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
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.
"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."