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Captain Kate McCue became the first American female captain of a mega cruise ship when she took the helm of Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Summit in 2015. Later, she went on to be the master of Celebrity Edge, and has since become something of a social media star.
Here, she discusses connecting with followers online, and the experience of being onboard a cruise ship without guests during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It looks like you’ve been having a lot of fun on TikTok. How are you engaging with your 1.4 million followers during the current downtime?Social media is an excellent platform for engaging in the guest and crew interaction that we miss so much while we are out of service. By showing the behind-the-scenes life onboard, I’m also finding that it’s an amazing way to connect with people who have not cruised before.
Do you have a favorite video on TikTok or your other social media profiles (such as Instagram) that newcomers should check out?My favorite videos feature my officers maneuvering the ship, especially if it’s their first time. It makes a great digital memory that we can look back on and see how far they’ve come.
Our ships are so impressive in themselves, and I love to share how we operate what is essentially a floating city.
What are your favorite behind-the-scenes cruising factoids to share?Our ships are so impressive in themselves, and I love to share how we operate what is essentially a floating city — with a capacity of nearly 5,000 — with the key being the people who make it all happen.
What has it been like being on a Celebrity ship without any guests onboard?It is quiet with only 115 crew onboard compared to the 4,725 guests and crew we normally have, but there are certain things that we do to keep “life” on the ship. For example, I make sure we have music throughout the ship and that the chandelier, the symbolic heart of the ship, located in the Grand Plaza, always stays lit as a symbol that we will be back.
How are you keeping your crew’s spirits up during the pandemic?There has been such a unique opportunity while we are out of service to let our crew experience the product we offer to our guests and really get to know the ship itself on an intimate level. We have done that by putting our crew members in balcony guest staterooms and engaging them in activities in areas that they would normally not frequent while in service.
We have socially distanced activities like billiards, ping-pong and PlayStation tournaments that keep crew engaged while providing social interaction. The crew hear from me daily at noon with updates, and I always end with a positive anecdote.
Historically, tragic events cause an evolution in the way things are done, and we have absolutely been focused on coming back better, stronger and safer.
As a captain, what do you tell guests about cruise travel’s eventual return?Historically, tragic events cause an evolution in the way things are done, and we have absolutely been focused on coming back better, stronger and safer.
During the pandemic, our crew members embraced new health procedures and protocols with a willingness to do whatever it takes to bring our guests back onboard. When you think about your future vacation options, cruising is a controlled environment. I have full confidence that it’s going to be the safest place to vacation.
What are you most looking forward to when sailings restart?I cannot wait to see our guests and crew return. We will be standing at the top of the gangway, [participating in] a thunderous applause that has never been heard before. It will be emotional, but it’s something that we have waited far too long for.