For the first time in maritime history, an all-female bridge and onboard leadership team has set sail, 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, Celebrity Edge sailed out of Port Everglades and began its seven-day Caribbean journey. Retiring Pilot Boat Captain Cheryl Phipps, one of only a few female pilot boat captains in the country, led the ship out to sea.
Joining the historic sailing are three British women:First Officer Rachel Arnold from Bristol, Guest Relations Director Julie Sherrington from Godalming, and Cruise Director Sue Denning from Blackpool.
Also in celebration of International Women’s Day, Celebrity Edge lit up the high seas with a vibrant purple glow, the colour associated with the day, to further celebrate change-making women everywhere.
Around the world, only 2% of the world’s mariners are women. Celebrity Cruises made it a priority to #BRIDGEthegap, leading the maritime industry into a more diverse future and increasing the number of women on their bridge teams from 3% to nearly 25% over the last few years, ultimately, making this historic moment possible.
“I fell in love with cruise ships at age 12 when my family took its first cruise vacation,” said Captain Kate McCue. “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 19 years later I became a Captain. 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 onboard with women is truly significant,” said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President and Chief Executive, Celebrity Cruises. “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 honoured to work alongside them. Advancing gender equality in our industry takes a purposeful and focused commitment because it is not easy. This is such meaningful progress and we are just getting started.”
Guest Relations Director Julie Sherrington from Godalming said: “All women officers, a full women bridge, we’re making a mark on the industry!”
First Officer Rachel Arnold from Bristol said: “When I first started I didn’t have women role models and now I work for a company that is just so inclusive.”
Cruise Director Sue Denning from Blackpool commented: “There are women of all ages, of all descriptions, of all religions. We’re here. I think this company, doing this, and making this day as special as it is, is something that I will never ever forget. To think that you are part of history!”
Onboard for the history-making sailing are trailblazing women in other fields, including Madeline Stuart, the Australian model with down syndrome; child prodigy artist Autumn de Forest; and Kellee Edwards, the first black woman to host a national travel show; among others. 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 centre stage.
Celebrity Edge, which debuted in late 2018, was brought to life by a team of visionary architects and designers and features an array of stunning industry-first innovations – such as the transformational Edge Stateroom with Infinite Veranda and Magic Carpet, the world’s first cantilevered platform that travels up to 16 decks alongside the ship. Building on Celebrity Edge’s momentum, Celebrity Apex debuts in 2020, followed by three additional sister ships in 2021, 2022 and 2024, respectively.
To learn more about the historic International Women’s Day 2020 sailing and meet the leading ladies who came together onboard to make it possible, visit www.celebritycruises.co.uk/about-us/celebrity-cares/international-womens-day.