Cunard Appoints First Female Captain

Captain Olsen will helm Queen Victoria during debut Americas season.

The first female captain in the cruise company Cunard Line’s 170-year history has been appointed to take command of the ship Queen Victoria. Inger Klein Olsen, 43, who lives in Denmark and joined Cunard as first officer in 1997, will set sail with her first cruise passengers on December 15. Her first task as captain has been to take the vessel for a planned dry-dock refit in Hamburg.

Captain Olsen will helm Queen Victoria during the ship’s debut Americas season, including transit through the Panama Canal. The season commences from New York to Los Angeles on January 13. Following this voyage, she will take her leave on February 13 before continuing with the Americas season until March 18. The fact that Captain Olsen was raised in the Faroe Islands may account for her maritime abilities. Transferring to the Seabourn fleet, at that time part of Cunard, in 2001, she sailed on several of its vessels before being promoted to the rank of Staff Captain on Seabourn Pride in 2003.

Following a number of years with the Carnival Corporation group, she returned to Cunard as Deputy Captain of Queen Victoria this August. “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. “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.’ Inge has certainly done that and we are delighted to welcome her as our first woman driver.”