Fun with Captain Kate

“Fun” is not always the word we use when we think of cruise ship captains, but it certainly applies to Captain Kate McCue of Celebrity Summit. We interviewed her in October onboard the ship she masters. Our primary assignment was to get a look at her perspective on being the first American woman to captain a mega ship for the #breakthefuture column at Women@Forbes. We talked about the serious aspect of the job and what it means to women in general.

But between all that seriousness, Captain Kate continually showed us her fun side. We talked about her cat, scuba diving, and life on a cruise ship. Here are a few snippets of the fun stuff.

Bug Naked

When we talked about her goals and how her job fit into the possibility of eventually raising a family, we found out that she is currently a “hu-mom” to a hairless cat that travels with her onboard. Here’s her take on that.

Captain Kate: Her name is Bug Naked. She has her own Instagram @bugnaked. She has 2,600 followers, I think. (It’s now 4,800+. She’s a genuine IG star.) So she’s a naked cat. She takes baths. No hair. No hairballs. I have always been a dog person, but they are a bit more difficult to travel with. Paperwork, customs, the whole thing. I did the paperwork for all the ports we visit, but they were much more open to cats. She’s also easier to fit under the seat for take-off and arrivals on planes. She does get a little seasick, but only when it’s really rough. In some ports, I get to take her off for walks out and about.

The Ultimate “Captain’s Wife”

Her husband is a Chief Engineer on a Royal Caribbean ship, currently sailing on the opposite side of the world. Here’s the fun stuff she shared about him.

Captain Kate: Chief engineers are not historically the most social butterflies. This guy blew my mind when he came on, because he was everywhere. He was talking to people. He was making friends at the martini bar. He was high fiving people in the corridor. In fact, the day he left he got on the airplane and people that just got off the ship were passing by saying, “there’s the captain’s husband.”

How to Be a Captain 101

There’s no doubt that the job is a big one. Here’s what she had to say about how she handles it.
Crow: What does your day-to-day life look like onboard?

Captain Kate:It depends on if it’s a port day or a day at sea. A day at sea is a great opportunity for me to actually get to meet the guests. Once we get to port everybody is gone. I walk around the ship looking for people to talk to and there’s nobody. Today for example (a port day) we have the Captain’s Club celebrations for our repeat guests, I have a vow renewal to do, and the evening shows where I will go and do the intros.

Crow: You seem to be a bit more visible than some cruise ship captains. Do you think you choose to be more visible because you can?

Captain Kate: Oh yes. The hours between 10:30-11:30 and again in the afternoon I try to get down here to Café al Bachio. Because I can stand behind the counter there. One, I can make myself useful, because I know how to pull a pastry out of the case. They have trained me on how to do the POS machine so I can actually run a card. I cannot make the coffee, though. So I like to stand here because this spot is kind of a hub where everybody is passing by.

It’s funny to watch the reactions. People will pass by and hear someone say, “Captain, can I have a croissant?” And then they do thisdouble take. It’s a good place to talk to people. Sometimes you can tell people want to say something when they see me somewhere else, but they aren’t always comfortable. When I’m here, it’s fair game.

Captain KateCrow: How do you manage stress?

Captain Kate: I exercise every day. And then in the ports it’s an excellent opportunity to get out. Even if you just go for a walk. For example, every stop in St. Thomas I would go out and climb Paradise Point. Get a view of the ship, a little breath.

I also try to explore the ports. In fact, we just did the Canada New England ports. Before I came on as captain, I came on as a guest. I sailed by myself because last year when I took over I didn’t have an opportunity to visit the ports first. Nothing more embarrassing than when someone asks you what you recommend in a port. What am I going to say, “I’ve been there six times and I’ve never been off the ship.” That’s embarrassing. So I went and did the tours just to experience it. I found that I got a lot of really good information and tips and tricks that I could give people. I’m going to focus on that especially as we go down to the Caribbean. I’ve been in the Caribbean for fifteen years. And some of these places I have never been farther than the pier. Which is really sad. So I’m going to make a conscious effort to get out and do things.

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