Even a fellow captain mistook McCue for a captain’s wife when she went to take over a ship, while many cruise passengers and members of the public assumed the same.
McCue shared multiple videos on social media of instances where men and women were shocked when she corrected them about her role.
“Are you serious?” a woman responded as she heard McCue steer the ship.
“But you’re so beautiful,” the passenger continued, her mouth hanging open.
“Seven years after being captain, I still have similar reactions when I tell someone what I do for a living,” McCue told nine.com.au.
McCue herself has only met one other female captain during her 26-year career at sea.
McCue became the first American woman to lead a major cruise ship in 2015 when she became the captain of Celebrity Cruises’ ship Celebrity Summit.
She said the public reaction to her taking the title was “breathtaking”.
“If you had asked me if I thought the world would look up to this achievement, I would have said ‘no,’ because I didn’t think anyone else would care,” he said. she stated.
McCue says gender is no barrier at sea
McCue said she didn’t even think about the fact that there weren’t many female leaders in her industry during the first 11 years of her career, until Sweden captain Karin Stahre- Janson became the world’s first female cruise captain in 2007.
McCue has wanted to be a cruise ship captain since her parents took her on cruises when she was 12.
Luckily, she says she didn’t face any of the stereotypical challenges or battles one would expect of being one of the few women in a male-dominated industry and rising to the captaincy.
“It’s because I was lucky enough to work for a company that values diversity and inclusion,” she said.
“Our crew comes from 60 to 75 different nationalities. Everyone is kind of a minority, whether it’s race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, etc.
“Because of that, I found that the differences were not a problem to overcome.
“Being a woman on board wasn’t what defined me and that’s why I recommend people surround themselves with diversity wherever they can.”
Her employer, Celebrity Cruises, is working hard to increase female representation at sea, with 32% of its officers on deck in 2022 being women.
The company has a female president and CEO, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, who named McCue captain and also hired Ecuador’s first female captain, Captain Nathaly Alban, and the first African woman to work on a cruise ship deck, Nicholine Tifuh Azirh. .
McCue wants other women to be as determined as she is to rise through the ranks of her industry, knowing that they don’t have to be defined by their gender.
She works to normalize the idea of women as captains using social media platforms Instagram and TikTok.
“My motto is, ‘If you can live it, you can be it,’ because representation matters,” she said.
“Social media is a wonderful tool for getting people interested in the endless opportunities that exist at sea and it’s important for them to be able to see someone like them in roles they might never have imagined possible before. “
McCue thinks anyone interested in the maritime industry should definitely pursue it.
“I encourage anyone who wants to pursue a life at sea to go for it wholeheartedly.
“You don’t have to follow in someone else’s footsteps. Forge your own path.”
Inside the world’s largest cruise ship