Even out on the open sea, Kate McCue has been able to smash a glass ceiling. The hardworking seafarer was named the captain of the Celebrity Summit, a 2,158-passenger cruise ship, in 2015. The new role meant that McCue was the first American woman (and fifth woman overall) to be captain of a mega cruise ship.
Now, McCue is captain of an even larger boat, the 2,918-passenger Celebrity Edge, which is a mega cruise ship with a gross tonnage of almost 131,000.
And this cruise ship captain adores her job.
“The best part about my job is there is no such thing as an average day,” McCue told Insider, who included her in their list of 25 Luminaries in 2020 — women who are “pushing the boundaries.” “Whether it’s people that you have onboard, the places that you are in, or even the weather, everything changes, so you’re not ever going to have the same day twice, which is really cool.”
Here she is enjoying her job in a 2016 photo tweeted by the Celebrity Cruises Twitter account:
— Celebrity Cruises (@CelebrityCruise) April 22, 2016
McCue herself is active on social media — including Instagram, YouTube and TikTok — where she hopes to inspire more young women to become mariners. Women who have maritime careers are still a rarity; in fact, only 2% of the world’s mariners are female.
“I think you have to see it to be it,” McCue told Insider. “I’m really focusing on putting the message out there of what the job is, what the opportunities are and how you can get there.” According to McCue, many commenters on social media remark that they didn’t even know this was a career option.
Her TikTok videos are often informative, upbeat and humorous, like this one that includes a little tidbit about modern shipboard radio stations … followed by a special appearance by McCue’s hairless cat, Bug.
Perhaps one of her greatest TikTok videos, however, was an epic takedown of a troll who wondered how McCue could possibly be a cruise ship captain if she’s “only a woman.” Check out McCue’s smart retort on TikTok:
And recently, McCue posted a video about the clever way she and other female crew members have improved the unisex bathroom situation for the women who work on board.
She also recently posted a video in which a guest on the cruise ship mistakes McCue for “the captain’s wife” — an occurrence that McCue says happens a lot.
The sea captain believes her role on the ship is similar to that of a CEO. All of the ship’s department heads — including a hotel director, a chief engineer, an HR manager and more — report directly to her. In addition to her captain duties, she spends her days meeting with these staff members, leading inspections of the ship and participating in events with guests and crew.
McCue spends a lot of time on her ship, but she would spend even more time at work if she could.
“I would prefer five months on to two weeks off,” she told Insider of her schedule, which typically calls for three months on board followed by three months off. “Everything’s better on the ship.”