on board and go through our options.”

Celebrity Beyond Cruise Ship
Celebrity Beyond Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Doctor Alonso / Shutterstock)

As the ship picked up the pilot, the winds picked up even more, which led the Captain and Pilot to determine docking the vessel would be unsafe. 

The popularity of Captain McCue is something that many have attributed to her social media presence or even the fact that she is female. However, it’s decisions such as these, where safety is a paramount concern, and how she manages to explain her decision-making process to guests, which has made her one of the best and most popular Captains around. 

McCue: “No one ever wants to cancel a port, and we don’t like to ever disappoint anyone, but when it comes to the safety of our guests, our crew, and our ship, I will never put anyone at risk or in danger. So today, it’s a relaxing day at sea.”

Following the day at sea, Celebrity Beyond spent today, January 26, in St Kitts, and the next two days will be spent at sea. The vessel is due back in Fort Lauderdale for her next cruise on January 29.

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