You have almost 3 million followers on TikTok (@captainkatemccue) and more than 228,000 on Instagram. Why is it important to have a social media presence?
I want to be able to show a behind-the-scenes view of how things really are on a cruise ship. Also, when I was promoted to captain in 2015, I did not anticipate the external spotlight of being a female in that role, and it did become quite a bit to handle. I use my platform to answer questions and normalize having a woman in this position. I believe the more open we are about it, the easier it is going to be for women coming up.
Do you look forward to the day when you are not referred to as the female captain?
You better believe it. I would just love to be the captain. My name tag only says “Captain.” Some people still tend to call me Kate. I worked hard for the captain title. I want to be called captain on the ship. Male captains are always addressed as captain.
When you’re not on the ship, you live in landlocked Las Vegas. Why Vegas?
Because my parents live there. My dad was working at Area 51 [a highly classified Air Force facility in Nevada]. I don’t know what he was doing—he can’t say. We stayed with my parents when we got off ships. My parents finally said, “We love you, but for the love of Pete, go buy your own house.” So we moved about 300 steps away from them.
Does your husband sail with you?
He could, prior to the pandemic. He loves coming onboard. He’s a bit of a drama queen, though. He’ll walk around and ask people, “Do you know who I am?” And when they say no, he says, “I’m the captain’s wife.” He thinks it’s really cute to say that, which it is.
Having achieved captain, what are your future career aspirations?
I would love to build a ship, to take it from the time the keel is laid until she is put into service. That will be my equivalent of having a child. I would love if my husband was part of it, so we could build it together. On top of that, I’d like to be the ship’s godmother. I don’t think any time in history has the captain been the godmother/mermaid.
What’s with the mermaid tail?
Bonaire is my favorite Caribbean island because it is so untouched. Swimming in Bonaire is like putting your face in a fish tank. It’s just phenomenal. The mermaid tail makes it more fun, being able to swim around and feel like you belong in the ocean. And it’s easy to swim with because it’s a mono-tail that floats. It’s better than flippers.
How do you view the future of cruising post-COVID?
Whenever something tragic happens in the world, it changes the way that we operate, but I think it makes us safer. Our crew members have jumped onto new health procedures and protocols and have a willingness to do whatever it takes to bring our guests back onboard.
I personally like wearing a mask because I only have to buy half the makeup I used to.
When you think about your future vacation options, with cruising you have a controlled environment. I have full confidence that it’s going to be the safest place that you could vacation.
What are you most looking forward to post-pandemic?
Seeing our guests walk back up the gangway. And we’ll be at the top of it with pots and pans and anything we can make noise with to welcome them back on. And I have a feeling that it’s going to come this year. But I am also confident that it’s not going to be premature, that we’re going to do it right, when it’s time.