Celebrity to sail cruise with all-female bridge

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A collage created by Celebrity Cruises shows the women who will head the operations of the Celebrity Edge on the International Women's Day sailing in 2020.
A collage created by Celebrity Cruises shows the women who will head the operations of the Celebrity Edge on the International Women's Day sailing in 2020.

NEW YORK -- Celebrity Cruises will operate a cruise departing on International Women's Day next year with an all-female bridge and senior officer team.

The cruise, which departs Fort Lauderdale on March 8, will be on the Celebrity Edge. The bridge will be helmed by Kate McCue, the first female American cruise ship captain. And 26 other women will be stationed in leadership capacities, including staff captain Maria Gotor, hotel director Niina Hautaniemi, cruise director Sue Denning and guest relations director Julie Sherrington.

Celebrity CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo said in an interview that the line has done other events to coincide with the day, but that "we wanted to take it to a different level. And the idea came up that, what if we had an all-female bridge, because we can."

She said that there was a "tremendous energy" around the concept, which then extended to putting an entire female leadership team on the sailing.  

The cruise will include special programming, such as art exhibitions; women designers; movie showings featuring women directors and leads; and a panel discussion with the ship's female leadership team. 

Capt. Kate McCue has been with Celebrity since 2015.
Capt. Kate McCue has been with Celebrity since 2015.

"We've been working really hard for almost five years in improving a balance of women in our company and on our ships," she said. "No one else could do this, because there just aren't any other cruise companies out there that are as committed as we are in terms of how we have built the number of women on our bridges over time."

The company said that in 2015, 3% of its bridge teams were women; today, it's 22%.

When the idea of an all-female bridge team came up, Lutoff-Perlo said, "I looked at our head of marine and said, can we [logistically] do that? ... And he said, 'Absolutely.'" Within a week, she said, the line had the officers committed to the sailing.

McCue, who has been with Celebrity since 2015, said she herself caught the bug when she sailed as a 12-year-old on Premier Cruise Lines' Atlantic, and her father told her she could be "anything you want in the world -- including the captain."

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