America's first female captain of a mega cruise ship has been at sea for 310 days. She wouldn't want it any other way.

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Kate McCue was the first female captain of a mega cruise ship. Celebrity cruises
Kate McCue, captain of the Celebrity Edge with 2,918 passengers, is the first American captain of a mega cruise ship.
She belongs to only 2% of the world's female seafarers and she hopes to inspire other women to follow in their footsteps.
She says Celebrity Cruises has grown from a 3% female bridge team when she started in 2015 to over 27% today.
McCue is on the insider list of lights: 25 women cross borders and achieve extraordinary achievements. You can find the full list here.
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"Everything is better on the ship. You know, this real world sucks," Captain Kate McCue told Insider in December 2019.
"I would prefer to have five months to two weeks off. That would be fine," she said of her work schedule, where she is three months on call before she has three months off.
Related: This is what it takes to be a cruise ship performer
In the midst of a global pandemic that stalled the cruise industry, she might have got her wish and a few more. In an interview in late September, McCue, the first American female captain on a mega-cruise ship, revealed that she was currently on her 284th day at sea.
But she doesn't mind. McCue loves her job - so much that she has made a goal of getting more women to follow in her footsteps.
A trip to the Bahamas when she was 12 inspired her to work in the cruise industry
She has been anchored at CocoCay in the Bahamas since March. Celebrity cruises
Kate McCue
McCue is the captain of the Celebrity Edge, a 2,918-passenger cruise ship. When she was named captain of a slightly smaller ship in 2015 - the Celebrity Summit with 2,158 passengers - she was the first American (and the fifth woman overall) to command a mega cruise ship.
McCue, 42, is from San Francisco and moved a lot as a kid thanks to her father's job as an engineer. Her interest in cruise lines dates back to a family vacation in the Bahamas when she was 12 years old. After that, she told her father that she wanted to become a cruise director as director, to which he replied, "You can do anything you want, including drive that thing."
She visited Cal Maritime, where her father once dreamed of it. Encouraged by him, she received a degree in business administration and a license to sail "anything from a tug to a super tanker," she said.
Then she worked her way up the ladder and spent her days at sea. It took her 19 years from working on ships to becoming captain in 2015.
She compares the job of a captain to being a CEO since the Celebrity Edge is a $ 1.2 billion business
McCue and Chelsea Clinton. Celebrity cruises
7 Capt Kate with Chelsea Clinton
While some people assume the job only involves hours looking out at the ocean while pushing around a big wooden steering wheel, McCue's day doesn't consist of those days.
She is responsible for all of the ship's department heads reporting directly to her, including a chief engineer, a hotel manager, a captain in charge of safety and ship maintenance, and a human resources manager.
She spends her days in meetings with these department heads, leads various inspections of the ship, does paperwork and attends events with guests and crew members.
"The best thing about my job is that there is no such thing as an average day," she said. "Whether it's people you have on board, the places you are, or even the weather, everything changes so you'll never have the same day twice, which is really cool."
The only constant about her is that she usually gets up at 6 a.m. for a morning workout, takes a nap every afternoon if something shows up late at night, and otherwise lies in bed at 10 p.m. She also gets cold when it comes to drinking while on call, which usually happens around the clock for three months.
Her long-term focus is to get more female representation on board, and she calls social media her "greatest tool".
McCue and her all-woman bridge and officer team. Celebrity cruises
Kate McCue Women's Day
She recently launched a TikTok and YouTube channel to give people a behind-the-scenes look at their lives at sea, and frequently shares insights on her Instagram, which she had 180,000 followers at the time of writing.
"I think you have to see it to be," she said. "I'm really focused on getting the message across about what the job is, what the opportunities are and how you can get there," she said, adding that she gets tons of comments from people who say they have this not recognized was a career option.
She says Celebrity Cruises has grown from a 3% female bridge team when she started in 2015 to over 27% today.
The last cruise she led before the pandemic consisted of a women's bridge and officer team in honor of International Women's Day. While some are now off, most of their bridging team is still female. "If I hear a male voice on the bridge, it will throw me now," she said.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, McCue has been working since December and won't be returning to Nevada and her husband until October 16
McCue has been working since December. Celebrity cruises
Captain Kate
She has been anchored at CocoCay in the Bahamas with 20 other ships since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an unsailed order on March 14 that was recently extended to October 31.
Although McCue and her team only have a skeleton crew and there are no guests on board, they are busy. "We have to make sure we keep [the ship] in ship shape. So when we get the green light to go back into service, we're ready to rock it," she said.
The Celebrity Edge is also the "Dedicated Mothership" which means she commands it to Miami, Florida every two weeks to collect provisions for her and the surrounding ships and to repatriate or swap crew members.
The ship strictly adheres to CDC guidelines, although most of the people have been together for over six months. "We call it 'protecting the bubble' because we've had no cases, knock on wood and will do whatever we can to make sure we're safe," she said.
McCue believes the key to success is personalizing your job
"Bring your personality into your job, it gives you an advantage." she advises. Celebrity cruises
Kate McCue
She belongs to only 2% of the female seafarers in the world, but she believes in the beauty of diversity on cruise ships - her crew alone consists of 75 nationalities.
"We're all of a different race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, whatever it is," she said. "And because we're all so different, we're so similar."
What advice to other women entering the cruise industry? "Don't follow in my footsteps, make your own way," she said, adding that she made her own rulebook since there wasn't one.
"I hope when people look at me they see that anything is possible if you focus on it, put the time and effort into it, and have a good attitude," she said. "Bring your personality into your job, it gives you an edge - you bring something unique and special to the table that people are probably not used to and they will appreciate."
Continue reading:
The Luminaries: 25 women who push boundaries and achieve extraordinary achievements
Meet America's first mega-cruise ship captain who brings her cat and mermaid tail on every trip
After years of traveling, I took my very first cruise and found it was a completely different way of seeing the world
I lived in a 18 square meter room on the largest cruise ship in the world, where no space was wasted. That's how it is inside.
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