SOUTHAMPTON, England – When Danish-born Inger Klein Olsen assumed command of Cunard Line’s Queen Victoria on Wednesday, 1 December, she made history by becoming the venerable shipping line’s first female Captain.
Captain Olsen’s first task at the helm of Queen Victoria was to take the ship, without passengers, to drydock in Hamburg for its planned refit. Next Wednesday, 15 December, she will be on the bridge as the ship sets sail with a full complement of guests.
Forty-three-year-old Captain Olsen was raised in the Faroe Islands, which accounts for her maritime abilities, and she joined Cunard in 1997 as First Officer on board Caronia. In 2001 she transferred to the Seabourn fleet, which at that time was part of Cunard. She sailed on Seabourn Sun and Seabourn Spirit before being promoted to the rank of Staff Captain on Seabourn Pride in 2003.
Following some years with other companies within the Carnival Corporation group, Captain Olsen returned to Cunard in August this year as Deputy Captain of Queen Victoria.
“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,” Shanks continued, “and we are delighted to welcome her as our first woman driver.”
Olsen will helm Queen Victoria during the ship’s debut Americas season, commencing from New York to Los Angeles on 13 January. During the first 17-day voyage, the ship will call on Ft. Lauderdale and Bonaire, transit the Panama Canal, and visit three ports in Mexico – Huatulco, Acapulco and Manzanillo – before arriving into Los Angeles on 30 January. Captain Olsen will take her leave on 13 February.
Queen Victoria’s Americas season continues until 18 March, and features several transits through the Panama Canal, four calls to Los Angeles, two roundtrip voyages from Los Angeles to Hawaii, and one Getaway voyage to Mexico.
Captain Olsen lives in Denmark.