Who is Captain Kate McCue – A Trailblazer and Pioneer

Captain Kate McCue fell in love with sailing at an early age. Learn how her father inspired her to think bigger, leading her to become the first American female captain of a major cruise ship.

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Captain Kate McCue is the first American female captain of a large cruise ship. In an industry dominated by males, her accomplishment breaks longstanding gender barriers in this field. Kate McCue is considered both a pioneer and a trailblazer in this field as she demonstrates another occupation that women can succeed in.

At 37 years of age, Kate McCue made history. In 2015, she was chosen to be the captain of the Celebrity Edge. McCue was additionally the first commanding officer to set sail from a United States port after the pandemic closures. These shutdowns crippled the cruise line industry for over a year.

A Passion for Sailing Ignited

After going on her first cruise, McCue fell in love with sailing. Since the age of 12, she aspired to become a cruise director. She fondly remembered her father supporting her decision but informing her to dream bigger. He told his daughter that she could attain anything she desired, including being a ship captain, if that’s what she wanted. 

Captain Kate McCue
Photo Courtesy: Celebrity Cruises

Born in California, Kate McCue went to the Maritime Academy at California State University. She completed a degree in business administration in addition to studying celestial navigation during her spring break. 

While she attended the California Maritime Academy, she completed an internship for Chiquita Brands International working aboard a cargo ship. Her job was to aid in transporting bananas from Ecuador to Los Angeles. 

After her graduation from the academy, McCue moved to Hawaii. She began working as a deckhand aboard a catamaran. McCue diligently worked to garner industry experience while residing with her cousin for six months.

Professional Growth

After Hawaii, she applied to several cruise lines for almost nine months before obtaining employment with Disney Cruise Line. She obtained an entry-level position as the line’s third mate while sailing predominantly throughout the Caribbean.

McCue was offered a job in 2003 as a second officer for the Royal Caribbean line, providing her with the opportunity and experience to travel on a global scale and gain more experience in the cruise industry. She enjoyed her time sailing around Alaska, Asia, Australia, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East.

Captain Kate McCue
Captain Kate McCue (Photo Courtesy: Celebrity Cruises)

In 2004, McCue was promoted to first officer for the same cruise line, a groundbreaking accomplishment for a woman. 

To further her education, in 2009 McCue earned a Chief Mate and Master’s Licence from the Maritime Institute of Technology and Graduate Studies. This accomplishment brought her closer to her ultimate dream of becoming a ship’s captain. At this point, she was qualified to command a ship.

Royal Caribbean promoted her to the chief officer (senior first officer) and subsequently, in 2011, to staff captain. She was now second in command. 

Changes Up Ahead: Promotion to Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises, owned by Royal Caribbean Group, requested Kate McCue to apply for the captain’s position. In 2015, Kate accepted the role of commanding officer for the Celebrity Summit

Her promotion placed her in the maritime history books. McCue accomplished her dream of becoming the first female commanding officer of a mega-ship.

Captain Kate McCue and Celebrity Beyond
Photo Courtesy: Celebrity Cruises

As captain, Kate oversees operations, navigation, safety, and passenger service. She supervises 1,200 crew members and makes sure guests follow local laws while docked in a foreign port. Since 2015, Captain Kate McCue has worked as a commanding officer of the Celebrity Equinox, Celebrity Summit, and Celebrity Edge.

Captain McCue played a major role in resuming services for Celebrity. Celebrity Edge was the first major line to resume sailing on June 26, 2021. 

People have described Kate as someone who goes above and beyond. Her leadership style mimics the imagination and design of the ships she leads. Kate transcends simply being a captain; she is a living example of change, diversity, and inclusivity. 

Pioneer and Trailblazer

Celebrity Cruises has praised Kate for being a trailblazer in her field. The cruise line has publicly acknowledged that Kate provides opportunities for significant changes in the company for gender equality. 

Celebrity Cruises states that Captain Kate McCue inspired people globally to reach for their goals. Additionally, Kate McCue has obtained online fame with over 3.5 million followers on her TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram channels. McCue’s following stems from providing people with glimpses of the life of a captain on a cruise ship.

What Lies Ahead?

Captain Kate McCue was appointed master aboard Celebrity Cruise’s new cruise ship, Celebrity Beyond. The new luxury ship debuts in the spring of 2022. This is a huge honor for any captain. The ship begins its maiden voyage on April 27, 2022, from Southampton, England.

The Celebrity Beyond is the largest ship in the fleet, and it offers a ten-night voyage, going to Spain, Portugal, and the Canary Islands.

McCue’s Personal Side

McCue’s onboard companion is her Sphynx cat, Bug Naked. Kate’s fur baby can be seen in a baby stroller aboard the cruise line. The two share quarters attached to the main control center of the ship.

Passengers note that Kate only has the name “Captain” on her name tag. Kate noted that people tended to just call her Kate when she had “Captain Kate” on the name tag. McCue is proud of her accomplishments as it took 19 years to obtain the title of Captain.  

Kate McCue demonstrates that you can achieve anything that you can imagine. There are no limitations but those we place upon ourselves. McCue did not allow her gender to limit her thinking.

By sheer determination and years of hard work, Kate finally achieved her life-long dream of becoming a ship’s captain, paving the way for others to follow in her footsteps.

Captain Kate McCue

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Haiyan Ma
Haiyan Ma

I absolutely love cruising with my favorite ports of call being in the Caribbean. As a former crew member for Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, and Carnival Cruise Line I can continue my passion by sharing my experiences with readers.

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