Credit: Shutterstock

Five inspiring women in cruise this International Women’s Day

Author: Lucy Abbott

Published on:

Updated on:

This International Women’s Day (8 March), we look at five of the countless inspiring women in cruise who have made their mark in the industry

International Women's Day is the time to celebrate all that women have achieved – and the cruise industry features many inspiring women to shout about.

From godmothers to founders to captains of ships both large and small, women play a pivotal role in the running and innovation of the cruise sector.

While International Women’s Day only lasts 24 hours, these women work around the clock, throughout the year to boost the cruise industry.

To celebrate International Women's Day, we bring you five women that are making waves in cruise.

Related articles
Captain Belinda Bennett. Credit: Windstar Cruises

1. Captain Belinda Bennett

Not only is Captain Belinda Bennett the first female captain of a Windstar Cruises ship, but she is also the first Black captain in cruising history.

Bennett began her career as a deck cadet at the age of 17 and quickly rose up the ranks to third officer. After working as a chief officer on a private yacht she then joined Windstar Cruises as second officer in 2005 – being promoted to captain of ship Wind Star in 2016.

Wind Star accommodates 148 guests and 101 crew members, of which Saint Helena-born Bennett is in charge. Her maiden voyage of Wind Star as captain took place on 30 January 2016 in the Caribbean.

What's more, Bennett was awarded the Merchant Navy Medal for Meritorious Service. There are only 20 people awarded with this accolade a year as it is reserved for those devoting their life to duty and exemplary service.

Captain Kate McCue. Credit: Celebrity Cruises

2. Kate McCue

Possessing another first within the cruise industry, Kate McCue is the first American woman to captain a cruise ship and the first woman to captain a Celebrity Cruises ship – currently captain of Celebrity Beyond.

In an interview with World of Cruising, Kate stated that "It was amazing when I got the call in 2015 to come to Celebrity Cruises as their first female captain.

"It took me 19 years to work up to where I am now, so to know that I had finally achieved my dream was an incredible feeling.

"When I was coming up through the ranks being a woman was never really a thing – it was only after becoming captain that I began to be asked that question."

When asked about the steps being taken to narrow the gender gap in the industry, Kate said: "Celebrity Cruises has been working hard to get greater female representation on board and we’ve gone from a 3 per cent female bridge team to more than 22 per cent across the fleet, with Celebrity Edge launching with 30 per cent of the bridge team being female.

Lisa Lutoff-Perlo. Credit: Celebrity Cruises

3. Lisa Lutoff-Perlo

Another win for Celebrity Cruises is the president and chief operating offer of the line, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, who is known for championing women in the cruise industry.

Not only did Lisa Lutoff-Perlo appoint Kate McCue as captain, but she also played a key role in achieving 32% female bridge officers across the fleet – including the first West African woman on the bridge.

Speaking to World of Cruising, Lutoff-Perlo commented: “On International Women’s Day, millions of people around the world will celebrate the accomplishments of women, and the men who support their efforts.

“Women are breaking glass ceilings in every country and industry – and there are many, many success stories for gender parity. Yet we have to push for even more progress, and it takes all of us working together to show the power of unity to the world."

Nicole Stott. Credit: Viking Cruises

4. Nicole Stott

Retired NASA astronaut and Godmother of Viking Neptune Nicole Stott is an impressive woman in the cruising industry.

When named as Godmother of Neptune, Stott said: “It is an honour and privilege to be the godmother of Neptune.

“As someone who has been blessed to explore space, the ocean, and some of the otherworldly places on our planet, I understand the importance of broadening one’s horizons through travel.

“I am very excited for all those who journey around the world on this elegant vessel.”

Stott completed two spaceflights with NASA and spend 104 days as a crewmember on the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle.

In addition, she was the 10th woman to perform a spacewalk and captured the first free-flying HTV by flying a robotic arm.

Shirley Robertson. Credit: Ambassador Cruise Line

5. Shirley Robertson OBE

As the first British woman to win gold medals at two consecutive Olympic Games, Shirley is a well-known face within the sport of sailing and is now in cruise, as Godmother to Ambassador Cruise Line's Ambition.

She was also named World Sailor of the Year by the International Sailings Federation in 2000 and appointed MBE in the same year and OBE five years later in 2005.

Robertson commented “I was drawn to Ambassador from the very first contact - I love their passion for quality service and their drive to look for sustainable options at every turn" after being named Godmother of Ambition.

Most recent articles

About Lucy Abbott

Lucy is a cruise journalist who has sailed on a variety of ships, from expedition to river – with her favourite being expedition cruising.

Lucy is interested in new sustainable ways to cruise as well as how cruising is becoming accessible for all.

She works together with Kaye Holland to keep the World of Cruising website up to date with all the latest cruise news.