Women gaining (a little) ground as cruise ship captains

She’s not the first lady captain of a cruise ship, but when Inger Klein Olsen (pictured) takes the helm of Cunard Line’s Queen Victoria on December 15, she’ll join a small group of women in a male-dominated occupation.

“While we are far from being the first shipping company to have a female captain, it is nonetheless noteworthy when such a long-established British institution as Cunard makes a break with its captaincy tradition,” said Peter Shanks, president of Cunard Line.

43 year-old Captain Olsen joined Cunard in 1997 as First Officer on board the line’s Caronia and was then transferred to the Seabourn fleet in 2001, sailing on the Seabourn Sun and Seabourn Spirit before being promoted to Staff Captain on the Seabourn Pride in 2003.

Female cruise ship captains are few and far between.

The worlds very first female captain of a major cruise line ship was Karin Stahre-Janson back in 2007 on Royal Caribbean’s Monarch of the Seas. Since that time, few other women have been named master of the vessel on a number of lines.

Earlier this year, Sarah Breton became the first female captain of a UK-based P&O Cruises ship in the company’s 173 year history.

“But as Mark Twain drily observed, ‘the folks at Cunard wouldn’t appoint Noah himself as captain until he had worked his way up through the ranks.’ Inger has certainly done that,” Shanks continued, “and we are delighted to welcome her as our first woman driver.”

Photo courtesy Cunard Line