Captain Kate McCue: Sailing ships through glass ceilings
Cruise ship captain
Ink drawing on a NOAA nautical chart of the waters around the eastern tip of Puerto Rico, an area that cruise ships often travel around.
For Kate McCue, captain of Celebrity Edge, a 1,004-foot-long mega cruise ship that can accommodate nearly 3,000 passengers, the day’s work never stops. On a typical day onboard the ship, she’ll get up at 4 a.m. to begin her work.
Aside from being responsible for up to 3,000 passengers and a crew of more than 1,000, she’s also active on social media. McCue shares a behind-the-scenes view of what cruise life is like from the ship’s bridge on her popular social media channels.
On one particular day in October 2020 began like the others, but this day was a little different. An internet troll commented on one of her social media posts, asking, “how can you be a captain? Your only a woman.” [sic]
Sexist comments like this and worse towards McCue and other women online are unfortunately all too common. But on this day, McCue was having none of it. She shut the man down with a withering response in a video that quickly went viral around the world:
“I think it's about high time that I address this, because it's 2020, and in this day and age I'm shocked that someone still doesn't know the difference between ‘you’re’ and ‘your.’ Just a quick reference: ‘you’re,’ as in ‘you are,’ as in ‘you are sexist.’ ‘Your’ is something possessive, it belongs to you. Like ‘your ignorance.’”
The video concluded with McCue sitting down in her chair, saying “If you need any more clarification, you can find me here—in my captain's chair.”
Background on Captain McCue
Born January 6, 1978 in San Francisco, CA, McCue began her maritime career with a dream at the age of 12 when she went on a cruise with her family. She told her father she wanted to be a cruise director when she grew up and he told her she could do anything, including captain the ship. She earned a bachelor’s degree at Cal Maritime and worked her way up the ranks in the shipping world.
She began as an apprentice officer on cargo boats transporting banana from South America and California. Eager to switch from cargo to cruises, she joined Disney Cruise Lines as a third mate and later moved to Royal Caribbean International. She worked her way up to staff captain (second in command), when in 2015, the CEO of Celebrity Cruise Line invited her to apply to captain the Celebrity Summit.
This promotion made McCue the first American female captain of a mega cruise ship and only the fifth woman overall. A mega cruise ship has a gross tonnage of least 80,000. Her current ship, Celebrity Edge, is nearly 131,000.
Now when passengers begin a voyage on a ship helmed by McCue, she greets them over the loudspeakers, “This is Captain Kate, but you can call me Captain because it took me 19 years to earn this title.”
This episode contains music by Geovane Bruno and Zakhar Valaha.
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