Captain Kate McCue sails on to success

During a meet and greet session aboard the Celebrity Edge in June 2021, Captain Kate McCue shared with passengers her journey in becoming the first American female captain of a modern American mega cruise ship.

She fell in love with the sea after taking a cruise with her family. When teenage Kate told her father that she wanted to be a cruise director someday, he replied, “Baby girl, you can do anything, including running a ship.” 

She went on to make “someday” happen. Enrolling in California State University Maritime Academy, she earned a degree in business administration then worked on a variety of sailing vessels for nearly 15 years. Captain Kate rose up the ranks to become the first American commanding officer on Celebrity Summit. Next, she was captain of Celebrity Equinox, before Celebrity Edge was launched three years ago.

“With hope, you can and will rise again,” she said, while sharing stories about her last voyage on Celebrity Edge before the pandemic shut down cruise travel. “It was a history-making and barrier-breaking sailing on March 8, 2020, as the first cruise ship ever to be ‘wo-manned’ by an all-female team of officers on the bridge and across the ship.” 

One week later, as the last passenger disembarked, Captain Kate and her crew members were told to stay aboard. 

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., the parent company of Celebrity Cruises, quickly formed a Healthy Sail Center, with experts at the CDC, and local and international medical and scientific minds to guide the cruise line in the development of comprehensive protection protocols for everyone on board. “They ran 35 different return-to-sea scenarios to prepare and be ready to sail,” she said.

Celebrity Edge was the first cruise ship to depart Port Everglades in 16 months. As Captain Kate backed the ship out to sea, blasting the horn, locals lined up along the port’s channel, cheering, waving, and holding up signs wishing everyone aboard a safe journey. 

As the ship set sail on a 7-night cruise to Costa Maya, Cozumel, and Nassau, the ship visited ports that haven’t seen a cruise ship with passengers since the shutdown. 

And “someday” is here again for Captain Kate as Celebrity Cruises recently announced that she will become the captain of the newest, largest, and most luxurious ship, Celebrity Beyond. The anticipated debut is April 2022.

Jill Weinlein is a travel, dining and entertainment writer who has appeared in The Beverly Press and Park LaBrea Newspapers, Fodors, NBYnews, Just Luxe and Luxe Beat magazine. She resides in California.