After a week of downbeat news from the cruise industry, here’s one positive story. In what’s claimed as a first in maritime history, Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Edge departed Port Everglades yesterday with an all-female bridge and onboard leadership team, commemorating International Women’s Day.
Led by Captain Kate McCue, the first American female cruise ship captain, who was accompanied by 26 other women representing 16 different countries, the 2,918 passenger capacity Celebrity Edge began its seven-day Caribbean journey by being led out to sea by retiring pilot Captain Cheryl Phipps, one of only a few female pilots in the country.
Also in celebration of International Women’s Day, Celebrity Edge lit up the high seas with a vibrant purple glow, the color associated with the day.
Around the world, only 2% of the world’s mariners are women. Celebrity Cruises has made it a priority to #BRIDGEthegap, growing the percentage of women on its bridge teams from 3% to nearly 25% over the last few years.
“I fell in love with cruise ships at age 12 when my family took its first cruise vacation. At the end of the trip, I asked my Dad if he thought I could be a cruise director someday and he replied that I could drive the ship, if I wanted to. Five years later, I enrolled at the California Maritime Academy and nineteen years later I became a captain,” said Captain McCue. “I firmly believe that you have to see it, to be it. My hope is that today we inspire a new generation of young girls and women to chart their own course of pushing boundaries and breaking barriers to be whatever it is they want to be.”
“To ‘man the bridge’ with 100% women and to fill every leadership role on board with women is truly significant. I am so proud of these accomplished women, who worked tirelessly to be the best person for the job in a traditionally male-dominated industry and I am honored to work alongside them,” said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president and CEO, Celebrity Cruises. “Advancing gender equality in our industry takes a purposeful and focused commitment because it is not easy. This is such meaningful progress and we’re just getting started.”
On board for the history-making sailing are trailblazing women in other fields including Madeline Stuart, the first supermodel with down syndrome; Kellee Edwards, the first black woman to host a national adventure travel show; and child prodigy artist Autumn de Forest; international jewelry designer Reout Kallati; and fashion designer Mary Frances. The historic seven-night sailing will celebrate other female achievements through a variety of events including panel discussions, gallery exhibitions featuring female artists, excursions to women-led businesses in the ports the ship visits, and a cinema series putting female directors, actors and inspirational narratives center stage.