According to a recent Travelwires article, the first American woman to captain a mega cruise ship says she has too much time off work.
First American woman captain
Kate McCue is the first American woman to captain a mega cruise ship. As the captain of the Celebrity Edge, a 2,918-passenger cruise ship, she says she has too much time off work.
“We do three months on, three months off, and it’s kind of like you retire every three months,” she told Insider of her work schedule. “I would prefer five months on to two weeks off, that would be fine.”
What is her least favorite thing?
When asked about her least favorite thing about working, eating, and sleeping all in the same place, she replied, “having to leave my job and go on vacation.”
In 2015, when McCue was named captain of a slightly smaller ship – the 2,158-passenger Celebrity Summit – she became the first American woman (and fifth woman) to command a mega cruise ship.
How does she fills her time?
McCue tries to fill her time off with PR gigs, attending trainings, or finding other ways to represent her company.
How did McCue got the interest?
McCue’s interest in cruise ships goes back to when she was 12 years old. She said she became interested in cruises after going on a voyage with her family. After her memorable first trip she told her dad she wanted to be a cruise director when she grew up. According to McCue, he told her: “You can do anything you want, including drive the thing.” And drive the thing she does.
McCue went to the California Maritime Academy, encouraged and inspired by her father who had also once applied there, but hadn’t met the age requirements after a stint in the Peace Corps.
McCue likens her job as a captain to that of a CEO, and says her success didn’t come overnight.
Path she travelled
McCue said, “I started at the bottom. I was an apprentice officer on banana boats, which were taking bananas between Guayaquil, Ecuador, and Long Beach,” she said. “Cargo ships are fine, but I always wanted to be on cruise ships.”
Days at sea
Similar to pilots, who put in hours of flight time, McCue said captains must put in days at sea. She said it took her 19 years from the time she started working on ships to become a captain in 2015.
It is not like how people think!
When most people envisage the job of a ship captain, they imagine hours spent looking out to sea, pushing around a large wooden steering wheel, but that’s not really what she does at all McCue said her days are spent in daily meetings with these department heads, leading various inspections of the ship, doing paperwork, and participating in events with the guests and crew.
She’s on call 24/7, and takes a nap every afternoon in case something comes up late at night.
Not all hard work
It’s not all hard work, though, as McCue said she gets to go out and explore the ports along the cruise’s stops. She documents her adventures on Instagram, where she’s racked up over 91,000 followers to date.
McCue’s second family
McCue says she considers her coworkers family, and in part that comes down to the working environment.
“It is a unique environment where you play, you work, we sleep all in the same place. But what that means is you bond with people that you work with so much stronger than you do with people on land,” she said, adding that she now has friends in dozens of different countries. “It makes the world a very, very small place.”
Secret to their happy marriage
Due to the nature of her job, she doesn’t get to see her husband, an engineer she met while working on a different ship, every day.
“I think the secret to a happy marriage is 12 time zones,” McCue said, adding that she sees her husband of 13 years more now via FaceTime than they did when they both worked on the same ship. “He’s in Italy, I’m in the Caribbean, and I actually get to hear about his day. He gets to hear about my day and it really works for us.”
Bug’s Insta account
It also helps that she brings her cat, Bug Naked, on every voyage. Also Insta-famous with 28,500 followers at the time of writing, Bug’s account regularly offers glimpses into ship life.
“The three things I always travel with are Bug, my Louboutins, and a mermaid tail,” she said.
While the job is demanding, according to McCue, it has its perks: “People that come on cruises come for what I get to experience every single day, and I get paid for it.”
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